During this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo briefing, Microsoft showed off a lot of great stuff, including a new game streaming service, Halo Infinite, a PC version of Game Pass and over 60 new games.
But the biggest reveal by far was its next-generation console, dubbed Project Scarlett. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Project Scarlett?
Project Scarlett is the code name for Microsoft’s next video game console. This isn’t an upgrade to existing tech, like the Xbox One S or Xbox One X. Rather, it’s a proper “next-gen” console based on entirely new hardware. Here’s the official announcement trailer:
What’s under the hood?
Like the PlayStation 5, Project Scarlett will benefit from much beefier specs with processing power supplied by a custom-built AMD Zen 2 chip, a “new generation” of solid state drive and GDDR6 SDRAM.
According to Microsoft, the new console will be “four times more powerful” than the Xbox One X. In practical terms, this should translate to more complex 3D environments, effects and character models.
Microsoft mentioned hardware-accelerated ray tracing and 120Hz refresh rates as specific examples. Naturally, 8K gaming will be possible for gamers with compatible displays. There will also be vastly reduced load times. (Having been gaming since the era of 8-bit tapes, I find this point slightly humorous.)
“More immersion, more exploration, more detail” – that’s the new console’s catchcry. If Microsoft can be believed, it’s going to be the biggest technological leap between consoles ever.
Games will be streamed to users
Project Scarlett is being built for online gaming, with streaming set to play a big part in Xbox’s future. Indeed, Microsoft went so far as to describe the console as “the formation of our future in cloud.”
The ability to stream games directly from the cloud – ala Google Stadia – is pretty much assured. If Microsoft opts to release a version with no optical drive, it wouldn’t surprise us at all.
Expect more platform integration
Remember when Sony tried to bundle its phones, consoles and portables under the gaming umbrella? It looks like Microsoft will be attempting something similar for the next generation.
“When we think about the future of gaming, it’s not just PC, it’s not just console, it’s not just mobile, it’s literally all of the above.”
That’s the opening statement from Microsoft’s Project Scarlett trailer. In other words, the new console will be positioned as the central hub for multiple types of gaming experiences. Precisely how all these platforms will interact remains to be seen.
What about backwards compatibility?
Happily, Microsoft will continue to support legacy Xbox games from previous generations. During its E3 briefing, the company said “thousands of games” would be accessible on the new console.
It’s not clear whether this will require the original discs or some other proof of purchase but it looks like we’ll get to play plenty of favourites dating all the way back to the original Xbox. Hurrah!
When is the new Xbox coming out?
Microsoft has yet to announce a concrete date, but the company has confirmed the next Xbox will appear in 2020. Definitely expect it before Christmas.