Every detail we know about Microsoft’s beastly Xbox Series X

Microsoft's coming out swinging next generation.

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X will usher in the next-generation of consoles alongside the PlayStation 5 by the end of 2020. The company has only offered mere glimpses at what the Series X will have to offer in terms of design, power, and launch titles. But the most important details about the system are still a mystery months before it launches.

When will Microsoft release the Xbox Series X? How much will it cost gamers? What exclusive games will it introduce to go against the PS5’s roster of IPs?

As it stands, gamers know far more about the Series X compared to the PS5. The console’s full specs were revealed on March 16 and months earlier Microsoft unveiled its official name and final design during the December 2019 Game Awards, all while Sony has yet to reveal any of that information.

We know exactly how the Series X will look and many of its game-changing upgrades that will hopefully help Microsoft mount a comeback in the heavily-contested upcoming console war.

As the current generation of consoles comes to an end, Microsoft is lagging behind the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. Microsoft stopped releasing Xbox sales numbers in 2018, but all major estimates have placed the Xbox in third place. The company has some ground to make up, but with a new console comes new opportunities to win gamers back.

Here’s a roundup of everything we expect from the Xbox Series X.

The Xbox Series X will be taller than any Xbox before it.Microsoft

When is the Xbox Series X release date?

Microsoft announced at E3 2019 that the Xbox Series X will launch ahead of the 2020 holiday season, but has yet to reveal an official release date.

The company has launched all of its previous Xbox models in November, which suggest the Series X could follow the same timeline barring any significant delays, which could happen if production is stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic

Microsoft has stuck by its release date window, but multiplayer analysts and supply chain reports have suggested that delay in Series X production is likely. The console maker plans for most of the hardware manufacturing for the Series X to happen in China, which is the focal point of the coronavirus outbreak. As governments and institutions around the world try to halt the spread of the disease that has already killed thousands, quarantines have disrupted the workflows and schedules of all sorts of tech and gaming companies.

But if COVID-19 doesn’t end up affecting Microsoft’s launch schedule, a late-November launch is most likely.

The Xbox One was released in North America on November 22, 2013; the Xbox 360 dropped on the same date in 2005, and the original Xbox launched on November 15, 2001. Microsoft has never broken its release date tradition, but this year could be the first time that changes due to coronavirus.

Late-November seems like the most likely time for the Xbox Series X to launch.Unsplash / Glenn Carstens-Peters

How much will the Xbox Series X cost?

Polls indicate that the price of the Xbox Series X will be the most important factor when gamers are deciding between Microsoft's next-gen console or the PS5. There’s no official word on how much the Xbox Series X will cost but Xbox chief Phil Spencer offered some hints about what to expect.

In an interview with IGN on April 1, he revealed that gamers should expect a price announcement "later in the summer." The executive also revealed that Microsoft seems willing to wait for Sony to announced the price of the PS5 so that Microsoft might undercut it with a lower price on the Series X.

"You have to set a price target at the beginning for yourselves," Spencer said, "and then you see the competition come in and start to do your go-to-market planning.

The Series X's price remains a mystery, but we can make some estimates based on the release price of the Xbox One X.

The One X is Microsoft’s most capable console available today and was launched in July 2017 for $500, plus the first Xbox One released with the same price tag. The Xbox Series X’s specs will blow the One X out of the water so don’t expect it to be any cheaper than $500 at launch.

That might be more than some gamers want to spend on a new gaming system, but there have been rumors that Microsoft might also launch a lower-cost console to appeal to consumers with a budget.

The Xbox One X next to the Xbox One S. Microsoft might offer two options for its next-gen Xbox straight out of the gate.Microsoft 

Will there be a second next-gen Xbox?

Spencer seemed to have quashed speculation that Microsoft planned to release a cheaper, all-digital version of its next-gen Xbox, codenamed “Lockhart,” back in June. But a December 2019 report provided fresh evidence that Xbox Lockhart might not be dead in the water after all.

Four anonymous Microsoft sources told Kotaku that the company still intends to launch a lower-cost console alongside its premium system. Lockhart’s graphics are said to be similar to those of the PlayStation 4 Pro. The console will include a solid-state drive and forgo a traditional disc drive, just like the Xbox One S All-Digital that was released in May 2017.

An alternative, more-affordable option to the Series X could attract gamers that don’t want to shell out $500 for a new console and it could leverage Microsoft’s Game Pass service that gives subscribers access to a massive digital library of games.

Xbox Series X features and specs

Microsoft revealed just about everything there is to know about the Xbox Series X in a March 16 Xbox Wire post.

The Xbox Series X specs sheet.Microsoft

Here are other standout features that Spencer previously announced:

  • More comprehensive backward compatibility than the PS5, including Xbox 360 and original Xbox games.
  • The Xbox will support ray tracing, a graphical rendering technique used by high-end gaming PCs that let games look more lifelike than ever.
  • Quick Resume will let gamers continue multiple games from where they last left off instantly, no lengthy loading screens required.
  • Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) will supposedly further decrease any lag gamers might have experienced when using their wireless Xbox controllers.
  • Smart Delivery will let gamers buy a game once on any Xbox console and let them play it across the platforms without repurchasing it.
The Xbox Series X's graphical capabilities will be crisper than ever.Xbox

Xbox Series X launch titles

Halo Infinite will be the Xbox Series X’s marquee launch title, Microsoft confirmed at E3 2019 last June. While this year's event would have been a likely opportunity for further updates on the next installment of the iconic space shooters, E3 2020 has been canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Expect to learn more about Halo Infinite via Xbox's digital channels in the weeks ahead.

Miscrosoft has also showed off a bloodcurdling teaser for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 and a trailer for EVERWILD, a brand-new IP that looks like a highly stylized fantasy adventure.

A new installment of Forza Motorsport is also widely expected to be a launch title for Xbox Series X, after the franchise’s 2019 hiatus. The racing simulator has been an Xbox staple since 2005 and Microsoft Game Studios has already teased it’s cooking up a new racing game.

Those are the only Series X launch titles we have strong evidence for, though there have been hints that a new installment of Fable could be on the horizon as well.

Games YouTuber Anton Logvinov, who accurately predicted the Hellblade 2 reveal during the 2019 Game Awards, claimed the Series X would at least triple this count, so the company could be preparing for a massive batch of reveals very soon. Of course, the escalating global coronavirus pandemic has thrown a lot of release dates in the gaming and entertainment worlds into question.

Other titles likely to be released on the Series X shortly after it goes on sale include:

  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake (April 2021)
  • FIFA 2021
  • PES 2021
  • Gears 5
  • Call of Duty
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Spiritfarer
  • Battletoads
  • Wasteland 3
  • PsychoNauts 2
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • 12 Minutes
  • Way to the Woods
  • Dying Light
  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Crossfire X
  • Tales of Arise
  • Elden Ring
The Xbox Series X will tout more comprehensive backward compatibility than the PS5.Unsplash / Arturo Rey

What is Smart Delivery on Xbox Series X?

If you're thinking of holding off on purchasing current-gen games that will likely straddle two console generations, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Gears 5, you're in luck – Series X's new Smart Delivery feature means you can buy the Xbox One version, then get the enhanced Series X version for free once it's available. It's a welcome change from what's previously been the industry standard, namely having to buy multiple copies of the same way. (We're looking at you, Nintendo.)

When will we hear more about the Xbox Series X?

With E3 2020 officially canceled, expect to hear more about Xbox Series X via Microsoft's online channels in the coming months.

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