Feature Article

Next-Gen Xbox Scarlett Won't Just Have Prettier Graphics

Next-Gen Xbox Scarlett Won't Just Have Prettier Graphics

It's all about giving players the best experience.

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At E3 2019, Microsoft gave the world its first taste of Project Scarlett, the next generation of Xbox. While the company didn't showcase the actual hardware, it did reveal some interesting insight into what we can expect from the console. We know it'll boast a solid state drive (much like Sony's PS5) and will be approximately four times as powerful as the Xbox One X, which currently has the distinction of being the most powerful system on the market.

Project Scarlett's added horsepower will undoubtedly allow developers to produce some stunning titles, but visuals aren't the only aspect of gaming that Microsoft is looking to improve with its new console generation. As head of Xbox Phil Spencer told GameSpot in an exclusive, in-depth interview following E3, making sure that games will run smoothly and load quickly will be a major focal point in the next generation.

"I think the area that we really want to focus on next generation is frame rate and playability of the games," Spencer said. "Ensuring that the games load incredibly fast, ensuring that the game is running at the highest frame rate possible. We're also the Windows company, so we see the work that goes on [for] PC and the work that developers are doing. People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K 60 [FPS] I think will be a real design goal for us.

"The thing that's interesting is, this generation, we've really focused on 4K visuals and how we bring both movies through 4K Blu-ray and video streaming, and with Xbox One X allowing games to run at 4K visuals will make really strong visual enhancements next generation. But playability is probably the bigger focus for us this generation. How fast do [games] load? Do I feel like I can get into the game as fast as possible and while it's playing? How does it feel? Does this game both look and feel like no other game that I've seen? That's our target."

Microsoft isn't just looking toward the future with Project Scarlett, either; the company also wants to ensure that players still have access to all of their older games as we move into a new generation of consoles. Whereas the PS4 and Nintendo Switch both forwent backwards compatibility, the Xbox One has built up an impressive library of backwards compatible games encompassing some of the best offerings from the Xbox 360 and even the original Xbox. Spencer stresses that Microsoft will maintain this commitment not only to older titles, but also your existing controllers.

"We really like the reception and the use that we've seen through the [Xbox One backwards compatibility] program. Making sure that all four generations of content--so the original Xbox games that run on your Xbox One today, the OG Xbox; the 360 games that run on your Xbox One; your Xbox One games; and the new generation games--all run on the next platform is important to us. We want to respect the games that you've bought from us. We want to make sure that the generations can play with each other, so if you happen to adopt the next generation early and somebody stays back, that if their games are on both platforms, you'll be able to cross-gen play.

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So really, the things that you've bought from us, whether the games or the controllers that you're using, we want to make sure those are future compatible with the highest fidelity version of our console, which at that time will obviously be the one we've just launched."

"Another thing that will be a little bit new for us is the fact that we want to also respect the compatibility of the controllers that you already have. This generation, we came out with the Elite controller, we've done work on controllers and people have invested in personalized controllers, the things that they love and we want to make those compatible with future generations of our console as well. So really, the things that you've bought from us, whether the games or the controllers that you're using, we want to make sure those are future compatible with the highest fidelity version of our console, which at that time will obviously be the one we've just launched."

Project Scarlett is slated to arrive in Holiday 2020 with Halo Infinite as a launch title. Spencer discussed a number of other topics in our interview, including Microsoft's cloud gaming initiative, xCloud; the company's E3 2019 presentation; and the state of competition between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Spencer also shed more light on the troubled reveal of the Xbox One back in 2013. Be sure to check out our other stories from our interview with Phil Spencer, as well as our in-depth profile of the Xbox head.

So really, the things that you've bought from us, whether the games or the controllers that you're using, we want to make sure those are future compatible with the highest fidelity version of our console, which at that time will obviously be the one we've just launched."

More Exclusive Phil Spencer Coverage

Our conversations with Phil Spencer covered much more in addition to this deep dive into the next-gen Xbox console. For more inside looks at Spencer and his thoughts on the past, present, and future of Xbox, check out all our coverage in the stories linked below.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for screamingsatori
ScreamingSatori

4k is overrated, IMO. I'm perfectly happy with the 2 1080p 3D TVs I own, and I refuse to upgrade until they start making 3D TVs again.

Avatar image for gamerbum
GamerBum

Microsoft really are knocking it out of the park. They want to give their fans the best possible experience they can and X1X was just the start. I feel as long as Phil is the boss they won’t be beaten every again when it comes to consoles. The same goes for there online network (XBL) and gaming/subscription deals aka Xbox Gamepass and Gamepass Ultimate.

