Microsoft got their E3 started with a bang, revealing the new console that up until now had been codenamed Project Scorpio. That console is called the Xbox One X, and as everyone suspected, it’s capable of delivering gaming in HDR, 4K resolution, and 60 frames per second. That’s the gold standard for gaming right now, and it’s the first time it’s coming from a console (the PS4 Pro gets close).
Like the PlayStation 4 Pro, the Xbox One X does not represent a new console generation. It’s an upgraded version of the Xbox One, and that means it will be backwards compatible with everything Xbox One — games, peripherals, all that good stuff. The difference is in the hardware tweaks, which make the console powerful enough to run games in native 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, with HDR. They’ve also added a 4K Blu-ray player and a massive 1 TB of storage.
That makes it sound like the Xbox One X is going to be physically massive. It’s not — it’s actually smaller than both the Xbox One and the slimmer Xbox One S. Part of the reason for that is probably that the console is liquid cooled, which is a first for a home console. Still, keeping hardware cool in a tight space takes more than just liquid cooling — the Xbox team developed and implemented their own custom power optimization system to make sure the processors are only being pushed as hard as they need to be, and no more.
While new games will see most of the benefits, there’s some good news for older games, too. Existing Xbox One games will look a little sharper thanks to supersampling, although the effect will probably be pretty subtle. That’ll go for Xbox 360 games that work with Xbox’s backwards compatibility program. That’ll go for original Xbox games, too — near the end of the press conference, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed that original Xbox games are finally being added to that backwards compatibility program, with the first batch becoming available later this year.
The changes won’t be so subtle for a handful of existing Xbox One games. 4K updates will come to Gears of War 4, Forza Horizons 3, Final Fantasy XV, Rocket League, Resident Evil 7, and, yes, Minecraft. Minecraft is getting a 4K update — from what I saw, it was more detailed blocks. Seems gratuitous, but why not?
To go with the console, the Xbox press conference featured 42 games, 22 of which are console exclusives — with the caveat that we’re not sure how many of those 22 will prove to be timed exclusives that later come to other platforms. Some new game announcements, like Forza Motorsport 7, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and BioWare’s Anthem, really show off what 4K gaming means in real terms — the level of detail in these environments is stunning, and some shots including cloudy skies really demonstrate the value of HDR. Here’s hoping those games have the gameplay to back all that prettiness up!
The Xbox One X will launch on November 7 for $500 — that’s $100 more than the PlayStation 4 Pro, and while the Xbox One X is technically superior, the difference might be too subtle to justify the $100 difference for some. Ultimately, it’s still going to come down to the games — and we’ll be checking some of those out throughout the week at E3 2017!
Check out more of our E3 2017 coverage right here!