While there's a lot of chatter about Sony's PS5, Microsoft is quietly working away on its own next console, the machine we're calling the Xbox 2. In this guide to everything we know about the Xbox 2, including the talk of multiple next-gen Xbox consoles and suggested release dates, we'll discuss every nugget of information and speculate on details based on what we know about console releases and release schedules. We'll also look at the rumored Xbox streaming box that will reportedly make use of Project xCloud.
Xbox 2 Release Date
Mat Piscatella, US video games industry analyst for The NPD Group believes that next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be announced in 2019. Microsoft is going to be at E3 2019 (an event Sony isn't attending), so all eyes will be on the platform holder's June presentation. While an all-out focus on the Xbox 2 seems unlikely given that the release date could still be approximately 16 months away at that point, a chunk of time at the end of the conference to unveil Microsoft's vision for next-gen isn't out of the question.
Will There be More Than One Xbox 2?
Multiple reports have revealed that Microsoft is working on a family of video game devices, and a Windows Central report claims that there will be two consoles: a successor to the Xbox One S and a beefier machine that will succeed the Xbox One X. At one point the cheaper of the two consoles was rumored to be a streaming box, perhaps tied to Microsoft's own Project xCloud technology, but the exact truth remains a mystery.
One thought, as discussed on the podcast below, is that the reported upcoming discless Xbox One S will in fact have streaming capability and be cheap enough to make a dedicated streaming box defunct. It remains to be seen if the cheaper, digital only Xbox One S releases, but if it was priced close to the $150 price point, it would offer more than a streaming box for little extra money.
Is Starfield the First Revealed Xbox 2 Game?
During the Bethesda E3 2018 conference, Todd Howard announced Starfield, a brand-new single-player RPG. This game isn't coming out for a while, yet, but Howard did say that it's coming to "next-gen". This is almost certainly in reference to the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft, so Starfield may well be the first announced Xbox 2 game.
Xbox 2 Games - What Games Could the Xbox 2 Launch With?
Microsoft has been on an acquisition spree, grabbing studios to make games exclusively for Xbox and PC. These studios include Obsidian and Ninja Theory, although don't expect to see all the new titles from these studios in 2020. Ninja Theory might have a shot at delivering a game for the launch of the Xbox 2, given its previous game (Hellblade) released in August 2017 on PS4. The Xbox 2 will almost certainly release with a new racing game, with fall 2020 being three years since Forza 7 and two years since Forza Horizon 4. A follow-up to either game is possible, although the larger development window for Forza 7 makes it the favorite.
Xbox Game Pass is sure to be a big selling point of the Xbox 2 so Microsoft will want a strong lineup of Microsoft Studios titles releasing at the end of 2020. Rare may well be working on a title, but if that is still a way off then an enhanced release of Sea of Thieves would make sense. Given that Microsoft is keen to push Xbox as a platform, with access to older titles, it's not crazy to suggest that numerous Xbox One titles will be refreshed for Xbox 2, complete with enhanced visuals, yet be free to current owners.
If we assume a November 2020 release date for the Xbox 2, we can make pretty solid guesses at the games we're likely to see from third-party publishers. FIFA 21 from EA is a given, a new Call of Duty (Sledgehammer's next game, perhaps set during WW2 again after the success of CoD WW2), a new DICE shooter (probably a Battlefront), a LEGO game, and perhaps Destiny 3. All of these games are likely to be cross-gen titles to some degree.
What is a Realistic Xbox 2 Price? - Will the Xbox 2 be Expensive and Cost More Than the Xbox One did at Launch?
For an educated guess as to what the Xbox 2 could realistically cost when it inevitably releases, you’d have to look at past console releases. The PlayStation 4 first launched at a price point of $399 back in 2014, and Microsoft will almost certainly want to either hit this price point or go cheaper with its lower-spec Xbox 2 console. The more powerful Xbox 2 model is likely to be significantly more expensive, but until we know more about the power being targeted by each device it's hard to be definitive about pricing.
