Xbox Scorpio: Microsoft's next Xbox One is skipping Gamescom and 10 other things you need to know
Microsoft's super-powerful Xbox One, Project Scorpio, will be skipping the world's largest games expo
Unveiled at E3 2016, where it completely stole the show, little was actually given away about the next black box during the event. We heard tantalising facts about support for 4K and VR gaming, and a new octa-core AMD processor capable of pushing out six teraflops (the Xbox One is only capable of pushing 1.31 teraflops). It's clear this machine is going to be extremely exciting.
But what exactly is the Xbox Project Scorpio, and should you be trying to save up for one ahead of its release? Here's everything we know about Microsoft's next big Xbox release.
Xbox Project Scorpio: 11 facts about Microsoft’s Xbox Two
1. This is, and isn’t, the Xbox Two
Confusing, I know, but from the way Microsoft is talking about Project Scorpio and its mid-generation refresh, Xbox Scorpio is still an Xbox One at its heart. Now that Microsoft is also bringing the Xbox One Slim to market, everything from Xbox One, Xbox One Slim and Xbox Scorpio will be completely intercompatible. This means it’s not really a fully fledged new console launch, but more of a high-end alternative for those wanting the best Xbox One experiences. With the Xbox Scorpio, the Xbox Two and the Xbox One Slim possibly coexisting, the traditional console launch and cycle of releases could be gone forever.
2. Project Scorpio will release in 2017
Not wishing to overshadow the release of its smaller and lighter Xbox One Slim (although it definitely did that anyway), Microsoft is bringing Xbox Scorpio to market in 2017. That would make it four years since the release of the Xbox One, and therefore one of the shortest generations we’ve had in games for a very long time. Obviously, no price has currently been announced, but don’t expect it to be cheap.
3. Microsoft won't show Project Scorpio at Gamescom 2016
Gamescom, the biggest games conference and expo in the world, is only a few weeks away. Naturally, with both the Xbox One S and Xbox Project Scorpio on the horizon, you'd expect Microsoft to be there in full force. However, it appears that Microsoft won't be holding its big press conference, favouring a media briefing and "intimate Xbox FanFest experience".
Microsoft states that it will share more details soon surrounding Xbox FanFest, but it's clear it won't be using this – or the media briefing – to unveil details around Project Scorpio. While it's likely that some developers may get behind-closed-doors access to Scorpio dev kits to woo them on board, the world won't get to hear anything else about Microsoft's next big Xbox release.
4. Xbox Project Scorpio will be powerful
Microsoft said it wanted to make the Xbox Scorpio powerful, and from the sounds of things it really has. Details are understandably thin on the ground, but from AMD’s April earnings call we know it’ll be powered by an AMD CPU. Digital Foundry has looked into what this could mean, and it seems it could be powered by AMD’s Vega chip, something yet to be seen in the PC marketplace.
Also, thanks to Microsoft’s lovely Project Scorpio announcement video from various developers, we know that Scorpio is capable of transferring 320GB/sec. This means it’s likely equipped with 12GB of GDDR5 RAM. For comparison, the PS4 can hit speeds of 176GB/sec and the Xbox One can hit just 68GB/sec.
READ ALSO: Our pick of the best Xbox One games in 2016.
5. Scorpio can run Xbox One titles and peripherals, but don’t expect Scorpio games to run on Xbox One
While Xbox Scorpio will be fully compatible with Xbox One controllers, Kinect and all games and digital Xbox One content, Microsoft is essentially calling it a platform evolution. Think of it as something akin to a new iPhone arriving.
However, as Project Scorpio is both VR- and 4K-ready, there will be games being made specifically for Scorpio. Microsoft hopes that, with full Windows 10 integration, those VR games will just be PC titles, and 4K games will be souped-up “standard” Xbox One releases. But it’d be impossible to believe that some developers aren’t jumping aboard just to develop an Xbox Scorpio VR title. Perhaps Microsoft will step in and enforce development rules for what can and can’t be released on Scorpio. I’m betting it won’t.
