Microsoft’s Next-Gen Console Revealed As Xbox Series X

The Game Awards might be known for some big announcements, but Microsoft took it to a whole new level in the 2019 edition. 

A new console, the new console, called Xbox Series X for the time being, coming in holiday 2020, is not yet available for pre-order.

Microsoft says they want to give “more information” before opening the floodgates for orders, but their shock announcement at Thursday’s Game Awards took nearly everybody by surprise in any case.

In announcing Xbox Series X, formerly known as Project Scarlett, Microsoft have beaten Sony to the punch in announcing their next-generation games console.

Little is actually known about Xbox Series X, other than its distinct PC tower-like look and a new dedicated share button on the controller.

No price was revealed, but according to an article on Gamespot, Microsoft wants to be transparent about what gamers will be paying for before going ahead and allowing them to be first in line for purchase.

The design of the console is what’s got many gamers talking on social media immediately after the announcement dropped. Shaped like a Gaming PC tower, the console’s square footprint is roughly as wide as an Xbox One controller and around three times as tall. Featuring a disc drive for games and other media, there is little else to talk about in what is a very clean and modern looking form factor for the Xbox Series X.

The console will also feature an NVMe SSD and use super-fast GDDR6 memory as RAM.

But, that name though? Microsoft’s Phil Spencer hinted that the name may change prior to an official release, telling Gamespot “Series X gives us the freedom to do other things with that name so that we can create descriptors when we need to”.

Make sense? No, not really and it is one of the only points of confusion that has come out of the reveal.

In terms of the most important thing, the games, Microsoft already has some big titles to in the new console window, Halo Infinite and Hellblade 2 for starters. There is also the large lineup of Microsoft Game Studios development teams working on new titles and the work being done around the xCloud games streaming platform.

In short, we now have a name and a look at Microsoft’s flashy next-generation games console. There is much more specific information to follow, but for the time being, Sony has been beaten to the punch and that will see Xbox head Phil Spencer sleeping comfortably for the next night or two.

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REVIEW: Xbox One X Edges Microsoft Closer

I recently spent a week with the Xbox One X thanks to Microsoft. After all that time with the console, it still remains hard for me to justify the purchase when, really, you need so much more to truly take advantage of what’s in the box. Having said that, Sony’s PS4 Pro pails in comparison to the Xbox One X, and that in itself signals Microsoft’s first big win over it’s direct competitor for a long time. 

Some of the cheaper 4K monitors still retail for well over $500 in New Zealand. Add in another $750 for the Xbox One X, you’re looking at a $1300 investment at the very least to get everything you’ll need to get the best experience. But the counter to that is the quality you get as a result. Running with all the bells and whistles, the Xbox One X provides a premium gaming experience with some of the best graphics seen on a console ever.

It wasn’t until I went back to the standard PS4 that I realised just how much smoother games ran on the Xbox One X. In comparison, the likes of COD: WWII, FIFA 18, and Destiny 2 all seemed far more jerky and inconsistent in terms of frame rate running on the older systems.

By far and away, the game that showed off the extra perks that the Xbox One X has was Forza Motorsport 7 and Gears of War. Ironically enough, both Xbox exclusives. One of those games was also built for 4K from the ground up.

Graphically, Forza Motorsport 7 running on an Xbox One X doesn’t completely outshine Project Cars 2 running on a PS4, but the smoothness of frame rate is so precise that it makes for a more immersive experience. The tiny little details of sponsor names on the cars are much more vivid, and the range depth to landscapes are that much more detailed. Racing around Bathurst on Forza Motorsport 7 you can see the headlights of cars racing around the top of the mountain when you look back in the rear view mirror. On FIFA 17, the added smoothness to play makes you feel (just a little more) like you’re watching an actual broadcast of Premier League Football.

The strength of the Xbox One X is really in these smaller details, and if you’ve got the tech to take advantage of it, then go right ahead.

Some of the specs included in the box are:

  • 12GB GDDR5 graphics memory
  • 2160p frame buffers and 6 teraflops of graphical processing power
  • Wide Colour Gamut, HDR technology
  • Custom CPU @ 2.30 GHz, 8 cores

Games On Xbox One Are MASSIVE

However, there are some major drawbacks to purchasing the Xbox One X.

Firstly, the size of games with 4K built or patched in. 1TB of hard drive space was almost completely full with the handful of games Microsoft had pre-installed in the box. Add in a couple of apps including Netflix and Dolby Atmos, there was little room for anything else. There is the option for additional storage, but for such a pricey investment it would’ve been nice for Microsoft to include a larger hard drive. However, considering some of the specs inside what is the smallest Xbox ever made, with a power unit inside too, you can acknowledge a severe lack of room for much else.

