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Letters from the Front

Microsoft is building their next-generation console to take next gen by storm. Microsoft lost this generation completely and have suffered a huge blow throughout this generation, however, that might change once next generation rolls around.

Microsoft has been on a shopping spree as of late, expanding its portfolio of exclusives. Microsoft is also exploring other options into entering the Xbox ecosystem with Project xCloud and Game Pass. However, how does the future even look like?

I wanted to do a post-E3 roundup of everything I think we know about Project Scarlett.

Project Scarlett Hardware: The most powerful next-generation console?

Microsoft’s next-generation hardware has been rumored for a very long time, going all the way back to before the launch of the Xbox One X in 2017. Fast forward to 2019 and Phil Spencer wrapped the show with a teaser of what to expect in the following year.

At E3 2019, Microsoft claimed that Project Scarlett to be 4 times more powerful than the Xbox One X with support for 8K resolution and 120 FPS which is quite beefy. It’s hard to be sure how all of this will look in reality but it sounds pretty good on paper but Microsoft wants to make sure that Scarlett is more powerful than the Playstation 5, noting that being the most powerful is important to the team which makes sense given that they are never going to give up the power argument up after the Xbox One X.

Using the latest chipsets from AMD and GDDR6 RAM plus shifting away from PowerPC architecture to AMD x86-based processors, Microsoft believes that Scarlett will represent the biggest generational leap we’ll see. That sounds pretty ambitious.

Project Scarlett forward compatibility, game streaming, and more.

During the leadup to the Xbox One X’s reveal, Microsoft said that it was going to bring an end to console generations and instead delving deep into the Xbox One X. The Xbox One X was an extraordinary console and delivered what it promised to do originally which was to end console generations as we know it, delivering a capable mid-generation refresh while being compatible with last generation.

If next-generation follows the same model as this generation with refreshers towards the end of the generation, we can assume that the refreshers will have enhanced graphical capabilities, maybe even true 8K visuals. With 4K becoming the standard, I believe the Scarlett will be once again native 4K resolution without comprising much. 8K is achievable under the newly revised HDMI 2.1 standard, I don’t think Scarlett will be powerful enough to output 8K graphics without some sort of dynamic scaling like the PS4 Pro uses or the X uses if you connect the console to a 1080p TV.

VR has been a thing despite it not catching on. If you remember back in 2017, Microsoft said that the Xbox One X had VR capabilities and discussed that they would bring VR to the console. Ever since 2017, the VR trend somewhat disappeared and mention of VR being on Xbox slowly dissipated and it never turned into anything substantial. I don’t think they’ll ever go back to the idea so don’t expect it for now, anyway.

Price

Project Scarlett is targeting a November 2020 release date as is tradition for them since each and every Xbox has been released in November, beginning with the OG Xbox.

Pricing, however, is tricky. There’s a serious possibility that Scarlett could be more than $500 once Trump’s tariffs on China passes which might include video-game related items which include consoles. Even if the tariffs don’t pass then it could be seriously expensive as Scarlett is quite beefy which will have ray-tracing technology, SSD components, and much more which will skyrocket the price.

The Future: 2020

2020 will be an interesting year to watch. The Scarlett Project is the first project that Phil Spencer will overlook and Microsoft will have a full-scale war on their hands as they will be fighting a multiple-front war, but hopefully, they have the resources to fight it as they make up for lost ground which they lost during the course of this generation.

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