Microsoft’s long-rumored next-generation console, Project Scarlett, will officially launch during 2020’s holiday season, the company announced at its E3 2019 briefing on Sunday afternoon.
The new console, which will ship with Halo: Infinite as a launch title, has been designed from the ground up to represent a “bigger generational leap” than anything that the Xbox has done before, and is being created by the same development team that created both the Xbox One X and the Elite Controller.
“For us, the console is vital and central to our experience. We heard you,” Spencer said at the briefing. Project Scarlett represents “a new mission: to create the future of gaming for you.”
The goals for Scarlett included reducing load times and loading screens, lowering the amount of time that a player is “sitting there in a fake elevator,” to quote one of the developers.
Towards that end, Scarlett uses AMD internal parts with a solid-state drive, the latter of which can be used as virtual RAM that’s then pumped back into the game process. The result is a machine that’s “four times more powerful than the Xbox One X,” capable of hardware acceleration, ray-tracing, and up to 120 FPS, in service of what Microsoft claims will be “the most immersive console experience ever.”
The Project Scarlett announcement came hand-in-hand with new information about Microsoft’s Project XCloud, which will see its first public hands-on demo at this year’s E3, on the convention floor. This includes a new feature, called “console streaming,” which turns your personal Xbox One into your own cloud server. Beginning in October, you can use XCloud to dial remotely into your home console and play your Xbox games remotely using Microsoft’s “hybrid gaming cloud.”
“Where you play,” Spencer said, “is now entirely your choice.”
The 13 satellite studios in the Xbox team are already working on new projects for Scarlett, including 343 Industries, with Halo: Infinite.
A short trailer was shown for the new Halo at the briefing, which will be the sixth mainline entry in Microsoft’s flagship franchise. In it, an unconscious Master Chief is brought in from space and resuscitated by a shellshocked human survivor, after a fight that’s left a nearby Halo construct in ruins. It’s got a certain back-to-the-beginning flavor to it, after the multimedia onslaught of Halo 5: Guardians; this time, the trailer suggests, we’re starting off in familiar territory, with the Chief, Cortana, and a Halo in ruins.
The Scarlett announcement was the capstone of a Microsoft event that saw the company announce 60 upcoming games for the Xbox One, as well as a redesigned Series 2 Elite controller, the acquisition of legendary independent developer Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, the upcoming Psychonauts 2), and the beginning of the Xbox Game Pass for PCs.
The show also saw the appearance of actor Keanu Reeves, who showed up unexpectedly both onstage and at the end of a new trailer for the hotly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, to announce the game’s release date.
Here’s the archived video of Microsoft’s full E3 briefing.