Xbox One X revealed at E3
The most exciting E3s of all are those at which a new console is revealed, so it was a foregone conclusion that Microsoft’s press conference would be the most hotly anticipated part of the event.
Excitement built to a fever pitch in the days and hours beforehand, with gamers everywhere keen to know what this mid-generation do-over of the Xbox One would be called and what it would look like.
What’s in a name?
We’ve all been calling it Project Scorpio, but from now on it’s the Xbox One X. Reaction to the name wasn’t exactly positive, but I like it, and not just because it is an acronym for “Xbox”. Besides, journalists’ early reactions to names rarely matter in the big scheme of things; I still remember how everyone sniggered when Sega announced that their new console would be called the Dreamcast, but the jokes it inspired had no impact on the console’s initial success (or its eventual decline).
The Xbox One X is going to be a pricey machine, going for $499 (Dh1,832) in the US. That’s what the original Xbox One sold for back when it was first released and when it came with an obligatory Kinect. Microsoft are however positioning this as a premium product, one where you get what you pay for, and it’s hard to argue that you’re getting just that. This machine will be able to deliver native 4K gameplay and UHD Blu-ray playback with Dolby Atmos at the price of a top-tier PC graphics card.
The price is also made much more palatable by the fact that the console’s littler brother, the Xbox One S, isn’t going anywhere, and all Xbox games released for the One X will also work on the One S, but without the fancy graphic bells and whistles that the vastly more powerful newer machine is capable of.
Six teraflops, 12 gigs of RAM… the tech specs have been thrown around a lot since the first leaks of the project, but what does it all mean where the rubber meets the road? It means incredibly good-looking games. Just go and take a look at the Forza Motorsport 7 gameplay that was shown at E3 (and which shows parts of the new Dubai and Jebel Hafeet tracks!). It’s the best-looking and most detailed driving game ever, and it takes your breath away even when viewed on your 1080p PC screen. Now imagine what it will feel like playing it on an UHD TV, running at 60fps at native 4K output with HDR.
Anthem, a new IP by Bioware that was shown for the first time ever during the press conference, also made it clear that the Xbox One X will be ushering in a whole new level of graphical intensity.
About those games
A lot of the live coverage and social media reaction during the Microsoft press conference was incredibly negative and sarcastic, for some reason. Maybe games journalists and gamers have just become jaded? Who knows.
I came away excited about the possibilities the Xbox One X opens up, and by what it means for the game industry. I do however share one of the concerns raised during and after the conference, and that is the lack of a must-buy exclusive or two for the console. Yes, there are some very promising looking exclusives on the way, but none of them shout “must buy” in the way that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did for the Switch.
For now, then, early adopters may have to be happy to have a console that plays the big third-party hits better than does the competition. Whether that capability will be enough to goad non-graphics freaks to go out and buy an Xbox One X remains to be seen. All of this could of course change in an instant with the announcement of an amazing new exclusive, or an unexpected price drop. Whatever happens, it’s going to get very interesting from November 7.