The Xbox One is just over three years old, and the paint is still drying on the Xbox One S, but the next Microsoft console is rapidly approaching.
Project Scorpio will be the true successor to the Xbox One. Microsoft is calling it "the most powerful console ever built", and undoubtedly hopes to deliver a killer blow to Sony. For too long the winds have blown in favour of the Japanese giant, with the PS4 hammering the Xbox One two to one in terms of sales.
Microsoft's plans are ambitious. Scorpio's specs were recently revealed by Digital Foundry, drawing back the curtain on a machine that is significantly more powerful than the PS4 Pro. But will it be enough to bring gamers back to Xbox?
We've collected everything we already know about its future flagship in one place so you can make up your own mind.
PROJECT SCORPIO RELEASE DATE – WHEN'S IT COMING OUT?
Microsoft has confirmed that it's coming in the "Holiday" period of 2017, so expect delivery just in time to shove under the Christmas tree.
That's still a long way off, but Microsoft has recently announced an event on Sunday, June 11 at 11pm GMT where we will receive our first glimpse of the new console. That potentially results in six months of lusting (assuming the hardware is tip top) on our part before we can have it in our hands.
PROJECT SCORPIO PRICE – HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Microsoft is carefully managing expectations when it comes to Scorpio's price.
Last year it was suggested that Scorpio would meet a "console price point", whatever that means.
Since the reveal of Scorpio's specs by Digital Foundry, the tune has changed slightly. Microsoft has stressed that its new console is a premium device, and that it's trying to keep costs as low as possible.
Here are a few snippets regarding price point from recent interviews with Xbox employees and experts.
Kevin Gammill, Group Program Director of the Xbox Core platform: "At the end of the day we are still a consumer product. We want to hit the price-points where consumers want to purchase this. It's about balancing the two."
Richard Leadbetter, Digital Foundry - "If I had to guess - and I'll stress that this isn't based on anything I might have heard on my visit - Project Scorpio is going to cost in the region of $499."
Mike Ybarra, Corporate Vice President, Xbox & Windows gaming platform - "[Scorpio is for] that premium customer, the gamer that expects the absolute best versions of the games."
The PS4 Pro currently costs £349 so, given Scorpio's technical superiority, a £400 price point seems sensible. This near-precisely matches Leadbetter's prediction of $499.
PROJECT SCORPIO SPECS – WHAT'S UNDER THE HOOD?
The specs of Project Scorpio are no longer a mystery. In collaboration with Digital Foundry, Microsoft lay bare the basic stats of its console.
Scorpio features a CPU that's 1.3x faster than the Xbox One, and a GPU which is an almighty 4.5x faster.
The system also features 12GB DDR5 RAM, a 1TB HDD, a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc player, and VR support.
The components of Scorpio have been custom tweaked by Microsoft to maximise its power. Microsoft is using AMD parts again, but these aren't just PC bits slapped together into a custom chassis.
"This is more than just a collection of off the shelf AMD parts, there is customisation here, deep customisation and a lot of it," said Richard Leadbetter during the hardware's Digital Foundry reveal. The result is a console which may rival the performance of mid-high range gaming PCs.
Project Scorpio will also support Freesync, a system that prevents screen tearing by communicating with smart displays to synchronise refresh rates.
PROJECT SCORPIO VISUALS – 4K?
Microsoft has made good on its promise of a 4K console according to Digital Foundry. When visiting the company's Redmond campus, Digital Foundry saw Forza Motorsport running in 4K at 60fps using the system.
"There's no doubt whatsoever that this is indeed Scorpio hardware running the Forza Engine at a locked 4K60 with plenty of overhead remaining," wrote DF.
4K is equivalent to four 1080p screens of pixels. That's a resolution of 3840 × 2160.
Higher frame rates and higher resolutions will both be achievable with Scorpio, though not necessarily at the same time. Whether a game runs in 4K at 30fps or1080p at 60fps depends on how optimised the game is and how it's been coded by the developer.
In addition to these clear visual enhancements, Scorpio will bring HDR capability to Xbox for darker, more vivid blacks and images which pop.
Those playing older games on Scorpio should see significant performance improvements in 1080p, with less slowdown and stuttering. If developers update their games to accommodate higher frame rates, then we could see older games running at 60fps.
PROJECT SCORPIO GAMES – WHAT CAN I PLAY?
Because the current Xbox One family and the Project Scorpio run Windows, it's going to make it very easy for your existing games and all future ones to run on every Xbox console and your gaming PC too.
"The capability to build a game that actually takes advantage of different hardware capabilities is part of any third-party ecosystem, or anybody who's targeting Windows and console at the same time," said Xbox boss Phil Spencer to Wired.
Phil Spencer has already confirmed that developers are working on games and hardware for the Project Scorpio:
What we do like is that there isn't going to be any Project Scorpio exclusive games, because they'll simply be graphically scaled back so they can run on the original Xbox and the Xbox One S.
PROJECT SCORPIO VIRTUAL REALITY – WILL IT SUPPORT VR?
Project Scorpio isn't just about 4K games though, it'll also be about virtual reality.
Microsoft hasn't even given us a whisper of what headsets it'll support, but we can guarantee it won't be PlayStation VR...
But, we do have an inkling that Microsoft will partner up with the Oculus Rift for Project Scorpio. It's not quite as hardware-hungry as the HTC Vive, and Microsoft already has a deal with Oculus VR – every Oculus Rift comes with an Xbox One controller after all.
Microsoft has also just announced that Scorpio will feature support for "mixed reality headsets" it's making in conjunction with Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and 3Glasses. From what we understand, this means that players will be able to experience virtual and augmented environments that project the console's user interface, and more, on physical space around the user.
PROJECT SCORPIO PARTNERS - WHAT GAMES WILL USE ITS TECH?
It's a little early to know exactly which games will be enhanced for Scorpio, but we've just received the first declaration of intent. Shadow of War, the sequel to Shadow of Mordor, will be enhanced for Scorpio. The game's developer is making use of 4K as well as HDR.
"I don't know how much they've revealed the specs, but it is an upgrade. It's not just sort-of, 'We're going to upgrade some stuff.' There's things you can do with it. So, we're pretty excited to be working with them specifically," a Monolith dev told Tech Radar.
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