REVIEW: Xbox One X Edges Microsoft Closer

Since the disaster launch of the original Xbox One back in 2013, Microsoft has slowly edged its way back into the fight. The new Xbox One X is another sign of that, but the problem remains in the mindset of most gamers, in that the Xbox One X is not the next generation console for Microsoft. It’s a mid-cycle upgrade, but it’s a damn good one at that. Microsoft needs more exclusives, and with Crackdown delayed until next year, there still isn’t that one blockbuster exclusive game this holiday season that will stand out to the gamer.

Sales for the Xbox One X have been good thus far, and much of that is down to the marketing from Microsoft. They’ve pitched it perfectly as an optional upgrade to the existing, standard version of their gaming console. The Xbox One X is the closest thing to a gaming PC for the console space, but it’s also the best looking console ever made as well. Both of those factors go a long way toward justifying the console, but the fact that 4K televisions are still not a part of most households is a big drawback. Yes, the experiences can be had on a 1080p display, but the real benefits can be found in 4K displays with HDR.

In conclusion, if you have the money and the available technology, the Xbox One X is the console that provides the most bang for your buck this Christmas.

 

E3 2017: Xbox One X releasing in November

Xbox One X will launch worldwide on November 7th.

Microsoft’s new console was announced immediately at their E3 2017 briefing. Over 3 years of engineering was put into the console, previously known as Project Scorpio.

All current Xbox One games will work on the new console, and according to Xbox, gamers won’t need to invest in a 4K television to enjoy all the graphical benefits.

Microsoft didn’t utter the phrase “next generation” when revealing the Xbox One X – instead insisting that the console will work alongside existing versions of the Xbox One.

A total of 42 games were shown off – 22 of which exclusive to Xbox.

 

 

E3 2017 Conferences LIVE on The Real Michael Pulman

The two big conferences by Microsoft and Sony will be live-blogged right here on The Real Michael Pulman on Monday June 12th and Tuesday June 13th.

Microsoft will be providing more detail on the Xbox Scorpio, and a price is also set to be revealed alongside a release date. But perhaps the bigger question is about the games – just what will Microsoft bring to the party?

Rumors have been rife that Naughty Dog will close out Sony’s E3 conference with some gameplay footage of The Last Of Us: Part II. But could there be more coming? Expect a release date for Days Gone and the new God of War.

Microsoft’s E3 Conference: Monday June 12th @ 9.00am 

Sony’s E3 Conference: Tuesday June 13th @ 1.00pm 

Following the conferences – there will also be a full reaction podcast to be uploaded onto the site shortly after.

Price of Xbox Scorpio’s could make or break its success

Microsoft will launch their much-talked abut high end games console onto the market in a few months, but if the price isn’t right, then you can forget about it being a success.

The Scorpio is always running at its highest capability of performance. Old games will not only look graphically enhanced, but they will run better overall as well. At least that is what Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is claiming.

Microsoft had planned on releasing two more consoles in the Xbox One generation. First was the Xbox One S, released last year, followed by the Scorpio in late 2017. Microsoft’s aim is all about immersion and creating a console that appeals to the core gamer – not the casual.

Speaking on YouTube last week, Spencer promised that the Scorpio will deliver the best console version of games, both third party and exclusive.

There is little doubt that the Scorpio will outshine Sony’s PS4 Pro in almost every aspect. The next time you hear Sony talk about new hardware will likely be the announcement of their next generation console – so Microsoft have the market interest for the time being.

With the PS4 Pro, it looked like Sony were leaning toward targeting that core audience as well, but the effort seemed lackluster from the start. In terms of sales, the PS4 Pro is well down on what Sony would have hoped and that will result in big drops in price prior to Microsoft’s launch of the Scorpio.

How the Scorpio is priced will be important to its success. For a console that is the closest thing ever to a high-end PC, pricing point will make or break its potential mass sales.

The price and release date for the Scorpio will be announced at E3 in June.

 

The Nintendo Switch will be a Flop

The Nintendo Switch has certainly got a lot of people talking, but is it a piece of trash? Expect it to be a blunder when it comes out.

The Switch will drop on March 1st and will cost gamers in New Zealand $549. That is the same price, if not more expensive in some cases, than the Xbox One S and PS4 Slim. That comparison is noteworthy, because the Switch is simply nowhere near as powerful and doesn’t have the same quality of games, yet it’s priced as a “Next Generation” system.

What’s more, the Switch will pack a tiny 32GB of internal storage. Games will be cartridge-based, and arguably may not be as sizeable as games on Xbox and PlayStation. But still, it seems, gamers who purchase the Switch will be forced to juggle around their libraries in order to play the games that they want to play.

nintendoswitch_hardware-0-0

President of Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima, believes that the Switch is a brand-new type of console that offers variety in how users play on it. That’s true, but it isn’t as if portable gaming is anything new to the industry.

You can play the Switch in three ways:

  • Connect to the dock (included) and play via your television.
  • Place the Switch on a table, stand it up, and play using the controllers.
  • Portable, similar to other handhelds both Nintendo and other companies have released.

