Microsoft surprised the heck out of everyone when it revealed the name and look of its next-generation console at the Game Awards last night. Now we know that Microsoft‘s contender, formerly known as Project Scarlett, is called the Xbox Series X. But what else do we know (and not know) so far?
— Xbox (@Xbox) December 13, 2019
The Series X, more so than any console that’s come before it, resembles a brick. I saw one particularly amusing comparison to a refrigerator. It works in vertical or horizontal orientation, and is designed to function quietly. Xbox head Phil Spencer told Gamespot the name of the console came in part because “it gives us freedom to do other things with that name so that we can create descriptors when we need to.” So… could we possibly see a “Series Pro” or a “Series Slim” or something like that? I’d be curious to see if that’s what he means.
It’s going to pack considerably more power in its CPU, especially compared to the relatively modest hardware of the One X. Microsoft refers to it as “our custom-designed processor leveraging the latest Zen 2 and next generation RDNA architecture from our partners at AMD.” Gamespot later confirmed the console’s GPU will have twice the power of the Xbox One X’s, and that the company has invested in NVMe solid-state drives. The company’s not naming specific hardware, and the proof will be in the gameplay, but so far it’s sounding like a monster.
That said, there’s one major hardware development that Xbox is content to shelve for now: Spencer said they weren’t interested in VR at the moment because it’s still a niche product. Specifically, he said “nobody’s asking for VR” on Xbox.
We know of two games that’ll be on the Series X: Halo Infinite, first revealed E3, and Hellblade II: Senua’s Saga, revealed alongside the console at the Game Awards. They look pretty cool, but, again, we’d have to see gameplay to really know what this console is capable of giving us.
Microsoft made it clear in the announcement that backwards compatibility was a thing, and we know it’s aiming to make the console compatible with all previous-gen Xboxes. We also already know that Microsoft hopes to bring Xbox Play Anywhere to Series X, which means that your purchased games, achievements, and saves could potentially transfer from your One to your new Xbox. That said, we’ve yet to see exact details on how that’ll work.
There’s still the chance we could have a second Xbox in the next-generation, as the console codenamed Lockhart is rumored to still be in development. This one is supposed to be a less powerful version of the Series X, with a less intimidating price tag to boot.
Which brings me to the biggest thing we don’t yet know about the Series X: the price. How much is the “fastest, most powerful” console going to set us back? Last time, Xbox was at a disadvantage, both because it revealed its price first, and because that price turned out to be $100 more than the PS4. I’m hoping Sony and Microsoft won’t end up in some kind of game of chicken, waiting for the other to announce their price first.