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Xbox Series X release date, price, specs and controller

Microsoft did something completely out of the ordinary at the 2019 Game Awards. Nearly a full year before the launch of its next-generation console, the company decided to show it off. Not only did it reveal the name of the new system, but its vertical, PC tower-like aesthetic.

The Xbox Series X isn't a conventionally designed console by any stretch. Its footprint is almost a perfect square, and rather than pack everything into a flat package, Microsoft chose to expand up. The Xbox Series X is definitely unique looking. Fortunately, the creators offered more than just a name and a pretty picture to look at.

From the release window and specs to the controller and console exclusives, here's everything you need to know about the Xbox Series X.

What is the Xbox Series X release date?

Back at E3 2019, Microsoft teased what was then called Project Scarlett for a Holiday 2020 release. At The Game Awards, the release window remained the same.

There's a chance Microsoft hasn't quite pinpointed on an official launch date for the Xbox Series X. The company could be waiting to see where Sony's PlayStation 5 lands, and might want to launch the Series X either before the PS5 or on the same day, just to make sure its chief competitor isn't gaining any type of advantage. It's also possible, though, that Microsoft already has a date in mind, and it'll announce it when the Series X hype campaign kicks off later in 2020.

Stay tuned for details as the holiday season approaches.

Will the Xbox Series X launch be delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak?

In early 2020, several publications — including Forbes and Business Insider — argued the COVID-19 pandemic could delay the launch of the much-anticipated next-gen Xbox console. According to Microsoft, however, this does not appear to be the case.

During an interview with CNBC, Microsoft CEO Satya Natella said Asian supply chains are getting back on track as the coronavirus outbreak slows down in the region. Therefore, COVID-19 likely won't affect the release date of the Xbox Series X. However, Natella wonders whether there will still be demand for the console in the U.S. and Europe after the pandemic.

As Metro explains, Natella seems to be implying that families may not wish to blow hundreds of dollars on a new console after spending months in isolation. Metro also argues that Sony might be in a "game of chicken" with Microsoft, with both companies waiting to see which breaks under the pressure first to avoid giving any advantage to the competition. For now, both seem set on sticking to the original Holiday 2020 launch target for the next generation of consoles.

What will the price be for the Xbox Series X?

Another big question mark for the Xbox Series X is price. What will Microsoft charge for its next-generation experience? Most believe the company will target a $500 price point, as that seems to be the ceiling for video game consoles to be both expensive and successful. But it also stands to reason Microsoft might try to eat some profit to gain an early lead. Sony definitively won the current generation; there's a chance Microsoft could gamble to ensure that doesn't happen again.

What specs will the Xbox Series X have?

Billed as Microsoft's "most powerful console ever," the Series X leverages the latest technology to deliver upgraded speed and performance capabilities. According to Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, it will have four times the processing power and eight times the GPU performance of the original Xbox One thanks to AMD's latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. You can also expect a custom 1TB NVME SSD & CPU.

Other upgrades include variable rate shading (VRS) for stable frame rates and higher resolution. Xbox will also debut its groundbreaking hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing. This will be the first time this technology will be utilized for console gaming, resulting in more realistic lighting, reflections, and acoustics. Thanks to these improvements and a number of other additions, you'll see shorter load times, crisper images, and more immersive environments.

What type of controller will come with the Xbox Series X?

And then you have the controller; one that looks suspiciously like an Xbox One pad. It turns out Microsoft has made some changes to the new Xbox Wireless Controller, and there's a good chance you might have noticed one or two of the big ones already.

There is now a "Share" button located beneath the traditional guide and menu buttons, which Microsoft included so players could quickly share screenshots and videos. This feature is present on both the PlayStation 4 controller and on the Nintendo Switch, so Microsoft is actually catching up to the rest of the competition with this one.

The D-pad on the controller is a bit different, too. According to Microsoft, the company used the same D-pad from its Elite Series 2 controller on the new pad that comes with the Xbox Series X, so players will get a bit of the premium experience when they upgrade to the latest Xbox hardware.

What games will be on the Xbox Series X?

According to Halo's official website, Halo Infinite will release in Holiday 2020 "for the entire Xbox family of devices." The game will be powered by the new Slipspace Engine and will continue the storyline of Halo 5: Guardians. Additionally, Ubisoft has confirmed several new titles for the Xbox Series X: Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods & Monsters, and two unannounced projects.

Looks like the fans of Lord of The Rings will be able to enjoy the upcoming video game from the saga, Gollum, on the new generation of Xbox consoles. As T3 reports, the developer said the stealth game will launch in 2021 for "all relevant platforms at that time", which should include the Xbox Series X. Developer Techland has also announced that Dying Light 2 will be available for both current consoles and Xbox Series X. The title will also be the first from Techland to support ray tracing.

According to CCN, the indie game Orphan of the Machine from developer Dynamic Voltage will release as a Series X launch title. The biggest coup, however, will be the release of Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga as an Xbox exclusive.

Will the Xbox Series X have an optical audio port?

In March 2020, Microsoft told IGN the Xbox Series X will not feature an optical audio port, but only HDMI and USB 3.1. After all, most modern sound equipment uses HDMI 2.1 standard rather than the optical port. However, this might impact compatibility with some gaming headsets.

Astro, a leading manufacturer of gaming gear, announced in a Tweet that it's working with Microsoft on a firmware update to ensure its most recent headset lines will be compatible with the Xbox Series X. The headset ranges affected are the MixAmp Pro TR, A50 + Base Station and A20. The update "will include the ability to deliver game surround sound & voice chat via USB," without the need for an optical port.

Needless to say, the Twitter followers of the brand were enthusiastic. "Not going to lie, I was a little worried about this after hearing xbox was ditching the optical port, very relieved, love my a50s," said one gamer.