“No boundaries” is the tagline Microsoft keeps touting for Project Scorpio, a hardware refresh/upgrade for the Xbox One announced during its E3 press conference (and fulfilling six months or so of rumors and leaks). But don’t expect to hear much more about it until next year—the console’s not coming until Holiday 2017, and we didn’t even get a good look at it yet.
Microsoft did have a reel full of developers talking about the console’s capabilities, mostly spouting buzzwords, from “No compromises” to “Best framerate” to “Most powerful GPU in a game console today.”
Very few actual details were actually revealed, though. The few solid numbers we did hear were in-line with the leaks earlier this year, down to the repeated mentions of 6 teraflops of graphics compute power. That’s a huge jump from the original Xbox One’s 1.32 teraflops.
And as my colleague Brad Chacos was quick to point out, eight CPU cores and this sort of performance suggests Microsoft stuck with AMD’s APUs for Project Scorpio—presumably ones rocking Polaris graphics cores similar to what’s inside the new Radeon RX 480, which AMD says has “more than 5 teraflops” of graphics performance.
Microsoft also says the new console is capable 4K gaming, which I would hazard is misleading at best. Support for 4K gaming will no doubt be incoming, but whether you’ll be playing Halo 6 in 4K? On a console? Doubtful. Expect games to be able to scale lower resolutions up to 4K at the very least, though.
Support for virtual reality was also announced, by way of Bethesda’s Todd Howard, but no solid plans were in this showcase. I’m still of a mind that Microsoft and Oculus have a partnership in the works, given the Xbox controller included with every Rift, but there’s no official word yet.
Other than that? Well, we’ll see. This is Microsoft’s Hail Mary move this generation, as the Xbox One’s been soundly shut out by Sony’s PlayStation 4 since launch in 2013. Project Scorpio’s specs reputedly beat out Sony’s own PS4 refresh, and Microsoft no doubt hopes to capitalize on that.
As for what this means for PC gamers: Well, it means next year will probably be pretty great. Have you gone back and played any games from 2012 and compared them to games in 2016? Expect to see a similar graphics bump in the near future, as developers are no longer constrained on the high-end by the subpar hardware in the original Xbox One and PS4.
We’ll also probably see broader min-spec support for at least a few years, given that devs now need to create versions of games that run on both the original hardware and the refreshed hardware. That’s good news for people who like to run the same PC rigs for years at a time.
For now, we’ll just have to wait until E3 2017 for more Project Scorpio news. I can definitely give you one recommendation based on today’s news: Don’t bother buying an Xbox One this year. Not unless you want to be really annoyed when the refresh comes out.