This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo — aka E3 — saw the reveal of several hotly anticipated games, as well as new trailers and gameplay footage for titles that had previously been announced. From the dragon-centric Scalebound to dystopian thriller We Happy Few, Microsoft’s press conference was loaded with new IPs and returning favorites that Xbox One owners — and Windows 10 users, thanks to Microsoft’s new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative — will undoubtedly be excited to get their hands on.
The games were just a side dish for Microsoft, though. Xbox head Phil Spencer bookended the 90-minute conference with the announcement of two new consoles, including a new Xbox One model that will be capable of streaming 4K content upon its debut. Then, after an hour of game-focused programming, Spencer returned to the stage to announce the next iteration of Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio.
Here’s everything we know thus far.
Performance and specs
With Project Scorpio, Microsoft aims to set a new standard for console performance. The system, billed by the Xbox team as “the console [that] developers wanted us to build,” promises to deliver four times the graphical power of the current Xbox One. This power — which should allow the console to run games at higher resolutions with better framerates — is measured in teraflops, of which Scorpio supposedly boasts six. A teraflop is essentially a measure of graphical potential, which is largely dependent upon the console’s GPU.
The Scorpio, confirmed to use an as-of-yet unreleased AMD GPU, should feature four times as many shaders per compute unit than its predecessor, which, in turn, should render the console capable of running games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.
— AMD (@AMD) June 13, 2016
In an interview with USA Today, Microsoft Studios Publishing General Manager Shannon Loftis said that first-party games launching alongside Scorpio will run at a native 4K resolution, instead of being upscaled.
“Any games we’re making that we’re launching in the Scorpio time frame, we’re making sure they can natively render at 4K,” Loftis said.
If this all sounds rather abstruse, that’s because it is. Despite Project Scorpio’s appearance in the coveted final slot of Microsoft’s press conference at E3, few details or specifications have been officially announced. The six-teraflop figure was thrown around quite a bit by Phil Spencer & Co., but it’s still unclear how the console will reach that level of computing power. Team Xbox was fairly transparent about the fact that gamers without a 4K television shouldn’t spend their money on the ultra-powerful Scorpio, but how many gamers do own a 4K TV?
Spencer also made it clear that Scorpio is intended to exist alongside Xbox One and Xbox One S — and that all games will be available for each console — but it appears developers might be forced to choose which platform their game is optimized for. Do they design a graphically superior title for Scorpio and hope that enough gamers are willing to pony up the cash, or do they settle for a game made to perform well on Xbox One that simply upscales when played on the Scorpio?