PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X. They’re nowhere to be found on store shelves. Even worse, they BOTH look so good. If you can find either or, or even both, how do you figure out which to go with?
It’s all about launch titles, right? No wait, it’s all about the exclusives. Actually, it’s all about what you get for subscribing. I think. Hold up, but what about the hundreds of the games I already own, not to mention the ones I still have to get to? What does a long time gamer do? Well, it looks like we have a classic console war on our hands. Let’s look into how each console stacks up and then get into which one is best for you. This, after all, is likely one of the biggest decisions that you have to make going into the holiday season and may impact your gaming horizon into the next year.
It should come as no shock that both consoles are blazing fast. Outside of a few fractional differences, the chipset and storage configurations for both the XBox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are arguably the same. Both come equipped with hefty 8-core CPUs, an attractive 16 gigs of GDDR6 RAM and lightning fast SSD hard drives that will truly make loading times a thing of the past! Games that support fast travel, will certainly feel that way. Be warned however, that if you are playing a game that connects to an online service before being dropped into the action (oh hello, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Fortnite) things may take considerably longer. Digging deeper into both consoles, PlayStation 5 sports a faster hard drive, and while it does have a slightly slower CPU than the XBox, (by just .3 GHz), it really does prioritize speed to get into the game. Furthermore, its GUI compliments this as well. However, whenever coming back from a sleep state, the XBox almost always wins in speed. To boot, the XBox’s ‘quick resume’ feature drops you back into your game directly, so you don’t have to go back through the game’s main menu to reload and continue your game. This feature seems to be missing on the launch version of the PlayStation 5, but it’s faster customized SSD hard drive seems to compensate for this. While it may be worth digging deeper into the processing specs of each console’s throughput speeds, it’s best we save that hair-splitting exercise for a later time. At the end of the day, and depending on the game you’re playing, either console will perform very well when comparing loading times. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised!
What’s not surprising however, is that the graphics processors on both the PlayStation 5 and the XBox Series S are also very evenly matched. Under the hood, both consoles sport similar architectural design when it comes to the quality of your game’s graphics. Differences, however, can emerge depending on the situation and the graphics options you have selected in-game. In some cases (and again, depending on the game) the PlayStation 5 pulls away with slightly nicer graphics throwing in more detail when rendering out backgrounds in favour of better frame rates. There’s also a preferred resolution mode where the system will lock the resolution at 4K at the expense of a looser frame-rate. Games will feel slightly smoother in this case. XBox Series X on the other hand, pushes closer to full resolution modes more often than the PlayStation 5 and in some cases, adds a cool and very satisfying depth of field effect to most games.
Depending on preference, the design, look, feel and handling of next-gen controllers can easily tip one’s ultimate decision to buy one console over another. Needless to say, both consoles bring their best to the battlefield when it comes to controllers. Since their launch earlier this year, PlayStation 5’s new Dual Sense controller has already won the world over with its adaptive feedback triggers and its completely redesigned outer shell. The adaptive triggers complement all the tech under the PlayStation 5’s hood, and bring a truly next-gen feel to your game. Pulling back on these adaptive triggers adds the perfect amount of resistance and a new sensation to your experience (depending on the game you are playing) and in some instances heightens the gaming experience. It will be interesting to see how game developers will leverage the tech in the new Dual Sense controller to further the in game immersion. Xbox has yet to hit the market with next-gen redesigned controllers, and this is for a very good reason. Many gamers worldwide firmly believe that the XBox Pro series are already near-perfect controllers that do not need improvement for the sake of improving. They prefer the controller’s shape, design, and weight over many other competitors in the market. However, it is very important to note that the Series X controller actually feels like a professional controller and not like a toy. These come with the option to customize thumbsticks, and come with rubberized grips to ensure your controller experience remains consistent and precise during your gaming session.
Apart from hardware, the driving force for these two beastly systems are the games and, more importantly, where you can find the latest and greatest of titles.
To date, both consoles have made excellent strides in building up and developing their stock first party exclusives. Both Microsoft and Sony have carved out and created massive loyal fan bases across the industry via this strategy. Typically, with the announcement of a new console launch, an exclusive games ‘showdown’ always becomes the biggest and loudest debate between these two fan bases at large. However, with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X, the scope of this debate has changed quite a bit. At the writing of this article, the XBox currently has no launch exclusives. (Oh dear!) But there is a good reason for this. The PlayStation 5, however, has turned heads with its opulent continuation of the Spider-Man saga, bringing Miles Morales to the forefront of the game, and boy does it look sweet! Sony is also teasing upcoming exclusives with a new God of War installment and the triumphant return of Alloy in Horizon Zero Dawn 2.
While XBox is lacking in the launch exclusivity department (for now), they have rigorously developed the most intriguing and inspiring gaming product to ever impact the industry. Microsoft’s Game Pass (infamously known as ‘the Netflix of gaming’) stands to win gamers over as subscribers of this service will not only be able to play hundreds of games on demand, but will also have access to all upcoming games that will be added to this service as they are released. Gamers can continue to enjoy a huge list of titles that will continue to be refreshed in perpetuity for only a few dollars a month. This, in my honest opinion, may far out-weigh any launch exclusive that PlayStation 5 can ever hope to rollout with, and also brings continual value to the subscription and the console at large. To continue, your Game Pass subscription also works on PC and on various mobile devices. While the PlayStation 5 has a serious list of ‘welcome to the console’ launch titles, most of the games on this list are not new, and have been available for quite some time on the PlayStation 4. Rumour has it though, that Sony will eventually launch a new product that will compete directly with Game Pass, but that remains to be seen.
Both the PlayStation 5 and the XBox Series X have incredible and compelling reasons as to why they are the next greatest console on the market. From near futuristic hardware specs, to controller design and game availability, this decision is not an easy choice for most gamers to make. Xbox has speed, great backwards compatibility and an all you can eat gaming subscription service that will keep gamers types busy for a long time. PlayStation, on the other hand, reps the same type of hardware and entertainment value, sporting games that many gamers have replayed over and over again and can’t wait for their next installments. Which games do you care about most? The answer to that question will ultimately sway your decision into which console you will likely end up doubling down on. Also, good to note where the majority of your friends are. If you are a gamer that enjoys frequent online play, best to also poll your pals to understand where your biggest social value is going to be. Since the hardware of both systems are very evenly matched and controllers pretty well stack up very competitively, much of your decision is going to come down to where you see the most value and which games you chose to continue to play into the next-gen world.