Everything we know about the new Xbox: From its name to its star games

The Xbox has been playing catch-up to PlayStation since 2013. But can it win over gamers with its 2020 release?

It was all looking so good for Microsoft in 2005. While Sony dragged its feet with the release of PlayStation 3, the Redmond, Washington company launched the Xbox 360 and dominated the market until 2013. It had better exclusive games, slicker online capabilities and, most importantly, it was $100 (Dh367) less than a PS3.

But this all changed with the launch of Xbox One. In 2013, Microsoft drove its fans into the arms of the PS4 with decisions that either didn’t make sense or incensed its user base. Not being able to use your physical disc on more than one machine meant you couldn’t borrow games off your mates. And always needing to be online to play anything at all was also met with derision.

The response from the president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft at the time, Don Mattrick, compounded Xbox One’s fate. When questioned about the logic behind an “always-on” connection, Mattrick responded: “Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity – it’s called Xbox 360.” Ouch.

Microsoft soon jettisoned Mattrick as a result, and went on the charm offensive. Although sales of Xbox One will always lag behind PS4, that approach has won over consumers. And with a new Xbox coming up (code-named Project Scarlett) Microsoft is in the perfect position to regain its No 1 status.

Here’s what we know about the coming console.

Check out our in-depth look at the new PlayStation here.

When will it be released?

Microsoft announced at this year’s E3 (the world’s premier expo for computer and videogames) that its new machine (or machines – more on this later) will be out in “Holiday 2020” – so around November or December next year.

What will it be called?

Project Scarlett’s official name is still under wraps. Xbox Two is the obvious choice, but then Microsoft has been known to switch things up between consoles when it comes to names – there was a time when people thought Xbox One would be called Xbox 720.

What are the key features?

If Microsoft are to be believed, the new Xbox will set the bar for videogame consoles in terms of power and speed. It’ll have four times more grunt than Xbox One, which will allow for 8K graphics delivered by ray tracing. In short, the graphics will look incredible and be delivered at astonishing speeds.

You’ll also be able to use your current Xbox One controllers with the new Xbox. Brilliantly, you will be able to play all your old games from the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on it, too – all of which will be delivered with improved graphics.

The Xbox One S, a video game console made by Microsoft and released in 2016. The "S" is a slimmer model of the previous One that was first released in 2013. Besides being smaller, the S has new features like HDR and 4K video from streaming and UHD Blu-Ray sources.  Wikipedia Commons
The Xbox One S was released in 2016. The 'S' is a slimmer model of the previous One that was first released in 2013. Besides being smaller, the S has new features like HDR and 4K video from streaming and UHD Blu-Ray sources. Wikipedia Commons

Elsewhere, cross-device and cross-platform gaming will be a heavy focus for Microsoft during the next generation. Its aim with the new Xbox is to bring gaming communities together online. So whether you’re playing on a smartphone, tablet or rival machine, you will be able to connect with the new Xbox’s multiplayer world.

Will it include cloud gaming?

Yes. Project xCloud is Microsoft’s attempt at a “Netflix of Gaming”. The streaming service will allow you to play any of your games on a compatible smartphone or tablet. You will be able to play with a standard controller and link it to your device via Bluetooth or use the on-screen touch controls.

As it stands, you will be able to play and stream content that you already have on your Xbox at home. But talk in the videogame industry suggests a subscription service like Amazon Prime, StarzPlay or Netflix won’t be too far behind.

What games have been confirmed?

Halo Infinite, another chapter in Xbox’s flagship sci-fi title, has been confirmed as a launch title. Cyberpunk 2077, which will star Keanu Reeves, is also earmarked as day-one release. Beyond this, it’s mostly guesswork. But it’s probably safe to say that annual titles such as Fifa and a new Call of Duty will also join the line-up.

How much will the new Xbox cost?

Here’s where it gets complicated. Industry analysts predict that Microsoft will release up to three versions of the new Xbox. Each will offer something different and will have price points that reflect this. Rumour has it there will be an 8K “pro” version that will be the most expensive; a standard 4K machine that will be slightly less powerful; and a standalone Project xCloud version that won’t play game discs and will be digital-only.

Although no prices have been confirmed, Microsoft will need to hit a sweet spot to ensure that the new Xbox wins the holiday season – and it could absolutely do this with a variety of different models that cater to all budgets.

Updated: September 3, 2019 03:14 PM

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