Xbox Series X/S vs Playstation 5: Which One Should You Pickup This Holiday Season?

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November is always a great time for gamers, with the month always bringing anticipation through triple-A titles and hardware launches. However, this year that anticipation is bigger than ever before, with both Microsoft and Sony releasing new consoles. This is a huge moment in gaming history, with many gamers hoping to find these consoles under their Christmas tree. However, out of the two, which one stands out and which one will be left on the shelves?

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Xbox Series X and Series S

Prices: Xbox Series X – $499 and Xbox Series S – $299

Microsoft has been busy creating their new powerhouse console and its smaller sibling, the Xbox Series X and Series S. Released on the 10th November, the player has the choice of either a more powerful Disc Edition (Series X) or Digital Edition (Series S). The Series S is considerably cheaper, as it doesn’t house a disc drive but also and is targetted at 1440p gaming, instead of its big brothers (Series X) 4K affair.

Xbox Series X/S Hardware 

Microsoft is promoting the Series X as “the most powerful console on the market.”  Microsoft has focused on loading times, dramatically reducing them which is great news for players.  This is largely due to a top of the line SSD (Solid State Drive) and huge GPU upgrade from AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) that allows the player to play their favourite games in 120FPS (frames per second). Learning from previous mistakes, Microsoft has made its new console more gamer-friendly. The Xbox Series X supports native 4K gaming and is more than 4 times as powerful as the Xbox One X. 

The Series S on the other hand has a slower processor and memory than the Series X,  ultimately meaning its gaming performance is less powerful in direct comparison, but it certainly is no slouch either. The Series S is capable of 1440p, but what’s worrying about the Series S is the storage, Microsoft has confirmed that “game installs will be 30 per cent smaller on the Series S than the X”. However the Series S total useable storage is 364GB, when compared to the Series X’s 802GB. Players are likely to see use this very quickly and will likely be reaching for external hard drives to boost storage capacities. Luckily, both consoles support do also support Seagate’s ultra-fast external storage cards, if you want the absolute fastest loading speeds across your games. However, these don’t come cheap and are priced at $115 which is nearly as much as the price of the Series S itself. 

Xbox Series X/S Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos Audio Support

Dolby has confirmed that both consoles will support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos surround sound for gaming. Dolby Vision is the most advanced technology we have for HDR, offering dynamic high dynamic range, which is in a class of its own over static HDR content. It’s sure to be a joy to behold in both in supported gaming titles and video content.

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Xbox Series X/S Design

On the design front, some players might not like the look of the console, especially when it is placed horizontally. Personally, we feel it looks very sleek and reminiscent of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Xbox Series X/S
Image above: Xbox Series S (left) and Xbox Series X (right)

Xbox Series X/S Controller 

If Xbox fans were waiting for a revolutionary new controller, unfortunately, they will have to wait a little while longer. There are no new features that change the way you play but, there are small tweaks that have been added to the controller. There is a new share button, making it easier to share your favourite gaming moments. Additional textured grips are found throughout the controller to help the controller stay stationary in your hands during the tensest moments. The biggest addition though is the hybrid- style directional pad. The pad looks more noticeable but most importantly, more responsive than previous controllers. Microsoft feel that these small tweaks bring “enhanced comfort” to an already respectable controller and you know how the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. 

Xbox Series X controller

Xbox Series X/S Backwards Compatibility 

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X are fully backwards compatible with last-gen games and beyond, by that we mean the OG Xbox and Xbox 360 games and of course all Xbox One titles. A couple of things to note is that the not all older titles are supported and the Xbox Series S doesn’t have a disc drive, so unless you own your favourite Xbox 360 game digitally, you won’t be able to play it.

The games that are supported do come with some benefits on the improved hardware, that range from HDR support, improved framerates and enhanced texture packs. On the accessories front, it’s also good news, Xbox One controllers are fully compatible with the new consoles, meaning you don’t have to splash out for another controller, for that couch coop fun. Even though Microsoft has focused around gaming this time, the Xbox Series X still houses a disc drive that supports 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, which is perfect for movie nights. 

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Xbox Series X/S Games 

There are no real standout exclusive titles for the new Xbox Series upon launch. Halo Infinite was teased for release but has now been pushed back to 2021. This is a big problem for Microsoft, as gamers will look elsewhere for a console that has both multi-platforming and exclusive titles. However, Microsoft does offer subscription Game service known as Xbox Pass which offers gamers access to over 100+ titles, which include all first-party Microsoft titles, e.g. the Halo, Gears and Forza series for a monthly fee of either $9.99 a month for consoles or $14.99 a month if you plan on playing these titles on your PC too. This is certainly a service to keep your eyes on now that Microsoft owns Bethesda, the studio behind the Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom games Under Microsofts umbrella expect to see Bestesda titles included in the game pass. 

PlayStation 5

Price: $499 and $399 for the Digital Edition. 

The PS5 (PlayStation 5) is the long-awaited next-generation console from Sony. Released on the 12th November in the US and November 19th in the UK, the console is the first in the series to have either a Disc or Digital Edition. Just like the Xbox Series S, the Digital Edition removes the disc drive, ultimately bringing the cost of the console down. However, unlike the Xbox Series S, both PlayStation consoles offer performance parity, although that does come at a $100 premium over the Xbox Series S. 

