Project Scorpio Specs Announced

Microsoft has revealed fresh new tech specs about its upcoming upgraded Xbox One console, Project Scorpio.

According to a new report from Digital Foundry, the console’s specs are beyond what we’ve seen in the current console generation. Scorpio was able to run a Forza Motorsport demo at 60 FPS in seemingly native 4K, with graphical settings at an “Xbox One-equivalent” level. In terms of specs, the console boastsa 1 TB hard drive, as well as 12 GB of GGDR5 memory–the same type of RAM contained in the PlayStation 4, though Sony‘s device only contains 8 GB.

That 12 GB is split into two portions: 8 GB is accessible to developers, while 4 GB is reserved for system use. That’s an increase over Xbox One’s 8 GB overall memory, which was split the same way into portions of 5 GB and 3 GB, while GGDR5 represents a speed increase over Xbox One’s DDR3 RAM. Digital Foundry–which was shared this information by Microsoft itself–says Scorpio will run all Xbox One games “better,” whether they’re patched for the new console or not. This is because the console uses no emulation–Xbox One games will run natively using the system’s internal power.

Combined with a faster CPU, the result is a more stable or higher frame rate, no screen tearing, and faster load times. All of that is also reportedly true for backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games, even though changes in hardware between Xbox One and Project Scorpio mean Microsoft has had to go through each backwards-compatible Xbox 360 game individually to make them run on Scorpio.

The site says Scorpio’s internal design brief was to scale existing titles up to 4K–and this latest batch of information suggests Microsoft has succeeded. it should be noted, however, that the demo only contained one test version of an unconfirmed Forza game–though the build apparently was built using the same tech used to make Forza Motorsport 6. Additionally, titles that were originally 30 FPS will not go over that unless patched to do so, while the level of optimization seen in all titles could vary.

Users who own 1080p televisions will still be catered for, too: “ultra HD-rendering should super-sample down for those 1080p displays,” says the site, meaning games should look sharper, even if you don’t own a 4K set. Although no price has officially been confirmed, Digital Foundry and Eurogamer estimate from the specs they’ve seen that the console will cost US $499–the same price as the Xbox One at launch.

We already knew that Scorpio will boast six teraflops of performance–including 320 GB/s memory bandwidth and eight CPU cores–though the console will differ from Xbox One by reportedly not containing ESRAM. Microsoft says Scorpio is the most powerful console ever made and that it will be more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro, which came out last year. It will still support Xbox One games, controllers, and accessories.

The new console is due to launch this holiday, but it remains to be seen when Microsoft will start to officially show it off in more detail. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said he is unsure if Microsoft will show off Project Scorpio before E3 in June, while also stating recently that he thinks it’s “critical” for first-party games to be ready for the system’s launch.

 

Crackdown 3 Details “On The Horizon” Developer Says

HOLY CRAP. XBOX EXCLUSIVE NEWS.

It’s been a while since anyone has gotten new information about Crackdown 3, but it seems like that’s going to change soon. More information about the Xbox One and PC is “on the horizon,” reads a tweet from the game’s official Twitter account.

“2017 is shaping up to be great!” the developer said. “Crackdown 3 info is on the horizon, and we’re ready to bring the boom!”

Asked on Twitter if the Crackdown 3 news might come on Thursday as part of the Project Scorpio reveal, the developer said, “We have no insight in to what other teams are working on, but Crackdown news will start rolling out BIG TIME in the coming months.”

The “coming months” could be a reference to E3, which takes place in early June. Microsoft’s briefing is scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, June 11, which is earlier than its normal Monday morning timeslot.

Crackdown 3, or at least a part of it, was previously expected to launch in 2016. Microsoft later confirmed a delay to 2017, for a couple of reasons. First, Xbox marketing manager Aaron Greenberg said the open-world game won’t launch in 2016 because the company’s holiday lineup was already so stuffed with great games that it didn’t need more. Later, Microsoft Studios boss Shannon Loftis said the delay is partially the result of needing more time work on the campaign.

We also know that the game will run at 4K on Project Scorpio and should launch this holiday or sooner. Crackdown 3 is in development at Reagent Games, under the guidance of Crackdown series veteran David Jones.

Red Dead Redemption 2, Battlefront II Could Help Scorpio Upon Launch

Rumors suggest that Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Battlefront II are two of the first third-party titles to be unveiled in 4K on Project Scorpio.

The first games to run modified versions on Project Scorpio are expected to be demonstrated soon, based on marketing materials acquired by Windows Central. Several first-party titles are proposed to be part of the hardware’s demonstration line-up including Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 2, but third-party titles Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Battlefront II are also mentioned to be shown off in true 4K, along with titles from other popular series like Call of Duty and Madden.

