PlayStation 5 VS Xbox Series X

PlayStation vs Xbox. A debate that has raged on internet forums for nearly two decades and fed the console wars. While I am fortunate enough to own both, I won’t blindly say one is better than the other out of loyalty. I can see the flaws in both and try to give people honest and unbiased opinions when asked which is better.

With Microsoft releasing the Xbox Series X and Sony releasing the PlayStation 5, the discussion has once again come up of which is superior. With this in mind, I will break down my thoughts on these systems to help you decide which console is best for you.

Before we get into the details of the systems though, your decision will likely be based on these factors first.

Do you like playing online with friends?

If so, get the platform your friends play on. While some games are gradually introducing cross-play, this is far from being ubiquitous. What’s more is that while some games are introducing cross-play, cross platform chat is likely even further away, especially if you’re not playing the same game as a friend. Many games are designed to be social and so if you want to play with friends, your best bet is to invest in the same ecosystem as them.

Do you have an existing catalogue of games that are important to you?

If you have a catalogue of Xbox or PlayStation 4 games you wish to keep playing, your best bet is to upgrade within your existing ecosystem. Xbox Series X can play almost all Xbox One games as well as a robust line up of Xbox 360 and Xbox games. The PlayStation 5 can play nearly all PlayStation 4 titles while many other legacy titles can be accessed via the PlayStation Now subscription service. If the ability to play games from previous Xbox or PlayStation generations is important to you, you may want to consider staying within that family of systems or these will be lost to you.

Are there particular games you want to play?

Each of these systems have exclusive games from Xbox and PlayStation’s first party studios. If these games are a driving factor for you to get a console, you will want to align yourself with the system that provides the most valued games to you. Something to keep in mind is that Xbox titles are also playable via PC if your system is capable enough, while Sony currently doesn’t offer all of their first party titles outside of the PlayStation ecosystem except a few titles. The last thing you’d want to happen is invest hundreds into a console to find out it doesn’t play the games you are interested in. Here are a few of franchises that are exclusive to the PlayStation and Xbox platforms respectively.

PlayStation 5Xbox Series X
(also available via PC)
The Last of Us
God of War
Marvel’s Spider-man
Uncharted
Horizon
Gran Turismo
Ratchet & Clank
Ghost of Tsushima
Halo
Gears of War
Forza Motorsport
Forza Horizon
State of Decay
Sea of Thieves
Fable

If you are still unsure of which console to get after those questions, let’s now dig deeper into where these systems excel.

One of the first considerations when it comes to a new console is price. While neither system is cheap, they do offer fantastic value considering the technology that is packed into them. Both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 cost £449.99 however an additional consideration is that the PlayStation 5 offers a Digital Edition for £359.99. This version of the PlayStation 5 is identical to the standard version except it doesn’t contain a disk drive. For those that predominantly purchase digital content anyway, this is a great way to save some money without losing any functionality that is important to you. Bear in mind however that this does also mean that you cannot use your console as a DVD/Blu Ray player, a feature that many people take advantage of.

Xbox does also offer a cheaper next generation console with the Xbox Series S. This system differs from the Series X in many ways though and I do not own one. Therefore, I don’t think it is fair to include it in these comparisons.

Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 offer drastic performance upgrades over the previous generation and in most departments, offer comparable performance to each other. If you get into finer details of the consoles though, the Xbox Series X does have the edge in a few areas. Graphical power is certainly higher on the Xbox Series X although as of yet, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive advantage on that system. This could certainly change over time once developers learn to maximise each system though, especially with third party games. Where this is likely to come into play the most is with resolutions and frame rates. With many games now targeting 60 frames per second at 4K resolution on these systems, we may see the Xbox Series X hit those targets more consistently compared to the PlayStation 5 going forward. While the PlayStation 5 versions will most likely still look and run great, those with a keen eye for these details may end up having a better experience on Microsoft’s system.

Memory and Storage is another interesting comparison. The PlayStation 5, on paper, offers superior data transfer speeds. This may result in Sony’s console offering faster load times once developers learn to maximise this speed however, like with the Xbox Series X and graphical power, this isn’t noticeable with current games. While the PlayStation 5’s memory is more capable on paper, the Xbox Series X offers more storage with 802GB available compared to 667GB on the PlayStation 5. For many people the extra space to store games will likely be more beneficial compared to a second faster here and there loading games but this will vary depending on your playstyle.

Where these consoles really start to differentiate is with their controllers. The Xbox Series X has taken the Xbox one controller, which was regarded as one of the best on the market and iterated slightly while keeping the same overall form factor. The PlayStation 5’s DualSense does incorporate a more drastic overhaul though when compared to the DualShock 4. The ergonomics of the controller, including the hotly debated stick placement, is very much a personal preference. Many people enjoy the asymmetrical stick placement of the Xbox controllers while others have grown up with the symmetrical sticks of the PlayStation consoles.

Where the PlayStation’s DualSense does take a noticeable lead though, is with the technology Sony put inside it. Controllers have included rumble feedback for many years now but the DualSense has taken it to the next level with haptic vibrations. This feedback is far more refined and precise when compared to traditional rumble and therefore elevates the experience found on the PlayStation 5 over the Series X. Another area where the PlayStation DualSense takes a step forward is with its triggers. The adaptive triggers include motors to not only provide rumble feedback but also allow developers to implement various degrees of tension and even trigger stops. The Xbox Series X controller does offer good rumble and even trigger rumble, however this feels underwhelming when compared to the PlayStation 5 DualSense.

