During The Game Awards host Geoff Keighley took to the stage and made history. For the first time, the award show became a platform to announce a new gaming console. The event has been no stranger to incredible gaming reveals, but this was a first. In essence, the 2019 Game Awards signaled the formal start to the next generation of console gaming.
Microsoft shocked audiences around the globe revealing the Xbox Series X, the fastest, most powerful console yet. In a two-minute trailer, we got a look at the final hardware’s appearance, name and stunning in-engine graphics. It needs to be seen to be believed:
Formally codenamed Project Scarlett, the newly minted Xbox Series X is now the face of Microsoft’s next generation console effort. The announcement came much earlier than anyone expected with the console launch window set during holiday 2020.
Let’s jump in and dissect all the details revealed at the VGAs this past week!
A monolithic hardware design
The Xbox Series X stands tall, its rectangular design is lean and sleek stretching higher than any console in recent memory. The footprint is tiny, roughly the size of an Xbox One controller and stands approximately a foot tall. The console can be oriented vertically or horizontally depending on your storage needs. It’s definitely different, but the tall, elegant aesthetic will blend well with most home entertainment centres.
The hardware’s elongated design is to help house some seriously powerful components, keeping them cool and quiet. And when I say powerful, I mean it, the Series X boasts four times the processing power of the Xbox One X. The console pushes pixels and framerate like never before, even allowing you to suspend and resume multiple games at once. Let’s take a look at what’s under the hood with the Xbox Series X.
All that power means that the Series X can now handle 4K visuals at 60 fps and beyond. It also has the capability to hit a blazingly high 120FPS and supports resolutions up to 8K. In terms of framerate and resolution numbers, this means that assets on screen move in a life-like silky smooth manner while remaining crystal clear. The Series X also packs a NVMe SSD and super-fast GDDR6 memory helping to streamline the entire console’s speed. This will cutdown on, if not completely eliminate, load times keeping you immersed in your virtual experience.
Unparalleled lighting effects with ray tracing
The console’s Zen 2 AMD architecture will also deliver hardware accelerated ray tracing ushering in technology yet to be seen in home console hardware. In a nutshell, ray tracing follows the path light will take and calculates in real-time how it will interact with objects in the environment. What this means is light from street lamps, firearm muzzle flashes and explosions will look more realistic than ever. Light will reflect off car hoods based on the setting, even explosions will reflect in the eyes of characters. Shadows and reflections will hit a whole new level of detail and realism, bringing an incredibly close parity to how light reacts in real-life situations.
Xbox Series X Controller
Along with the new console’s design comes a reworked controller, the classic layout remains intact with many enticing tweaks. First, its size and shape have been refined removing small accents to match the more industrial looking console.
Sharing is caring
The biggest changes are a new Share button and a Hybrid D-pad inspired by the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. The added Share button looks to streamline a gamer’s ability to share screenshots and game clips. I’m really looking forward to this as I love sharing my gaming adventure via social media, and a further short cut is music to my ears. The hybrid d-pad has been on many Xbox gamers’ wish lists since the Xbox 360 era. The new d-pad looks to provide more accuracy in classic fighting games, side scrollers and menu selection. It’s great to see the new d-pad added to the base controller, this should please quite a few gamers, myself included!
The triggers and shoulder buttons have also seen some minor refreshes. Triggers have texturing for added grip and the shoulder buttons are angled more dramatically. You can get an early preview using textured triggers with the newly released Xbox One Wireless Night Ops controller.
All these changes add up to a revised controller I can’t wait to get my hands-on come holiday 2020.
Stunning new worlds
Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox also took the stage during the VGAs to formally reveal the first Xbox Series X game to the world. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II gave us a glimpse of what the new hardware is capable of with a visually stunning trailer created in-engine. The game is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice from developer Ninja Theory.
The graphics are absolutely jaw dropping, offering a mind-blowing amount of detail and superb lighting effects. The environment stretches for what seems like hundreds of miles in stunning detail. The facial animation of characters is also photo realistic, expressing a ton of visceral emotion. The powerful creative tools the Series X offers developers is showing incredible results very early on.
Spencer also revealed that developers around the world are already working with the Xbox Series X hardware. In house, Microsoft’s 15 Xbox Game Studios are developing a diverse lineup of exclusive titles as well. Spencer teased that we’ll learn more about this wealth of content in 2020, it should be an incredible year for gaming.
Four generations of gaming at your fingertips
Last generation the team at Xbox made their dedication to backward compatibility clear bringing many forms of legacy content to the Xbox One. The Xbox Series X will continue this tradition allowing you to access four generations of content from the OG Xbox era all the way up to the latest cutting-edge games and experiences. Not only will software be backward compatible but Xbox One gaming accessories will make the jump to the Series X too.
Subscription based services like Xbox Game Pass will carry over as well, joining and adding to your next-gen catalog of content. In theory, you could preload Xbox Series X games before the console even launches!
A banner year for Xbox
With all this unexpected next-gen Xbox news arriving in 2019, gamers have a very exciting 2020 to look forward to. The lead up to the Xbox Series X launch during the holiday 2020 window is sure to hold many more exciting surprises. E3 will be massive next year, and Phil Spencer made it clear the focus is to showcase games first and foremost. There is still a lot in the pipeline to be revealed, keep it locked on Best Buy Blog for breaking news and pre-order information on the Xbox Series X.