by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 19th February, 2020
2020 is the year of next-gen consoles. Both Sony and Microsoft are bringing new guns and they both will be super powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the next-gen Xbox Console, the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Project Scarlett is the name we heard over and over again in the last year or so. First there were rumors, then there were more rumors, and then during the 2019 E3 show Microsoft finally made the next-gen Xbox official. The company announced its next-gen console codenamed Xbox Project Scarlett and set the gaming world on fire.
Since then we got a ton of new rumors (and a couple of confirmations) regarding the next-gen Xbox. Microsoft revealed the official name of the console, it confirmed its launch window, it talked about its specs, it even showed a couple of next-gen games that will come out alongside the console. Read on and find out all there is to know about the Xbox Series X.
This is the codename for the Xbox Series X. The next-gen Xbox was known as Project Scarlett for some time and then in June of 2019 Microsoft confirmed the rumors by officially announcing the console. They called it the Xbox Project Scarlett and decided to wait a bit before revealing the official name of the console.
And then in mid-December of 2019 Microsoft revealed the official name of the console. During the Game Awards Phil Spencer, the head of the Xbox division at Microsoft, came out to the stage and unveiled the Xbox Series X along with its design.
So, all of you who wonder what the hell is Xbox Project Scarlett, this is the codename for the Xbox Series X, the next-gen console from Microsoft.
At the moment we only know that the Xbox Series X is launching during Holiday 2020, between late October and December of 2020. Both Microsoft and Sony are launching the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 during that time but the exact launch date is still unknown.
The date will be revealed sometime in 2020. We guess Microsoft will either hold a special event during the late Spring/Early Summer of 2020 or will announce the Xbox Series X launch date during E3 2020.
This is a great question. All info regarding the next-gen consoles strongly suggests that the Xbox Series X will be noticeably more powerful than the PlayStation 5. Why this matters?
Well, more power means higher price and it is expected that the PlayStation 5 will sport a price of around $500. What's more interesting is the latest news suggesting Sony had lots of trouble keeping the manufacturing cost of the PlayStation 5 below $450.
With the manufacturing cost of the PlayStation 5 being $450, it's hard to expect for next-gen consoles to sport the price of the previous generation.
The PS5 will, at best, cost $470. The price will probably be $500. And since the Xbox Series X is definitely more expensive to manufacture (the GPU is more expensive and it is rumored the console also sports a complex cooling system) we expect the Xbox Series X to cost between $550 and $600.
Of course, Microsoft might decide to simply lose money on each console sold. But even with the company losing money we don't expect the Xbox Series X to cost below $500.
The interesting thing about Microsoft's next-gen console efforts is that the company is most certainly preparing a second next-gen console alongside the Xbox Series X.
This second console is known as Xbox Project Lockhart and it is rumored to be a less powerful and cheaper version of the Xbox Series X.
At the moment there are two kinds of rumors regarding the Xbox Project Lockhart. The first type of reports suggests the console will be full-blown next-gen machine albeit with a processing power of about 40 percent of the Xbox Series X and without a disc drive.
Less power and no disc drive should keep the price in check and allow Microsoft to sell Xbox Project Lockhart for a noticeably lower price than Sony will charge for the PlayStation 5.
The second slew of reports talks about Xbox Project Lockhart being a cheap (about $100) streaming-only console that will stream video games and won't be able to play them locally. Whatever's the case, the price of this second next-gen Xbox should be noticeably lower than the PS5.
Microsoft revealed Xbox Series X design at Game Awards and we have to say it looks pretty cool. The console is quite bulky and looks like a compact gaming PC.
It's basically a tall rectangle with massive cooling vent placed at the top. The console will be able to sit both horizontally and vertically. Dimension estimations are 31cm x 16cm x 16cm, making the next-gen Xbox much bigger than the Xbox One.
The back of the device has more cooling vents alongside lots of different ports. There's a full HDMI port, two USB ports, one Ethernet port, one S/PDIF port for hooking up audio, the power brick connector, and one mystery port. The function of the mystery port is unknown but rumors suggest it might be a storage expansion.
