Xbox 720: Everything you need to know ahead of XboxReveal

Okay, so it doesn’t technically exist yet, but come on, let's be honest, it’s coming. Sony has pipped Microsoft to the post in making its next-generation console official, but the next Xbox from the big M is just round the corner. Almost literally, considering the official unveiling event is on 21 May.

So what do we know so far? Below is absolutely everything you could ever want to know about the new Xbox 720 console based on the gossip reported so far. Read on to get yourself excited.

Xbox 720 hardware

Naturally, pictures of the Xbox 720 are hard to come by - in fact, there aren't any. What has emerged, are alleged images of the Durango development kit Microsoft sent to developers, which disappointingly looks like a big black box - a tower PC. One Xbox 720 development kit even went on sale on eBay, with the seller promptly being raided by the police.

That said, the Durango leak has set the standard for all Xbox 720 hardware rumours thereafter, so it's all we have to go on at present. We're pretty sure the devkit specs are genuine though, so it at least give us a healthy indication of what to expect.

What might you be getting? Well, the whole system is to be based on the x64 architecture and most likely have an octa-core processor. It will also have dedicated hardware for audio processing, to save the load on the CPU needed for audio.

On top of this, the GPU will support Direct3D 11 and should work alongside the 720’s switchable power states, which we presume are to allow the console to save on electricity while doing less computationally intensive tasks.

READXbox 720 vs PS4: What Microsoft needs to do to win the next-gen war

We don’t know what capacity yet, nor if this rumour is necessarily true, but you can be sure that the new Xbox will include a hard drive. And you are going to need this HDD, as another rumour explains that the console will have no disc-based games and be entirely cloud and download-based. Blu-ray support should be added, but you won’t be able to play games using the drive, according to some reports.

Rumours now also point to the Xbox 720 being called the Xbox Infinity and that the new hardware won't support backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles, but there are many trains of thought on that and neither have been confirmed. 

It is said that the new machine will require a internet connection for some gameplay elements, but according to an internal Xbox memo about the console, won't need to be online persistently. 

"Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet. There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game," explained the memo.

The Xbox Infinity rumour comes from a leaked image taken from media surrounding the new console. It does make sense that Microsoft might go with a new name for the console, rather than an extension of the Xbox 360 moniker most are used to. Other rumours point to the fact that Microsoft has acquired URLs around the "Xbox Infinite", but could actually point toward a feature of the console, rather than the console name itself.

The new console should also be used to take on the likes of Google TV. The Xbox 360 has already made serious inroads for Microsoft into the world of IPTV and streaming services, so expect the next Xbox to do the same. 

Kinect 2

Next up is the Kinect 2. Microsoft made plenty of cash with the first-generation Kinect and we imagine its new console will follow the trend. Kinect 2, as it's rumoured to be called, has had just as many leaks as the Xbox 720 console.

Rumours suggest the new Kinect sensor can track up to six people at once. Pictures of it in action have been posted by a Durango devkit owner (the same one raided by police for trying to hoik it on eBay). They show a much more sensitive version of 3D mapping, with it being able to see individual fingers and detailing on clothes. Specifications are said to be 70-inch by 60-inch field of view, 4-meter depth, 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps colour stream, and USB 3.0 creating for a quick 60 ms latency.

The other rumours say the Kinect 2 itself will be included with every Xbox 720 console. This would make sense, as Microsoft now offers the Xbox 360 with a similar bundle.

Kinect is also said to be necessary for the new Xbox to function. Without it switched on, the console won’t work, with developers being given the option to implement it in different ways in game. A picture-in-picture function is one option, especially given that the new Kinect is said to be 1080p.

The IllumiRoom concept that Microsoft has been so keen to show off has now been confirmed as not coming with the new hardware at launch. That's not to say however, that it might not make an appearance later down the line. 

Always-on internet connection

As we said earlier, an internal memo has debunked rumours that Microsoft is going to require an internet connection at all times. Certainly gameplay elements, namely multiplayer, will require it, but you will be able to game without a persistent web connection using the new Xbox console.

Xbox 720 release date

As explained in the intro above, we now have a much more definite date for the Xbox 720 unveiling. Microsoft has sent out invites for a 21 May event entitled "A New Generation Revealed". Pretty much definite then that the next console is coming. 

Expect more gameplay and games to be revealed at E3 on 11 June, which Pocket-lint will of course be attending. As for on street date, the smart money is on a head-to-head battle with Sony this Christmas.

Xbox 720 games

A lot of titles currently up for release in 2013 are heading to PS4, with other platforms obviously planned. Ubisoft, for example, said Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, would be coming to “all available consoles”, so we imagine that includes the Xbox 720.

So we have Assassin’s Creed 4 to look forward to. Judging from a recently released gameplay trailer for the game, it's going to be quite a looker. 

Next up is Bungie’s highly anticipated Destiny. Given Bungie’s heritage with the Xbox, as well as the fact that Activision is publishing the title, the chances of it not appearing on the new Xbox 720 are pretty slim. In fact, the Destiny publishing contract even mentions "next Xbox", so there you go. 

In fact, the source code on Bungie’s Destiny website lists a pre-order page with mention of the Xbox 720 and PS4, so we imagine it will be shipping on the new system.

Watch Dogs has been talk of the town when it comes to graphics and we expect Microsoft will be wanting to use it to push the power of its new system, just as Sony did with the PS4. There is some new Watch Dogs gameplay footage to enjoy which shows off just how impressive the game will be graphically. 

Finally, best not to forget all the possible exclusives the new console will have. We imagine the Gears of War universe will be making another appearance, as will Forza and Halo (we hope). These last titles could make the difference to early adopters in choosing which of the new systems to plump for.  InFamous on one hand, Halo on the other. Which would you go for?

UPDATE: EA has confirmed that it will be launching the new FIFA on the new Xbox. The company revealed the news on its Facebook page stating that we would "see the next generation of Fifa" at 6pm UK time on the 21 May. If there was any doubt about whether or not it was do to with the new Xbox the message also carried the Twitter hashtag #XboxReveal



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