Microsoft’s Xbox briefing has come and gone and no sign of the originally touted “high fidelity VR” we were hoping for from the newly christened Xbox One X. Nevertheless, here’s what we know about Xbox One X virtual reality support so far.

E3 2017’s Xbox briefing was a masterclass in console gaming hype-building – in the best possible sense of the phrase. With the Xbox One X name reveal and launch date out of the way, Microsoft rolled out game after game to demonstrate what this 4k powerhouse is capable of. So many traditional games in fact, that there was no room at all for VR.

There are at least two ways to view the absence of VR for Xbox One X at E3 this year, and what it might mean. The first is that, knowing their core audience and the sheer amount of games they had to show, Microsoft decided to focus on just the games and the power of Xbox One X – keeping the message clear and clean. The second is that, they simply didn’t have anything virtual reality to show at all or that what they did have couldn’t stand up to the level of polish on show elsewhere.

In truth, it’s almost certainly a mixture of both and, despite our obvious disappointment not to at least get a teaser of sorts for the kind of VR we could expect on Xbox One X, I have to agree it may have been the best move possible for the Xbox team.

Nevertheless, we are a VR site, so we thought we’d hoover up all we know about about what to expect in terms of immersive entertainment on the $499 console, due this November 7th.

Will Xbox One X Support VR?

First up is the question of whether Microsoft will utilise Xbox One X for VR gaming at all. Despite the lack of any mention at the briefing of virtual reality, Microsoft have – from the beginning – been on record that VR is coming.

For starters we have the original unveiling of the Project Scorpio project, all the way back at E3 2016, MS was keen to tie the new hardware’s power with Head of Xbox’s Phil Spencer stating during their briefing: “When it ships next year, Project Scorpio will be our most powerful console ever built, specifically to lead the industry into a future in which true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR are the standard, not an exception.” Not only that but during the presentation, blockbuster Bethesda franchises Fallout 4 and Doom were announced as coming to the console after launch in VR form.

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Following E3 2016, Microsoft have spent the intervening 12 months gearing itself up for its own virtual reality offering for Windows which eventually took the form of its so called ‘Mixed Reality’ headset lineup, as designed and built by its partner OEMs. The VR systems would of course run on Windows 10 and utilise the Mixed Reality platform (ex Windows Holographic), a suite of integrated APIs first mentioned during the unveiling of the company’s augmented reality visor HoloLens. Microsoft was clearly taking immersive technology seriously.

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Early in 2017 however, Microsoft made the confusing and worrying move of adjusting some key wording relating to Xbox Scorpio on it’s website. The term “hi-fidelity VR” was removed entirely leaving any mention of virtual reality in relation to the system lacking. However, after the change noted by the NeoGaf forum kicked up some fuss, Microsoft issues an official statement reassuring us that VR will happen.

Does Xbox One X Have the Power for VR?

This one’s easy to answer on the face of it. By definition, the PlayStation 4 console (let alone its Pro version), the base hardware host for PSVR, can provide some pretty stellar VR experiences, albeit with some assistance from it’s companion breakout hardware and some nifty re-projection.

No one would claim that PSVR, for the most part, manages to match the term “high fidelity VR”. But with so much more power under the hood in Xbox One X, power that (so MS bullishly claim) can deliver a full, native 4k (3840×2160 resolution) gaming experience at 60 Hz (i.e. Forza 7), it’s plain to see that the system could give it a pretty good shot. Of course, a lot would depend on the target VR hardware – most specifically the resolution of the displays. PSVR runs a single OLED 1080p panel running at ‘up to’ 120Hz whereas both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift run dual 1080×1200 OLED panels driven at 90Hz.

Digital Foundry, who were given unprecedented early access to information about Xbox One X back in April detailed the system’s specifications, stating specifically that the hardware sports “a 6TF Radeon GPU [a rough equivalent to Scorpio’s power] comfortably outperforms the baseline R9 290 and GTX 970 suggested for VR ready PCs.” They also divvied up a handy spec sheet comparing Xbox One X’s relative power.

Add in developers’ luxury of being able to target a fixed hardware platform, with all the optimisation routes that entails, and we’re pretty confident Xbox One X, with its raw specs well beyond that of today’s PC VR minimum specs, can deliver to some extent on those statements.

When Will we see VR on the Xbox One X? That’s a solid unknown right now I’m afraid. But rest assured, Microsoft built the Xbox One X as a forward thinking piece of hardware and, even if VR content or compatible hardware isn’t abundant at launch this year, there’s enough power under the hood to ensure it’s ready to deliver in 2018 or beyond.

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  • Graham Parker

    No second HDMI output and only 3 USB ports on the Xbox One X though… hmm. It’s possible they could do a box like the PS VR does, but I’d say that doesn’t look too hopeful for Oculus support, and certainly not three sensor tracking. I’d guess if they do anything with VR, they’d go with their Windows mixed reality headsets.

  • Michigan Jay Sunde

    $500, while absolutely justifiable if you’re an educated consumer, is still so much money that at least a shout-out to VR IN THE FUTURE would’ve helped people to rationalize the high price. 100% ignoring VR (and pillaging Lucky’s Tale, tha bastards) feels like a very loud indictment of VR as it stands. It gives cheap confirmation to elitist console players who consider VR a novelty or fad (because they can’t afford it.) I absolutely hated this. I absolutely hated this. Microsoft, I hated this.

    • Konchu

      See I think Super Lucky’s Tale is a hint of VR.

