Project Scorpio: Xbox’s Great Green Hype

xbox-one-hank-scorpio
MAN LIKE HANK!!!

It’s a madness to me how much the Xbox One both did and also did not flop during its first three years on the market. It was MicroSoft’s race to lose for sure, and with their confusing messaging that paired a clunky voice focused interface with a transparent attempt to replace your cable box ahead of actual video games, lose is exactly what they did. In terms of total units sold, the PS4 continues to outsell the Xbox One at a factor of almost two to one. That being said, the Xbox One has consistently sold better on a month by month basis than its predecessor. So its not like the Xbox One is a complete failure. Its just not doing anywhere near as well as it would have been, had the people in charge (who have long since been replaced – and it really does show!) at that time had their shit together in anyway, shape or form.

One of the problems that has dogged the Xbox One since its release is its lack of power when compared to the PS4. Take a look at any random scattering of the numerous cross -platform comparisons Digital Foundry (the first and pretty much only name in video game tech performance comparisons) have performed this generation and you’ll soon notice the trend: games have to run with a decreased image fidelity on Xbox in order to keep up with the performance of PlayStation. And most of those comparisons predate the PS4 Pro, which typically hands in an even smoother performance at the same resolutions or higher. Now in truth, this isn’t something the average person would notice in real world situations, but its still is a negative perception circling the Xbox brand. That is, until now…

Boom! Terra-flops! Bitch! Project Scorpio is going to be an abosolute f***king beast! For those who don’t know (and even the two of you that do), 4K equates to four times the number of pixels on screen as Full HD, commonly referred to as as 1080p. More pixels means sharper detail. 4K60 means that that 4K image is being updated sixty times a second (as opposed to the more commonly targeted thirty), which leads to a smoother image and more responsive controls. You can react quicker to what’s happening on screen, and what’s happening on screen can react quicker to you.

The PS4 Pro is technically capable of producing a 4K image and updating that image sixty times a seconds. The thing is that in practice that it rarely ever does so. Ironically most developers tend to reduce the image quality by the same relative amount they do on the standard Xbox One in relation to the standard PS4. And when it comes to updating the image sixty times a second, most console game devs gave up attempting that feat on any home console more than 20 years ago, when 3D graphics where first introduced. Project Scorpio is promising to do both of these things as a standard. With ease. Not only that, but from what I’ve seen of the technology so far, it seems that they’ll be able to deliver this at a relatively reasonable price point!

Colour me impressed.

So that’s one problem solved at least. The other has yet to show any sign of imminent resolution; the issue of overall purpose. That is to say that it is a games console without an overwhelming number of exclusive, must play games. I bought the original Xbox some 15 years ago for one reason: Halo. Me and my friends went on to live Halo for the next decade, happily switching over to the Xbox 360 when it did (before getting bored with Halo 4, but that’s a different story). Over the past couple of weeks I have been getting stuck into Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 (thank you Windows 10 store easter sales!!!). But then what? What’s coming specifically to make me want stay within the Xbox ecosystem? Cuphead (which looks awesome, by the way)? That MMO about pirates? Xbox achievements? Avatars? Xbox can’t even beat the drum about early DLC deals the way it used to – with most of those deals jumping ship to PlayStation – and the idea getting stuff an entire 30 days ahead of people on PlayStation was never that exciting an incentive to begin with. It’s fantastic to me that the average person will finally be able to play Gears and Halo and Forza in a fidelity approaching how I experience them on PC, but what happens after that?

They really better have a full deck’s worth of aces up their sleeve.

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