Microsoft unveiled their new console, to much surprise, at The Game Awards 2019. Many in the industry had been expecting an announcement in 2020 as info so far had been light on the new Xbox, however, we now have the name and a few more details. The console from Microsoft will be called the Xbox Series X.
The product design is different. It stands tall and looks more like a PC than we’re seen from anything in the past. Although it can be placed both vertically and horizontally, the marketing and press material we’re seen so far has it standing in its vertical form. It’s striking, minimalist and has a green Xbox glow on the top of the console.
In terms of power Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox at Microsoft, says this Xbox Series X console will have “4 times the processing power” of the current-gen Xbox One X. It will include a custom CPU based on AMD Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture. It will include NVMe SSD, similar to the PlayStation 5, which is going to help with load times. It will also attempt to future proof with support for 120 fps, ray tracing, variable refresh rate and up to 8k gaming.
Microsoft is being a little cagey on the details of the GPU, which I imagine they’ll reveal next year as they go more into depth on the tech specs (possibly at E3). Phil Spencer did let slip that the GPU would be 8 times more powerful than the Xbox One and twice the GPU power of the Xbox One X. No doubt we’ll get more details in 2020 on the capabilities.
Xbox Series X will also include Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Dynamic Latency Input (DLI). Microsoft stated this is going to make Xbox Series X “the most responsive console ever” and designed for a “future in the cloud”. This is more than likely preparation for services like Project XCloud and Xbox Game Pass.
With regards to the controller, it looks like a mash-up between the Xbox One and Xbox Elite controller. Microsoft said that they have changed the design to fit even more hands, with the upgrade allowing it to fit 98% of hands, rather than 95%. This could mean they’ve made it smaller. The d-pad looks very similar to the Elite Series controllers. Microsoft has also ensured it will work with Windows PCs and be backward compatible with Xbox One consoles.
There are rumours that Xbox will release another, less powerful, streaming focused Xbox console alongside the Xbox Series X. In fact, Microsoft did issue a statement concerning the naming convention as we’re now in a tricky situation with naming. For example, the original Xbox was called the Xbox, then Xbox 360, then Xbox One etc. Rather than go for the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… model like Sony they’ve gone a different path. It appears as if Xbox is pressing the reset button on that idea and the new models will be released under the banner of simply ‘Xbox’ and the ‘Series X’ denotes model and capability. So, the Series X is the most powerful Xbox in the world. Perhaps when they release another version, less powerful, more focused on streaming that will be the Xbox Series S. Not to be confused with the Xbox One S of course 😉
As well as the consoles Microsoft has been invested in services such as Xbox Game Pass ad Project XCloud. Xbox Game Pass has taken 2019 by storm with big Microsoft first-party titles like Gears 5, The Outer Worlds and more available from day one as well as a library of top games including Ape Out, Lonely Mountain Downhill, The Unavowed… and coming this week, The Witcher 3. As well as the game library the deal for new subscribers is immense costing as little as £3.99 per month and £1 for the first month. Project XCloud is currently in testing and was shown a little at E3 last year. This is the new streaming platform which will make Xbox available on devices like phones, tablets and desktop computers – much like Google Stadia in terms of capability. However, Microsoft’s offer on the streaming services side of things looks much more compelling.
Xbox Series X will likely have a huge library of games on release with software that’s available on Xbox Game Pass and the console will be fully backwards compatible with Xbox 360 and Xbox One games. Microsoft wants thousands of games available and the plan is to eventually make them all compatible. The best news is it will be backward compatible from day one. With past generations we as consumers have had the issue of not many games being made available on day 1, it appears those days could be over.
It appears as if Microsoft is going into the next-gen strong and hopefully they won’t repeat the mistakes of the Xbox One, where they were always playing catch up. They have invested in first-party titles with Xbox Game Studios, services and new hardware… so hopefully 2020 will be a big year for Microsoft. Find out more info on their website.