After hinting heavily the new Xbox would make an appearance at E3, Microsoft played its cards very close to its chest when it came to its next generation console – with the press conference instead concentrating on the ever-expanding Xbox Game Pass and key details on the upcoming xCloud. Back to the new console, there was a lot of talk about how powerful and immersive it will be, but that really just boiled down to a couple of facts.
First off, the next-generation console, or consoles if rumours are to be believed, is definitely coming next year or “Holiday 2020” to quote Xbox. That comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone and the lack of any curveball here likely puts Microsoft and Sony head-to-head next November.
And it very much looks head-to-head too. With Microsoft also announcing that Project Scarlett will use SSD storage in order to slash load times. The fact it made a big hoo-hah about this on stage at its E3 press conference, when Sony casually told Wired the exact same thing back in April, isn’t a great look however.
However, much of that was saved by the announcement that Halo Infinte will come as a lauch title for the new Xbox. Something that hasn’t happened since the original Halo launched beside, and defined, the original console. A new trailer showed that there’s a campaign, with at least some character to it, to play, but we’re also expecting an expansive co-op, open world experience as well.
Back to the new Xbox, we were admittedly never expecting a blow-by-blow hardware breakdown this early. Especially as there are actually two rumoured consoles – Anaconda and Lockhart – that make up Project Scarlett, something that Microsoft obviously isn’t keen to talk about yet, until it can fully demonstrate the differences. It did mention 8K and 120fps and Ray-tracing, but that’s a bit meaningless without knowing how powerful the GPU is, in short we’d like to have a bit more to our tease please, as we got with Project Scorpio back in 2016.
Still, here’s a quick recap of what we think we know to date – and first party developers actually in the know please take pity on us poor mortals. Both consoles are expected to be similar in CPU performance (they have to run the same games after all), but with radically different GPU specs to target different price points. Basically a new One S and One X but launched as a pair.
We expect backward compatibility with all previous Xbox titles that currently run on the Xbox One. Though of course what will define the new generation is when we see titles that only run on the new hardware.
Based on recent history, Microsoft’s engineering teams scored a much-needed win with the Xbox One X clearly being a superior and better thought-through design than the PlayStation 4 Pro. Still, both companies are more than capable of creating great hardware, and my hunch is there will be very little to choose between the two AMD-powered machines come the end of next year.