Xbox Series X: 5 things you need to know

Let battle commence! With both Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 next-gen consoles having bared their innards, we’re now much closer to knowing the full strengths and weaknesses of each console.

And Microsoft is off to a flying start. With fan-friendly features, a dramatic commitment to cross gen play and the most powerful internal hardware of any console we’ve ever seen, the Xbox Series X is already looking worthy of your gaming time.

So what’s the key stuff to know about the fourth generation of Xbox hardware? What will you be bragging about after pre-ordering the console in the coming months? Read on for the most exciting features of the Xbox Series X we’ve seen so far.

Full Backwards Compatibility

It was one of the best good-will moves Microsoft has made in years. After a rocky launch, the Xbox One got back on track with a renewed focus on games – and that included keeping your favorite, older classics available on the newer machine.

That’s a trend that’s going to continue with the Xbox Series X – and Microsoft won’t be scrimping on the range on offer. Not only will the entire Xbox One back catalogue work on the new Xbox Series X, but so will select games from all previous Xbox console generations. So whether you’re looking to play the OG Xbox’s Fusion Frenzy or go for another trek around Albion in the Xbox 360’s Fable II, you’ll be able to do it on your brand-spanking new console. And Microsoft has some extra treats in store, too…

Retrofitting HDR to Older Games

Yep, you read that correctly. Not only will you be able to play your favorite older games on the Xbox Series X, but they’ll also look better than ever before too. Going a step beyond the Xbox One X’s “enhanced” 4K upscaling tech, the Xbox Series X will be able to add HDR effects to older games that never previously had them.

Machine learning will be used to intelligently, retroactively apply HDR visual via the raw-power of the Xbox Series X – with no developer intervention necessarily needed. And that goes right the way back to first-gen Xbox games, too. So far, Microsoft has demoed Fusion Frenzy showing off the trick, as well as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, which runs at 1080p on Xbox One, and now runs at full 2160p (4K) with HDR on Xbox Series X.

Pause and Resume Multiple Games in an Instant

For months now we’ve known that the Xbox Series X will make use of a custom SSD storage system to boost what developers are capable of building in their games. While we expected this to result in faster loading speeds and improved texture loading, Microsoft has also used it to implement a sweet new feature ‘Quick Resume’.

While we’re still figuring out the exact details of this is going to work, it’ll essentially let you leave multiple games in a stasis-like state, letting you jump instantaneously between a few different titles stored on your machines – and at the exact point you left them at. Think of how you can swipe between apps on your phone and come immediately back to where they were left, but for console games, and you’ll be on the right track. We believe that this will be possible immediately after booting a console from sleep, too.

Smart Delivery will Upgrade Older Games You Own

As the ‘Series’ part of the name suggests, Microsoft sees the new Xbox Series X machines as part of a continuum of the Xbox family heritage. As such, it’s no longer thinking of generational console exclusives, and has committed that first party Xbox games going forward will work on both the new machines (complete with the bells and whistles more powerful hardware affords) and the outgoing Xbox One hardware.

Does that mean you’ll have to buy a game twice? Absolutely not. Microsoft will be introducing a new ‘Smart Delivery’ system which will identify which console you’re playing a game on, and deploy the right version, with all the appropriate graphical bonuses, for your system. And it’ll do this without requiring an additional purchase – buy a game on the Xbox One that supports Smart Delivery, and you’ll get the Xbox Series X version for free. So far, Microsoft has committed to all its incoming first party games supporting the technology, while CD Projekt Red has said it’s Cyberpunk 2077 game will make use of Smart Delivery, too. So don’t scrimp on buying Cyberpunk in this generation for fear of missing out on the next.

Xbox Series X price pre order bundles deals

It’s Insanely Powerful

As if the above hadn’t already suggested so, the Xbox Series X is going to be a ridiculously powerful console.

