Microsoft has been drip-feeding information about its next-gen console, the Xbox Series X, ever since it was first revealed at The Game Awards 2019 back in December. 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.
But at long last, we finally have the critical details we’ve been waiting for: Xbox Series X releases November 10 for $500. On that same day, Microsoft’s other next-gen console, Xbox Series S, will launch for $300. Xbox pre-orders go live on September 22.
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.
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.
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Microsoft announced that Xbox Series X will launch on November 10, the same day as Xbox Series S. 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.
Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox Series X will cost $500. (Xbox Series S will cost $300.) Alternatively, you can go the route of Xbox All Access, which gets you an Xbox Series X and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $35 a month. That’s an even better deal than it may seem, as Game Pass Ultimate will be incorporating EA Play (formerly EA Access) into its price. This means you’ll get access to a huge number of EA games along with early access to newer titles for extended demo periods.
Microsoft waited until September to finally share a price, and that’s because before trying to sell customers on the console, Microsoft said it wanted consumers to have a chance to better understand what Xbox Series X can do. It was planning to share more information a week after it actually did, but leaks expedited its plans.
Game prices will vary depending on the publisher, as well. Take-Two announced the next-gen version of its upcoming NBA 2K21 will retail for $70, for instance, while Ubisoft is not charging more for its next-gen games this fall and supports Smart Delivery. However, the future remains unclear, and it could later bump game prices up. It appears Activision will be taking a similar route to Take-Two, as well. $70 will buy a cross-gen version of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold war, while the standard Xbox One version will be available to $60 and won’t support Smart Delivery.
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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.
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.
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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 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.
Xbox Series X will be able to play Xbox One games with similar upgrades to Xbox One X. However, the Xbox Series S will play these games with upgrades that more closely resemble Xbox One S.
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Several games have been confirmed for Xbox Series X, and the earliest games announced for the system included Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and Cyberpunk 2077. Microsoft has since confirmed 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 were then shown during a separate presentation on July 23. Below are some of the games we know will be coming to Xbox Series X, including games that are also launching on Xbox One:
- Halo Infinite
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
- Gears Tactics
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Forza Motorsport
- Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
- STALKER 2
- Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
- Psychonauts 2
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Watch Dogs: Legion
- Far Cry 6
Halo Infinite has been delayed to an unannounced 2021 date after initially being planned as a launch title. This came just a few weeks after a reveal presentation for the game’s campaign mode drew criticism, and head of Xbox Phil Spencer said he didn’t want to release the game’s modes piecemeal in order to hit the system’s launch. Gears Tactics will be filling that big first-party game void, at least to a degree. Though it came to PC earlier this year, November 10 is its console debut.
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.
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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.
- Xbox Series X Specs: Twice As Powerful As Xbox One X
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 in 2021, but the game will release for Xbox One and PC 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.
It appears certain games could come only to Xbox Series X and PC, such as Avowed and Fable. However, for this to be the case, these games would have to be releasing at least a few years in the future. Microsoft is planning to support Xbox One with all first-party games to make a smoother transition. The two aforementioned games, however, weren’t advertised as having Xbox One support when they were revealed on July 23 at the Xbox Games Showcase.
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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.
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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. A Game Pass Ultimate subscription will include access to xCloud, as well, ensuring you can play the vault of games on the go.
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Xbox Series X Logo
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.