And now with all the first party studios recently acquired along with the ones they already have and of course the big 3 there’s a good chance there going to have the biggest and best selection of exclusives.

Imo they already have the best exclusives so more is great.

I just can’t help but feel that Xbox are doing more for gaming and their fans than what the other big 2 are doing but it’s always been that way. Long may it continue.

Avatar image for rexoverbey
rexoverbey

Install times are the worst on these consoles and downloading patches and installing those.

Avatar image for bdrtfm
BDRTFM

Some people say load times aren't that big a deal. I mean if it's the only improvement, I could see their point but, not having to sit and watch a loading screen for 2 minutes every time you die in the game or open a door in an RPG to me would be a huge improvement. I hate loading screens. Especially those dumb ass ones where they make you walk through a tight space and make it look like you're having a hard time fitting through it, like they did in THIEF and Tomb Raider when its actually just the game taking too long to load the next area. Or how about those QT events that sometimes cause the game to stutter while it loads. Yeah, I could live without those.

Avatar image for shtiken
shtiken

@bdrtfm: If someone thinks it's not a big deal then it's because they're both ignorant on how it could drastically change design, in addition to how much it will improve the general experience.

It's one of those things that once you have it you'll realize how trash what you had before it was.

Even now going from PC with fast storage to a console is a massive difference, and those games don't even take advantage of fast storage in terms of design and are just limited to (much) faster loading and less wasted time.

Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

as long as the game in fun or decent, then i'm good.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

We know. At the biggest and most important game show on the planet, Microsoft showed a VIDEO of talking heads, prattling on mostly about the SSD in the Nextbone, something we already knew about 2 months ago when Mark Cerny told us and SHOWED it in some form of capacity too for PS5.

Avatar image for thelostscribe
Thelostscribe

Performance is something i feel this generation of consoles lacked, until the X and Pro. The Xbox One for sure was under powered this gen.

Avatar image for Berserk8989
Berserk8989

@thelostscribe: The X and PRO still lack on the performance front due to their horrible CPU's. Ryzen will change that in next gen, though. I'm confident 60 fps will be the standard in next gen (maybe not at 4K in some games, but definitely close to it, like 1800p or so, which is still absolutely fine and still a massive jump from 1080p in terms of clarity).

Avatar image for pinkfloyd6789
pinkfloyd6789

@Berserk8989: i think we shouldnt forget that next genis not all the way different on fundamentals. next gen will bring higher res and better texture and (most important) better FPS. this means ps4 or /xone will still have the capability to play next gen games on lower res and lower frame times. i dont specifically like higher res, only thing that intimidates me is the FPS. otherwise i will stick to my PRO on 1080p cuz there are no much differences on higher res content.

Avatar image for thelostscribe
Thelostscribe

@Berserk8989: Eh, I thought about the CPU thing when I posted the comment. The CPU's are still small considering, but the X does offer 1080p 60 for a lot of games or 4k 30. The One struggled to deliver games at 1080p, so I consider the X a massive upgrade and the loading times are much better.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

@Berserk8989: True but one console keeps putting out absolutely stunning current gen games, the other keeps on putting out mediocre crap mostly on Unreal Engine 4.

Say what you want about the CPUs in current gen consoles https://forum.beyond3d.com/threads/ghost-of-tsushima-ps4.60461/page-4 Look at the people in that thread claiming its a "PS5 game" they are looking at (much like the people that 3 months ago were claiming Death Stranding was a PS5 game only too), even with the gifs running at 500p lol.

THAT is how impressive PS4 games have consistently been this gen with that crappy CPU and its not even over yet.

Avatar image for metalviper72
Metalviper72

@andrewsqual: I could never mistake Death Stranding as a PS5 game. Everyone is mostly wooing and wowing over the cut scenes, but those in game graphics look like some that could have been done to on the PS3. The in game visuals aren't that impressive, actually. And to be honest, the more they show of the game, more interes I lose in it. Now Cyberpunk 2077--THAT'S a game one could mistake as next gen!

Avatar image for thelostscribe
Thelostscribe

@andrewsqual: There are some pretty stunning games on Xbox One X as well. Go back and look at Quantum Break on the X, or Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5. Even Far Cry 5 is a huge change compared to the standard systems.

Death Stranding I knew was a current gen game, but I will say I didn't think the FFVII remake was a current gen game.

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onehitta323

@thelostscribe: ff7 remake was confirmed for awhile for ps4. Not sure why you would think otherwise.

Avatar image for thelostscribe
Thelostscribe

@onehitta323: It was announced years ago and development was terribly rocky, with no firm release date. With the new systems hitting in 2020 and how good the game looked, I figured it was geared for next gen at this point.

