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Everything you need to know about Microsoft's Xbox Project Scarlett: Release date, specs, and more

Xbox Project Scarlett

Say hello to Xbox Project Scarlett, the current name for Microsoft's now officially announced next-generation console, which is due to release alongside the PS5 (PlayStation's competing hardware) in Holiday 2020. The Xbox company announced the console at E3 2019, promising a system that would make for all of the Xbox One's early failings, as anyone who bought a day one version of that console will be more than familiar with. 

Meanwhile, Halo Infinite has also been confirmed as a launch game for the Xbox Project Scarlett, with Microsoft coming out of the gate strong for the console's launch period, especially since we still have no idea what the PS5 launch games could be during the same Holiday season. Below, you'll find everything you need to know about the next-gen follow-up to Xbox One, including details about the Xbox Project Scarlett price, release date, and more. 

What is Xbox Project Scarlett?

What is Xbox Project Scarlett?

The next Xbox is called Xbox Project Scarlett, and Microsoft is calling it the future of gaming. Built around powerful new hardware from AMD, including its new Navi graphics architecture and a Zen 2 CPU, the Scarlett is designed to minimize (or completely eliminate) load times and get you into games as quickly as possible. In the announcement reel, Microsoft employees threw out some pretty baller numbers: four times more powerful than the current most powerful console on the planet, the Xbox One X, four times better performance than the current generation in terms of load times, and the biggest generational leap in Microsoft's console history.

As for the actual Xbox Project Scarlett specs, the sizzle also promised 120 FPS, 8K, and ray tracing supported by dedicated hardware. In fact, one Microsoft employee promised "frame rates we've never seen before," though that's surely just on consoles and not accounting for modern PC hardware. As for 8K and 120 FPS, they make great bullet points, but the unstated reality is that you'd have to be running an extremely rudimentary game even on the most powerful of current PC hardware to approach anything like those numbers, especially simultaneously. 

But you can't fault Microsoft for its exuberance, and we have seen some pretty incredible performance eked out of even modestly specced console hardware in the past, especially as a console cycle gets longer in the tooth. There was confirmation you'd be able to play any game from Microsoft's four generations of consoles on the new machine. While calling the Xbox One X/S refresh a full generation is a bit of a stretch, a continued commitment to backwards compatibility on future consoles is very welcome. 

Perhaps most exciting for Xbox diehards, Microsoft announced that Halo Infinite would be launching alongside Project Scarlett, and showed a brand new, lengthy trailer. Master Chief, afloat in space and unconscious in his armor, is revived by the captain of a small space vessel who was seemingly adrift himself, before revealing the devastating aftermath of the most recent conflict. The footage looked exceptional, especially some of the textures on Chief's hands, and refracted light and gathering shadows flashed some of the potential of a console packing dedicated ray tracing hardware.

When is the Xbox Project Scarlett release date?

When is the Xbox Project Scarlett release date?

The Xbox Project Scarlett launch date will be Holiday 2020, with rumblings PS5 will drop in the same time frame. Launching at the end of the year positions Microsoft to grab some prime holiday dollars, and opens up some intriguing possibilities since a number of triple-A franchises all launch around Christmas.

What is Project xCloud?

What is Project xCloud?

A representation of Xbox Cloud services

Project xCloud is the streaming platform that originally debuted back in March and is currently available for hands-on impressions on the E3 show floor. Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the service would enable you to transform an Xbox console into an xCloud server (as well as using actual servers), streaming games and media to connected devices. How robust this will be against, say, the Google Stadia initiative remains to be seen, but Microsoft definitely looks committed to leveraging its massive infrastructure and resources towards allowing gamers to play where they want, with who they want. According to Spencer a beta will be widely available in October.

Xbox Project Scarlett price

How much will the Xbox Project Scarlett cost?

Red Xbox One Controller

Here's where things get a bit interesting, because although we don't have any official details on what the Project Scarlett price will be, it's going to be quite the contentious subject - especially if we're looking at a family of consoles. 

The original announcement of the Xbox One price was one of the first mistakes Microsoft made with the positioning of the console. At launch you could only buy it with a 500GB hard drive, one controller and a pre-bundled Kinect sensor for a whopping $499 / £429. It wasn't until June 2014, more than six months after the original launch, that Microsoft released a new Xbox One configuration that removed the Kinect from the box and reduced the cost to $399 / £349, matching the launch price of the PS4. 

If the PS5 and Xbox Project Scarlett launch around the same time, Microsoft is going to have to be careful not to repeat its past mistakes. But considering that the Xbox One X is a much better console than the PS4 Pro, and therefore costs more (Xbox One X is $499 / £449 compared to the PS4 Pro's $399 / £349), it could be that the Project Scarlett costs more because of its internal components. However, if both consoles are packing similar specs, it's going to be an interesting discussion. 

If rumour has it though, there could even be three Xbox Project Scarlett SKUs available at launch, which will make the pricing chat even more intriguing.

Does Xbox Project Scarlett have VR?

Does Xbox Project Scarlett have VR?

Microsoft has an interesting relationship with virtual reality. On the PC side, its Windows Mixed Reality initiative has found moderate success, featuring a broad variety of lightweight VR headsets and offering an expansive library of games and experiences. On the console tip, however, news has been less positive - at last year's E3, Microsoft's CMO for gaming told that the company "doesn't have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality."

However, all hope is not lost. A newly discovered patent seems to suggest that Microsoft is working on a VR headset along with motion controllers, a stylus, and fully fledged boundary mat which can turn your living room into its very own digital playground. With the continuing success of Playstation VR, which currently boasts the most sales of any high end VR headset, Microsoft may well still have an appetite to dip its toes into the virtual pool. 

What do you think about the rumours surrounding the Xbox Project Scarlett at the moment? Let us know in the comments below.