Over a year after it first publicly revealed “Project Scarlett,” Microsoft announced today that the Xbox Series X console will be available in November. But while that launch will include what Microsoft says are “thousands of games spanning four generations”—including 50 new titles “optimized for Xbox Series X” planned for release this year—it will not include Halo Infinite.
That high-profile first-party shooter, originally announced for a “Holiday 2020” release, has now been pushed back to 2021. In announcing the delay, Microsoft cited “balancing the team’s well being” with “finish[ing] the critical work necessary to launch” the game. The official Halo Twitter account cited “the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting all of us this year” as one of multiple factors behind the delay.
Specific dates for the worldwide launch for the Series X console have not been announced, and a suggested price point has not been publicly confirmed for the hardware.
A different kind of console launch
Unlike pretty much every previous game console, the Xbox Series X will not be focused on exclusive titles that require the new hardware. Instead, new releases will continue to work across the Xbox One and Series X for the time being, with optional “optimization” to take advantage of the newer hardware.
In addition to upcoming titles that will be “optimized” for Series X, Microsoft is also promising at least 40 legacy titles that will be “newly optimized to take full advantage of Xbox Series X, including Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Madden NFL 21.
Microsoft continues to tout its Smart Delivery system, which allows players to buy games once in order to enjoy them across Xbox generations. Microsoft has confirmed that games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Dirt 5, Gears Tactics, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Watch Dogs: Legion will use that system. But not all third-party publishers are on board: Take-Two is asking players to spend an extra $30 on top of the $70 Xbox One price for a copy of NBA2K11 that can be upgraded to full Series X optimization.
Unlike Sony’s PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X will maintain compatibility with all older Xbox One accessories (with one specific exception). Microsoft is also stressing Series X backward compatibility with a wide selection of titles dating back to the original Xbox, some with new optimizations including improved 4K resolution, HDR colors, anisotropic filtering, and doubled frame rates.
The Series X launch window announcement comes just days after Ars confirmed the existence of a currently unannounced Xbox Series S as well. Little is known for sure about that piece of hardware, but longstanding rumors of a console codenamed “Lockhart” suggest a lower-priced Series S box focused more on streaming or games running at sub-4K resolutions.
Listing image by Microsoft