2020 is a new console year, with Microsoft releasing their next Xbox, and Sony giving us the PS5.
Initially being developed under the codename of “Project Scarlett“, Microsoft confirmed its new gaming machine will in fact be called the Xbox Series X at last year’s Game Awards.
But with the console now only a few short months away, there is still a lot left to be discussed and confirmed by Microsoft.
Here's everything you need to know:
How powerful will it be?
Microsoft’s next Xbox console will be the company’s most powerful to date when it goes on sale at the end of the year, ushering in a new generation of high-powered gaming.
The new console will be four times more powerful than the current Xbox One X, thanks to a new custom-designed processor.
It is expected to offer frame rates up to 120 frames per second – twice that of the average TV set – and will support 8K-resolution playback, despite the fact the majority of current TVs cannot support the ultra high definition resolution.
Xbox head Phil Spencer claimed the Series X will represent the biggest generational leap in Microsoft’s console history when first teasing the new machine back in 2018, calling it “the most powerful and highest-performing console we’ve ever designed.”
It features AMD’s Zen 2 CPU architecture and RDNA 2 graphics architecture, a custom-designed solid state drive, GDDR6 SDRAM, and support for real-time ray-tracing, up to 120 frames per second rendering, and 8K resolution.
What does it look like?
The Xbox Series X has a minimalist design, all sleek and black and cuboid.
It’s certainly modern-looking, but it's not likely to distract your gaze from the TV screen either.
The console is approximately 6 inches (15 cm) wide and deep, and 12 inches (30 cm) tall; while configured in this vertical orientation, the unit can also be used on its side.
Is this a ‘next-gen’ console?
When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X a few years ago, and rivals Sony unleashed the PlayStation 4 Pro, many assumed this heralded the end of traditional console generations as we knew it.
Instead of brand new machines, these were iterative upgrades to existing hardware. Yes, they were more powerful and could deliver more impressive graphics, but crucially, all games worked across both the improved consoles and their under-powered comrades.
It seems the Xbox Series X will be a true generational leap, though you might not have to worry about making an expensive upgrade just yet.
For the first year or so of its life, it appears as if most (if not all) games will run across both the new machine and Microsoft’s older models, although they will obviously look and play best on the Series X.
Eventually, as games get more ambitious in visuals and scope, we will likely see titles developed exclusively for the Series X.
The new console will also be backwards-compatible, with Microsoft announcing that “thousands of games across four console generations will look and play best” on the machine.
“If now is not the time for you to buy a new console, and you're going to stay with the console you have, we're going to keep supporting that console,” Spencer recently told the BBC.
What is the new controller like?
It’s not just the Xbox itself that’s seeing a next-gen upgrade – the controller you’ll actually use to play the games is also seeing some improvements.
The console will come with an updated version of the Xbox controller, with a slightly more compact ergonomic design, a concave circle pad similar to the existing ‘Elite’ Controller, and a newly-added “Share” button. The new controller will be compatible with existing Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs.
Existing Xbox One controllers will be supported by the console, so there’s no need for an expensive upgrade if you’re looking for an extra controller to play with a friend.
How much does it cost?
Neither Microsoft nor Sony has confirmed the RRP of their new consoles, and it’s not hard to see why.
The two rival companies are essentially locked in a don’t blink contest; as soon as one announces the price, the other can sweep in to undercut it with a cheaper model.
Expect the cost of the Series X to be one of the last bits of information we know, but it is believed it will be fairly pricey with all of the high-spec tech running under the hood.
Xbox One X – currently the most powerful and technologically advanced console in Microsoft’s portfolio – retails for around £350 at the time of writing.
Expect the Series X to cost at least as much as an Xbox One X – which retailed from £449.99 when it went on sale in November 2017 – and perhaps as much as £500, though these are just estimates.
When will it be released?
Again, the release date remains an unknown quantity.
All we know is that the Series X Is pencilled in for a ‘Holiday 2020’ release, so we can reasonably expect it to be available in time for Christmas.