The Xbox Project Scarlett is now the Series X
Sony might have the advantage on Microsoft with its PlayStation 5 landing in the summer, but Microsoft has begun revealing some solid details of what to expect from its follow-up console to the Xbox One.
Back in June, at E3, Microsoft released its first promo, which gave us a look at how it will look and play. Along with recent leaks about its supposed power, it feels like it's time to get very excited indeed.
The launch didn't answer any of the theories and suspicions that, rather than being one single machine, there will be two different consoles at two price points which, respectively, stream games and use your usual discs. However, we do know a lot more now.
Here's what we've got so far.
So it's not called the Project Scarlett anymore?
Nope. In December, Microsoft announced that its official name is the Xbox Series X, and shared a video that showed it looks like a cross between an Alexa speaker and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The new name came out during the annual Game awards ceremony in LA, and in a blog post to accompany it Xbox chief Phil Spencer (not the one from Location, Location, Location) promised the Series X would be "our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and more forward with you". He also claimed that it would be four times more powerful than the Xbox One.
And! There's a new button on the controller!
"Its size and shape have been refined to accommodate an even wider range of people, and it also features a new Share button to make capturing screenshots and game clips simple," Spencer said.
So it's definitely called the Xbox Series X then?
Well. Sort of. This first specific console will be called the Xbox Series X, but the name for the new bunch of consoles is just Xbox. "The name we're carrying forward to the next generation is simply Xbox," an Microsoft rep told Business Insider. "And at The Game Awards you saw that name come to life through the Xbox Series X."
Yes, it is a bit confusing that Xbox went to the trouble of announcing that its new Xbox series would be called the Xbox, but perhaps we should have seen this coming. At The Game Awards, the big reveal of the Series X name did make the 'Series X' name very small and the 'XBOX' bit very, very big indeed, which does imply that the 'Series' bit will change in future to keep things nice and neat.
"Similar to what fans have seen with previous generations, the name 'Xbox Series X' allows room for additional consoles in the future," the Microsoft rep added.
What else has Microsoft said about the Series X or whatever it's called?
Other than that, things are very hush-hush apart from occasional 'insiders' proclaiming what was then called the Scarlett to be the most powerful box since that one that melted the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty spoke to Gamesradar about how first-party releases will work on the much-anticipated xCloud streaming service.
"We've got a goal of being able to deliver a game, roughly, every three to four months," Booty said. "We have a little bit of work to do to get there. It'll be lumpy, but we’re closer than we were. And so we feel really good going into 2020 – and the run-up to Project Scarlett – with our content line-up."
Booty added that the amount of games available to players would be huge from day one, thanks to the Xbox One games which would be available.
"We want – when you invest in Xbox – to know that you're bringing that legacy content library with you. It's why we think we’ve got an advantage with Project Scarlett, because our goal is that any game that runs on an Xbox One will run on Scarlett."
What about third-party games though, Booty? What of them? "I don't want to answer for them, because they may choose to do some different things." Well dodged.
We're not going to talk frame rates and processing power – the nub of it is that it's pitched as being powerful enough to reduce load times to being basically zilch and with ultra high-definition graphics (something leaked PlayStation 5 footage suggests the two consoles will have in common). The new promo suggested the Scarlett will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, which is currently the beefiest boy on the market.
When's it out?
Microsoft have given a broad window of 'Holiday 2020', which most have interpreted as the three-month window between October and December. But does that mean just before Christmas? Or around Thanksgiving? Will it drop unexpectedly around Diwali, or Yom Kippur, or Michaelmas? It's unclear.
What games are expected?
Halo Infinite will be the launch game, and it looks extremely tidy.
Look at his hands! Aside from that, the Scarlett will be compatible with Xbox Game Pass.
Will I be able to play my old games on it?
Yep. At E3 this year, Dan McCulloch from Microsoft told GamesRadar: "All of your current games will be forward compatible to play on Scarlett, and will look the best on Scarlett." So, given how much the Xbox One did to smooth out and revamp titles from way back on the original Xbox – I'll always love you, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – the wonders that the extra oomph of the Series X might work on the old guard is extremely exciting.
Xbox had promised "four generations of content like you’ve never seen them before," which sounded very much like you'd be able to play your existing library of games on the new machine. Moreover, it also sounds like you'll be able to rollover all your precious stats and badges: "Your games, your achievements, your progression, your accessories... your console gaming experience with Xbox, it all comes forward with Scarlett".