The console wars are raging once again, with both Sony and Microsoft trying to gain the upper hand when it comes to specs, price, and exclusives. Both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 have been announced for quite some time now, and we are actually just a few short months away from the expected release dates for both systems.
As always, the battle is very close in almost every regard, since both companies are giving it their all for this launch. Neither of the two consoles seems to be lagging too far behind in terms of specs, which means that it’s very difficult to make a decision based on hardware alone. Hence, the deciding factor might depend on the types of games you prefer, or the aesthetics, if that’s important to you.
In terms of games, Microsoft is once again betting on the Halo franchise to help them win this fight, with Halo Infinite being announced during last year’s E3. Granted, the game will also be available on PC, so it’s not really an exclusive per se, but it definitely won’t be released on PlayStation 5, that’s for sure.
In response, Sony announced a new Gran Turismo and a Ratchet & Clank sequel, both of which are some of the most recognizable PlayStation exclusives. In addition, a new Spider-Man game will also be available as soon as the console launches, which means that you will have plenty of options to choose from right from day one.
Since we already know pretty much everything about these two consoles, it’s finally possible to compare them head-to-head in every category. Keep in mind that this comparison is not meant to declare an overall winner, because we realize that wouldn’t make sense at the moment. In fact, it never makes sense anyway, since it all comes to personal preference in the end.
With all that in mind, let’s see how the two upcoming consoles compare when it comes to looks, hardware, exclusives, and a few other things.
The two companies have taken very different approaches in terms of design for this generation of consoles, and they both have their fans and critics. On the other hand, it’s actually refreshing to see such unique ideas for a change, since that was not the case these past two decades.
Xbox Series X – The Literal Box
“Nondescript” is probably the best word to describe the Series X, since it’s basically a black box with a radiator grill on top. This is actually a very popular trend in the world of PCs as well, since more and more people are going for a small form factor instead of the classic towers we used to see.
In spite of its basic design, the Xbox is actually quite pleasant to look at it, probably because the matte black paint job makes it look mysterious and elegant. Furthermore, the fact that it’s entirely black should make it easier for it to blend in with your furniture, which is worth a few points if you care about that sort of thing.
PlayStation 5 – The Alien Spaceship
Sony did not go for subtlety this time around, which is why the PlayStation 5 looks like something that crash-landed on Earth after drifting around the galaxy for a few millennia. Unlike the Xbox, the PS5 is also more daring in terms of color, since it’s mostly white with black accents.
We can’t deny the fact that the console looks extremely good, even though the Internet seems to be comparing it to a Wi-Fi router. It’s always nice to see companies go for something a bit more brazen instead of sticking with boring designs, and we believe Sony has managed to hit the nail on the head in terms of futuristic looks.
If you want to spark a fight on the Internet in 2020, you can simply mention the term “teraflops” in a Reddit thread and watch it descend into madness a few minutes later. If you want to upset the PC crowd as well, you can also sneak in a reference to the PlayStation’s SSD, which was advertised as being faster than anything you can currently buy over the counter.
All jokes aside though, the two consoles are neck-in-neck in terms of hardware, since there’s barely anything to divide them in terms of potential performance. They both come with state-of-the-art components, as well as plenty of room to grow in the following years, thanks to 8K and 120 FPS support promised down the line.
Here is a comparison between Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, just to show you how similar they both are:
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|Processor||AMD Zen 2 architecture, with 8 cores running at 3.5GHz||AMD Zen 2 architecture, with 8 cores running at 3.8GHz|
|Graphics||Custom RDNA2 architecture, 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz||Custom RDNA2 architecture, 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
|Storage||825GB – Custom SSD||1TB – Custom NVME SSD|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray (or none)||4K UHD Blu-ray|
|I/O Ports||1x USB Type-A, 1x USB Type-C, HDMI 2.1||3x USB 3.2, HDMI 2.1|
|Resolution||Up to 8K||Up to 8K|
|Frame rate||Up to 120 FPS||Up to 120 FPS|
You can also read more about the PlayStation 5’s specs in a separate article.
Being able to play games from previous generations is definitely something both Xbox and PlayStation fans want, especially since there will undoubtedly be a period of drought in terms of releases when the consoles are launched. No one wants to pay a few hundred dollars on a console that only comes with only a handful of games, that’s for sure.
Thankfully, both Sony and Microsoft have announced that their next-gen consoles will be backwards compatible, which means that you will be able to play older games on them without any issues. In fact, the Xbox Series X will go back all the way to the original Xbox, which is definitely a nice touch from Microsoft.
The PlayStation 5 does not disappoint in this regard either, since the whole PS4 catalog will be playable on PS5 as well, including VR titles. In addition, any new games released for the PS4 will also work on PS5, so that’s more good news.
Exclusive Games and Launch Titles
If you want to convince gamers to pick your console over the competition, the key is to offer high-quality exclusives that cannot be played on any other system. Both Microsoft and Sony have already prepared their ground in this regard, so it’s actually pretty difficult to say who has the upper hand at the moment.
In fact, we have already covered the best upcoming PS5 games in a different article, so you are welcome to check that out as well.
