Xbox Series X: Game Lineup, Release Date, Unreal Engine 5, And More For The Next-Gen Console

Project Scarlett is officially known as the Xbox Series X--here's everything Microsoft has revealed.

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Microsoft has been drip-feeding information about its next-gen console, Xbox Series X, ever since it was first revealed at The Game Awards 2019--we've heard details about how Xbox Series X will handle backwards compatibility, for example, as well as what the console's specs will be. Looking a lot like a PC tower, the Xbox Series X is a console powerhouse able to pull off variable-rate shading and ray-tracing, a quick resume function, and a brand-new "smart delivery" feature. Its controller is similar in design to the one for Xbox One, though it's fairly different from PlayStation 5's DualSense. Most recently, we may have gotten a tease of the Xbox Series X boot screen and sound, as part of Microsoft's announcement for a first-look Xbox Series X gameplay event taking place on May 7. We also got confirmation that the console will make use of the same Unreal 5 technology possible on PS5, meaning there should be little issue for the same games to run on both.

Below, we compile everything there is to know about Xbox Series X--from its announcement as Project Scarlett to today. So if you're looking for a more comprehensive overview, including information on storage and playing your current Xbox One games, keep reading. We'll update this article as more details are shared; critical details like an exact release date, price, and whether there will be more than one model of the system in 2020 are among the many topics we're still waiting for Microsoft to nail down. When July rolls around, we'll hear more about other first-party games planned for launch on the system, including the next Halo game.

Name

Once known as Project Scarlett, the official name for Microsoft's next-gen console is Xbox Series X. Spencer explains that the name allows a certain flexibility when it comes to additional model names in the future, lending credence to the rumors that Microsoft actually has two next-gen consoles in development--Xbox Series X and a cheaper, possibly all-digital version codenamed Project Lockhart.

Release Date

Microsoft announced that Xbox Series X is currently scheduled to release Holiday 2020. This is about seven years after the launch of the original Xbox One. According to Microsoft, COVID-19 will not impact the console's launch. That means it will likely release very close to the PS5, which has also not indicated a shift from its original date.

Price

Microsoft hasn't announced an official price for Xbox Series X yet--the console isn't even up for pre-order. Before trying to sell customers on the console, Microsoft wants consumers to have a chance to better understand what Xbox Series X can do. The Game Awards presents an ideal stage for announcing a product, but it's not a very good place for getting tech into the hands of the public. Though Microsoft hasn't confirmed anything, this probably means we can expect additional Xbox Series X reveals during E3 2020.

Hardware

The Xbox Series X looks an awful lot like a PC desktop tower, though--like the Xbox 360, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X--you can lay it down horizontally too. Though the console looks massive, it's actually not all that big. Grab an Xbox One controller if you have one handy and lay it down on the table. The Xbox Series X is about that wide. Now stand the controller upon its grips and multiply that height by three--that's the approximate height of the Xbox Series X. Since the console is a square tower, it's as deep as it is wide.

Like the Xbox One, most of the Xbox Series X's ports are on the back of the console. The only features on the front are the Xbox button, disc drive, and the eject button. There doesn't appear to be a USB port on the front (like with the Xbox One X) for easily connecting a wired controller.

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Controller

Speaking of controllers, the Xbox Series X controller is almost identical to the one for the Xbox One, including its use of AA batteries instead of a rechargeable pack. The major difference is the addition of a Share button--which is positioned in the middle of the controller below the power button. Like on the PS4 DualShock 4, you can press this Share button to easily take screenshots and capture video clips.

There are few other minor differences between the Xbox Series X and Xbox One controllers. The Xbox Series X has a modular hybrid d-pad, making it easier to do diagonal inputs. The controller's overall size is also slightly smaller, and the back of the controller is curved differently. Other than that though, the Xbox Series X and Xbox One controllers are basically identical--which makes sense given that both sets of controllers can be used with either console. You'll be able to play on Xbox Series X with your Xbox One controllers or take your Xbox Series X controllers to go back and play on Xbox One.

Backwards Compatibility

The Xbox Series X supports backwards compatibility for all three previous generations of Xbox console, and according to Microsoft, they'll play even better. At the very least, Xbox Series X will be able to play all Xbox One games day one. Xbox One games installed on an external hard drive can be played immediately when plugged into Xbox Series X.

