Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s next-gen console, arriving late-2020

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If you didn’t watch last night’s Game Awards, you may have missed it. But Xbox Series X is the company’s  next-generation console, and will be arriving in late 2020. Thankfully, Microsoft has kindly cataloged all of the images, media and even a little information online. Oh, and we’ll almost certainly be hearing a LOT more about the Xbox Series X before it arrives for the holidays in 2020.

Xbox head Phil Spencer has a pretty long breakdown over on the the official blog. But let’s start with the obvious here. The Series X looks…different. Surely the meme makers are already working overtime on this one, but to my mind, it looks like a more traditional PC or maybe even a router.

It’s tall (around three times as tall as its predecessor), it’s rectangular, it’s black. It’s fairly minimalist. A lot of people seem to be comparing it to a refrigerator, which is fine. Honestly, I think it’s got that working for it. Surely plenty of people are looking for something that more seamlessly blends in with its surroundings.

The last few generations have found consoles transforming from specialty items into catch-all media players, and there’s something to be said for a product that can sit on your shelf, largely undetected. Notably, the blocky design means that the console can be oriented either vertically or horizontally, depending on your spacing needs.

The latest version of the Xbox Wireless Controller arrives alongside the new system, because, well, you’re going to need something to control it with. It’s a bit smaller than the previous version, “refined to accommodate an even wider range of people,” per Spencer.

The buttons are largely intact, with the addition of a Share button for taking screenshots and game clips. The new controllers ship with the system and will be compatible with both the Xbox One and Windows 10 systems.

Speaking of older systems, the Series X is set up to support backward compatibility for all older systems, along with Xbox One accessories. Per Spencer:

Building on our compatibility promise, with Xbox Series X we’re also investing in consumer-friendly pathways to game ownership across generations.

Leading the way with our first-party titles including Halo Infinite in 2020, we’re committed to ensuring that games from Xbox Game Studios support cross-generation entitlements and that your Achievements and game saves are shared across devices.

Spec information is still pretty light for this first pass, but Spencer promises 4K playback at 60FPS (with potentially up to 120FPS) and support for both Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and 8K capability:

Powered by our custom-designed processor leveraging the latest Zen 2 and next generation RDNA architecture from our partners at AMD, Xbox Series X will deliver hardware accelerated ray tracing and a new level of performance never before seen in a console. Additionally, our patented Variable Rate Shading (VRS) technology will allow developers to get even more out of the Xbox Series X GPU and our next-generation SSD will virtually eliminate load times and bring players into their gaming worlds faster than ever before.

The Series X will also, naturally, have an eye on cloud gaming, in addition to native hardware. Tonight’s unveil also featured a sneak preview of the upcoming Ninja Theory title, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.