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A Layman’s Guide to Project Scorpio: Everything you need to know

A Layman's Guide to Project Scorpio: Everything you need to know

Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s latest entry for the games console market, was originally announced at E3 2016, but it has recently received a lot of attention thanks to multiple reveals about the console. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry had an exclusive conversation with Microsoft to discuss many of the console’s key features, spreading the word to eager fans all over the globe.

Latest sale numbers show that Microsoft’s Xbox One is lagging behind Sony in the “console wars,” with Sony shipping roughly twice as many PlayStation 4’s in the recent past and the PS4 Pro offering a new option to gamers looking to upgrade to 4K. With Sony holding a firm lead, Microsoft is looking to establish itself as the technological leader, offering customers the most powerful console ever made, and positioning itself for what many to believe an inevitable shift toward 4K content, in much the same way that HD surpassed SD.

Between now and the console’s eventual release, we can expect to hear new information regarding Scorpio’s features fairly regularly, but until everything is known we have complied a layman’s guide to Project Scorpio featuring everything we know so far.

Xbox Project Scorpio Release Date

Though no official date has been set, Project Scorpio has a tentative “Holiday 2017” release window, with December having been specifically mentioned. That’s no surprise given the all-important holiday shopping season.

That release window would also put Scorpio’s release at almost exactly four years after the release of the Xbox One, and a full year after the release of Sony’s slightly less powerful (but currently the most powerful system by a huge margin) PS4 Pro.

Specs

Whether you are a gaming veteran with a tech background or a layman, Microsoft wants you to know that the Project Scorpio console is going to be powerful. Very powerful. It will be the most advanced gaming console on the market when it is released. As demonstrated on the official Xbox website, Project Scorpio possesses the following hardware specs:

  • 6 Terraflops of GPU
  • 3 GHz Custom CPU
  • 1TB HDD Storage
  • 12 GB GDDR5 Memory
  • 326 GB/s Memory Bandwith
  • HDR Games & Entertainment
  • 4K UHD Blu-ray/DVD
  • Vapor Chamber
  • Centrifugal Fan
  • Utilization of the Hovis Method

Although we’ve yet to see an in-depth analysis of the technology, the sum of these parts will make for the most powerful game console ever created. To be fair, pretty much every new console is the “most powerful console on the market” when it is released (with the exception of Nintendo’s systems, which have a different philosophy), but Microsoft is looking to put out a system that will stand above the competition.

Project Scorpio will allow games to run 4K graphics on a far more powerful system than current Xbox users are used to. In addition, thanks to the inbuilt Vapor Chamber and Centrifugal Fans, the machine will be able to manage heat production exceptionally well, keeping cool over extended periods of use, protecting your investment from the many dangers of overheating and hopefully avoiding a repeat of the infamous “red ring of death.”

But best of all, despite its technical sophistication, the system will still play Xbox One games, along with certified backwords compatible Xbox 360 games.

One fact that may affect the success of the Project Scorpio is that to get the best graphics out of the system, you’ll also need a compatible TV capable of 4K resolution. As of June 2016, only six million 4K units had been sold worldwide. That number is bound to explode in the near future, but 4K TVs still aren’t that common. That will cut the appeal of the Project Scorpio (and the PS4 Pro too).

Games

Project Scorpio will be able to run all previous Xbox One games and all backwards compatible Xbox 360 games. There hasn’t been any concrete confirmation about whether or not there will be any Scorpio exclusives yet, however, Microsoft’s GM of Game Publishing Shannon Lotus stated that no clear decision had yet been made.

“I don’t know about that,” Lotus said. “We’ll see. It’s up to the game development community; what do they want to do.”

This contradicts earlier comments that claimed Project Scorpio will host no exclusive titles – with the exception of titles attached to VR technology – so we may have to wait for final confirmation on this matter.

One of the key differences between the Project Scorpio and its closest rival, the PS4 Pro, is in how it will deal with existing games. The PS4 Pro has been described as using an “emulation” approach, a sort of workaround that allows one computer system to mimic the hardware of another. The PS4 Pro uses this concept, while the Scorpio is a bit more complex.

“In designing for compatibility, there are two choices that we can take from a performance perspective,” Microsoft’s Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow, Graphics told Eurogamer. “One of which is to design hardware to emulate the performance capabilities of the original [console] as much as possible, or the other one is to say, we’re just going to turn on all the performance and we’re going to deal with all the issues.”

Thanks to the design of the hardware, Scorpio will allow older games to perform to a higher degree, allowing for cleaner visuals, shorter load times, and upgraded features. While this will be true of all older Xbox One titles, some are likely to receive game play patches that will allow for even greater tweaks to take full advantage of the newer hardware.

In an interview with Glixel, Todd Howard, Director of Bethesda Game Studios, was asked about the long-term potential of his studio’s games, he replied, “We can update the games, and people keep playing it. Microsoft’s Scorpio is coming next year, and we’ll update Fallout 4 and Skyrim for that.” Some developers will put the time into updating older games for the new technology.

Price

No specific price has been issued for Project Scorpio yet, though current estimates average between $499 to $700. In comparison, the PS4 Pro cost $399 at launch, the same price as both the PS4 and Xbox One when they launched.

VR Compatibility

As VR becomes more integral to the gaming community, can we expect to see VR compatibility with the Scorpio? In short, the answer is yes, but not at launch. Project Scorpio will likely include Mixed Reality experiences in 2018 thanks to Microsoft’s Hololens.

Further information

While more details will almost certainly be released (or leaked) in the coming weeks, Microsoft will reveal more about the Xbox Project Scorpio at its E3 press conference on June 11, 2017.

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Ben Maunder is a 20-something writer, worker, father, and general glutton for punishment from the UK, who is eager to make a mark on the industry. No matter how many puns he has to make along the way.