It'll pack incredible power, enabling performance up to 8K resolution and 120 frames per second, with a new Halo game onboard and a minimal new tower-like design. And it may not be the only new Xbox on the horizon, as Microsoft's own words suggest.
Curious about what to expect from the new 2020 Xbox? Here's everything we've heard so far, both officially and through the rumour mill.
When will the Xbox Series X be out?
Holiday 2020! That's official, straight from the mouth of Microsoft.
We probably won't have a proper date for months, but at least you can start stashing away some cash if you're planning on buying it at launch. The three previous Xbox console launches all happened in November, so sometime that month is a pretty safe bet.
It'll definitely be in time for Christmas in 2020.
How much will the Xbox Series X cost?
After the smash success of the Xbox 360, the Xbox One has been a down note for Microsoft – at least compared to the competition. And a lot of that has to do with starting price.
Microsoft positioned the Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment center, bundled with the Kinect no less, and priced it accordingly. Sony, meanwhile, targeted gamers and priced its PS4 for £80/US$100 less – and that went a long way towards its early success, which ultimately led to an enormous lead in all-time sales.
Luckily, the company understands the mistake, and suggests that it won't happen again with the Xbox Series X. "We understand what reasonable price points are for a console," said Partner Director of Program Management Jason Ronald to Windows Central in June 2019. Xbox head Phil Spencer got even more detailed in a recent interview with The Verge.
"I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price," said Spencer. "If you remember the beginning of this generation we were a hundred dollars more expensive and yes, we were less powerful. And we started Project Scarlett with this leadership team in place with a goal of having market success."
In short: we don't know what to expect yet on pricing, but we doubt it will be more than the upcoming Sony PlayStation 5.
Microsoft can't afford to overshoot on price point again. It'll be competitive.
What will the Xbox Series X look like?
Here it is! Microsoft unveiled the console design at The Game Awards in December 2019, showing a very different kind of silhouette for a game console.
The Xbox Series X looks more like a PC gaming desktop tower, albeit smaller and simpler. It's not overloaded with lights or details from the front: just an Xbox logo, a disc slot, and a tiny eject button. You can also lay it flat, if you prefer. It's about 18in tall and 6in wide and deep.
If you'll remember, the original Xbox One was absolutely massive, but the Xbox One S and Xbox One X revisions both significantly trimmed down and improved the design. This is a different kind of a shape, but it seems to follow the increasingly minimal ethos of those redesigned editions. We like what we're seeing so far.
That's the Xbox One Series X. Bask in its boxiness.
How much power will the Xbox Series X pack?
How much power? Loads! It'll have a custom-designed AMD Zen 2 processor with Navi graphics and high-bandwidth GDDR6 memory.
What… does all of that mean? Well, Microsoft says it'll be about four times as powerful as the current Xbox One X, enabling all sorts of enhancements: up to 8K resolution, frame rates up to 120fps, and real-time ray tracing. Thanks to a next-generation solid state drive, loading times should also be a thing of the past (for the most part).
All told, we can expect games to look amazing and run well – although we're curious to see just how big of an impact that actually has on the experience.
The Xbox Series X sounds like a super-powered gaming beast. Will it top the PS5?
What will the controller look like?
Have you seen the Xbox One controller? Yeah, it looks a lot like that.
It's a little different, but the evolution from the Xbox One controller to the Xbox Series X controller is even more minor than that from the Xbox 360 to Xbox One. The official images show a d-pad that's like the one from the expensive Elite Controller instead, plus there's a Share button. Otherwise, we suspect it's just very nuanced tweaks to the feel and form.
It will be compatible with Xbox One and PC, as well – so even if you don't want to shell out for the new console right away, you can grab the new controller to use with your current setup.
The Xbox One controller is already comfortable and well-made, so it's no surprise that Microsoft isn't changing too much for the sequel.
Which games will be on the Xbox Series X?
The biggest game announced for Xbox Series X so far is Halo Infinite, which is also launching in the same holiday 2020 window. It will almost certainly be a launch title, plus it's coming to Xbox One and PC too.
Beyond that, Microsoft unveiled Senua's Saga: Hellblade II at The Game Awards, and Ninja Theory's sequel looks super metal and intense, although we've only seen a cinematic so far. The original was a critical smash, and the Xbox Series X hardware should only amplify the tension and emotion.
Any big AAA multiplatform games coming out in 2020 are also likely to hit Xbox Series X, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs 3, but we don't have official announcements on those just yet.
And thankfully, Microsoft will continue its endearing legacy of supporting backwards compatibility, with "thousands of your favorite games across four generations of gaming" playable on the Xbox Series X. Basically, if it's playable on Xbox One right now, we expect that it will also be playable on Xbox Series X.
Halo will surely anchor a broad launch lineup, with thousands more playable games from past Xbox consoles right out of the gate.
Is there anything else I should know about the Xbox Series X?
Yes! There will probably be more than one kind of Xbox console this generation. In fact, officially, this generation's console is just called "Xbox," like the original.
"The name we're carrying forward to the next generation is simply Xbox," a Microsoft representative told Business Insider. "And at The Game Awards you saw that name come to life through the Xbox Series X."
"Similar to what fans have seen with previous generations, the name 'Xbox Series X' allows room for additional consoles in the future."
Microsoft is rumoured to be working on a cheaper, less powerful new Xbox codenamed "Lockhart," which will shoot for 1440p-resolution gaming and lack a disc drive. Given that, we expect that it would be a smaller design, too. The Verge's sources suggest that Microsoft will offer both consoles for holiday 2020, so we could be due for additional announcements soon.
It's almost certain that Microsoft will ultimately offer multiple versions of the new Xbox console, but whether that happens at launch is still TBD.