Although I think the DualSense offers a far superior technical experience, both the DualSense and Xbox Series X controller give players some much needed quality of life features such as USB-C and improved comfort. While I personally would now gravitate towards the PlayStation 5’s controller, you won’t be disappointed regardless of which console you get. I just hope that Xbox takes inspiration from Sony and implements some of the DualSense features in future Xbox controller iterations.

Beyond hardware, software truly is the defining features of these systems. Over the past decade, each company has taken steps to position their software line up as industry leading, but for very different reasons. The way you consume video games will likely determine which strategy suits you best as of right now, although these strategies could become more aligned going forward.

During the Xbox One generation, Xbox struggled to deliver tentpole games on a regular basis, with only a few examples standing out. PlayStation on the other hand released big, AAA experiences year on year during the PlayStation 4 generation and established their studios as some of the best in the industry. Where PlayStation excelled with first party games though, Xbox excelled with its services. The release of Xbox Game Pass in 2017 signalled the shift in focus for Microsoft that has now become their core strategy.

Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that offers over one hundred titles for players to download. These range from smaller indie titles, to Xbox first party studio games all available day and date with their retail release. Many have dubbed Xbox Game Pass ‘the best deal in gaming’ and that value is only increased with the higher subscription tier, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass will cost subscribers £7.99 while for an additional £3, players can upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate. This tier combines both the console and PC versions of Game Pass, Xbox Live Gold, EA Play and Xbox Cloud Gaming. All of these services would cost £26.96 monthly if brought separately but with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, they are bundled at £10.99.

Undoubtably Xbox is delivering an incredible value for money with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and with the games available through the service, it is a must have for anyone that likes playing a wide range of genres. In comparison PlayStation offers two separate subscriptions in PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. PlayStation Now is Sony’s closest challenge to Game Pass, offering hundreds of games available to stream or download. Where it fails to match Xbox Game Pass though is in the relevance of these games. Many are older titles unlike Game Pass which regularly has games debut via the service.

When comparing offerings though, PlayStation does have the edge over Xbox in one regard. PlayStation Plus has become a fantastic service for fans beyond just offering online play and, on the PlayStation 5, that services has become even better. Costing £50 per year, PlayStation Plus gives subscribers access to several free games every month which the user can keep as long as they are subscribed. Where this services now differs from Xbox Live Gold, Xbox’s comparable subscription, is with the addition of the PlayStation Plus Collection. This is a list of twenty games that helped define the PlayStation 4 generation and are available for PlayStation 5 PS Plus subscribers at no extra cost. While this isn’t a substitute for the vast library on Xbox Game Pass, it does help bolster the PlayStation catalogue and will hopefully only grow going forward.

With that said, services aren’t what Sony has focused on. Their focus has been on delivering incredible exclusives you can’t find anywhere else and they have absolutely delivered. Franchises such as The Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War, Horizon, Gran Turismo, Ghost of Tsushima and Spider-Man have consistently provided some of the best experiences within video games over the past five years. This only looks to continue also with new entries in the Ratchet & Clank, Horizon, Gran Turismo and God of War series all scheduled for release in 2021. Sony’s approach of quality over quantity helped define the PlayStation 4 and will likely continue to cement their dominance going forward with the PlayStation 5.

Xbox may not have delivered the mass market hits that PlayStation has but they have had some success in recent years. The Forza Motorsport and Horizon series are regarded as some of the best racing games around and the Gears franchise continues to be popular with fans. While their list of major hits isn’t as extensive as PlayStations, this could be set to change going forward. Microsoft has acquired a number of developers in recent years but the most significant is set to be ZeniMax and their Bethesda studios. While it is currently unclear if this deal will see franchises such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Doom and WolfenStein become Xbox exclusives, it is almost certain that they will be provided on Xbox Game Pass at no additional cost.

The inclusion of these titles into Xbox Game Pass will help Xbox close the gap on PlayStations first party dominance. When you also factor in more entries to the Halo, Forza and Fable series, there is a chance Xbox not only catches up, but overtakes PlayStation. However, this is currently speculation. As of right now your choice of platform is very much one of personal preference. While PlayStation’s first party offerings are of an incredible standard, they aren’t for everyone. First person shooters, horror games and sports franchises are lacking when it comes to PlayStation exclusives and so fans of those genres may be more satisfied with Xbox and their range offered through Xbox Game Pass.

With games on the PlayStation 5 also starting to hit £70 on a more consistent basis, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate could provide a player much greater overall value. If Sony’s first party offerings aren’t of interest to you then Game Pass Ultimate for around £130 per year, gives you access to hundreds of games as well as all of Microsoft’s first offerings going forward.

The truth is that both Sony and Microsoft are offering players incredible hardware, software and services in 2021. Saying which offering is best for you is something I can’t say. What I can say is that I doubt you will be disappointed with either platform as long as you weigh up what it is you are looking for. Both companies are fully committed to delivering the best experiences possible to their player bases and because of that, regardless of which platform you purchase, we are all going to see the benefits going forward.

If you would like a further breakdown of the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, please click the relevant links below. For those of you that are looking to invest in one of these fantastic systems, I’m confident you will love your new purchase.

1 Comment »

  1. This was a great article, really highlighted the differences between the two and the reasons for and against owning them.

    I must admit, even though I became an Xbox fan when the original first came out. I ended up buying a PS4 to play Sony exclusives and my Xbox One began to collect dust. The same thing has applied to the new generation, as I chose to get the PS5 first. The Playstation + collection was a nice surprise too!

    I think once Xbox Series X starts to bring out some good exclusives, then I will buy one. I’m desperately hopeful Halo Infinite ends up being a good game, and cannot wait for the next Fable!

    Like

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