In 2017, Microsoft will be significantly upgrading the Xbox One via a new hardware release. Codenamed "Project Scorpio", it is being billed as the most powerful console ever created. Here's everything we know so far.
What is it?
Project Scorpio is a new Xbox One console that sits somewhere between an incremental upgrade and an entirely new console. While it's not the Xbox Two (or whatever Microsoft ends up calling its next console), Project Scorpio will significantly expand the graphical capabilities of Xbox One games and usher in a host of other improvements, ranging from true 4K gaming to high fidelity virtual-reality.
In addition to (presumably) sporting a snazzy new design, the Scorpio will boast some significant improvements under the hood. While the full specs haven't been released yet, Microsoft confirmed it will come with six teraflops of computing power and an eight-core CPU with 320 gigabits of memory bandwidth. (The original Xbox One also packs in eight cores, so presumably the point of difference will be in the clock speed.)
According to Microsoft, this will enable true 4K gaming and high fidelity virtual reality. The latter is significant, as the current Xbox One is going to struggle to deliver a VR experience that's on par with a PC-powered Oculus. If you're into virtual reality, you'll pretty much need Project Scorpio to get the full effect.
We expect it will also ship with the new Xbox Wireless Controller which features textured grips, sturdier thumbsticks and improved wireless signal performance with up to twice the wireless range. Either that, or it will come with Elite controllers as standard, which would be pretty nifty.
Will it play old Xbox One games?
Yes. What's more, existing Xbox One games will experience performance improvements similar to how Blu-ray players upscale DVDs. Don't expect any vast improvements beyond slightly higher resolution. In addition to games, all existing Xbox One accessories will work on Scorpio consoles. So there's no need to go out and replace your steering wheel, or whatever.
How much is it?
Microsoft is keeping schtum on the price for now. We'd expect it to be priced slightly above the Xbox One. If Microsoft is smart, they'll make Project Scorpio roughly the same price as the Xbox One and reduce the RRP of its predecessor. Here's hoping!
When is it coming out?
Project Scorpio is slated to hit stores sometime in "holiday 2017". So just before Christmas, probably. In the meantime, you can pick up the newly slim-lined Xbox One S.
So does this mean my Xbox One is already obsolete?
No. Well, not really. Here's the official spiel from Microsoft: "Project Scorpio will join the Xbox One family and coexist alongside Xbox One and Xbox One S and all of your Xbox One games and accessories are compatible."
Moving forward, all Xbox games will need to work on both versions of the console so nobody is getting left behind. It will be interesting to see how this works in practice. Will Scorpio gamers be given access to additional content that harnesses the full capabilities of the console, or will developers be forced to cater to both consoles simultaneously, which could potentially hold the Scorpio back? We'll be chatting to various Microsoft boffins during E3 and will endeavour to get an answer.
Gizmodo attended E3 at the invitation of Microsoft.