How Powerful Will the Xbox 2 be? Certainly More Powerful Than the Xbox One X
Everyone would be pretty shocked if the Xbox 2 didn’t exceed the power of the Xbox One X, which currently boasts 6 teraflops, unless its successor to the Xbox One S targets a much lower spec and budget audience. At the end of 2020 8-10TF should easily be doable for $399. The question then is how much more powerful could a $499 console be and if Microsoft would be willing to push that price even higher to deliver a beast of a console for hardcore users willing to pay a premium (like they have with the Xbox One X).
So what is a decent guess for the base Xbox 2 spec? Realistically, the Xbox 2 will include a more capable CPU as well as more memory as standard, and this should equate to higher potential frame rates for most games (Bungie cited poor CPU in the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X for a lack of 60FPS), and better quality textures.
Digital Foundry also published a report that detailed a potential CPU for the PS5 (Xbox 2 is likely to have very similar components). Sony is reportedly working with AMD once again, this time on a Ryzen CPU, and Microsoft will almost certainly be going the AMD route, too. This follows the use of Jaguar CPU in the PS4 and Xbox One. This Jaguar CPU is often cited as one of the weakest areas of those consoles, even though the clock speed of the Xbox One CPU is actually a little faster than that in the PS4. Ryzen is a big step up and there's certainly enough noise to suggest it will likely be the CPU in the Xbox 2.
Aside from the specs of the console, it will be interesting to see if the Xbox 2 makes any radical changes to the Xbox controller. It's unlikely that the next Xbox pad will look all that different to the current option, although given the rise of screenshot sharing it would be slightly foolish not to include that functionality with a dedicated button (this is an area in which the Xbox is way behind the PS4 and Nintendo Switch).
Will Microsoft Follow the Switch Route With the Xbox 2?
Given that the Nintendo Switch has been a huge success, there are some calls for the Xbox 2 to offer a portable option. This isn't likely, but what we probably will see is full Xbox Two streaming support on mobile devices thanks to Project xCloud. Microsoft has already demonstrated the tech on mobile phones and tablets, with players using Xbox controllers or touch screen controls, so it follows that this will be rolled out on as many devices as possible in the future.
Will the Xbox 2 Play Xbox One and Older Games? Backwards Compatibility
The Xbox One uses an AMD Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) that is built upon the x86-64 architecture. If Microsoft uses this architecture in the Xbox 2 (which is likely), there’s a decent chance that the machine will offer backwards compatibility with the Xbox One. Microsoft is already well down the road of backwards compatibility and fans are expecting this to continue (with more enhancements for old games) with the Xbox 2.
A big question mark remains over how long the Xbox One S and Xbox One X will be supported. The Xbox One S is already struggling to keep up with modern games (as discussed in the Digital Foundry video below), so it will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles the transition to the Xbox 2. There's a possibility that streaming tech will be used to give Xbox One S owners a way to play next-gen titles, but Xbox One X may have native support for future Xbox 2 titles for at least a couple of years.
Can the Xbox 2 Beat the PS5?
Sony is currently in such a dominant position with the PS4 that it'll be nigh-on impossible for Microsoft to topple the PS5 with the Xbox 2. What Microsoft will want to do is ensure it is in the battle, with a repeat of its disastrous Xbox One launch being highly unlikely. The Xbox One launched at a higher price than the PS4, offered less power, and confused consumers with a set of digital game features that were ahead of their time. Today the Xbox is in a much stronger position, but still has a lot of ground to make up on the PlayStation. For Microsoft to have any chance next time around, the Xbox 2 must be the default choice for third-party games (like the Xbox 360 was for many gamers during that generation) and the firm's first-party games must start to deliver the goods, as Sony has during the PS4's lifespan.
That's all we can put together on the Xbox 2, but we'll be sure to update this page whenever new info or rumors come to light. E3 2019 is an obvious target for new info, but GDC in March might reveal some juicy bits of Xbox 2 info.
Header Image, Project Scorpio Development Kit | Microsoft