E3 2017: Microsoft unveils Xbox One X

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E3 2017: Microsoft unveils Xbox One X

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Microsoft has unveiled the latest games console in its line-up, a more powerful version of the Xbox One called the Xbox One X.

The tech giant touted the machine’s specs, including its capacity to run games in 4K ultra-HD, ahead of the E3 games show in Los Angeles.

To be released on 7 November, the Xbox One X will cost $499, or £449 in the UK.

One analyst said Microsoft was keen to keep attracting hardcore gamers.

The system, which also runs games at 60 frames-per-second (fps), was described as “the most powerful console ever made” on stage by Phil Spencer, head of Xbox.

It is also the smallest Xbox yet.

Sony, too, has a console with 4K capabilities – the PS4 Pro – which it released in November last year.

However, the PS4 Pro’s specifications – including memory and processor speed – are lower than those of the Xbox One X.

It boasts 12 gigabytes of RAM to the PS4 Pro’s 8 gigabytes, for example, and 6 teraflops of graphics processing power compared to 4.12.

Plus, unlike Sony’s machine, Microsoft’s is able to play 4K ultra-HD Blu-ray discs.

Both consoles can “scale up” games not made at 4K resolution to enhance their visuals.

“The Xbox One X is targeted at a specific audience, which is at this stage early-adopting Xbox fans – console gamers that want the best device,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, a gaming analyst at IHS Technology.

The console will also be immediately compatible with all existing Xbox One games.

This was another point that would play well with the hardcore fans, suggested Mr Harding-Rolls.

However, he added that the broader spectrum of gamers would likely be more interested in new titles exclusive to the console that might tempt them into buying it.

Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, Los Angeles

Before the Xbox event, the BBC was given a brief look at the new console. With its 4K, 60 fps visuals, it of course looks terrific. But I think there are big questions about Microsoft’s strategy.

Xbox wants all the games to be completely backwards-compatible with the cheaper Xbox consoles, and so the only improvements will be visual – no new gameplay experiences making use of that extra computing power. At $499, that’s a big additional cost when – to its credit – the Xbox One is still a graphically brilliant console.

You won’t notice much difference unless you have the TV and surround system to do the new hardware justice.

When Xbox One X was announced at E3 last year – then codenamed Project Scorpio – it seemed Microsoft was gearing up to tackle the biggest new area in gaming, virtual reality. That’s why it needed the extra power, we were told.

And yet there’s not a single VR title launching with the Xbox One X. Given that Sony has already shifted more than one million headsets that work with PlayStation, I’m surprised Microsoft still doesn’t have a competing offer.

It makes you wonder how enthusiastic developers will be to make use of that extra power if relatively few gamers will get to enjoy it.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

A total of 42 games, 22 of which are exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles, were shown off at the press show.

“It felt a little bit like they were throwing the kitchen sink at it, just really pounding away at the idea that they were the gamers’ choice in terms of the platform,” Mr Harding-Rolls told the BBC.

Sea of Thieves, a pirate-themed multiplayer game, and State of Decay 2, a zombie survival sequel, were among the exclusive titles highlighted by Microsoft.

An unusual-looking fantasy game called The Last Night, set in a Blade Runner-like universe, was also teased.

These and many others will be available only on the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles and Windows PCs.

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