Without any previous rumors and leaks, all of a sudden, Phil Spencer stepped up on The Game Awards stage and unveiled the all-new Xbox. Almost 6 months after revealing Project Scarlett at E3 2019, Microsoft officially announced the real name and the real design for its next-generation console. Xbox Series X, as its called, is the most powerful announced console of the world in hardware and most unique one in design so far. A true look of the next-gen gaming with more details to come later. However, we do know some basic information on Xbox Series X and we do have some wild dreams and expectations, hopeful to come true at the end of the day.
What Do We Know?
According to the head of Xbox Phil Spencer, the next-gen Xbox console, which used to be called Project Scarlett, has been created and developed with an ultimate focus on gaming, other than anything else. A smart admission by him that reminds us of the early days of the current generation when Microsoft was hopeful to compete against Sony by boasting the non-gaming features of Xbox One. But now, everything has been changed. Even the design is driven by the performance and gaming approaches.
Aside from some hilarious memes all over the internet that compares the new Xbox to a refrigerator or the World Trade Center towers, the new design grants a gentle personality to the console with its classy simplicity. Almost every console we’ve seen through the last generations used to look like thick pizza boxes, and that’s why the appearance of a new design language to shift consoles from simple pizza boxes to fancy compact computers is extremely welcomed. As Spencer describes, the new Xbox is supposed to be disappeared in your home design while making no sounds louder than the current Xbox One X.
Digging into the hardware of this powerhouse, Microsoft has rolled out several basic information on its specs, but more is to come next year. Xbox Series X will be using custom-designed AMD Zen 2 processors with RDNA architecture, allowing it to reach 4 times the processing power of Xbox One X. Playing with 60 frames per second on 4K resolution is the least you can expect from the next-gen Xbox, while it’s been aimed to deliver 120 FPS along with 8K resolution support. Using GDDR6 memories and a brand new SSD model costumed by Microsoft itself will help you to get rid of loading screens, while an AMD Navi graphics will ensure hardware-accelerated ray tracing support.
Thanks to the Variable Rate Shading feature in Xbox Series X, developers will be able to exploit the power within the console, while the Variable Refresh Rate and Auto-low Latency mode are aimed to help you on the immersive and seamless gaming experience. With such a powerful machine Microsoft has built, you will be able to pause & resume multiple games simultaneously, an ability that we haven’t heard about it on Sony’s PS5 so far.
While our information on the console’s design and hardware runs out at this point, there are a bunch of new functionalities in the Xbox Series X controller that you’d better know. Generally, the new controller is almost the same as the previous one, accompanied with some minor improvements. Unlike Sony that has put a lot of effort to add some 4th-dimensional functions to its next-gen controller, Microsoft has just refined and polished the Xbox One controller with a few new additions from the Elite series. Although we don’t know everything about the controller yet, the way Spencer has talked about it, it seems there is going to be no surprising or never-before-seen functionality in the new controller.
First things first, the Series X controller has a new share button in the middle of the front surface, allowing you to capture screenshots or clips much easier than before. Moreover, the new controller will be using a hybrid D-pad like the Elite series. In the case of design and ergonomy, Spencer has confirmed that the new Series X controller is a bit smaller than the previous one, in order to fit in 98% of the hands in the world.
Instead of using Bluetooth connection, the new Xbox controller will be featuring a radio connection to send the data faster and lower the input latency, but don’t worry, it will still be compatible with Windows 10 and Xbox One. However, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed yet that whether Xbox One controller will be compatible with Xbox Series X, but it did reveal that all previous accessories will be available on Series X, which might only include the Elite Series 2 in terms of the controller.
Going over the software part, Xbox Series X is aimed to deliver the fastest experience you’ve ever had with an Xbox console. while the team behind it has considered some important improvements on its OS, the new SSD will also help to nail the milestone without troubles. Xbox Series X will be supporting Backwards Compatibility at launch, and all the current services on Xbox Live, including Xbox Game Pass, will be available for the new console.
All first-party titles for Series X will be cross-generation and available at launch on Xbox Game Pass, from which, we only know Halo Infinite so far, though Everwild and the recently announced Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga would likely join it in Holiday 2020. Aside from these two, there might be some second-party or third-party titles at launch as well. It seems Microsoft is determined to bring the most consumer-friendly services on Xbox Series X, with the addition of xCloud subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership next year.
What Do We Expect?
In case of design, we would love to be able to lay down the console and fortunately, it’s been confirmed that we could do that sooner after the announcement. So, what’s next? The price is definitely a point of struggle. When Xbox One launched back in 2013 it was available for $499 and surely we can’t expect Series X to come with a price lower than that unless Microsoft has some other series to reveal next year. We do expect the price for Series X to stand at $499 with at least three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription as a bonus on it in Holiday 2020.
Other than the price, if the new controller isn’t supposed to bring any new functionality that affects the gameplay directly, it would be great for Xbox One owners to get the current controller support on Series X, which could be named as a hardware backward compatibility. On the other hand, one major improvement that Microsoft needs to apply on its new controllers is to get rid of the battery input and ship the new controllers with lifetime chargeable batteries, similar to Sony’s Dualshock 4.
Another major issue that Xbox Series X has to jump over is to reduce its dependency on Xbox Live and provide more freedom for the player on choosing what to do. Currently, Xbox One doesn’t allow you to ignore a game’s update and play it while you’re online, even when it’s a single-player game.
Above all the aforementioned issues, Microsoft is going to need a great line-up of exclusive and first-party games if it wants to lead the next generation. With the studios it has acquired through the last few years, actually, Microsoft does have the hardware for having a lot of high-quality exclusives in the upcoming generation. But the way Spencer and his team is going to manage these developers would be the main struggle. Spencer has promised one first-party game in almost every season for Xbox Series X. While that might seem surprising, it could hurt the studios and their products to nail the milestone and launch the game at the determined window, while it’s not ready yet. It could also cause a huge unfair crunch at Xbox Game Studios as well. So, he’d better promise to bring best-quality exclusives as soon as they are ready, like what Sony did during the current generation. Sure Sony made us wait a long time for its exclusives, but it did bring some masterpieces that are hard to replace in their genres.
Halo Infinite and Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga are two confirmed launch titles for Xbox Series X so far. More than likely, we would get Forza Motorsport 8 from Turn 10 as another launch title, while Playground Games’ next project could also hit Series X in Holiday 2020 if they’ve started the production process earlier enough. A new Gears game is definitely hard to expect for launch as well as the debut title from The Initiative. However, Rare’s Everwild is another nominee to get released as a launch title for Series X. Compulsion Games, Undead Labs, Obsidian Entertainment, Double Fine, and InXile Entertainments are the other developers that could bring new titles to Series X as it gets launched in late 2020.
Hopefully, the answer to whether the new Xbox will meet our expectations or not will be arriving sooner than its launch date. Maybe at E3 2020.