Avatar image for ballis
Ballis

I like Phil. But unless MS demands all games released on the platform being 60, how are they really focusing on it? If like now, devs can do AS they please, I still think many will focus on eyecandy rather than framerate. Is this just a first party thing?

Avatar image for shtiken
shtiken

@ballis: Well, maybe they mean for their own games, and in terms of offering a better balance between CPU and GPU so that 60fps is easier to achieve for 3rd parties, instead of it being a struggle like this gen because of the severely underpowered CPU.

At the end of the day it's up to individual devs though, making shooting for 60fps easier is all Microsoft can do.

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realguitarhero5

I would hope; I usually like it when my games are able to be played

Avatar image for ThePlantain
ThePlantain

Nice to hear about the focus on framerate. That's one of my concerns. I was hoping when this gen started 60 fps would've been the standard. I'm most likely getting the next PS but I'm sure they'll try to keep up.

Avatar image for elric3000
elric3000

Xbox has made terrific strides in winning back trust. Game Pass has been a fantastic value, though it has some things to work on, especially with games always leaving, including a few exclusives.

Also, a move to aggressively lower the price and/or make a trade deal to upgrade for those who have the Base One or S would help those struggling with the console's hardware issues in a number of AAA titles.

If developers would agree to cross platform, I;m looking at Elder Scrolls Online and a few other MMO's here as well, Sony would maybe be more willing to cooperate. As a consumer, I believe in buying game once and being allowed to play it on whatever I wish, within hardware limitations and what not.

So far, I think Xbox is looking to a very bright future.

Avatar image for judge99
Judge99

@elric3000: if you were Sony why would you agree for cross platform??

Sony is winning because they create better GAMES (console exclusive)

And cloud based gaming ?!

Microsoft is thinking about their pocket.

They want to corner the market on cloud gaming experience!?!

Try just making better games for the console you have lol

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@elric3000: Until they try to drive everything to Azure because that is their only goal. Make a good console, support it well with Live and subscription based Gamepass offerings - Stay the hell away from this cloud BS no one wants but MS does because they can try to dominate the cloud infrastructure like they do with the Desktop, and focus on good games.

Avatar image for bigbluebustn
BigBlueBUSTN

sorry, microsoft can say whatever they please, im laughing already at anyone who falls for their marketing. pc and ps5 ftw

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lonesamurai00

@bigbluebustn: PC yes, PS5 NO! - Those nasty console graphics.

Avatar image for bigbluebustn
BigBlueBUSTN

@lonesamurai00: well ill take those graphics if it means i can play sonys library of exclusives, im not cutting myself off from great games lol and btw console graphics are just dumbed down they are close to on par with medium high settings

Avatar image for lonesamurai00
lonesamurai00

@bigbluebustn: And you find that acceptable? Well to each his own - enjoy seriously.

Avatar image for tony56723
Tony56723

@bigbluebustn: I’d be careful with that confidence as cocky Sony seems to be coming back which should concern anyone who buys PS consoles.

Avatar image for onehitta323
onehitta323

@tony56723: wrong. I haven't been concerned about sony at all. Every gen is great and has amazing games. I'm definitely not buying an xbox until I actually see amazing games released for it. I fell for the xbox one hype at release that was based off of HOPE. Instead I got NOPE.

Avatar image for dangermonkey
DangerMonkey

@bigbluebustn: You've clearly forgiven Sony for their anti-consumer Fortnite stance and "get two jobs to buy our high-priced console" PS3 rhetoric - don't Microsoft deserve the exact same grace?

Avatar image for walbo
walbo

@bigbluebustn: come on man you can't say they haven't made a huge improvement since phill took over. Game pass is an excellent feature they have bought and invested in a lot of developers for future first party games and the x is the best console out there performance wise these are all facts. Now look back to 2013 with the underpowered xbox that forced kinnect on to you and combine that with the fact they where trying to force it as something that was to go with every TV for the sake of TV haha.

Online
Avatar image for bigbluebustn
BigBlueBUSTN

@walbo: just saying, be careful...their track record speaks for itself.

Avatar image for walbo
walbo

@bigbluebustn: do you have an example apart from their launch in 2013.only other thing I can think of is rrod but that was a manufacturing problem not a gaming decision.

Online
Avatar image for lonesamurai00
lonesamurai00

It's the developer's perception of the two platforms that really makes all the difference. For obvious reasons, a game developer will always see the PC as the more capable platform in terms of graphics and performance, and they will develop and code to those strengths. Consoles will always be the platform where sacrifices need to be made. But that isn't always a bad thing, particularly where first-party games are concerned as they have more bespoke levels of care given to them.

