The recent leak of documents from the ongoing FTC vs Microsoft court case seems to have revealed Microsoft’s plans for an Xbox Series X refresh without a disk for launch in 2024.
As per a report from The Verge, the documents – which also revealed that Dishonored 3 and remasters of Oblivion and Fallout 3 were at some point in the works – show off the new console’s features. Codenamed Brooklin, the console includes updated tech, and what appears to be a focus on improving the console’s green footprint, thanks to not requiring a disk, and recyclable packaging. And that’s all well and good – however, while the promise of new hardware is great, it’s not really addressing Microsoft’s biggest problem so far with this console generation.
Starfield has been a breath of fresh air for a relatively starved Xbox community, bringing an end to a drought of exclusives that was only interrupted by the disappointment of Redfall. While it’s definitely fair to say 2023 has been bountiful for great games, plenty of them have either been multi-format releases or in some cases, not seen a release on Xbox at all yet. Of course, we wouldn’t expect to see Tears of the Kingdom on anything other than a Nintendo console, but given Xbox had no answer to that game at the time is disappointing, as is the fact those on the Xbox side are having to wait a little longer for Baldur’s Gate 3, one of the hottest RPGs of the year outside of Starfield.
There’s been hope though – as Xbox has had the stronger showing at most of the gaming shows this year. We had updates on Fable, Avowed and Hellblade 2 to name but three, but what all of those had in common was a vagueness on their release window. The latter two, we’re told, are coming next year – and if this latest leak turns out accurate, just in time for this new console refresh. So clearly it seems the big M have a big year planned. But so far this generation has been a weird one to say the least when it comes to releases.
The Xbox Series X and S were both released in 2020 and have had exceptional circumstances, such as a global pandemic, and so three years in, a hardware refresh would almost be expected by now. And yeah, the features – including those of the new controller like upgrades to wireless and improved longevity are great – so far hardware announcements and releases like the PlayStation VR2 and the upcoming PlayStation Portal have largely been met with an apathy from the public after their initial launch. There’s multiple factors at play of course – not least a cost of living crisis that hasn’t been helped by announcements of PlayStation Plus price rises – but it feels like there hasn’t been the software to make these hardware updates feel like must-buys.
It’s a tricky time right now, especially with recent behind-the-scenes such as the Unity debacle, and the general creation of games being harder to sustain with budgets ballooning and the time between high profile releases getting larger. Perhaps more publishers need to take risks and greenlight some more games that aren’t as high profile, but feel a little bit different and unique to Xbox, because right now there’s a feeling that these hardware refreshes might amount to little more than papering over the cracks until the next Starfield comes along.
There’s no word on if Dishonored 3 or the Oblivion and Fallout 3 remasters are still a going concern for Microsoft (the document revealing their existence is more than three years old and was before Bethesda’s acquisition) – but we can’t help feel that those might be a good starting point to give Xbox owners something more than just new and improved hardware to look forward to.
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