Highly anticipated: We’ve known Microsoft is working on a new Xbox gaming console (codenamed “Scarlett”) for some time now, but tonight, at 2019’s annual Game Awards, the company finally saw fit to showcase it to the world. The device is called the “Xbox Series X,” and it’ll be available during 2020’s holiday season.
First, the design: in short, it’s quite a bit different than the Xbox One. It’s square-shaped instead of rectangular, and it’s far taller than you might expect. In fact, in many ways, it more closely resembles a compact desktop PC than a gaming console.
In the end, though, the unit’s looks matter much less than its capabilities, and in that regard, the Xbox Series X is set to impress.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer showed off the full power of the device with an in-engine trailer for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, which you can watch below. Hellblade II is the sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the mind-bending horror adventure game developed by Ninja Theory (one of the many indie studios recently swallowed up by Microsoft).
The trailer looks simply stunning (not to mention terrifying), and if Spencer’s words are to be believed, it should be fairly representative of the final game’s look when it releases.
To accomplish that level of visual fidelity, the Xbox Series X will be running on AMD’s next-gen RDNA graphics architecture (with GDDR6 RAM), as well as the “latest” Zen 2 processor. The console will feature hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and the ability to pump out 4K visuals at a smooth 60FPS.
Microsoft also says 8K and 120FPS gameplay will be supported, but we wouldn’t be surprised if players have to make some visual compromises to reach those numbers.
The Xbox Series X will feature Variable Rate Shading technology, “Auto Low Latency Mode” for minimized input lag, and a “next-generation SSD” that can “eliminate load times.”
If you’re worried about being forced to give up your existing collection of Xbox One games, Microsoft promises full backward compatibility with “thousands” of Xbox titles across “four generations” of gaming. Further, all of your existing Xbox One gaming accessories will work on the new system.
If that’s not enough compatibility for you, the Xbox Series X will also let you transfer your saves over from the Xbox One for titles that are available on both consoles. It’s also worth noting that the Xbox Series X still features a disc drive, so it seems the gaming industry’s dream of streaming-only gameplay has not yet come to fruition.
Other details about the Xbox Series X, such as its specific GPU and CPU model, are still up in the air. Microsoft says more information about the highly-anticipated console will come throughout 2020.