PlayStation 5 Hardware 

The PlayStation 5 offers the player 4K gaming and 120 frames per second at lower resolutions. Gamers will soon notice that loading times have been dramatically reduced due to an Ultra-high Speed SSD. However, what could be the real standout feature is the PS5’s 3D Audio engine, Tempest. The engine surrounds the player, putting you centre stage, allowing you to hear sounds as if they were happening around you. In doing so, it makes the gaming experience more immersive and authentic. Sony has predominantly designed Tempest around headphones for the time being. You can experience Tempest in headphones you already own, but the experience will be best utilised through the upcoming Pulse 3D wireless headset.  The headset itself has dual noise-cancelling microphones that capture clearer voice dialogue. The design of the headset has been refined with extra padding on both earpads and headband for extra comfort. For the look of the console itself, it feels like Sony has taken a massive step backwards. 

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PlayStation 5 Design

The console is massive, towering above Sony’s last two entries. Also, compared to other consoles, it isn’t the most appealing and in fact a bit garish. The outer matte-white plastic plates have no use and look dated. However, the real problem is the console’s colour. The fact that it is white makes it stand out even more and lacks subtleness against your black television equipment. Compared to the design of the Xbox Series, the Xbox wins by a landslide.

Playstation size comparisons

The console Disc Edition houses an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and both consoles are backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 (PS4) games, PS VR games and hardware alike. However, since there is no disc drive on the digital version, you won’t be able to play PS4 discs on the digital edition. Digital Edition owners will be able to play digital versions of compatible PS4 games that they have already purchased via the PlayStation Store.

PlayStation 5 Controller 

The DualSense™ Wireless Controller provides “a deeper gaming experience”  compared to the PS4 controller. The controller itself looks astonishing. Sony has done little to the design and size of the controller. This is a good thing because the PS4 controller handles beautifully. PlayStation 4 players will also find comfort with familiar features such as a built-in battery, Motion Sensor and an Integrated Speaker to keep that enhanced gaming experience. However, Sony has added Haptic feedback and Adaptive triggers to make you feel more physically invested in your gaming experience. Haptic feedback allows you to feel responsive feedback in your in-game actions. What this means is, different vibrations imitate what you are doing on screen from feeling the full weight of a sports car, to the power of firing different weapons. Adaptive triggers, on the other hand, offer different levels of resistance whilst gaming. In a sports game such as FIFA or NBA, it adds more tension to the sprint trigger when the player’s energy levels are depleted. Both these features combine to provide the player with a realistic gaming experience that has never been seen before, drawing you closer to the game.

PlayStation 5 Backwards Compatibility 

Although the PS5 does support back-compatibility, not every game is supported. To transfer digital games and game data from PS4 to a PS5, you need to either use a LAN cable or via WIFI. If the player has already stored PS4 games and it’s saved data on an external USB storage device, they can be brought over to the PS5 via the external storage. However, PlayStation 5 doesn’t currently support expandable storage for PS5 games.

Playstation 5
Image above: PS5 Disc Edition (Left) and Digital (Right)

With Next-gen games not being able to be played or moved from its SSD to an external device, this could cause a real problem for gamers. Once the internal storage is full, the only option is to delete the games and with a relatively small usable storage of 667GB, this won’t take long to fill. Most games use over 50GB for installation such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (133GB) or Demon’s Souls (66GB). PS5 players will soon find themselves quickly running out of storage. However, there is a glimmer of hope on this matter. The console does have a dedicated internal slot that would fit an M.2 SSD, but expandable storage will be “reserved for a future update.”

PlayStation 5 Games 

There are some great release titles that gamers can be purchased upon launch. The biggest game to hit the PlayStation 5 upon release date is Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, set a year after the events of The City That Never Sleeps (DLC of Marvel’s Spider-Man). The PlayStation exclusive focuses on Miles Morales. Miles is taken under the wing of Peter Parker and trained as the new web-slinger. Even though the game follows on from the events in Marvels Spider-Man, the game is a standalone edition. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales carries over very similar elements that are featured in the 2018 edition.  It is an open-world game that allows you to free roam New York. The player can upgrade Miles’s suit, but the big difference is that Miles can use invisibility and bioelectricity to take down his opponents.

Verdict, Which One Should You Buy?

Both Microsoft and Sony have come out all guns blazing to bring players a taste of what the future of gaming entails. Both have strongly focused on console performance with major upgrades in loading times, which is largely thanks to the SSD’s. They have also focused on immersive gaming experiences with Sony introducing Tempest, their new sound engine, whilst Microsoft promises more grunt from a more powerful GPU enhanced by Dolby Vision support.

These features bring gamers closer to the action than ever before, but that begs the question of which console is the best one for you? Well, it depends on your individual needs and what you’re after in a next-gen console, if you want exclusives then the PS5 is the safer bet, if you want the most powerful console the Xbox Series X is the way to go. But if you don’t even own a 4K TV yet are these titans even worth picking up if you can’t enjoy 4K gaming? Honestly probably not, if you didn’t dive in last-gen picking up the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro might save you a lot of money given their discounted price points.

If you must delve into the next-gen bump, the Xbox Series S is a solid machine, Sony can’t match its price point of $299.99 and 1440p on a 1080p display will still look lovely and crisp and if you happen to have a 1440p monitor which are quite common in the PC gaming space, then you’ll get even more graphical fidelity out of it.

Co-written by Peter Elsmere & Ryan Lipton

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