The company hasn't clarified the same for original Xbox and Xbox 360 games--but it's probable that Xbox Series X will be able to play all Xbox and Xbox 360 games that are currently backwards compatible on Xbox One. Whether Microsoft adds more Xbox and Xbox 360 games to that list remains to be seen. It's worth noting that Xbox Series X will support cross-generation multiplayer. This is important for launch game Halo Infinite, as it will be releasing on both systems and supports the Smart Delivery system.

Microsoft executive Aaron Greenberg also reiterated the company's support for past generations of games rather than moving forward full-steam ahead on the Xbox Series X. This is in contrast to the PS5 approach, which will have complete exclusives right out of the gate.

Games

Currently, there are only a few games confirmed for Xbox Series X, which includes Halo Infinite, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, and Cyberpunk 2077. It's likely Microsoft will confirm more new games on the platform, such as Gears Tactics, so be sure to check back often as we update this feature with more Xbox Series X games as they get announced.

Microsoft held a special third-party partner showcase on May 7 at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET. One of the games to appear during this event was Assassin's Creed Valhalla. First party games will be shown later this summer during a July presentation, and Halo Infinite has been confirmed to appear.

Given that Xbox Series X is backwards compatible, the console will support a Smart Delivery feature in order to make sure you're always downloading the right version of the game you want to play. Games that support this feature include Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla. At least with the latter, you will be able to get the full Xbox Series X version if you initially buy the Xbox One version. Other games with Smart Delivery include Chorus, Scarlet Nexus, The Ascent, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2.

The Xbox Series X will support Unreal Engine 5, including its Lumen and Nanite technologies for lightning and geometry. This is despite the engine being announced with a demonstration on a PlayStation 5 development kit. Fortnite on Xbox Series X will transition to Unreal Engine 5 in 2021.

Performance And Specs

The Xbox One X is already a powerhouse--currently the most powerful console on the market--but the Xbox Series X is even faster. Spencer says Series X's GPU is eight times faster than that of the base Xbox One, making it twice as fast as the Xbox One X. The CPU is purportedly much stronger than what's been seen in consoles before. Spencer says it's four times more capable than previous consoles, but he hasn't confirmed which exact consoles.

Xbox Series X supposedly runs really quietly too (at least as silently as the Xbox One X), managing to keep itself cool with one fan and additional heatsinks. We don't have all the specs for Xbox Series X yet, but we've compiled what we know into a feature that compares the console to Sony's PlayStation 5.

Confirmed Console Exclusives

Currently, Xbox Series X doesn't definitively have any console exclusives. Halo Infinite--the sixth mainline game in Microsoft's shooter franchise--will be available for Xbox Series X on day one, but the game will release for Xbox One too.

During The Game Awards, Microsoft announced that a sequel to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, would be coming to Xbox Series X at a future date. Given that Ninja Theory is now an Xbox Game Studio, it would make sense for Hellblade II to release as an Xbox exclusive (even though its predecessor launched as a limited-time PlayStation exclusive), but Microsoft hasn't confirmed whether the game is only releasing on Xbox Series X (and likely PC). Like Halo Infinite, Hellblade II could release for Xbox One too.

The Ascent is an action-role-playing game similar in perspective to Diablo, but with a science-fiction dystopian setting. It will be coming to Xbox One and Xbox Series X this holiday season.

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That said, many of the studios that Microsoft acquired back in 2018 are beginning to reveal their current projects, and they're a motley bunch of first-party titles--ranging from the Metroidvania Ori and the Will of the Wisps to the action-adventure Everwild. It inspires confidence that Microsoft will promote console exclusives for Xbox Series X beyond its major franchises of Halo, Forza, and Gears of War.

Game Services

Xbox Series X will continue to support Xbox Game Pass, the popular game subscription service that Microsoft launched this console generation. Though Xbox Game Pass will work the same on Xbox Series X, the more powerful console will allow users to jump into the games they want to play more quickly.

The new console will also integrate Microsoft's cloud-based gaming service, codenamed Project xCloud. With xCloud, you'll be able to continue playing your Xbox games on your PC or mobile devices. You will also be able to use your console as a server to stream to these devices, and you won't have to pay to do so provided that you own the Xbox version of the game you're trying to play.

Microsoft has filed trademark application for what appears to be the Xbox Series X logo, presumably to be located on the console itself or on game cases. This logo could also potentially be found on other items, such as merchandise.

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