Currently languishing in the shadow of the PlayStation 4, Microsoft is definitely in need of a hit with its next console, and the Xbox Two just might have enough power and style to provide it. So what exactly can we expect from the next chapter in the Xbox gaming story?
Here we've collected together your ultimate guide to every leak, rumour and announcement about the Xbox Two, and we'll be updating it all the way to launch day. From specs and design to price and games, here's what we know about the console so far.
Xbox Two: release date
A quick history lesson: the original Xbox One went on sale in 2013, and then the small bump that was the Xbox One S showed up in 2016. The significant Xbox One X mid-gen refresh arrived in 2017.
What does that tell us? Maybe not much, but five years is a decent amount of time for a company to be thinking about a new console – 2018 is definitely too early for an Xbox Two, but by 2019 and 2020 that new machine is going to start feeling a little overdue.
We haven't heard a peep out of anyone at Microsoft on a release date. However, we think the PlayStation 5 is likely to launch in 2020, and industry analysts reckon that's a good bet for the Xbox Two. Unnamed insider sources have suggested 2019, but for an educated guess we'd say a PS5 and Xbox Two double-header in 2020 is more likely.
Xbox Two: price
What's it going to cost you, this next-gen slab of gaming brilliance? You can currently pick up an Xbox One X from £420-£450 (or $450-$480) depending on where you're shopping. Microsoft will want to pack in lots more power but won't want to put people off with a price that's too high.
In other words, the price of the Xbox Two is likely to come in at about the same level, or maybe a little bit higher. Advances in manufacturing processes and internal components should even out the extra oomph the Xbox Two will provide under the hood.
Bear in mind that Microsoft currently offers a two-tier system for console buyers, with both the S and X models on sale at the same time, depending on how high-res you like your games and how much you want to spend. It's possible that we'll see the Xbox Two in two variations as well, at different price points.
Xbox Two: design
Smaller, slimmer, sleeker – those are the overriding trends we're seeing in tech hardware as the years go by, and you only need to look at the difference between the Xbox One S and the original Xbox One to see where this trend might take the console in the future. We're not expecting too many surprises here, just a compact and elegant-looking box that slots in under your television set.
We can't give you any leaked images of the Xbox Two – it's possible that the design has yet to be finalised, so if you do see any pictures on the web, they're most likely to be concept images made by fans. Remember that the design could be one of the latest pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place, after all the internal components have been finalised.
Despite the advancements in cloud computing, local storage will still be a must, as will some powerful graphics hardware, so the box won't end up being too tiny. We'll even stick our necks out and say it'll have green or white highlights. According to Jez Corden from Windows Central, the Xbox Two design has been in development for at least a year.
Xbox Two: specs
The Xbox Two will boast more processing performance and graphics power – more than the six teraflops currently inside the Xbox One X, at least. Expect to see more and more games pushing that 4K resolution limit, which should be more of a fixed standard by 2019 or 2020 (though 8K will still be a way off).
Both the Xbox Two and the PS5 are being tipped by those in the know to have a separate graphics chip, rather than combining the CPU and GPU on one piece of silicon. That should mean faster frame rates at higher resolutions, and enough in the way of performance to get even the most demanding games running smoothly.
Thanks to a job listing posted on the Microsoft site, we know that the company is keen to get some cutting edge graphics installed in its next console, and that will go for the other components as well (as much as 20GB of RAM has been mooted). So far we haven't heard anything else specific about the specs for the Xbox Two, but we know for sure it's going to eclipse the mighty Xbox One X – though maybe not by a huge amount, considering that console only launched last year.
Xbox Two: games
Microsoft will definitely want to tempt in potential Xbox Two buyers with some top-tier games, and we'd expect the usual suspects to feature prominently. The likes of Minecraft, Forza, and possibly an update to Halo 6 may well be on the cards, giving gamers more reasons to want to lust after the new hardware.
At the moment we haven't heard anything concrete about launch games though, and it's probably too early for anything to leak out – even if there are rumours that developers already have Xbox Two kits provided by Microsoft to test on. We'd bet that a few exclusives like Sea of Thieves will be in the pipeline.
As for physical games vs streaming, from everything we've heard so far it sounds likely that the next-generation series of consoles are going to use a combination of the two. Downloading games or streaming them over the web is of course very convenient, as Xbox execs have said, but when it comes to 4K graphics it's still easier to use physical discs and it doesn't look as though they'll go away anytime soon.
Xbox Two: other rumours
At the time of writing, any real solid Xbox Two rumours are pretty thin on the ground, beyond what we've already mentioned. That said, we can make a few educated guesses about what's heading our way – Microsoft has heavily invested in virtual reality and augmented reality (or "mixed reality" as it calls it) and the Xbox Two is likely to add to that.
Sony has the PlayStation VR and Microsoft has its mixed reality headsets for Windows 10, so we expect those headsets to make the jump from computer to console with the arrival of Xbox Two (given the extra processing power it's going to be packing). Look for a lightweight and relatively affordable AR/VR headset to launch alongside the Xbox Two.
Backwards-compatibility with older Xbox systems has been rumoured, as has stronger integration with Windows 10 and everything that the desktop OS offers – which is really something of a no-brainer for Microsoft. We're definitely excited to see where Microsoft takes the Xbox next, and we'll bring you all the news as it's announced, right here.