      • Michigan Jay Sunde

        I hope you’re right, Konchu. :) Perhaps I’m also just cheesed that Super Luckey’s Tale will be a console exclusive instead of coming to Oculus Home at launch. I would’ve bought it. Hopefully it’s just a timed exclusive. :(

  • GrangerFX

    If Microsoft is waiting to announce VR on the XBox One X, then we should wait to buy the console too. Perhaps they felt that $1000 for a console/VR headset console was more than anyone would accept so they decided to stagger the release while they built up a decent VR game library on the PC. In a way I am happy. They are saving me $500 this year. That’s money I can put into a decent PC VR rig.

    • MosBen

      Yeah, I suspect that you’re right. They’re staggering the releases so that when they make an announcement about VR they’ll already have some X1Xs in people’s homes and have some VR software released. If VR comes next year it will probably also come with a price drop for the X1X, which would make picking one up with an HMD easier to swallow.

    • Master E

      Totally get why they might be waiting… but was hoping for something to look forward to other than 4K (or close to) games I can get on other platforms

  • Lucidfeuer

    I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t annonce anything for VR and went as far of having the announcement of a “2D” version of Lucky’s Tale.

    But what surprises me most is that they didn’t make the Xbox One X a Windows PC/Console hybrid. Unless there’s a dedicated conference and showcase of the X coming which is more likely given how little they’ve announced and shown.

    • MosBen

      Can you specify what you were looking for to make it a PC/Console hybrid? It already runs on a modified version of Windows and (I believe) uses Direct X for its games. The hardware is custom and locked, but otherwise it seems pretty hybrid-like to me already.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Well I expected (and still expect) them to push for a Slate/Lumia-like version of Windows 10 and Xbox, thus making it a true PC/Xbox hybrid.

        It makes huge sense in terms of strategy and would put there console/gaming platform forth. From there they’d announce the recent Microsoft headset compatibility.

        • MosBen

          Would that be something similar to a VR-capable Surface? That’d sure be interesting.

    • Master E

      Thank you!!!!? Someone that had the same expectations as me… I was somewhat expecting them to drop the bomb and announce a Windows X app making pc games playable on Xbox X. They would’ve stolen the show with an announcement like that .

  • PianoMan

    I was watching the YouTube 4k stream of the event and after it they had Major Nelson and another guy who designed the console on with the new console talking about it. They were asked about VR, all they said was that it could ‘potentially’ run VR. They were very tight lipped, and almost evasive.

    • John Sullivan

      Is “potentially” the new buzzword, like with Apple and “courage”? ;-)

      • NooYawker

        No. They’re saying fuck you we’ll think about it. Apples courage is saying fuck you we did it.

        • John Sullivan

          Yeah that’s a lot more accurate. Good one!

  • Phil Spencer talked with the BBC, commenting that he didn’t see drive for VR on console, claiming people would rather be closer to the computer than have cables across their floor. So, Phil Spencer is full of it, because either he isn’t actually paying attention to the ecosystem which is pushing for room-scale, which is easier in the living room, or he is just making a random excuse for deeper problems plaguing Windows Holographic. My guess would be the latter – due to the lack of high quality headsets from hardware partners that they feel they could actually sell as an Xbox branded headset, and the lack of a proper motion gaming controller.

    This entire announcement is a major failure for Microsoft. It’s a great piece of kit, but to the layman there is almost nothing here to justify the high cost over the PS4 for 4K gaming, or the Xbox One S for 4K video/bluray.

    • Master E

      I’d like to see some comparison pics and videos of a game like Assassins Creed Origins. Is the difference worth $500? Probably not is my guess. I can only hope it was there excuse to buy some more time to prefect whatever it is they are working on. Otherwise it is a major fail. That being said… seems like VR won’t be coming to Xbox X for at least a year or longer

  • MosBen

    I think that when we look back in a few years we’ll see that this is the year in which they announced the X1X and emphasized how the XB1 is sticking around, and the X1X is just an upgrade that gives you better stuff, but you’re not missing out on major software if you buy the now-super-affordable XB1. Next year will be the year when the XB1 begins to be phased out as they start to emphasize games that will only be released for X1X and VR, which won’t be XB1 compatible. It’ll probably also come with a price drop of the X1X. It will also give MS a year to get some experience with VR on the PC side and get some VR software in the field so that with console VR happens on the X1X it will launch with a bunch of stuff to entice people to give it a try.

    I also have a very strong suspicion that the X1X VR headset is going to be wireless, so that also makes waiting make sense.

  • PrymeFactor

    For a VR focused site, you guys sure are poorly informed.

    First, Microsoft had already pre-announced that VR on Xbox would be a no-show this E3 and this year.

    Secondly, MS strongly hinted they’re working on Wireless VR, and that isn’t ready just yet.

    • NooYawker

      MS also said at E3 there isn’t much interest in VR. So there’s that.

  • AndyP

    Surely nobody would spend $500 on a console in 2017 that isn’t future proof (VR capable)! $500 just for 4K – Ms can’t be that naive.

  • Lucidfeuer
  • Master E

    Business wise I can see why Microsoft is omitting VR/AR from the near future. However that was a major reason I was personally looking forward to a return to Xbox and what might separate it from getting a beast mode couch experience VR ready PC.

    I can only be hopeful that they are waiting for a more perfected or advanced version of a mixed reality headset to release before committing to VR. I think they know just coming up with what’s already out there might not be good enough to give the current HMDs significant competition.

    This would also give developers some time to play with their new architecture and AAA titles some time to develop into more than “experiences”.