In Depth

Microsoft E3 2019 round-up: Project Scarlett, Project xCloud, new game reveals and more

Biggest announcements from the tech giant’s eagerly anticipated keynote at gaming expo

Microsoft has unveiled its most powerful and highest-performing console yet, after taking to the stage at the E3 games expo. 

The show, taking place at Los Angeles Convention Center until 13 June, is the biggest event in the gaming calendar, with tech companies showcasing their latest titles and devices. One notable exception this year is Sony, which is missing E3 for the first time in the show’s 24-year history - leaving all eyes are on rival Microsoft. 

Here is what the firm has in store for fans:

Project Scarlett

Gamers had been hoping that Microsoft would reveal first details of its next-generation console at E3, and the tech giant didn’t disappoint.

The console, code-named Project Scarlett, will be equipped with “high bandwidth GDDR6 memory” and a “custom-designed AMD processor” that delivers four times the performance of the Xbox One X, The Independent reports. 

Thanks to the upgraded hardware, the new console will be capable of deliver an 8K resolution and frame rates of up to 120fps. The Xbox One X, in comparison, can play only a handful of games at 4K and 60fps. 

The new system will also feature a solid-state drive (SSD), rather than the hard-drive disc (HDD) found in the current range of Xbox consoles. According to Microsoft, the SSD can run more than 40 times faster than the existing storage, giving power that allows players to “move through worlds without waiting for games to load”.

The new console will launch at the end of next year, with no word as yet on pricing or form factor.

Project xCloud

Although Project Scarlett was the headliner of Microsoft’s keynote yesterday, the company’s new Project xCloud streaming service was a worthy supporting act. The technology was unveiled in October, but fans got their first chance to see the service in action on a host of devices at E3.

According to Eurogamer, Project xCloud is “Microsoft’s vision of a Netflix-style game-streaming” service, allowing players access to “lots of games on lots of devices in lots of places”. So provided they have a good internet connection, users will be able to stream titles such as Halo 5: Guardians and Forza Horizon 4 straight to their smartphone or tablet. 

After putting the service to the test, tech news site Windows Central praises the “incredibly impressive” visuals and “responsiveness of the controls” when using Project xCloud.

However, the site notes that there is some input lag - the delay between pressing a button and the game responding - so it may not be suitable for competitive multiplayer matches. 

Project xCloud is due to arrive in October, a month before the launch of Google’s rival service Stadia.  

The games

Microsoft also unveiled around 60 games, ranging from big-budget titles to indy games built by small teams looking to break into the mainstream. 

Arguably the biggest announcement was Halo Infinite, which is scheduled to be a launch title on Project Scarlett next year. Polygon says the game is being touted as a “spiritual reboot” to the futuristic shooter franchise, spawning a new chapter in the Master Chief’s storyline that can be accessed by both series veterans and newcomers.

Cyberpunk 2077, a futuristic role-player game (RPG) from The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red, was shown during the keynote, too. The Poland-based studio said the highly anticipated game will be released on 16 April 2020 and revealed that Keanu Reeves will play one of the title’s characters, reports Kotaku.

Meanwhile, a launch date of 10 September was confirmed for Gears of War 5, with players able to trial an early version of the game as part of a multiplayer “tech test” on 15 July, notes Digital Trends.

Other notable reveals include Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which covers all nine of the mainline movies, as well as a Lego-themed expansion for Forza Horizon 4.

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