Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

PS5 vs Xbox Series X - which one should you buy at launch in November?

We now know pretty much everything we need to know about the next-gen consoles, so which one should you pick up? Here’s the case for and against each…

It's set to be battle of the consoles as the PS5 and Xbox Series X both come out in November. 
It's set to be battle of the consoles as the PS5 and Xbox Series X both come out in November. 

Following the PlayStation 5 showcase earlier this week, we now have a clear picture of what to expect from the next generation of consoles. And it looks set to be a close battle between Sony and Microsoft.

As you’d expect, the latest wares represent the most powerful consoles the two companies have ever put together. Next-gen games will look amazing and offer unique and exciting experiences. And with the top end versions of each the PS5 and Xbox Series X clocking in at an identical $499 (Dh1,832), which one you buy is going to come down to a few things.

Let’s just get this out of the way now: if you’re currently a loyal Xbox or PlayStation fan, you’ve likely - blindly - decided which one to go for. Mitigating factors such as having a pile of current-gen games you’d still like to play come into the equation. But it’s also likely that rabid tribalism, akin to supporting your favourite football team, will keep you loyal in your choice. For those on the fence, here’s what you need to consider.

Firstly, the price

This is where things get slightly complicated. Microsoft has two versions - the all singing, all dancing Xbox Series X and the smaller, cheaper $299 (Dh1,098) and less powerful Series S. There are also two version of PS5 - one comes with a blu-ray disc drive and the other is a digital-only version that comes in at $399 (Dh1,465).

Although it looks like an easy decision for those on a budget, going for the Xbox Series S has its drawbacks. Sure it will run next-gen games, but they’ll be in a lower resolution than the Series X. It also won’t be able to play the top-end Xbox One back catalogue. However, if you’re not a graphics snob, then the budget console of choice has to be Series S. It has the $10 monthly subscription service of Xbox Game Pass, which is also available on Series X. This gives you access to an enormous library of games to stream, a bit like Netflix, which makes this a hard package to beat.

The games

If price is not a problem, then it really does come down to games. Neither PS5 or Xbox Series X has a launch line-up to make either an instant-buy. Cross platform games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Dirt 5 will be available when both machines arrive on November 10 (Xbox Series X) and November 19 (PS5). But you’ll still be able to experience them on Xbox One and PS4, too. So it’ll be platform exclusives that will sway the vote.

With its flagship title, Halo Infinite delayed until 2021, Xbox Series X is left with Tetris Effect: Connected, Gears Tactics and Yakuza: Like A Dragon. Even the most ardent Xbox fan will look at this list and feel flat. Good games, sure. But sure-fire system sellers? Not even close.

Sony fairs slightly better in this department. The family-friendly Astro’s Playroom comes pre-packed on every PS5, then you have Demon's Souls, Destruction All Stars, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Its killer app comes in the form of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - the only game you could even consider as a mass market, big hitter. Advantage, PlayStation then.

The design

Another area you can’t look past is the design of each console. Microsoft has gone with an ominous black cuboid for the Series X and what appears to be a white wireless speaker for the Series S. Both will sit under or next to your HDTV and blend in seamlessly. PS5, on the other hand, is massive and struts out looking like Las Vegas era Elvis with its white collar up - quite the look. Its outlandish design will take some getting used to as it's certainly not for everyone.

The experience

In terms of new experiences that you simply can’t get on other consoles, there are a few differences. We’re not talking graphics - we already know that Xbox Series X is superior - but the bespoke adventures each will offer.

PlayStation 5 is all about immersion. The DualSense controller will mimic the feel of different surfaces such as ice and sand, and replicate the tension of drawing back a bow through its triggers. Sony is also planning big things with 3D sound. Its proprietary Pulse 3D headset enables gamers to hear the direction of certain sounds. So if there’s a shambling zombie stalking you down a narrow, dimly lit corridor, you’ll likely hear the shuffle of its feet first.

Xbox Series X is aiming for a similar audio offering, though details on this are sketchy as of yet. But other than playing games in hyper-detail with minimal load times, which is great, it’s business as usual for Xbox.

In summary, if you’re on a budget at launch and want access to hundreds of (old) games from the off, then the Xbox Series X and S are the next-gen consoles for you. But if you want to be wowed by sparkly new games that will offer new experiences then PS5 is the way to go. My advice? Wait six months until both consoles have a better selection of games to choose from and then make a more considered decision.

Updated: September 18, 2020 12:35 PM

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