The report further claims that the Project Scorpio’s 4K–compatible library will be larger than just the games that launch with the support. The system’s “change resilience” will reportedly allow games that run at 900p or 1080p on Xbox One to scale up to 4K on Scorpio. Of course, fans wanted to hear what Xbox’s Phil Spencer had to say about the Project Scorpio 4K rumors. Spencer played it coy as usual, although he did verify that he was happy with what both first and third-party developers had in store for us.

Spencer has teased that we may learn more about Project Scorpio prior to this year’s E3, and this 4K support reveal could be what he was referring to. Neither Red Dead Redemption 2 nor Star Wars Battlefront II have official release dates, but recent leaks may have revealed when Red Dead Redemption 2 will launch. Star Wars Battlefront II is also dropping this fall, with its first official reveal coming later this month.

Without Console Exclusive Games, Is Xbox’s Project Scorpio Even Worth Buying?

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you have seen both Nintendo and PlayStation flourish while the Xbox has been playing catch up since the 2016 holiday season.

Nintendo released the Switch earlier this month and it has already broke old Nintendo console records for a launch weekend, beating the Wii and N64. PlayStation in recent months has released the PS4 Pro in November and the PSVR in October and both have been incredibly successful. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Sony‘s sales went through the roof and was pretty much carried by the PlayStation 4’s sales and as the company itself wasn’t doing too hot.

Microsoft is on the down slide and it doesn’t look like the Xbox is going to be relevant until Project Scorpio is finally released in late 2017.

Xbox has tried to get fans of the console excited with introducing ideas like the Game Pass which is basically like Netflix but with video games. Game Pass has over 100 titles ready to be downloaded like Halo 5: Guardians and Payday 2 and only cost about $10 per month. It’s not a bad idea but instead of streaming games, you have to download the entire file to your console and you only get to play for about a month or so. This means a lot of installing and uninstalling that could be a pain in the you know what. Here’s the thing I have to ask myself as an avid Xbox fan since the beginning…

Is Project Scorpio even going to be worth the money?

Let’s look at the features that the “most powerful console ever created” as said by Monolith’s studio head Kevin Stephens. Just recently announced, Scorpio will support VR. No word as to what kind of headset it will support (Microsoft brand only or third party headsets) but Microsoft has come out with their own headset which will more than likely be compatible with the console.

In short, the graphics core will be more than capable of going head-to-head with top-end graphics card; the brand-new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 has 6.5TFLOPs of performance. By the time Scorpio launches, it will be the equivalent of a mid-range PC in 2017, which is how most consoles tend to launch. It will also run at natural 4k and will have at least a 1TB HD. On paper, the console to end all consoles (sarcasm) sounds pretty great, but it’s lacking something.

WHERE THE HELL ARE THE EXCLUSIVES!?

Exclusives, Exclusives, Exclusives drive sales in this business and the Xbox not only had a flop with Halo Wars 2, but they even cancelled Scalebound, and action RPG that was being talked about as a rival to PlayStation’s JRPG exclusives. There was uproar from fans and developers alike because now if you get hired by Microsoft to created a new game, you are nervous because you don’t know if your game will even hit the shelves. And it’s almost a slap to the face of the fans who now primarily play multiplayer titles that are available on multiple platforms.

When asked about exclusives for Project Scorpio, a senior Microsoft spokesperson said it was “up to developers” to decide if they want to develop games exclusively for Project Scorpio. “I don’t know about that. We’ll see. It’s up to the game development community; what do they want to do,” said Shannon Loftis, GM of Game Publishing at Microsoft.

Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, posted on the official Xbox website a few weeks ago to tease “an Epic Xbox 2017 Games Lineup” and listed Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Cuphead, Below, and Sea of Thieves, among a few other lower-profile releases. At a glance, there aren’t high expectations here unless Sea of Thieves really lives up to its potential and it’s hard to get excited for a followup to the disappointing Crackdown 2 until more of the third installment is showcased.

It’s hard to see anyone paying $100-$200 more for a better running version of their current system. I’m sure some will upgrade but unless you really hate how slow the Xbox is, I wouldn’t recommend buying Scorpio at release.

 

Halo Wars 2 Comes Out Today For Xbox One And Windows 10… For Some

Halo Wars 2 is out now if you pre-ordered the special edition copy of the game. If you didn’t, you’re stuck waiting until Tuesday like the rest of us.