This is highly possible because the Xbox Series X (and the PlayStation 5) will use SSD storage instead of a hard drive and SSDs are still relatively expensive. By offering users a way to expand the storage, Microsoft might equip the console with a smaller SSD and come up with a lower selling price.
Xbox Series X is shaping to be an extremely powerful console and its specs are monstrous. First of all, the combination of the CPU and GPU is insane.
The processor is based on AMD's Zen 2 architecture that offers many times the power of the CPU present on the current generation of consoles. This 8 core/16 threads monster will be able to run massive games that look amazing. Its raw processing power is in line with the most powerful gaming PCs of today.
The graphics chip features 12TFLOPs of power, which is two times the power of the GPU found in the Xbox One X, the most powerful console at the moment.
This will lead to many games being run in 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, which is bonkers compared to what current consoles are capable of. Do mind that the Xbox Series X supports up to 120 frames per second and we think that fast-paced multiplayer games, such as Battlefield and Call of Duty, will play in 120 FPS, which is as high as the performance of a high-end gaming PC.
The console also supports 8K resolution but we don't think any game will be rendered in 8K. Possible some indie games that aren't graphically demanding or future VR titles.
The console will feature 16 gigs of super-fast GDDR6 RAM, which is found in top-end graphics cards of today. This means ultra-fast memory capable of rendering huge worlds and supporting insanely sharp textures. But the star of the show is the SSD.
Thanks to the SSD, which replaced mechanical hard drives present in every console to date, games will be loaded instantly. You will be able to play a game mere seconds after you click on its icon on the dashboard.
But SSD won't offer just instantaneous loading times. Thanks to the SSD games will take less space; they will also be able to be installed in smaller chunks.
For instance, once you finish the single-player campaign of some game, you will be able to delete single-player content and leave only the data needed for multiplayer. SSD will also act as the auxiliary RAM memory, allowing developers to create insanely large, extremely detailed game worlds we cannot have even on the most powerful gaming PCs of today.
Finally, the SSD will allow the Xbox Series X to have more than one (rumors say up to four) game on standby. In practice, this means that, for the majority of games you play, you will have to load it once and then continue playing it momentarily you turn it on because it will always be on standby.
Overall, Xbox Series X sports amazing specs and you can be sure that next-gen games will look much, much better than current ones. We can't wait to see titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 on the Xbox Series X.
At the moment Microsoft announced two next-gen games: Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 and Halo Infinite. The first one is the sequel to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and the game looks amazing. It should be an open-world action-adventure but we don't know when it will arrive. Halo Infinite is a launch title for the next-gen Xbox console.
It's the next chapter of the Master Chief story and it's coming during the Holiday 2020. While Microsoft didn't announce it, we are certain that we will get a new Forza Motorsport game this year. But the most interesting thing is that all three games will be launched not only for the Xbox Series X but also for the Xbox One.
Surprisingly they will, at least for the first couple of years. Matt Booty, head of Xbox One Studios, confirmed that all new titles launching for the Xbox Series X will also be available for the Xbox One and Xbox One X.
So, during the first couple of years of life of the next-gen console, we won't have any true Xbox Series X exclusives.
This is great for all gamers because they won't have to buy a new console in order to play next-gen games. The downside is that, while next-gen titles will be playable on the Xbox One, expect them to look and work much better on the new console.
Yes, the Xbox Series X features a disc drive, it has been confirmed. While the main next-gen Xbox will have a disc drive it seems that the second (and less powerful) next-gen Xbox console codenamed Xbox Project Lockhart will come without a disc drive in order to lower the cost of the console.
Another interesting question. Phil Spencer mentioned that Xbox Series X won't support VR at launch. He explained that would be pointless since the VR games market is still a niche market at there's just no demand for VR high enough to secure a VR support on the Xbox Series X.
But the Xbox Series X is a powerful console that would certainly support the high hardware requirements of a VR headset and you can bet the console will get a VR headset at a later date. We are certain Microsoft will launch a VR headset for the Xbox Series X but it would take at least a couple of years until that happens.
