Xbox Project Scarlett release date, specs and games confirmed for Xbox Two

Xbox logo over controller
Image Credit: TechRadar

After years of speculation that a next-generation Xbox console is on its way, Microsoft finally announced the Xbox Project Scarlett during its big E3 2019 keynote conference in June of this year.

We only have a few details on Microsoft's next-generation hardwar so far– even the moniker 'Project Scarlett' is a codename for now - but we do know it's coming, when it's coming, and a handful of the features and specs we can expect when it lands.

Faster and more graphically advanced than its predecessors, Xbox Scarlett promises to be the most powerful games console in the world by the time it launches late in 2020 – even more so than the PS5, which is due to hit shelves around the same time. For comparison, if the Xbox One X is now the most advanced console on the market, Xbox Scarlett is meant to be four times as powerful (according to the reveal trailer below).

“For us, the console is vital and central to our experience. A console should be designed, and built and optimized for one thing, and one thing only – gaming,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer, showing the company's renewed commitment to making the very best games console it can first and foremost, after the mixed messaging of its flawed Xbox One launch.

“This decisive moment of discovery is etched in your gaming history."

“We on Team Xbox will always be dedicated to delivering the best new games for you to discover. This right now is the single most creative and energizing time in gaming history. Games and gamers can be a significant unifying force for the world.”

Xbox Project Scarlett is looking to be an incredibly powerful home gaming machine, with custom built components from AMD, and an SSD drive at its heart allowing for innovative game development techniques. 

Here's everything we know so far about what we anticipate will later be known as the 'Xbox Two'.

Xbox Project Scarlett: key facts

  • What is it? Xbox Project Scarlett will be the next-gen Xbox console, aka the Xbox Two
  • Xbox Project Scarlett release date: Microsoft has given Xbox Project Scarlett a release window of "Holiday 2020" – so that's likely between the months of October and December 2020.
  • What can I play on it? Halo Infinite is its first confirmed launch title, while all previous generations of Xbox console games will be covered by backwards compatibility.
  • What will the Xbox Scarlett cost? No prices yet, but the high-end console likely won't be cheap.
  • Will Xbox Scarlett have VR? Microsoft doesn't have anything to see about VR on the Xbox yet, though Sony has confirmed that PSVR will work on its own incoming console.

Xbox Project Scarlett

Xbox Project Scarlett internal hardware. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Scarlett specs

With only a sizzle reel to go by, we don't yet know what the Xbox Project Scarlett will look like, let alone if it'll eventually be named the Xbox Two. But we do have a good idea of its internal hardware, and the Xbox Project Scarlett specs are already sounding quite special.

Using custom-designed processor from AMD making use of Zen 2 and Navi architecture, Xbox Project Scarlett will be 4x more powerful than the Xbox One X. It'll be possible of running games at 120Hz frame rates, at potential 8K resolutions, while also showcasing fancy real-time ray-tracing tech. It's the works.

An SSD will come as standard, as with the PS5, which will give it the option of using its storage system as virtual RAM, as well as lifting load time performance by a factor of 40x. That'll let developers stream in far more detailed worlds around a player. In terms of 'standard' RAM, the console will pack in a meaty GDDR6.

Xbox Project Scarlett

Xbox Project Scarlett components. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Though gamers are increasingly shifting their purchase preferences towards the convenience of digital downloads, Xbox Project Scarlett will also have a physical disk drive.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Xbox's Head of Microsoft Games Studios Matt Booty said:

"Yes, Scarlett will have an optical disc drive. I still have films at home on physical media - not many, but a few of my favourites. We know people have an attachment to buying games on disc, to building a collection."

It's also likely that the new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 that is available for pre-order right now and launching November 4 of this year will be the controller for this upcoming console. That could just be wishful thinking, but with the hyperbolic language surrounding this announcement, we would expect nothing less.

Indeed, Microsoft has confirmed that all your current Xbox One accessories will work with Xbox Project Scarlett, including existing controllers and headsets. But we'd doubt that also includes the ill-fated Kinect motion tracker...

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite will be a Project Scarlett exclusive. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Scarlett games

Halo Infinite will has been confirmed to be an Xbox Project Scarlett launch title, bringing back the Master Chief for the franchises' first outing since 2015. It will have been five years at that point since a new mainline Halo game, so fans will be chomping at the bit for fresh Halo action.

The Halo franchise is widely regarded as the original Xbox’s first must-play games, so the move to launch a next-gen with a Halo game is both symbolic and quite business-savvy on Microsoft’s part.

To coincide with the announcement, Microsoft and the game's developer 343 Industries unveiled a new Halo Infinite trailer, available below:

If Halo is not your thing you wont be wanting for games to play at launch though – especially if you're an existing Xbox player. Xbox Project Scarlett will be capable of three generations of backwards compatibility. So, as well as Scarlett-era games, it'll also play games from the Xbox One, the Xbox 360, and the very first generation of the Xbox.

Xbox Scarlett price

Microsoft won't be pinned down on a price point quite yet – unsurprisingly, given what a sore spot the price of the Xbox One was for fans. At launch the original Xbox One cost a whopping $499 / £429 / AU$599, which was quickly reduced when Microsoft realised people weren't forking out.

Price will inevitably be determined by the cost of the components going into the console: Xbox Scarlett is going to be a lot more powerful than either the Xbox One S or Xbox One X, and that could mean we're looking at an even higher price tag. 

The move towards streaming, however, may lead to smaller hard drives – or maybe even the option to buy without a hard drive at all – which would certainly cut down costs.

Jason Ronald, director of the Xbox platform, gave only a vague reassurance when speaking to Windows Central, saying that Microsoft knew "what reasonable price points are for a console and kind of what customers expect about that".

Xbox Scarlett release date

Expect to see the Xbox Project Scarlett console launch in the 'holiday' window of 2020. That's between October and December of 2020, and just in time for Christmas.

It's exactly the same sort of launch period we're expecting Sony to have for its PS5, too. Santa's going to be a busy guy next year.

We'll have more soon – hopefully including a specific release date rather than a launch window, and a real name for the console. 

Keep in mind that all the rumors pointed to there being two new Xbox consoles on the way, codenamed Anaconda and Lockhart, the former being high end (likely what we've seen here) and the latter being a cheaper, streaming-focused solution. Time will tell if that's still Microsoft's plan, but one thing's for certain – it's throwing down the gauntlet for Sony's PlayStation 5 to take on.

  • E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor.