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.

 

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Beam, New Menu For Xbox One Starts Today

The Xbox One is getting another update starting today to go along with some of the major changes coming to Windows in its forthcoming Creators Update.

The new additions include streaming via Microsoft’s own Twitch competitor Beam, as well as a brand new Xbox user experience made up of a new design for Guide, improvements to Home and more. The new features are designed around encouraging gamers to stream more often, providing easier access to those aspects of the UI. The overhaul can be seen as a push for Beam in this way, which it acquired last year.

Beam is a Twitch competitor designed around offering more ways for audiences to interact with streamers, and Microsoft clearly sees it as a way to bring the popularity of game streaming back within its own domain. It highlights that the new Beam integration means you don’t have to download or activate any additional software or accounts – Beam is fully native in Xbox.

Other big new features include the new Home design, which is designed for improved performance, and which puts content related to the games you’re currently playing front and center. This is part of the ongoing evolution of the platform back to being primarily a gaming device, though at the Xbox One’s outset it was positioned more as a media hub for all types of content.

The Guide is also reconfigured, providing quick access to media controls and your most used content in a menu you can access via the Xbox button on your controller. There’s also improved multitasking, including in-game Achievement tracking via an overlaid UI element. Cortana will also be available on top of whatever else you’re doing, so you don’t need to jump entirely out of the action to control music, set reminders and do more via voice controls.

The nice thing about consoles and their long shelf life is the extremely iterative approach their makers take to their core software. The centrality of Beam to this new Xbox experience seems like it could be more of a distraction for a large number of users, but otherwise these changes feel like a clear win.

Xbox One Gets Huge And New Features

Microsoft revealed some of the huge new features coming to Xbox One.

Xbox One Insider members will soon have access to the new features launching as part of the next update. This includes a new Arena tournament mode, which was created by ESL and is powered by Xbox Live. The new update also gives users the freedom to use custom profile pictures, as well as the ability to pin posts, hide posts and filter them. Your profile will also display your tournament history, as well as any future tournaments you’re planning to participate in.

Other useful Xbox One firmware update features include…

  • In ‘My Games and Apps,’ we’re adding the ability to filter your game library by platform – Xbox One and Xbox 360.
  • Captive Portal support for wireless internet is coming to Xbox One, which allows for Wi-Fi authentication through a browser. Great for colleges, hotels, or public Wi-Fi locations.
  • In the Settings, we’re adding the ability to select Kinect auto-zoom for Beam and Twitch broadcasts, as well as for the Skype app.
  • On the Xbox app for Windows 10, we’re adding the option to select the audio input and output sources for Party chat.

The news comes ahead of the Games with Gold April 2017 reveal, which could take place later this week. March was a bumper month for the Games with Gold scheme, featuring the likes of Layers of Fear and Evolve Ultimate Edition. And while Layers of Fear will be removed from the roster of free titles by the end of the month, Evolve will remain downloadable until April 15.

PlayStation Now Bringing PS4 Games To PC

What a time to be alive.

Sony is making it to possibly get PlayStation 4 exclusives like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Remastered on your PC. The PS4 is bringing it’s game catalog to its streaming game service PlayStation Now, the company said today in a blog post. The announcement is light on details, but we know that every game in the service, including PS4 games, will be part of a single PS Now subscription.

Last month, Sony said it’s dropping PS Now support on every platform except PC and PS4, so it can focus on building a better user experience. That list includes the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV, Sony Bravia TVs, Samsung smart TVs and Sony Blu-ray players. The service will stop functioning on those platforms on August 15th.

This move seems like a rebuttal after Microsoft unveiled its own “Netflix-for-games” service called Xbox Game Pass, which offers about 100 titles from the Xbox 360 and Xbox One libraries for $10 a month. Unlike PS Now, it lets you download and install games onto your hard drive. It will launch sometime in spring.

 

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.

 

PlayStation 5 Coming Soon. Like… Really Soon

New reports suggest that the PlayStation 5 console will not be released this year. However, there are already some rumors which say that the PlayStation 5 might be released sooner than expected.

According to Korea Portal, the rumors surrounding the PlayStation 5 began circulating again around the time when Microsoft has hinted that it will launch the Xbox Scorpio. The Scorpio comes with improved hardware, which will be even better than the PS4 Pro. At the same time, the Xbox Scorpio will be able to run games at 4K resolution without any problems.

TrustedReviews says it takes about 5-6 years for Sony to release a new gen of PlayStation console. So a PlayStation console version will stay in the market for a little more than five years which is long enough to have a solid library of games developed during this time.

Sony will most likely watch the market’s reactions once Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio console hit the stores. Depending on how the consumers will react, Sony will then decide if they need to rush on releasing the PlayStation 5 or they can keep the 5-6 years gap between console generations.

If Sony will see that the consumers are ready to upgrade their console, there are high chances that the PlayStation 5 will be released sometime in 2018, instead of 2020.

Virtual Reality Coming To Xbox One

Microsoft has finally confirmed that virtual reality gaming is coming for the games platform.

Microsoft is playing catch up to rival Sony in the VR stakes. The company’s VR headset has already sold around a million units. Redmond software giant announced last year of plans to launch VR headsets capable of mixed reality with the Windows 10 Creators Update. An Acer headset was revealed at the San Francisco gaming conference, which is available to developers this month for $299. while the prospect of PC-powered headsets is exciting, it’s not as exciting as the news that VR is coming to the Xbox.

Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said in a blog post announcing the Acer headset:

“We’re also excited to share that Windows Mixed Reality experiences will light up on other devices over time, beyond desktop and Microsoft HoloLens. Our plan is to bring mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018.”

Microsoft is keen to use the phrase “mixed reality” for some reason rather than describing the headset as AR or VR. I’m guessing just to separate themselves from the competition. ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and 3Glasses are all working on their Windows Mixed Reality devices. The headsets are expected to be publicly available later in 2017.