Xbox Series X Launch — What Do We Know So Far
With the Xbox Series X launch coming up, here is everything we know (so far) about Microsoft's jump into next-generation gaming.
The next generation of consoles is upon us. Later this year, we will be introduced to the future of gaming with brand new consoles. Microsoft has been much more upfront with the Xbox Series X, the newest iteration of Xbox’s console lineup. Taking a less traditional approach to console launches, it will certainly be interesting to see how everything pans out for the upcoming next-gen console. With so many different variables in play, here is everything we know about the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X Console Specs
UPDATE: Microsoft has officially revealed the specs for the Xbox Series X, and it seems Windows Central’s projected specs weren’t too off. When the console launches, it will come packed with a custom processor that uses AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. So, what does this all mean? Well, you can definitely expect the Xbox Series X to be more powerful. In fact, it will have four times the processing power of an Xbox One with 12 teraflops of GPU.
The Xbox Series X does have some tricks up its sleeve. The console will have a form of variable rate shading (VRS) that will allow developers to utilize the power of the Xbox Series X more efficiently. “Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects,” says Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in the announcement. “This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality.”
It was also confirmed that the Xbox Series X will utilize hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, which will be a first for a console. This will vastly improve lighting, reflections, and acoustics that will ultimately bring a more lifelike quality to any given scene in a game.
The people at Xbox want you to do less waiting and more playing. With the console’s next-generation SSD, that will absolutely be the case. Not only will this allow for games to feature more dynamic and larger worlds, but you will also be able to load into those worlds incredibly quickly both initially and through fast travel.
It was also noted that a Quick Resume feature will allow you to suspend multiple games at a time, and return to any of those games instantly. There are a few other features that give more credence to the speed of the Xbox Series X. This includes Dynamic Latency Input (DLI), which optimizes the latency of the Xbox Wireless Controller, HDMI 2.1 innovation, and 120 fps support.
Microsoft has yet to share official specifications for the Xbox Series X, only claiming that it will be the “fastest” and “most powerful.” However, they have mentioned some tidbits of what to expect from the new console. When the Xbox Series X was first revealed at E3 2019 (known as Project Scarlett at the time), they announced that they were partnering with AMD to bring the latest Zen 2 and Navi tech to the console. This was said to bring substantial performance improvements, including 8K resolution capability, ray-tracing, and up to 120 fps gameplay.
There have also been leaked images of the console that have appeared online recently (January 22, 2020). While it doesn’t give a good representation of size, it does give a closer look at the different ports on the console, most of which are no surprise. All in all, there will be two USB ports, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, an optical audio port, and a power port. While this wasn’t done by official means, Brad Sams from Thurrott has validated the leak, giving it credence.
Over at Windows Central, they have put together a solid representation of what the supposed specs will be for the Xbox Series X launch system. Here is what they list:
- Processor: Custom AMD Zen 2-based CPU (8x @ 3.6 GHz)
- Graphics: Custom SMD Navi-based GPU (12 TF RDNA)
- Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 RAM (13GB guaranteed for game developers)
- Storage: NVMe SSD (Read speeds of anywhere up to 2GB/s)
- Video Output: 8K, 4K @ 120Hz
- Ports: One front-facing USB Type-A; Unknown
- Color: Matte Black
- Size: 30cm x 16cm x 16cm (estimate)
Again, these are not official specs, rather information collected from statements made by Microsoft and Windows Central’s sources. If you want to learn more about what these specs actually mean, I implore you to check out that article.
How big is the console?
This topic has been one of the more controversial issues for those looking to get an Xbox Series X launch console due to its bulky nature. As of right now, there has yet to be an official measurement for the console. However, as seen above, Windows Central estimates that it will be 30cm x 16cm x 16cm. That means it will be roughly a foot in height, and 6in in width and length when stood up.
Although many of the pictures show the Xbox Series X console standing up, Xbox Head Phil Spencer has confirmed you can lay the console down flat. If you do lay your console flat, the height of the console is estimated at 6in, the length at 12in, and the width at 6in. Depending on your home setup, it will make it slightly easier to fit the box somewhere on your TV stand.
