Games

Everything we know about the Xbox Series X and Series S

Everything we know about the X...
The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)
The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)
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Microsoft's Xbox Series X
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Microsoft's Xbox Series X
Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Xbox Series X (and also available on PC and Xbox One)
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Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Xbox Series X (and also available on PC and Xbox One)
The Xbox Series X controller
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The Xbox Series X controller
The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)
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The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)
The Xbox Series S is a more entry-level option for Microsoft's next console generation
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The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)
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Microsoft’s next-generation of gaming consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, are due out very soon. Is it worth jumping in on launch day? And if so, which version is best for you? Here, New Atlas gathers everything we know about the next Xbox’s hardware, games, controllers, features and services.

We’ll continue to update this post as new details come to light.

The basics


  • What: Microsoft’s fourth-generation games consoles
  • Models: Entry-level Xbox Series S, premium Xbox Series X
  • Release date: November 10, 2020
  • Price: US$299 for Xbox Series S, $499 for Xbox Series X

Hardware


Xbox Series X

Microsoft's Xbox Series X
Microsoft's Xbox Series X

  • CPU: Custom AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores @ 3.8 GHz
  • GPU: Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2, 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz
  • (That GPU is eight times more powerful than Xbox One and twice the Xbox One X)
  • Storage: 1 TB Solid-state drive (SSD), 2.4 GB/s raw read speed
  • Storage expansion options: 1 TB Expansion Card, USB 3.1 HDD
  • RAM: 16 GB GDDR6 SDRAM
  • Connection: HDMI 2.1 (Ultra-high speed HDMI cable included)
  • Disc slot: UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, CD

Xbox Series S

The Xbox Series S is a more entry-level option for Microsoft's next console generation
The Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S (right)

  • CPU: Custom AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores @ 3.6 GHz
  • GPU: Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2, 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.565 GHz
  • (That GPU is three times more powerful than Xbox One)
  • Storage: 512 GB Solid-state drive (SSD), 2.4 GB/s raw read speed
  • Storage expansion options: 1 TB Expansion Card, USB 3.1 HDD
  • RAM: 10 GB GDDR6 SDRAM
  • Connection: HDMI 2.1 (Ultra-high speed HDMI cable included)
  • Disc slot: None – digital downloads and streaming only

Technical capabilities


Frame rates: up to 60 and 120 frames per second
Resolution: HD, Full HD, 4K, 8K (Series X only)

Expandable storage
The SSD is expandable through a proprietary 1 TB Expansion Card, produced by Seagate and available at launch. The console is also compatible with an external hard drive through USB 3.2, for previous-generation games.

Quick Resume
Several games can be suspended at once, so players can return to exactly where they left off without having to go through menus and long loading screens. The console will even remember these suspended states after a reboot.

Variable rate shading (VRS)
Allows developers to prioritize effects on certain characters or objects. That means the most important parts can look their best, while maintaining higher resolutions and more stable frame rates.

Hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing
This technique involves tracing the path of light and rendering its interaction with objects in real time. That makes for far more realistic shadows, reflections, and other lighting effects.

Audio raytracing
Applies the same principles to sound. That makes audio acoustics more three-dimensional as sound wave projections bounce off and around objects.

Xbox Velocity Architecture
A new system architecture designed to speed up asset streaming and save memory. It's made up of four components: the custom SSD, a dedicated hardware decompression block, a DirectStorage API, and Sampler Feedback Streaming.

Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Allows the console to automatically set the connected TV to its lowest-latency mode.

Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
Syncs the refresh rate of the display with the frame rate of the game, to minimize the visual “tearing” effect.

Dynamic Latency Input (DLI)
Makes for more responsive input by apparently synchronizing input with what’s on-screen. (That’s what Microsoft says, anyway. We’re not entirely sure how that’s any different from any other controller input system).

Controller

The Xbox Series X controller
The Xbox Series X controller

Very similar design to the Xbox One controller, with a few differences.

  • A new Share button in the middle, for quickly capturing screenshots and video clips
  • New D-pad is a hybrid between that on the classic Xbox One controller, and the circular pad on the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller
  • Rounder edges and slightly smaller controller, designed to fit better in the hand
  • Tactile dot pattern on triggers adds grip

Games

Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Xbox Series X (and also available on PC and Xbox One)
Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Xbox Series X (and also available on PC and Xbox One)

Games confirmed so far for the Xbox Series X and Series S. There aren't really any true exclusives for the new Xboxes – Microsoft's Smart Delivery system (see below) means that first-party games will usually appear on Xbox One and/or PC as well.

Console Exclusives
These are games that won't be available on PlayStation 5, but may be also appear on Xbox One and/or PC.

  • Halo Infinite
  • Gears 5
  • Scorn
  • Bright Memory Infinite
  • Call of the Sea
  • Chorus
  • Scarlet Nexus
  • Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
  • State of Decay 3
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2
  • The Medium
  • The Ascent
  • Second Extinction
  • Orphan of the Machine

Other major games
These games will be available on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, but will appear on PC and/or other consoles.

  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla
  • The Lord of The Rings: Gollum
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Destiny 2
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Immortals: Fenyx Rising
  • Hitman 3
  • Outriders
  • Fortnite
  • Far Cry 6
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Quarantine
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
  • Dirt 5
  • Madden NFL 21
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
  • Warframe
  • WRC 9

Services


Backwards compatibility

  • The Xbox Series X will be able to play digital versions of games from all three prior generations – original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
  • These will have updates taking advantage of the new hardware, including faster load times, higher resolution and better visuals
  • Old save files will carry across
  • Xbox One controllers and accessories will work on the Series X
  • Series X controllers will work on the Xbox One and Windows PCs
  • Xbox Series X players will be able to play multiplayer games with Xbox One players

Smart Delivery

  • Buying a game on either Xbox One or Xbox Series X means you get the other version free as well.
  • Applies to all in-house Xbox Game Studios titles (such as Halo Infinite)
  • All developers and publishers can choose to use this feature too (for example, Ubisoft has confirmed it for Cyberpunk 2077)

Xbox Game Pass

  • Microsoft’s game subscription service will be available on Xbox Series X
  • A monthly or yearly fee includes access to over 100 games, playable on Series X, Xbox One and PC
  • The library of titles will continue to grow

Xbox Live
Microsoft’s online multiplayer service carries across from previous generations.

Project xCloud
The Xbox Series X will have some kind of capability with Project xCloud, Microsoft’s streaming game service. This may mean Xbox Series X games will join the service, allowing users to stream them onto Android phones and tablets. Or it could mean players can stream games onto their Series X consoles.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 27, 2020. This revised and updated version was published on September 10, 2020.

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3 comments
guzmanchinky
This is vary cool, but sitting on a couch with a controller looking at a screen just isn't my definition of fun. My definition of fun starts with VR, lightweight and huge FOV 4k in each eye, no motion sickness somehow. Basically very close to reality in your living room. And I'm sure we will get there very soon...
Daishi
@guzmanchinky I feel kind of the same way about consoles. I'f I'm just sitting there using the controls than my desktop already offers a lot of processing and sufficient controls. It's a little tragic that motion controls have mostly died off outside of their use in VR.
Lex
Just want to say, Xbox Series X will probably be backwards compatible through discs as well like Xbox One. Also, Ubisoft is not the developer for Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red is.