Microsoft has shocked fans with an early reveal of its next-generation console at the 2019 Game Awards. The formerly code-named Xbox Scarlett will be known as the Xbox Series X, a confusing and controversial name.
Critics say the name is too close to the Xbox One X, Microsoft's improved last-gen console. Undoubtedly, a few fans will be getting the wrong console from unsuspecting parents next Christmas. Naturally, everyone is just going to call it the Series X.
Thankfully, Xbox head Phil Spencer also revealed the design, which has been relatively well-received. Microsoft is going for something much closer to a mini PC tower this time, with a vertical square cuboid. Its top curves pleasantly into the center with holes for ventilation. The Xbox logo sits minimally in the top right corner, with the disk drive underneath it coming from the bottom.
However, though the promotional material is all vertical, Spencer confirms that it's designed to work in both orientations. That's good news for anyone with a traditional TV entertainment stand.
“Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and more forward with you,” said Spencer in a blog post. “Its industrial design enables us to deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way, something that is critically important in delivering truly immersive gameplay. We also designed Xbox Series X to support both vertical and horizontal orientation. It's bold and unique, very much like our fans around the world and the team of collaborators and innovators who built it.”
The console will launch with a new controller that looks very similar to the previous generation. Microsoft says its size and shape is more accommodating, while a new share button will make screenshots and video capture easier. More importantly, it'll steal the advanced D-pad from the Xbox Elite Series 2.
These changes are welcome, but definitely not on par with the innovations Sony has promised. The PS5 controller will have features like advanced haptic feedback and variable trigger tension to offer different experiences for various weapons and gameplay elements.
Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
All that said, the Game Awards came with another surprise from Microsoft. Ninja Theory will be crafting a sequel to Hellblade under the banner of Xbox Game Studios, and some early in-engine footage on the Xbox Series X was showcased.
Needless to say, it looks fantastic. The Xbox Series X will support hardware-accelerated raytracing, as well as variable refresh rate, up to 8K resolution, and up to 120fps. Its inside will house a custom-designed Zen 2 processor and RDNA architecture from AMD, as well as a fast SSD.
Of course, it's unlikely most developers will hit those 8K or 120fps targets, especially with a game as stunning as Hellblade. Still, we're likely to see a significant uptick in native 4K titles, as well as ones that run at a stable 60fps.