The Xbox Series X is using a custom-designed processor from AMD (an 8-core, 16-thread processor with a maximum clock of 3.8 GHz, making use of Zen 2 and Navi architecture), a a 12TFLOP GPU (with 3,328 Stream Processors spread across 52 compute units) and 16GB of 14Gbps GDDR6(shared between the CPU and GPU). 

What is interesting is Microsoft seems at pains to point out that the machine will have twice the graphical grunt as the Xbox One X – you're looking at 12TFLOPs vs Xbox One X's 6TFLOPS – but this shouldn't be confused with compute power. Still, combined with the HDMI 2.1 standard, there's enough raw power here to get games running at frame rates as high as 120fps, or potential 8K resolutions for less-demanding content.

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Huawei P40 series pricing tipped weeks before the launch

The Huawei P40 family will be unveiled on March 26. While specific details around the smartphone are yet to be confirmed, a leakster has already been able to obtain the series’ pricing.

Every March, Huawei announces new members to its P series, which has often set new benchmarks for smartphone photography. However, this time, the odds are against it as it looks to thrive without Google as well as make its way through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

That doesn’t seem to slow down Huawei as it continues to push towards the launch of the P40 series. Teme, a reliable leakster when it comes to Huawei smartphones, has shared what could be the final retail prices of the Huawei P40 series in Europe. 

The standard Huawei P40 model is said to be priced between €799 and €899(~Rs 70,000), with the P40 Pro being priced in the €999-1,099 range(~Rs 87,000). There will also be an even more premium edition (Porsche design?), which is suggested to be priced between €1,199 and €1,299(~Rs 1,04,000). He further adds that prices can vary by a bit in different markets. Considering how wide the ranges are as well as the series’ past, these could very well be the final prices when the phones get announced in two weeks. 

Leaks have also given us a fair idea about what to expect from the Huawei P40 series. All of them will be powered by the Kirin 990 chipset and will have 5G capabilities onboard. As for the cameras, we expect a new bigger 52MP  Sony IMX700 CMOS image sensor, which will boast an unparalleled pixel size as well as an RYYB matrix for better low light photography. 

Our teammates got a chance to go hands-on with the device and suggested that the display will have pretty sharp curves, not only on the sides but also on the top and bottom. The camera island will be bigger than ever too.

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PS5 is already beating Xbox Series X when it comes to developer interest

The next-gen console war hasn't officially started yet but, when it comes to developer interest it seems the PS5 is already beating Xbox Series X – and the Nintendo Switch.

That's according to GDC's State of the Game Industry 2020 survey, which surveyed 4,000 game developers on a variety of industry topics ahead of GDC 2020 in March. And, of course, the next-gen consoles were top of the agenda.

When asked which platform they planned to launch their next project on, 23% of those surveyed said the PlayStation 5, while 17% said the Xbox Series X and 19% said the Nintendo Switch – suggesting the Switch is also currently more appealing to devs than Microsoft's next-gen console.

However, not even the PS5 could hold a candle to PC, which remains the most popular platform among game developers, with 52% saying they were developing their next project for PC.

When it comes to the platform devs are most intrigued by, the PS5 once again leads the pack when it comes to consoles, with 38%, but the Switch only just behind on 37%. Again, the Xbox Series X is seriously lagging behind, piquing the interest of just 25% of devs. 

The survey also revealed that 10% of developers are currently working on a game for the next-gen consoles.

Other interesting trends

Xbox Series X

While the survey seems to suggest that game developers are favoring the PS5 over Xbox Series X, there were some other interesting trends that emerged from the data. 

It seems there's a rising interest in VR, and the Oculus Quest headset specifically, while interest in game streaming services like Google Stadia is also growing. However, the number of devs making mobile games is decreasing. 

It also seems like we won't be dealing in next-gen exclusives anytime soon, as only 5% of developers are creating next-gen exclusive titles – with a third expecting their games to be cross-generation.

While these kinds of surveys aren't always a precise indicator of industry trends, these are the people making games right now, and their views on the industry landscape give us a pretty good idea of the general direction of travel. 

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