Microsoft has officially lifted the curtain from its next-generation console platform, codenamed “Project Scarlett.” The successor to the Xbox One family of devices is due out in Holiday 2020 with Halo Infinite as its flagship launch title.
With Project Scarlett, Microsoft aims to set a new bar for console power, speed and performance. Powered by a custom-designed processor from AMD, this next Xbox console will leverage the latest Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture to deliver new levels of gameplay immersion. Paired with high-bandwidth GDDR6 memory and an SSD for storage and even virtual RAM instead of a standard hard drive, Microsoft is aiming to provide developers with the power they need to bring their creative visions to life, and in turn, drastically reduce the length of loading times in games.
Project Scarlett will target native 4K resolution at 60FPS with HDR as standard, with the ability for developers to push the hardware even further to 8K at 120FPS. In addition, Microsoft’s hardware engineering team has also integrated real-time, hardware-accelerated raytracing, variable refresh rate and ultra-low latency input. The company says the system will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, which holds the title for the world’s most powerful console in the market today.
“Project Scarlett will deliver a new level of fidelity, precision and accuracy never before seen in console gaming,” said Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer.
Microsoft is also continuing its commitment to compatibility for Project Scarlett by ensuring your accessories and Xbox career move forward with you, along with thousands of games across four console generations. That includes titles for the Original Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and those being built for the future to release on Project Scarlett. All of these games will look and play best on Microsoft’s next-generation gaming machine when it ships in Holiday 2020.
Disc-based gamers also shouldn’t worry either, as Microsoft has already confirmed that Project Scarlett will include an optical Blu-ray disc drive. Outside of consoles, Microsoft discussed its vision of the future by bringing Xbox to devices everywhere using its Project xCloud game-streaming technology. E3 attendees are among the first the world to play Xbox One games like Halo 5: Guardians and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice streaming onto smartphones and tablets.
“With Project xCloud, Xbox is investing to ensure players have the choice and freedom to play the games they want, with the friends they want, how and where they want.”
In addition, the ability to stream games from your Xbox One console by using it as your own dedicated cloud server will enter preview this October. With console streaming, gamers will have access to their Xbox One game library and Xbox Game Pass titles on the go, streamed directly from an Xbox One console to a mobile device.
Microsoft also unveiled its Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. Inspired by fan-feedback, this second iteration of the Xbox Elite Controller has been re-engineered for “ultimate performance, customization, and durability” with 30 new and improved features such as adjustable-tension thumbsticks, wraparound rubberized grip, shorter hair-trigger locks, and up to 40 hours of rechargeable battery life.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is being dubbed as “the world’s most advanced controller, designed with the most passionate gamers in mind.” It will launch in 24 markets around the world on November 4th, 2019 for $179.99 USD/£159.99 GPB/€179.99 EUR and is available for pre-order now.
At E3, Microsoft also launched Xbox Game Pass for PC via the new Xbox Beta desktop app, available today on Windows 10. This service is designed specifically for PC gamers with a curated library of more than 100 high-quality PC games from over 75 developers and publishers, including fan-favourite PC titles like Football Manager 2019, Imperator: Rome and Metro Exodus. Xbox Game Pass for PC will cost $10 per month but is available at $5 during its initial beta period.
Also available to coincide this new PC offering is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a new plan that combines the curated games library for PC and console with Xbox Live Gold. Xbox Game Pass for console expanded with new titles of its own, including Metro Exodus, Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and Batman: Arkham Knight. Gamers can upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $1 during E3 over the standard $15 per month pricing.
New Xbox Game Studios titles will premiere on Xbox Game Pass on the day of their release, which include Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Battletoads, Bleeding Edge, The Outer Worlds, Ori and the Will of the Wisp and Wasteland 3. Microsoft also announced that 25 upcoming games from the ID@Xbox program will be joining the service. Furthermore, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will receive the Ultimate Edition of Gears 5 from September 6th, which includes The Terminator Dark Fate Character Pack, which adds the Terminator T-800 Endoskeleton and Sarah Connor from the upcoming film Terminator Dark Fate as playable multiplayer characters.
“It’s great to celebrate with our incredible fans and show how we are delivering against our vision to empower gamers to play the games they want, with the friends they want, wherever they want,” said Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. “With thousands of Xbox games in development, we curated our show around our players, with new titles premiering in Xbox Game Pass across console and PC, and game streaming that enables them to play their favorite games, with their friends, wherever they go.”
Microsoft also announced the acquisition of a new studio during its E3 2019 briefing – Double Fine Productions. That brings the total number of development studios under the Xbox Game Studios label to 15. Led by industry veteran Tim Schafer, Double Fine Productions will create new original content for Xbox and PC. The legendary game developer showcased its latest title Psychonauts 2 on Microsoft’s E3 stage, which launches worldwide in 2020 across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
In total, Microsoft offered glimpses at 60 different games from all over the globe out of the thousands of Xbox games that are currently in development. These include upcoming blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Elden Ring, as well as the action-fuelled world of CrossfireX, coming first to console on Xbox One in 2020 with “special content” promised for Xbox Game Pass members, and the blocky depths of Minecraft Dungeons from the team at Mojang, coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.
Microsoft also used its E3 briefing to highlight more than 30 PC games, including the all-new Microsoft Flight Simulator coming to Xbox Game Pass for PC in 2020 and Xbox One at a later with real-time 4K graphics rendering, real-world satellite imagery and data powered by Azure AI. Another fan-favourite making a comeback is Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, which is being developed by a dedicated studio for the Age of Empires franchise led by Shannon Loftis. Microsoft also announced several new titles at the briefing, many of which are coming to Xbox Game Pass in the future. One of these includes a first-person psychological horror game called “Blair Witch,” launching on August 30th, 2019. The complete line-up of announced new games can be found over on the Xbox Wire.
Whilst Turn 10 Studios did not announce a new Forza title at this year’s Xbox E3 Briefing – the next installment into the Forza Motorsport franchise is currently in active development, it did showcase a brand-new expansion for Forza Horizon 4 called LEGO Speed Champions. Available this Thursday, June 13th for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, this new take on the Horizon Festival allows drivers to race and explore a wonderous new LEGO Valley brought to life in Forza Horizon 4. It’s available at no additional cost in the Ultimate Edition, the Expansion Pass or Ultimate Add-Ons Bundle, or as a standalone purchase of $19.99 with Xbox Game Pass members benefiting from a 10% discount.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.