It has now been almost six years since the current generation of games consoles was introduced, with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 providing a solid platform for interactive entertainment ever since.
However, the tech market never slows down and there have been some pretty significant leaps in graphical fidelity in the intervening period, as evidenced by the recent arrival of the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
Now that the end of the decade is looming, the life cycle of these competing consoles is coming to an end and a new age of home entertainment hardware is about to arrive. Microsoft has been first to show its cards, confirming details of its as-yet-unnamed console that is going by the development name of Project Scarlett. So what can players expect from the next-gen Xbox?
Microsoft has been understandably cagey about the exact specifications of the Project Scarlett system, although it has given some hints as to what it will be packing under the bonnet.
Firstly, it will be harnessing a chipset from AMD, with a CPU based upon its Zen 2 architecture and a graphics processor that is powered by the manufacturer’s Navi line.
It is claimed that the console will, therefore, pack around four times more processing power than even the current king of console speed, the Xbox One X.
All of this will mean that faster framerates will be achievable at higher resolutions. Forget the 4K promises that are rarely lived up to by Microsoft’s most recent console; players will be able to see Project Scarlett pushing pixels at 8K resolutions if all goes to plan.
Another hugely important improvement provided by the new console will be a solid-state hard drive solution. This means that mechanical hard drives will finally be leaving the console space.
The total amount of storage may not actually be any higher than the current generation of consoles, because of the added costs associated with SSDs. There could also be some issues with using this new tech in consoles, making faults likely and giving gadget insurance policy holders something to take comfort in if a problem arises.
Games On Offer
The games launched in combination with a new console can determine whether it is a success from day one or a slow burner that takes time to gain sales momentum.
For the next Xbox, its most important early release will be Halo Infinite, a continuation of a first-person shooter franchise that has not been seen for almost half a decade.
Further game announcements will likely be made in the interim, but the best thing about Project Scarlett is the promise that it will also offer backwards compatibility for both Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles. This gives it a vast library of games from the outset that players will benefit from.
Microsoft is planning to launch Project Scarlett in the run-up to Christmas 2020, which is also the planned release window for Sony’s fifth PlayStation. Once more these two titans are lining up to clash and at the moment there is no way to determine whether there will be a clear winner.