The real plus for the console is that developers can extract every bit of performance from the platforms hardware in contrast to the PC, but it's still mitigated by the fact that a PC Gamer has access to a host of very very deep settings and tweaks at his command. Processing power is where consoles will really finally get a major boost.

One aspect that I really like about the PC is the collaboration between games developers, and Nvidia. In the past 5 years games on the PC platform have their very own level of exclusive features, giving the games on that platform a very bespoke look and feel all their own - and the number of third-party titles keeps growing. DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling) and the role it will play in RTX custom ray-tracing is what really intrigues me the most, and that's just for right now.

Bottom line though, it's the perception of the developer and how they see each platforms strengths and weaknesses that guides them.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

Honestly my favorite thing about this new console is the immediate focus on supporting your controllers, and adopting the backwards compatibility program straight off the X1. Considering they are taking almost 2 years off of releasing new BC games, I wouldn't be surprised if at launch they hit us with a massive wave of BC titles.

It does make me really wonder what an Xbox Scarlett controller would look like though. I'd say it's hard to imagine improving the X1 pad because it's so perfect (DualSuck is the one that is Asymmetrical) but I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't have misplaced hope that they, or anyone, would just ADD Z & C back to the current layout. Not relocated bumpers, or any of that nonsense. Just flat out 2 more buttons, right back where they belong.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@skyhighgam3r: The Elite Controller is the best one to use. The New Elite controller V2 looks to be awesome.

Avatar image for zero0010
Zero0010

Console shouldn't have to keep up with PC. What they should be focusing is on innervation. Stuff that the PC can't do. Console use to do this before with split-screen/couch co-op and even the kinect and wii motion console which pc couldn't do at the time.. Greed and the demand for better Frames and graphic kept this from continuing.

Hope they bring back 4 player split screen

Avatar image for dangermonkey
DangerMonkey

@zero0010: No real excuses not to make split screen a standard on the new console, really. The original Xbox One model needed all the grunt it could get to deliver the best single player experiences but with Scarlett if they're aiming for 4K 60FPS standard they should be able to do split screen and beyond at 30 FPS and maybe the res slightly dialed down.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@zero0010: meh you can always drag out your N64 if you want that :)

Avatar image for zero0010
Zero0010

@deviltaz35: and talking to my friends in person.... I don't want that!

Avatar image for BigPrimeNumbers
BigPrimeNumbers

He's saying all the things I want to hear: faster loading, 60fps gameplay, end a commitment to games always coming with you across devices (as well as controllers). This stuff has got me really excited for the next generation!

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@BigPrimeNumbers: They will be capable of 120 fps and possibly beyond too. Not at 4k but you could see the possibility of lower resolution options such as 1080p at 120 fps or 4k at 60 for example. You would need a compatible display to take advantage of it though is the only downside.

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Elwinaidus

Games we want games ffs

Avatar image for shakesmcqueen
ShakesMcQueen

@elwinaidus: They more than doubled the size of their first-party studios organization, and it's still too early about games that are coming out next gen. There's a reason Sony took E3 2019 off completely.

Avatar image for onehitta323
onehitta323

@shakesmcqueen: so what? Where are the games? I'm not buying an xbox based off of hope.

Avatar image for shakesmcqueen
ShakesMcQueen

@onehitta323: I don't think I suggested you or anyone else buy an Xbox One right now based on anything, least of all "hope".

I pointed out that "games we want games" is a ridiculous response, when they are clearly taking large, expensive steps to solve that problem - even if it doesn't solve it overnight.

There is no quick fix to first-party exclusives.

Avatar image for bigbluebustn
BigBlueBUSTN

@elwinaidus: shhhh, people are already falling for features over games, every gen its the same thing, wonder when sheep will get the point. you want games you have pc, ps, and nintendo. you want features not related to exclusives? get an xbox

Avatar image for dangermonkey
DangerMonkey

@bigbluebustn: The reason I play my Xbox One foremost over my Switch and PC is actually because of games - primarily, the fact that I've been able to take most of my original Xbox and 360 games forward with me and been able to continue to play them on my current console without having to fork out money to buy them over and over again. The fact the Xbox One X gets the best version of console third party games doesn't hurt either. All to do with games.

Avatar image for onehitta323
onehitta323

@dangermonkey: lmao you obviously don't have a switch, pc, or ps4 if you're claiming the xbox is your go to for games lmao. Sorry but the reason I buy next gen consoles is to play NEW games. Not my old games for consoles that I already have lmao.

Avatar image for Lord_Sesshy
Lord_Sesshy

@bigbluebustn: You mean like PSVR/Move? HD Rumble? They all try to introduce new hardware and features. The fact that you only have a problem with MS doing it just means you are a hater for no other reason then "just because".

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