Since 2001, when the original Xbox was released in the US, the console wars (to mix metaphors) have been a two-horse race. Nintendo’s consoles have always performed relatively well, but they haven’t been in direct competition with Sony or Microsoft for many years, instead opting to sell their consoles (Wii, Switch) as an accompaniment. You can have a Switch as well as your main console, but you probably won’t have both a PS4 and an Xbox One.
As such, when it comes to the advent of a new console generation, rumours inevitably begin to fly about what both consoles will focus on. We already know a bit about the upcoming PlayStation 5 thanks to a Wired interview with lead architect Mark Cerny. The Xbox Two (working title, of course) is shrouded in much more mystery. We’re still not sure what the Xbox Two will contain, what its specs will look like, or what kind of games will launch for it (although we can definitely make an educated guess at the latter). Here are just some of the rumours flying around about both consoles.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 will, we know for sure, boast AMD architecture and a custom Radeon graphics chip. Sony is looking to introduce ray tracing to its PS5, which will make lighting and many other visual effects more realistic and generally improve graphics standards across console gaming. The PS5's specs are expected to be able to deliver power unlike seen to-date.
As such, expect Microsoft to be looking to do the same. The Xbox One also used AMD architecture, and current rumours suggest that, just like the PS5, the Xbox Two will contain custom Navi Radeon graphics. Supposedly, two models of Xbox Two will be produced, one basic model and one “pro” variant. The basic model will boast 12GB of RAM, while the upgraded version will have 16GB. Both consoles will contain an SSD, which we’re also going to see in the PlayStation 5.
Both consoles will definitely be laughed out of the room if said storage drive is not at least one terabyte in size, given the size of most video games these days. Since we know the PS5 isn’t forsaking physical media just yet, we can also reliably expect the Xbox Two to maintain the ability to read discs, at least for the foreseeable future.
Now we’re fully into the realms of speculation. Mark Cerny’s interview with Wired implied that Hideo Kojima’s upcoming Death Stranding will be released for PS5 as well as PS4, so expect a release for that on Sony’s new console. Other than that, it’s anyone’s guess what games the consoles will feature. Insomniac Games says Ghost of Tsushima is coming this generation, and we have every reason to believe them, but a PS5 release isn’t unreasonable. Similarly, CD Projekt Red have already confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077 was developed with a view to next-gen.
When it comes to Xbox Two, things are a little more difficult to read. Naturally, Microsoft has its franchises that it will definitely want to continue into the next generation. Halo will be a big hitter for the company, with the upcoming Halo Infinite being a solid candidate for an enhanced Xbox Two release after it hits the Xbox One. “Anaconda” and “Lockhart” (for such are the codenames for the new Xbox consoles) could surprise people with a spate of new games, or could stick rigidly to the Xbox franchise formula. We don’t yet know, to put it simply.
Mark Cerny has 100% confirmed that the PS5 will be compatible with PS4 games. We still don’t know whether the console will be able to play previous-gen PlayStation games, although expect to see them represented in software form in some way. Sony has filed a patent which could suggest a huge backwards compatibility push, but we just won’t know until the console is released.
After Microsoft’s embarrassing E3 2013, the company will likely look to revisit backwards compatibility in a big way for its upcoming consoles. There’s definitely a lot of demand for this feature, since to distance oneself from backwards compatibility could speak to a lack of respect for gaming history. It might be a bit more work for Microsoft to implement backwards compatibility, but it would make a lot of business sense.
If, like Sony, Microsoft is building on the Xbox One rather than completely reinventing the wheel, it would probably actually be easier for the company to make the Xbox Two backwards compatible than not to. Again, time will tell.
Sony’s PS VR headset will be compatible with the PS5. We know this thanks to Mark Cerny and his Wired interview. As such, don’t expect to see a new VR headset from Sony for the PS5 for some time, although don’t rule it out, either. Sony has sold 4.2 million PS VR headsets, so it’s clearly an avenue the company wants to keep exploring.
Supposedly, Microsoft actually came quite close to announcing a VR headset but backed out at the last minute. Sources close to Microsoft said the company was looking more to wireless headsets and further technological innovations before it threw its hat into the VR ring. By the time Xbox Two comes out, such tech will be further along, so Microsoft could well look to include a VR push in its Xbox Two strategy.
Right now, the jury’s out on virtual reality other than one thing – we know it’s a hugely successful technological avenue with solid sales potential. As such, it would be financial suicide for Microsoft not to at least consider it.
These are just some of the rumours currently floating around when it comes to the PS5 and Xbox Two. Have you heard any of your own? Let us know!