Xbox fans were left giddy with excitement this week after general manager Aaron Greenberg promised that Project Scarlett would enjoy a massive CPU upgrade. Project Scarlett is the codename for Microsoft’s next-gen console, which will be released to great fanfare at the tail end of 2020.
The PlayStation 5 is also due to hit shelves in the not too distant future and the onus is on Microsoft to dazzle gamers with Project Scarlett as it bids to win the next generation of console wars.
Here is everything we know about Xbox Scarlett so far:
What is Project Scarlett?
Microsoft has referred to Project Scarlett as the future of gaming. It is the codename assigned to the next console it will release, following the Xbox, the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. The series has been popular, as the Xbox sold 24 million units and the Xbox 360 sold 84 million units after vanquishing the PS3.
The Xbox One has sold more than 40 million units, and Microsoft will hope that the next-gen console will perform better. The team that built the Xbox One X has been working on Project Scarlett for many months already.
When will the new Xbox be Released?
Microsoft recently revealed that the new Xbox would arrive in time for “Holiday 2020”. That suggests the console will be in stores in time for Thanksgiving on November 25 or Christmas a month later. You would expect it to come out a fair few weeks before Christmas in order to capitalize on a huge gifting opportunity next year.
The Xbox One was released on November 22, 2013, while the Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, and the Xbox was released on November 15, 2001, so it seems safe to assume that the new console will be released on November 2020, provided everything goes to plan.
What Specs will it Boast?
The team has promised that Project Scarlett will set a new bar for console power, speed and performance. “With a custom-designed AMD processor, high bandwidth GDDR6 memory and a next generation solid state drive, Project Scarlett will give developers the power they need to bring their creative visions to life,” said Microsoft on its website.
The console will utilize Zen 2 and Navi architecture, and it will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, capable of running games at frame rates of 120Hz and with 8k resolutions. The RAM will be GDDR6, and it will still have a physical disk drive, although there will be the option of using the storage system as virtual ram.
“For next-gen, I think you’ll see a big upgrade in CPU, because we want to make sure you don’t have any compromises with frame rate,” said Greenberg in an interview at Gamescom 2019 this week. “Yes, we can do 4K, but we can also do frame rates up to 120. I think that type of capability will be something people don’t see today.
And then the high-speed instant gaming using solid state drives to enable instant resume, getting into games and being able to play by removing load times and load screens that exist today. That’s going to be a huge change.”
What is Project xCloud?
This streaming platform made its first appearance in March and visitors to the E3 conference were able to see it in action. Phil Spencer, the head of the Xbox brand, revealed that it will allow gamers to transform an Xbox console into an XCloud server, allowing them to stream games to connected devices.
Live gameplay video will be sent to the compatible device and controller codes are sent in the opposite direction. It will be a free cloud gaming service, designed to sit alongside disk-based games and digital downloads on Scarlett.
“I’m not trying to say to you today, ‘Go sell your consoles and sell your gaming PC and all the gaming that you’d ever want to do should come from the cloud,’ as we really look at xCloud as an option for you,” said Spencer in an interview with Wired.
“It definitely gives you something to do on the go. But we see it as additive to the experience and giving our customers choice about how they want to play.” It will go into beta testing later this year, and it should ensure that the new Xbox is the most versatile platform in the next generation.
What Games will the new Xbox Feature?
Halo Infinite has been confirmed as the first launch title of the new Xbox, which is outrageously exciting news for fans of the series. The big criticism labeled at Xbox One is the lack of great exclusive games, as Sony has fared better in that department, so Microsoft is going in hard and heavy with the sixth installment of the supremely popular Halo series.
It continues the story of the Master Chief and it promises to tell a “much more human” narrative this time around. Split screen will return, after its removal on Halo 5 sparked a furious fan backlash. Thousands of games from previous generations of Xbox consoles will be playable on the new console due to backwards compatibility, and Microsoft will surely be working on securing a number of additional exclusive titles to launch with.
Competitive gaming is on the rise and the industry will be worth more than $1 billion this year. Gaming PCs dominate the esports sector – take a look at the esports betting markets to see the most popular competitive titles and you will notice that the vast majority are PC games – but Microsoft is now trying to give console players a PC experience by massively improving the power, including backwards technology and championing adaptive controllers, which could see the new Xbox muscle into the flourishing esports space.
How much will the new Xbox cost?
There is no official indication right now as to how much the new console will cost, but speculation is rife across social media, blogs and forums. One theory suggests that Microsoft will release two consoles: a high-powered machine under the codename Anaconda, and a budget version currently referred to as Lockhart.
It could be that the latter is a low-power device designed for xCloud compatibility, while the Anaconda would be priced in line with the PS5. The general consensus is that the PS5 will cost around $499, and Microsoft will be wary of going too much higher than that.
Will it Incorporate VR?
Microsoft has not mentioned VR when discussing the new Xbox. However, Sony has confirmed that the PSVR will work on its own incoming console, which could inspire Microsoft to take the plunge. It is fair to say that Microsoft lost the current generation of console wars, as the PS4 massively outsold the Xbox One.
Microsoft’s machine was riddled with trust issues on launch, it was more expensive and it has not boasted the same level of exclusive titles, while the marketing has lagged behind. It is now vital for the Xbox team to come out swinging in 2020 and it cannot leave any stones unturned, so we may yet see VR capabilities coming into the mix.