Xbox Series X has arrived. Not on shelves, perhaps, but Microsoft has officially revealed its console to the world. First came a brief teaser at last year's Game Awards, and now Microsoft has revealed the console's specs, capabilities and plans for its launch, at a point in which no-one knows what the PS5 even looks like.
Billed as the company's "fastest, most powerful console ever" the surprise announcement came via a blog post (opens in new tab) written by head of Xbox Phil Spencer. Without further ado, here are all the details you need on Microsoft's next generation console.
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Xbox Series X: Specs and power
The console has been confirmed to pack a custom processor with AMD's new Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures: a processor four times as powerful as an Xbox One. The new processor will allow developers to use 12 Teraflops of GPU, twice the graphical power of an Xbox One X.
DirectX ray tracing, which we already knew about, will provide more immersive environments than ever before, and Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is a new technique which increases the efficiency of the Xbox Series X by prioritising what the console is rendering, such as important objects in the game's environment that the player will be able to interact with.
A solid-state drive, just like the one said to be included on the PS5, will improve "nearly every aspect of playing games" by increasing the size of game worlds and minimising loading times. A new "Quick Resume" feature will allow you to continue multiple games from a suspended state almost instantly, so there's no need to quit one game and boot up another. Neat.
The console will support a 120fps framerate, which is double the amount current-gen games usually run at and will ensure silky-smooth motion onscreen. However, the PS5 will reportedly run games at up to 240fps according to the developer of Gran Turismo, so Sony might have Microsoft's offering beaten here.
Xbox Series X: Those backwards compatibility rumours were true!
One hotly-rumoured aspect of the next-gen consoles appears to have come true, as the Xbox Series X will support games from "four generations of gaming", citing existing backwards compatible Xbox One, 360 and original Xbox games. Xbox One gaming accessories, such as the Elite Series 2 controllers, will also work on the Series X.
Paired with this is a new technology called "smart delivery", which according to Spencer, "empowers you to buy a game once and know that – whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you’re playing on."
This sounds particularly exciting, and proof Xbox is looking to encourage player retention by making sensible, cost-effective decisions rather than having to buy a game on disc, and again on digital download later on. Xbox says the tech will be available to all developers and publishers, but makes no mention as to how this technology will actually work.
Xbox Series X: More to come
With the news games like Halo: Infinite will be available on Xbox's Game Pass subscription service from launch, streaming games looks set to become a huge part of the Xbox Series X's strategy. We still don't know the full lineup of Series X launch titles and we haven't seen the console's gameplay in action, but this huge detail drop lines up with a lot of previous rumours and leaks.
The blog post is a surprise backhand to Sony, who have so far revealed very little about the PS5's capabilities. Microsoft looks further ahead in the race now and Spencer even implies there's more to come, stating "we look forward to boldly sharing more as we head towards E3".
Will this latest salvo spur on a PS5 reveal? It's unlikely: Sony's plans are doubtless already set, and aren't going to be changed by a Microsoft blog post. Nevertheless, we can't wait to finally experience this next generation of games from both major consoles, especially after these new juicy details. It's been a long time coming, but Holiday 2020 is no longer far away...
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