The battery life is said to last anywhere between 2.5 and 7 hours, “depending on the game” according to Nintendo. As The Real Michael Pulman understands, the Switch can be charged while in TV Mode, when connected to the dock.

The pro controller, a popular accessory to the Switch, will cost around $70USD. That works out to about $120NZD, just in case you were interested.

But first, let’s make the point clear, competition for Microsoft and Sony on the console front can do nothing but good for the industry. The Nintendo Wii was, in its own right, a very good gaming experience for the audience it catered too. It just doesn’t have the same amount of interest from Triple A developers; you won’t see a blockbuster like Uncharted 4 or Halo on a Nintendo console.

This doesn’t seem to be the calibre of games that Nintendo want on their consoles, and that’s fine, but at least make the system cheaper on launch. It is also likely that the Switch doesn’t have the power, or the internals, to run those Triple A games, massively scaled games.

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The argument that Nintendo are stuck between a traditional gaming console, and one that will appeal to the new, younger-based mobile gamer, is a very true one. Nintendo should have had a clearer idea about what audience they wanted to target first; make a choice and back it to the hill. Instead, here we see another new piece of hardware that is wanting to break into both markets, and again, price the system cheaper and that may be a big payoff.

Nintendo’s online service for the Switch will eventually cost gamers a monthly fee. There will be more on that to come.

All in all, the Nintendo Switch is overpriced for what it can deliver. What it will deliver is the freedom to play in different places and in slightly different ways. It’s a tremendous gamble to take, but it’s hard to see the Switch satisfying hardcore gamers who want truly immersive experiences. Nintendo’s shares dropped 4.9 percent after the pricing and release information on the Switch, and this is a good example of the likely success that the console will have once it releases.

Xbox Scorpio is already beating PS4 Pro

Microsoft Scorpio is an impressive system, but could it be the next-gen console it has the timing to be?

We are in the middle of a big change to the console gaming space, and it is Sony that has suddenly become the big loser. With the big push toward 4K gaming, both Sony and Microsoft are releasing ‘more powerful’ versions of the PS4 and Xbox One.

Starting with the PS4 Pro, Sony will be the first to drop their upgrade this November, and yes, it will be more expensive than the existing consoles currently on the market. Continue reading Xbox Scorpio is already beating PS4 Pro

What will Microsoft’s Xbox One Slim bring to the table?

With Microsoft expected to reveal the Xbox One Slim at E3 in June, just what will this console look like and will it be enough to bring in sales?

The Xbox One Slim will obviously be smaller in form factor, but how much smaller remains to be seen. No radical redesign to the VHS-like shape to the console is likely, but rather it will be much lighter and and smaller in all of its form factor. The touch-sensitive power button could be replaced, and the console’s operation will be much quieter.

A much larger HDD will be one of the expectations, presumably around the 2TB mark. It would be a surprise to see the power supply built into the console rather than be a standalone “power brick”, even despite the clear evidence that this is one of the big annoyances gamers have had with Xbox consoles over the years.  Continue reading What will Microsoft’s Xbox One Slim bring to the table?

Future For Xbox One Appears Unstable

The future of the Xbox One is a hot topic in gaming at the moment, and whichever way Microsoft decides to turn, it is a future that looks bleak.

When it was announced that Quantum Break, a major Xbox One exclusive for 2016, was also going to be available on PC, many gamers began speculating about the commitment Microsoft has to their console after 2016.

To their credit, Microsoft hasn’t rushed into releasing a slimmer, updated, and cheaper version of the Xbox One. In recent weeks it has become more apparent that doing this wouldn’t increase sales to the point where a serious challenge could be made to overthrow Sony’s stranglehold on the market with the PS4.

Deep down, Microsoft know that they won’t beat Sony, in this, perhaps the last, major console war.

To the casual gamer, the Quantum Break news came as a big surprise, but to the hardcore audience, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that Microsoft has decided to go down this path.

Last year, Microsoft boss Phil Spencer said that his team were working on strategies to ensure developers could get their games could get on as many screens as possible, and Spencer then went on to praise Valve for the work they had done with Steam gaming on PC.

Cross-platform online between the Xbox One and PS4 would be a popular move to make, albeit controversial from the outset, but it also has the potential to impact on the future of the big exclusive titles that come to each console.

With Forza Motorsport, previously an Xbox only racer, now coming to PC, this impact is already beginning to a certain extent. Sure, Microsoft still own the Forza franchise, but is it really still an exclusive if it is available on PC, albeit in a watered down version?

Halo is also rumoured to be coming to PC when the next game in the series releases.

If Microsoft do ease their grip on releasing big titles just for the Xbox One and cross-platform to PC from now on, it could end the console war and hand dominance to Sony, at least from an ideological standpoint.