Expect Forza Motorsport 6 and its inevitable sequel to work on all Xbox One consoles
6. Microsoft is planning a "trade-in/trade-up" system for Project Scorpio
While it's unclear how much Scorpio will cost, it's nice to know Microsoft is looking at ways to soften the blow for those who want to make the jump up to bigger and better hardware.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Xbox Services general manager Dave McCarthy explained that Microsoft would be looking to work with retailers on trade-in programmes. "Some of our retail partners today do trade-in programmes and that's definitely going to be partnerships we continue.
"We want to to make [upgrading to Xbox Scorpio] as smooth as possible. The compatibility thing is a big deal, because [the] feeling you have to give up your games isn't a good feeling, so we take that angst out of the equation.
"We'll try partnerships with our retail partners to smooth it even more with trade-in programmes and things like that."
If Microsoft lives up to its word, Project Scorpio may not deliver quite as big a sting to your wallet when it arrives next year.
7. Project Scorpio will run Xbox One games better
During an interview with Eurogamer, Spencer claimed that if you had a HD TV, Project Scorpio "is not going to do anything for you". However, in an interview with GiantBomb, Spencer relented and explained that an Xbox One game running on Scorpio "will look different" and may "run a little better". Obviously, he caveated that claim by saying not every game makes use of scalable technologies, but those that do will see some benefit.
READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Xbox One S
8. Scorpio is built for VR and Oculus helped
When you’re integrating VR into a console, who better to talk to than Oculus? After all, Palmer Luckey’s company helped make virtual reality a… erm… reality.
It should also come as no surprise that Microsoft is working with Oculus on Scorpio, thanks to the partnership already in place with the Rift headset. Not only does every Rift come with an Xbox One controller, but Rift is currently compatible with Xbox One as a content viewer, rather than a VR headset.
For Microsoft to be working with Oculus from the early days of Scorpio, it’s clear that it’s really taking VR integration very seriously. This won’t just be a machine capable of playing games in VR, it’ll be built for VR.
9. Project Scorpio should be faster and more powerful than the PS4 Neo
Sony fans won’t be happy to hear it, but if Sony’s rumoured PlayStation 4 Neo specs are to be believed, Microsoft’s machine will leave it in the dust.
Not only is Microsoft essentially leapfrogging Sony’s newer VR-ready device, it’s planning on being so far ahead that nothing can catch it. Granted, the difference will really all boil down to price. After Sony’s foible with the PlayStation 3 launch, it’s very aware of how price-conscious consumers are. Microsoft, however, isn’t. We could end up seeing the Xbox Scorpio costing much more than many are prepared to pay, with Sony’s PS4 Neo mopping up the rest with an acceptable new-console price.
10. Xbox Project Scorpio and Xbox One S represent a new hardware plan for Microsoft
If you think Project Scorpio will be the last box Microsoft puts out, you’d be wrong. While nobody is sure just how often Microsoft is prepared to iterate, it’s clear updates are going to become a more regular occurrence. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said he’d like to see consoles take on a PC-like evolution, and he continually reiterated that during the end of Microsoft’s E3 conference.
It’s no surprise either, with Microsoft bringing Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together with each software update. You can now get Cortana on your Xbox One and all forthcoming Xbox One games will also work on PC, free of charge. Assimilation is happening.
11. We have absolutely no idea what the Scorpio will look like
If you came here looking for a glossy gallery of images and gameplay demos, there are none. As far as Project Scorpio goes, it’s a box with a motherboard in and a bunch of wires that only developers have been privy to.
As a finished product, Microsoft’s machine is somewhat intangible. Nobody, not even Microsoft, knows what the final hardware spec will be, nor what its exterior design is. Seeing as it’s releasing in 2017, we won’t know anything more for at least another year.