Last year at E3 the Microsoft Press Briefing’s message seemed to be; “Hey we make games too!” This year the message seems to be “Oi! Check out this new hardware!” For those of you who have been with us for a while, you may recall me making some bold predictions about the future of Xbox. For those who don’t, the gist of it was:
- That Project Scorpio would become Xbox Two.
- That Microsoft would take a leaf out of the Smart Phone playbook and release updated models of the same hardware to solve backward compatibility and licencing issues.
- That we will see a new Xbox every 3-4 years or so.
Well I was wrong about one thing; Scorpio is not the Xbox Two! Nope, in keeping with Xbox’s difficult to comprehend naming conventions Microsoft presents to you the Xbox One X, making its worldwide debut on November 7. I’m going to go ahead and shorten it to XOX (hopefully we can make that stick).
My second prediction seems to be right on the money. Much like the apps on your iPhone, where future models will run them and new apps still run on older phones, all of your Xbox One content, past, present and in the foreseeable future will run on XOX. But also as importantly, all new titles that run on XOX will also still run on your current Xbox One. What they are calling these new titles are Xbox One X Enhanced. Meaning all of the graphics will be scaled up on the XOX compared to the Xbox One. I honestly feel this is a positive step forward for the console industry. No longer are you pushing the reset button every time you invest in new hardware. No longer are you buying new accessories to run on something completely alien to its predecessor (or something so far advanced the old accessories won’t work). No longer do we have to suffer though a launch catalogue of three titles (I’m looking at you Nintendo, SHAME!). You bring with you everything you have built on your Xbox One and in some cases the new Xbox will enhance it (eg, Gears 4, Minecraft, Halo Wars 2, etc). Whether or not we will see another console in 2020/21 remains to be seen, but if I were a betting man my money would be on it being the case.
So Microsoft are really proud of their new puppy. So much so that this E3 presentation felt like one long ad for the XOX, with each new title reveal seeming like it was chosen to show off the new hardware’s capabilities. Watching each title play out on screen the impression I got was; Weather. A lot of it. The environmental capabilities this system can put out is certainly stunning. Storms were raging across Forza, Anthem, Sea of Thieves and many others. Each title looked gorgeous in its own right. That’s because the Xbox One X runs on the following specs:
- The 8-core Custom AMD CPU is clocked at 2.3GHz, called the Scorpio Engine
- 12GB GDDR5 of graphic memory
- A 6 Teraflop GPU
- 326 GB/sec memory bandwidth
- Internal liquid cooling system
- 8Gb of Flash Memory
- 1Tb Internal HDD
- 4K UHD Blu-Ray Optical Disc Drive.
- Dual Band WiFi
- IR Blaster
- 2 HDMI ports (One 1.4b in and one 2.0b out).
- 3 USB 3.0 ports
- 1 IR out port
- 1 S/PDIF Optical Audio Port
- 1 Ethernet Port
According to Microsoft’s own page this makes it capable of native 4K resolution at 60fps with HDR10 Capabilities and DTS 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 True HD with Atmos/PCM 2.0, 5.1 and 7.1 audio output. All of this is cramped into the tiniest Xbox ever produced, making it the angry Mama of the Xbox family. Make no mistake this puppy is a beast but expect this one to be very expensive. It is said to retail in the US for $499. According to Gizmodo, the Aussie price will retail at $649. If this is true, then it will be cheaper than the direct currency conversion from USD to AUD at time of writing. But with that much power you are certainly getting what you pay for.
The Games showcased this E3 were:
- Forza Motorsport 7 (Oct 3)
- Metro: Exodus (2018)
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Oct 27)
- Playerunknown’s Battlegounds (Nov 7)
- Deep Rock: Galactic (Nov 7)
- State of Decay 2 (2018)
- The Darwin Project (TBC)
- Dragon Ball FighterZ (2018)
- Black Desert (2018)
- The Artful Escape (TBC)
- Code Vein (2018)
- Sea of Thieves (2018)
- Tacoma (Aug 7)
- Super Lucky’s Tale (Nov 7)
- Cuphead (Sep 29)
- Crackdown 3 (Nov 7)
- Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episodes 1-3 (Aug 31)
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (Oct 10)
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps (TBC)
Standouts from this lists were Forza 7, pushing the graphical capabilities of the new system right off the bat. Metro: Exodus looked breathtaking. State of Decay 2 looks like it will redefine a co-op survival experience. The Darwin Project looks like an ESPN coverage of The Hunger Games. The visuals of Dragon Ball FighterZ were an absolute treat. Sea of Thieves has me salivating. Super Lucky’s Tale looks like another fun platformer for the kids in a genre that is seriously lacking on the Xbox. And Anthem imagines a place where everyone can be Iron Man. Anthem does look like it will be an instant hit though!
Other interesting announcements were the backwards compatibility program now extending to original Xbox titles. Apparently they will run better than they ever did on the Xbox. Also 30 odd titles will be receiving free 4K updates once XOX launches.
Overall our impressions are that this is a positive step forward for Microsoft. They put on a strong show. It seems like there’s no looking back and Xbox will only get stronger from here.
In case you missed it you can watch the entire stream here –