That’s not the whole story however, since there are plenty of other games that will be available on multiple platforms. Here are the full lists of expected games for both consoles:
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Gran Turismo 7
- Horizon: Forbidden West
- Oddworld: Soulstorm
- Resident Evil 8: Village
- Demon’s Souls
- Grand Theft Auto 5
- Project Athia
- Solar Ash
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
- Sackboy: A Big Adventure
- NBA 2K21
- Destruction AllStars
- Goodbye Volcano High
- Hitman 3
- Ghostwire: Tokyo
- Jett: The Far Shore
- Kena: Bridge of the Spirits
- Little Devil Inside
- Astro’s Playroom
Xbox Series X:
- The Ascent
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Bright Memory Infinite
- Call of the Sea
- Remedy Entertainment
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Destiny 2
- Dirt 5
- Gears 5
- Gods & Monsters
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Halo Infinite
- Hitman III
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Madden NFL 21
- The Medium
- NBA 2K21
- Observer: System Redux
- Orphan of the Machine
- Resident Evil Village
- Scarlet Nexus
- Second Extinction
- Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II
- Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
- Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
- Watch Dogs: Legion
- WRC 9
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
VR has gotten very popular in recent years, which is why PS4 and PCs currently offer support for it. However, it seems like Sony and Microsoft are not too quick to advertise this feature on their next-gen consoles, and there are several reasons for this.
First off, announcing a new VR headset along with the console means that gamers would have to drop an extra few hundred bucks on that as well. Given the fact that the existing VR headsets are already costly enough – and that the new consoles will likely be priced somewhere around $500 -, very few people would be able to throw almost a grand on both of them at once.
Sony has announced that PSVR games will work on PS5 however, which is definitely good news. On top of that, the company has also all but confirmed the fact that a new version of PSVR will be released in the near future, so it’s definitely coming – just not right away.
On the other hand, Microsoft has decided to continue holding off on VR at the moment, which means that the Series X will not have any kind of VR support at launch. In essence, Microsoft believes that the VR market is not mature enough to be worth the investment right now, especially since they would have to redesign a lot of things about the console’s user interface in order to make it viable for a virtual reality headset.
Keep in mind that things could change in the future, so it’s not like the Xbox will never offer VR support. As long as the market keeps evolving and more development goes into the technology, it should be possible for Microsoft to add VR support at some point.
Optical Media and Digital-only Editions
One of the major surprises about the PS5 reveal was the fact that the console will come in two versions: One with an optical drive, and one without. This means that you can probably save a few bucks by opting for the digital-only version, although there is no hard data about prices at the moment.
As for the Xbox Series X, we currently have no information that would lead us to believe that there will be a digital-only version of the console. It’s definitely not out of the question, but Microsoft has not said anything about this so far, which means that most likely it won’t be possible to buy an Xbox without an optical drive at launch.
Speaking of which, both consoles sport a Blu-Ray optical drive, so there’s not much change in this regard. Thankfully, it seems like optical media has reached its peak for now, since there are no further developments in this area that we know of. It could be that Blu-Ray discs are the last optical media we will ever see.
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean everyone is happy with the switch to digital-only Sony is winking at. Some people really like owning physical copies of their games, and not just because they like to keep them on display. There’s are quite a few drawbacks when you have to rely on a digital game library, such as the following:
- You can’t sell your games or rent them to your friends
- You can’t buy pre-owned games, which means that you are forced to pay full price for every game
- If your Internet connection is slow, it takes a very long time to download and install games. This is not a problem if you are using optical media.
- You can’t install or even play certain games if you are not connected to the Internet
- You can lose your entire game library if your account gets hacked
Both consoles will be released with new controllers as well, even though the differences are not that significant in terms of form or function.
As such, the new PlayStation 5 controller is called “DualSense”, and not DualShock 5 like you would expect. However, besides the fact that it is now (mostly) white instead of black, there’s nothing too different about it in terms of buttons. You do get a microphone included in the gamepad, and it remains to be seen how feasible this is going to be. On top of that, haptic feedback is also part of the deal, which would allow for some pretty neat gameplay tricks if the game developers integrate this function properly.
Xbox Series X
As for the Xbox Series X controller, the changes are even more subtle, since it looks almost indistinguishable from the previous model in most regards. Microsoft has included a “Share” button this time around, which allows you to share screenshots and videos with other players. This is a pretty nice addition, but it’s obviously not groundbreaking. In addition, the controller is a tiny bit smaller as well, which should improve ergonomics and make it easier to hold.
Unfortunately, there is not enough information on this topic yet in order for us to compare the two consoles. We expect this to change as the release date gets closer and closer, but there’s really nothing to go on at the moment.
What we can say is that both consoles are probably going to be a bit more expensive than previous generations, mainly because of the beefy specs. We are not expecting anything over $500 for either of them, but we may be wrong. Microsoft has said that they have “learned from previous pricing mistakes”, so that’s a bit encouraging.
In addition, we can also safely assume that the digital-only version PS5 will be slightly cheaper than the Blu-Ray version, given the fact that you are not paying for the optical drive. Since this won’t be the case for Xbox Series X, common sense dictates that the digital-only PS5 will be the cheapest of the bunch.
While there is no exact launch date for either of them, we already know that both systems will hit the shelves during the 2020 holiday season. That’s only 6 months from now, so you can already start saving up if you want to get them.
The pre-orders have not started yet, but you can already subscribe to email notifications at stores like GameStop and Best Buy in order to be announced as soon as the PS5 can be pre-ordered.
As you can see, there is no clear winner when it comes to which console is going to come out on top once the holiday season reaches us and the systems start shipping out to gamers. The specs are very similar, the exclusives are equally exciting, and will both hit the stores at about the same time.
Hence, it’s really up to your personal preference this time around, since it looks like it’s going to be a very close fight in terms of performance, unlike what happened with previous generations. In fact, if you are not a die-hard fanboy with an ego to protect, you can probably buy both and double your fun.