Microsoft Unveils Next-Gen Xbox, Release Set for Late 2020

At this year’s Game Awards, held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, a giant, unexpected announcement took the audience, and the internet, by storm: The reveal of the next-generation Xbox, dubbed the Xbox Series X. The surprising reveal was delivered by Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, who said that the Xbox Series X will be released during the 2020 holiday season, and will “lead us into the future of console gaming.” Microsoft also dropped some details and specs on the new Xbox in a related blog post, so you can go ahead and start speculating on whether or not that claim is accurate.

Microsoft’s first trailer for the Xbox Series X. 

Right off the bat, there are a couple of big highlights worth noting. First of all, there’s that name. Previously known only as “Project Scarlett,” the new Xbox Series X name is more or less a logical continuation of the gaming console’s naming scheme, but this newest iteration does apparently have a lot of gaming fans wondering what Microsoft’s obsession with the letter “X” is all about. The most powerful Xbox currently available, the Xbox One X, is also obviously X’d to the max, and a lot of gamers think the letter needs to be benched for a while. Some have pointed out the allusion to the word “sex” as a possible reason for the new moniker (say it aloud a few times fast and watch the name transform), although that’s only speculation.

Next up is the design. While many have likened the shape of the Xbox One and Xbox One X to a VCR, this new, much more vertical design, now has gamers reminiscing of the Monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Microsoft says that the rectangular obelisk can be flipped on its side without issue, however, which means there’s a simple fix to the many, many design jokes owners of the new Xbox are doubtlessly going to encounter. There is that cooling grate at the top of the console though, which may work better when the Series X is in the vertical position. (Insert Abe Simpson shaking his fist at physics.)

Although Spencer didn’t discuss granular details during the Game Awards, Microsoft’s blog post for Series X did to some extent. According to the post, the Series X will have “world-class visuals” with 4K resolution, 8K capability, support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and the ability to deliver up to 120 frames per second. The gaming system will be powered by Microsoft’s custom-designed processor that uses architecture borrowed from that of AMD’s Ryzen processor, which Microsoft says will allow for “a new level of performance never before seen in a console.” Microsoft also claims that its Xbox Series X GPU and next-generation SSD “will virtually eliminate load times and bring players into their gaming worlds faster than ever before.”

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Microsoft also revealed an updated, wireless controller, which the company says has been “refined to accommodate an even wider range of people.” But the biggest highlight gamers are noting is the addition of a new Share button, which will hopefully make capturing and sharing game clips and screenshots a fluid and intuitive experience. The new controller will be backward compatible with the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, and will be included with the console.

Speaking of backward compatibility, the Series X will allow people to “preserve [their] gaming legacy,” by being backward compatible with thousands of games from the first four generations of the console. All of the gaming accessories for the Xbox One will work with the Series X, as well as services like Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass, for those unfamiliar, is often referred to as the “Netflix of video games,” as it enables gamers to play numerous titles from a large library of games for a monthly subscription fee.

In terms of games, the Series X reveal also came with the announcement of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, a follow-up to the Norse- and Celtic-inspired dark fantasy action-adventure game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The spooky, somewhat NSFW trailer for Hellblade II (above), gives a glimpse of what to expect graphically from the Series X—watch it in 4k if you like being confused about what reality actually is. On top of the Hellblade II trailer, Microsoft also dropped a world premiere trailer for Gears Tactics, a Gears of War spinoff game.

The premiere trailer for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. 

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t announce any release date or price for the Series X, although some are speculating that it will match the price of the Xbox One X, which cost $499 when it was first released. This IGN article discusses one possible way to preorder the Series X, by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which, at some tiers, includes the option to upgrade to the Series X in 12 months.

What do you think of the Xbox Series X? Are you thrilled with the new name, design, and specs, or do you plan on skipping this monolithic console when the 2020 holiday season rolls around? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Images: Microsoft 

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