How does this compare to the consoles you may already own? Well, it’s actually not too different than you think. The Xbox One X is 11.8 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches. So, if you lay the two flat, they would be roughly the same size in length. However, the Series X would be twice as tall, but not as wide. The same estimations apply to the PS4 Pro, which is 12.9 x 11.6 x 2.17 inches.
The best visual representation comparison I have seen so far is the IGN video above. While it isn’t the actual console, it is a good representation of what to expect.
Backward compatibility and exclusives
UPDATE: In Head of Xbox Phil Spencer’s recent announcement detailing the many features of the Xbox Series X, he gave a bit more specifics on exactly how compatibility will work with Microsoft’s next-gen console.
The Xbox Series X will be fully backward compatible with the Xbox One. That means Xbox One games, as well as the current slate of Xbox 360 and original Xbox backward compatible titles will work for the next-gen console. They will also play better with steadier framerates, faster load times, and improved resolution.
It was also confirmed that Xbox Game Pass will be heading to the next-gen. Yes, you will be able to get the subscription service day one. Yes, Halo Infinite, the newest entry in the beloved Halo franchise, will be available on Xbox Game Pass when the game launches.
One of the more surprising announcements to come from Spencer’s post was using “Smart Delivery,” a new technology that will allow you to purchase any version of a game, and it works for all platforms. For example, if you purchase Halo Infinite for the Xbox One, you can use that same version to play the Xbox Series X version without spending another penny. Smart Delivery will be utilized for all Xbox Game Studios titles, and is available for all developers and publishers to use if they choose to. Another title that is confirmed to use Smart Delivery is CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077.
Before I dive into the games coming to Xbox Series X, I want to get into how this next console changes how Microsoft will approach consoles and console launches moving forward. Much of this information has been shared through different interviews but hasn’t really been formally announced. When the console was initially revealed, it was confirmed that backward compatibility will be a feature for the Xbox Series X. In that very first reveal video, Spencer said, “I don’t lose my last generation as I move into the next generation; the people I play with and the games that I want to play. That experience should be continuous and always growing.”
This ideology seems to go both ways, according to an MCV interview with Xbox’s Matt Booty. At least during the first few years of the Xbox Series X’s life cycle, Xbox games will play up and down the Xbox family of consoles. That means games that launch with the Xbox Series X will also be compatible with the Xbox One series of consoles.
“As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” says Booty. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.”
The idea of console exclusives for the Xbox brand is kind of non-existent. Which says a lot on how Microsoft is handling video game consoles in the foreseeable future. Rather than a “beginning” and “end” to a console, Microsoft is taking a more iterative approach where all of Xbox’s exclusives will work for both current and old Xbox models. I like to think of it as to how smartphones work. That may not be accurate necessarily, but that is how I understand it.
Whether the Xbox One family of consoles will become obsolete is a question that can only be answered with time. You could assume that developers will be developing games with certain consoles in mind and that eventually, these games will be too much for the Xbox One to handle. Only time will tell.
Games coming to the Xbox Series X
With that prior section in mind, it can be assumed any game coming to Xbox One X will be compatible with the Xbox Series X. Couple this with Game Pass, and there should be quite a few games to play when the Xbox Series X launches.
With that said, let’s talk exclusively about games with next-gen in mind. What games will focus on using the power of the Xbox Series X? Here is a full list of confirmed next-gen games coming to Xbox Series X:
- Halo: Infinite
- Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga
- Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Gods & Monsters
- Watch Dogs: Legion
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine
- Battlefield 6
- Cyberpunk 2077
When will the Xbox Series X launch?
As of this writing, there has yet to be an official release date for the Xbox Series X launch. However, a window has been given. You can expect the Xbox Series X to launch sometime during Holiday 2020. Xbox One launch in November 2013, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft’s new console launches around the same time.
As more news about the Xbox Series X launch is announced, we will update this article. Make sure to check back for more on Microsoft’s upcoming console.