Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated that Project Scarlett will focus on frame rate, playability of its games, 4K visuals and backwards compatibility, in an exclusive interview with Gamespot.
At E3 2019, Xbox’s media briefing officially unveiled Project Scarlett. Details on the next-generation hardware were sparse, but the reveal emphasised pledges of ‘more immersion’, a ‘new capability to connect with the characters and worlds’, and ‘resolutions and framerates that we've never seen before’. In this in-depth interview, we got a better look at what Microsoft’s ambitions are for the console.
Project Scarlett will be four times as powerful as the Xbox One X and possess a solid state drive. That technology would be pretty mighty, and Spencer confirmed that visuals are a top priority for the next-generation console. ‘I think the area that we really want to focus on next generation is frame rate and playability of the games,’ Spencer explained. ‘Ensuring that the games load incredibly fast, ensuring that the game is running at the highest frame rate possible. We're also the Windows company, so we see the work that goes on [for] PC and the work that developers are doing. People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K 60 [FPS] I think will be a real design goal for us.’
‘The thing that's interesting is, this generation, we've really focused on 4K visuals and how we bring both movies through 4K Blu-ray and video streaming, and with Xbox One X allowing games to run at 4K visuals will make really strong visual enhancements next generation. But playability is probably the bigger focus for us this generation. How fast do [games] load? Do I feel like I can get into the game as fast as possible and while it's playing? How does it feel? Does this game both look and feel like no other game that I've seen? That's our target.’
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This isn’t to say that Scarlett’s predecessors will be left in the dust. Microsoft has stressed that players will retain access to their current generation titles; even the controllers won’t be made obsolete when Project Scarlett rocks up on set. Spencer added, ‘Making sure that all four generations of content — so the original Xbox games that run on your Xbox One today, the OG Xbox; the 360 games that run on your Xbox One; your Xbox One games; and the new generation games — all run on the next platform is important to us.’
‘We want to respect the games that you've bought from us. We want to make sure that the generations can play with each other, so if you happen to adopt the next generation early and somebody stays back, that if their games are on both platforms, you'll be able to cross-gen play.’
Xbox also recognises that people have invested not just cash, but personality into their Xbox collection of hardware. ‘We want to also respect the compatibility of the controllers that you already have,’ Spencer stated. ‘This generation, we came out with the Elite controller, we've done work on controllers and people have invested in personalized controllers, the things that they love and we want to make those compatible with future generations of our console as well. So really, the things that you've bought from us, whether the games or the controllers that you're using, we want to make sure those are future compatible with the highest fidelity version of our console, which at that time will obviously be the one we've just launched.’
I’m kind of impressed with the ability to hold on to old hardware as well as the old games, and the e-waste that would result from a total overhaul has been avoided. So Microsoft’s looking out for the Blue Marble, and in theory, saving players quite the pretty penny.
Project Scarlett will launch with Halo Infinite some time in Holiday 2020.