We learned last week that Sony is planning to release an updated PlayStation 4 console, one with much greater capabilities than the original. While specifics are being kept mum until later, Sony's confirmation of the 'PS 4.5' spurred questions about whether or not Microsoft would follow-suit, even though certain executives have shot down the idea in recent months.
Well as it happens, Microsoft is going to be releasing an upgraded Xbox One, codenamed 'Project Scorpio'. It's said to be up to four times faster than the original Xbox One, which should put it well ahead of the PlayStation 4.5 (we still don't have confirmation of specs from Sony).
While no one who owns an Xbox One is going to want to feel like upgrading to a new version of the "same" console, Microsoft is giving us reason to consider the move anyway, even well in advance. The claim is that the upgraded console will push 6 TFLOPs of computing power, which would give us PC-like experiences.
To put this into perspective, it's been leaked this past week that AMD's new Radeon RX 480 can beat out NVIDIA's last-gen GeForce GTX 980 in some tests, and the 980 is capable of delivering quality experiences at 1440p, and some at 4K. Well, AMD's RX 480 is spec'd at 5 TFLOPs, meaning Project Scorpio could deliver a better-looking gaming experience than AMD's latest hotness - that's exciting.
Could we see the next Halo adopt 4K?
If the 6 TFLOPs metric correlates to the output we see from our desktop GPUs, it means that many 4K/60 experiences will be possible, but it's highly unlikely that first-person shooters and other beefier games will be run at that resolution. Instead, what game developers should focus on is delivering a guaranteed 1080p/60 experience. Since most console gamers sit back from a television, a gain in image fidelity is going to be noticed a lot more than a boost to 4K. If we're lucky, we might even be given an option of running at game at 1080p/60 or 4K/30. These things are PCs, after all.
However developers plan to let their games run, this is an exciting move, because it means it'd be the first time we see a new console that could actually match a standard gaming PC. It might even be able to push the 6 TFLOPs it's given even better than a PC, since the device is so highly optimized.
Of course, 4K isn't the be-all-end-all. VR is going to be a massive focus of the updated Xbox One, and is probably the bigger driving force behind the need for such a massive increase in power.
If you're intrigued by Scorpio but are not ready to splurge on a new console, don't fret: the launch isn't expected to happen until next fall. When it does launch, it'll be compatible with all Xbox 360 and Xbox One peripherals - one less thing to worry about.