Next Xbox promises "biggest" generational leap, coming end of 2020
Microsoft has announced that its next Xbox will launch in the 2020 holiday season, along with a brand new Halo title: Halo Infinite. The console is yet to be officially named, with Microsoft still referring to it as "Project Scarlett" when it pops its head round from behind the curtain.
The company revealed some tidbits about what to expect from the "NextBox" (as it almost certainly won't be called), as well as making a number of other games-related announcements.
A still from the Halo Infinite reveal trailer. The game will launch alongside the next Xbox
The Xbox announcement at this year's E3 in Los Angeles promised the "biggest leap" over a preceding generation of consoles that the games industry has ever seen.
We want know how hyperbolic these sentiments will prove for another 18 months, but going into more detail, the next Xbox sounds like it will go toe to toe with PlayStation 5.
Among the details revealed were support for 120 frames-per-second gameplay and 8K resolution, though it's not yet clear if this will apply only to video playback, or games too.
And, much like PlayStation 5, the next Xbox will be powerful enough to handle realtime ray-tracing – realistic, dynamic lighting effects that only made it to high-end PC gaming hardware mid-2018, and which, in theory, could add credence to Microsoft's "generational leap" claim.
Also echoing PlayStation 5 is support for solid state storage, which could see load times slashed from the current gen.
One potential differentiator between Xbox and PlayStation could be cloud gaming. Microsoft remained cagey about the next Xbox's online capabilities, but VP of Games Phil Spencer positioned Project Scarlett as "the foundation of our future in console and the formation of our future in cloud." Microsoft's presentation did expand on its plans for Project xCloud, which will allow developers streaming support, either from Microsoft data centers, or to a user's device from their Xbox.
We know that, like Google, Sony and potentially Amazon, Microsoft intends to go back on games streaming as a service, and with Microsoft's expertise in the cloud and online gaming (Azure and Xbox Live hello) it's well-placed to be successful in this emerging battleground.
Other than its eventual name, there are still two big things we don't know about the next Xbox: what it looks like and what it will cost. Watch this space.
More from Microsoft
Microsoft put on quite the show at E3, bathing attendees in a green glow, like some failed alchemical experiment.
Keanu Reeves puts an appearance in Cyberpunk 2077
By all accounts the biggest cheer was for the absurdly-likeable Keanu Reeves, who appeared on stage to promote Cyberpunk 2077, a future RPG from the makers of The Witcher 3. We now know Reeves appears in the game, which (cue sarcasm) being a piece of noirish sci-fi with characters firmly rooted in the counter culture, should be quite the departure for him. (End sarcasm.)
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Microsoft also released Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which, beyond being a declaration of war on English grammar as we know it, is also a bundled game service including Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass plus the addition of Xbox Game Pass for PC. The package, which costs US$14.99 a month grants access to both its Xbox and PC games libraries, essentially halving the cost of subscribing to all available services on both formats. So that's good.
Other announcements included the release of Gears 5 for September 10, 2019, Microsoft's acquisition of indie studio favorite Double Fine, of Brütal Legend, Broken Age and Psychonauts fame.
We'll continue to keep an eye on E3 and will be sure to bring you any big-ticket announcements as and when they happen.
You can check out the Project Scarlett reveal trailer below.