Halo Wars 2 falls somewhere between an RTS game for Halo fans and a Halo game for RTS fans. It includes Halo’s FPS roots well, taking the series’ classic missions and altering them in ways that make sense for a strategy game without sacrificing accessibility. Ultimately, this is a very light RTS experience geared toward veteran Halo players, not a robust strategy game, and it runs out of steam quickly.

HW 2 takes place almost three decades after the first Halo Wars and after Halo 5. The crew of the Spirit of Fire emerges from cryosleep and is now taking on a rogue Brute faction called the Banished. Atriox, a Brute known for being kind of cruel, is the main protagonist and you and your army’s priority is finding him and shutting him down. It’s an interesting story as a Halo fan in that it explores other aspects of the universe. There are some gorgeous cutscenes that make following along worthwhile, and even some cheesy action-movie lines, seeing the emotion in their faces is enough to get pulled back in.

Unfortunately, HW2 doesn’t develops its characters in a way that leaves cutscenes feeling more like eye candy than essential additions to the universe. But most pieces of the story feed into battle effectively. Pre-fight dialogue helps to prepare you for what you’re about to face including why troops are in certain positions and why you have to defend specific points which is useful when you’re still getting used to the battle structure. The story integration is smart and not overdone that allows you to find your footing easily.

On the one hand, it’s accessible, but the campaign is only challenging in the final few missions and is a bit anticlimactic. Unlike in the first Halo Wars, you can form custom groups of any combination of units, but you may not need that feature until one of the very last fights. Up until that point in the game, you can get by so long as you keep an eye on your opponent’s unit types and build an appropriate army to counter it, rock-paper-scissors style. Marines make good fodder, Cyclops units counter vehicles, Hellbringers have the upper hand on infantry, ect.

Halo Wars 2 carries forth enough of the series’ beloved elements to make any fan of Halo feel right at home at first, but not in the long run. It’s palatable for those used to the FPS games, taking inspiration from favorite missions and putting a strategic spin on them; but just when things become more challenging and actually interesting, it runs out of steam.

Xbox One Project Scorpio: What We Know So Far

Microsoft unveiled Project Scorpio back in June and are proudly already calling it the most powerful console ever. That’s a pretty bold statement for something that really hasn’t released any big details about the damn thing. But there are a few things that we do know about the upcoming console that I feel you should know.

What were you exSPECting? (Get it? Because specs?)

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Microsoft is putting in an absolute beast of a graphics processor into its new project. The company has confirmed that its new GPU will boast no less than six teraflops of processing power. In terms of power, that’s a pretty decent upgrade on the Xbox One. By some measures, it’s saying the Scorpio will be four times more powerful than the base model Xbox One. Current speculation suggests 12GB of DDR5 memory will replace the 8GB of slower DDR3 RAM found in original Xbox One units. We know that the console’s CPU will be eight-core AMD unit, the exact details remain a mystery for now.

The appearance of the console itself is still a secret for now, but we do know that it will feature some of the similar ports as the Xbox One and One S and Microsoft has confirmed that your existing collection of accessories will work with Project Scorpio.

Running a marathon

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Scorpio might not pack a punch graphically quite as much grunt as a super-high-end gaming PC, but Microsoft has confirmed that its first-party software will run at native 4K resolution. So basically, Halo 6, Gears of War 5, and Forza Motorsport 7 should all run in ultra high-definition.

Third-party developers can decide to have their game support the new machine or not, but early signs are promising, even for games that launch well before Scorpio releases. The producers of Mass Effect: Andromeda, for instance, recently told Official Xbox Magazine that they’d definitely consider a Scorpio update for the sci-fi RPG.

Here comes the money.

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This console will not be cheap. Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer said that Scorpio will be priced like “a premium console”. Given the upgraded specs that it’ll ship with, it’s safe to assume that the device will cost at least a little more than the PS4 Pro so I’m guessing a pricepoint in the region of $450-$500 when Scorpio hits shelves this winter. If there’s one point that Microsoft has been consistently crystal clear on, it’s the console’s release date. The Xbox Project Scorpio will launch in the holiday season of 2017.

VR you’ve come so far

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Gamesradar.com said “Project Scorpio will support some sort of virtual reality solution, and its raw graphical grunt should ensure that the hardware works well with VR headsets. Exactly which devices Microsoft will support, however, remains unclear. The Oculus Rift is one possibility, given the fact that Microsoft already partners with Oculus to include an Xbox One controller with every Rift unit.”

Of course there will be bundles because it’s coming out around the holidays. The Scorpio is highly anticipated and looks like it can step back up with Sony after the sudden boost in sales with the PS4 Pro and VR. Will you be picking up the Scorpio this holiday season?