The PlayStation 5, on the other hand, will support VR from the start and there are rumors Sony is preparing a new, wireless VR headset for the console. Do note that the current PSVR headset should work with the PlayStation 5.
There are many reasons Microsoft decided to discontinue the Kinect. First of all, Xbox One came bundled with the Kinect at launch pushing the price of the console to $500. This proved to be a major disadvantage for the Xbox One because the PlayStation 4 destroyed it with its $400 launch price. Sales numbers were extremely low and Microsoft had to do something.
The decision was to remove Kinect from the bundle and sell Xbox One as a standalone package, allowing the console to sell for $400.
The move made Kinect a separate purchase and, when Kinect stopped being sold with the Xbox One, developers decided not to offer Kinect support for their games. It isn't that third party developers tried to make their games playable with Kinect. In most cases, third-party titles weren't made for Kinect, except when they were made exclusively for Kinect.
Finally, controlling games with Kinect felt really weird and wasn't really enjoyable. Microsoft tried to push Kinect with its first-party titles but most gamers decided to just ignore it because controls weren't very precise. And over time, even Microsoft stopped pushing for Kinect controls in its video games. Ultimately, the sales numbers were so low Microsoft simply decided to discontinue Kinect for good.
This is a tough one. If you don't own PS4 or the Xbox One and want to buy one right now, both consoles make some compelling reasons to pick them. Xbox One S is the cheapest console at the moment and if you catch it on a sale you can snag one for as low as $200 if you're okay getting the All-Digital Edition of the console that comes without a disc drive. But even regular Xbox One S can be grabbed for about $250 during a sale.
Next, Xbox One consoles are great for gamers on a budget because they come with a fantastic Xbox Game Pass. The Game Pass costs $10 a month and comes with more than 250 games, many of which are excellent titles.
What's even better, all current and future games developed by Microsoft and its first-party studios are coming to the Xbox Game Pass on day one. This is a great deal because for $10 a month you have access to hundreds of amazing games with new games being added all the time.
If you don't want to pay lots of money on games, if you're a casual gamer, or if you have a kid who wants a ton of games, Xbox Game Pass is reason enough to go with the Xbox One.
If you want the best gaming experience on a console well, the Xbox One X is the most powerful console at the moment. It offers a better experience than the PlayStation 5 Pro, and that's a fact.
Finally, since Microsoft announced that all Xbox Series X games will work on Xbox One consoles, getting an Xbox One means you will be able to play next-gen titles for at least a couple of years. And if you buy the Xbox One X we are certain those titles will look and play great because this console is very powerful.
The Xbox One S will also be able to play next-gen games but we don't think they will look as nice and play as well as on the Xbox One X.
The PlayStation 4 is the right choice in case you want to play all those amazing PlayStation exclusives. Sony has a ton of quality exclusives that cannot be played anywhere else.
Games like God of War, Bloodborne, The Last of Us 1 & 2 (the sequel comes in May), Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, Tetris Effect, The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake (this one comes in April), Yakuza games, Death Stranding, Uncharted Series, and many more can't be played on the Xbox One.
If you didn't play any PlayStation 4 exclusive, we guarantee that if you get the console right now, you will need at least one year just to finish all PlayStation exclusives. And that's in case you only play PS exclusives every day, for at least a couple of hours each day.
If you're a casual gamer you will need years to finish all exclusive games available for the PlayStation 4. And then you'll have hundreds of excellent current-gen games to pick from.
Also, third party games usually work and look better on the PlayStation 4 than on Xbox One S. Games are usually rendered in higher resolution and manage to achieve better, and more stable, framerates.
That only works for base consoles. If you have the money, third party games work the best on the Xbox One X. But that's the most expensive console at the moment.
At the end, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is the cheapest current-gen console to buy. The Xbox One X is the one to go if you want the best console experience. The PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro is the best choice in case you want to play a bunch of excellent first-party exclusives.
Xbox One is a great choice of gamers on a budget because of its phenomenal Xbox Game Pass. Finally, out of the two base consoles, the PlayStation 4 is the better choice because it runs games better than the Xbox One S.