When you’re already a definite PlayStation or Xbox fan, it’s hard to imagine being on the fence when deciding whether to get the newest console or that of the other camp. When you’re new to the world of console gaming altogether, it can even be a bit daunting. There are objective arguments for either being better than the other. However, it can’t be argued that depending on the person, there are pros and cons to both. So, the PS5 or the Xbox Series. Let’s find out what’s best for you. After going through each platform, I’ll even suggest which PS5 model (disc drive or all-digital) or Xbox Series console (X or S) is the ideal choice for either side.
The Xbox Series X (or S) – Value for Days
Changes to the Xbox brand have made its message far different to what it was at the launch of the Xbox One seven years ago. Instead of trying to top PlayStation in each and every way, the branding around the Xbox Series X and S is in offering you a choice around technical specs, style of play and value in whichever system you go with.
For the gamer who’s after the fastest of the fast, the Xbox Series X is the most powerful gaming console today. Compared to PlayStation, the Series X beats the PS5 with a 3.8 GHz CPU (vs 3.5) and 12.0 teraflop GPU (vs 10.3). Simply put, a higher CPU means that the Series X will better handle performing multiple tasks at once; a higher GPU, arguably the most important aspect in a gaming machine, tells you that high-resolution images and video will be rendered far quicker.
But let’s stick a pin on all the technical talk. High amounts of processing power and rendering speed on a console are nifty, but that relevance only goes so far. Technical prowess doesn’t mean anything without any decent games to enjoy it with. Luckily, Xbox has that in spades. Backwards compatibility is a key future with the Series consoles, allowing you to play games from the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the original Xbox. Then there’s the behemoth of value that is the Game Pass subscription service: the Netflix of video games.
Flaunting over 100 high quality and regularly rotated games playable at a fixed monthly price ($9.99/£7.99), including first-party titles from day one of release (Halo, Gears, Forza), Game Pass is the ultimate catalogue for both the regular and very casual gamer. That day one, first-party offering has been bolstered at an unbelievable level just recently, with the announcement that Microsoft is planning to buy publisher, Bethesda Softworks and all the studios that come with it for $7.5 billion, the second-biggest acquisition in gaming history.
What does that mean? Well, the full details of exclusivity for already-announced games haven’t been revealed yet, but it’s safe to say future titles in the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Starfield, Dishonoured, Doom, Wolfenstein, The Evil Within and Prey series are going to be Xbox exclusives on Game Pass from day one. That’s huge. Whilst likely PlayStation 5 players will be able to enjoy some Bethesda games that are currently in development (a case by case basis), especially Elder Scrolls VI, those who are well-invested in Bethesda titles may want a new Xbox to be ready for the years ahead.
Today is a special day… We are THRILLED to welcome the talented teams and beloved game franchises of @Bethesda to Team Xbox!
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 21, 2020
Whether trying to get access to as many of the latest games as possible with less spend, or a gaming fledgling wants to dip their toes into variety of titles without a massive financial commitment, Game Pass is Xbox’s way of saying they’re going to give their customers the most for their money. Said stance is furthered with the upgraded Game Pass Ultimate ($14.99/£10.99 a month), not only giving players access to all those same titles on PC but on mobile as well, via Xbox’s upcoming cloud gaming service, xCloud. Game Pass Ultimate even bundles in Xbox Live Gold, the online service you need to play online, also giving you at least a few free extra games each month too. Bargain.
Paired with the far less powerful but cheaper Xbox Series S, Game Pass makes entry into the next gaming generation are a far easier barrier to climb, providing each player with an assortment of games to choose from and play as soon as you plug in your machine, like a box of chocolates that offers you more thrills and less diabetes. With EA Play getting added to Game Pass too, 60 additional titles including FIFA, Madden, Mass Effect and The Sims add to the plethora of choice for the waves of gamers with infinitely different tastes.
Who should be getting an Xbox Series X or S? These bad boys are ideal for both the casual who wants to test out loads of different games without spending too much, the regular gamer who wants to catch up on their backlog of recent third-party releases and Xbox exclusives while saving, and any player who wants the most powerful tech supporting their games. Then of course, there’s any Bethesda fan who wants to be equipped to play all future releases. If you’ve got little to no savings to spare on a new console, then an absolute must for you is the Xbox All Access Scheme: giving you a Series X or S console and two year of Game Pass Ultimate, at the price of 24 monthly payments from $24.99/£20.99 with no upfront cost.
If you’ve been getting steadily drawn to some of the selections on Game Pass, now’s the time to get that gaming journey going properly by diving into that console-with-subscription rabbit hole. Game Pass has attracted 15 million subscribers for a reason. It offers superb games from some incredible publishers, including Xbox itself from day one, at a value that would have been unheard of years ago. With the acquisition of Bethesda and all of its franchises, Game Pass is without a doubt the best deal in gaming and the Xbox Series X, the most powerful console today, is a perfect way to make most of it.
PlayStation 5 – You Get What You Pay For: The Best
Quality over quantity is along the lines of the PlayStation mantra. “For the players” and all that. PlayStation exclusives in recent years have earned a reputation for being story-driven, well-rounded yet wonderfully-crafted works of art. When looking at the launch line-up of PlayStation 5 titles, the start of the new console generation looks no different.
Demon’s Souls, Godfall, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales are among some awe-inspiring games set to come out in the PS5’s launch window. Horizon: Forbidden West and the next God of War game, sequels to two of the best games of the current generation, are set for a release date in 2021. While Forbidden West, Miles Morales and Sackboy are coming out on the PS4 as well, the PlayStation 5’s ultra high-speed SSD, ray tracing, 4k display and up-to-120fps output will elevate already-great games to astronomical experiences by comparison.
Xbox’s soon-to-be Bethesda exclusives will certainly change the landscape of game offerings over the next several years, but we won’t be seeing the fruits of that acquisition for a while. The PS5 will have top tier exclusives from the console’s launch day. Even timed exclusives like Final Fantasy XVI, Deathloop and Ghost Wire: Tokyo (the latter two ironically coming from Bethesda), reinforce the PS5’s first couple of years to be undoubtedly first-rate.
What’s more, PlayStation upped the stakes with the PS5’s PS Plus Collection. With PlayStation Plus, the subscription you need in order to use online multiplayer, PS5 users get access to an abundance PS4 games to download and play at no extra cost. That’s on top of the 2-3 free games each month normally part of the subscription. Here’s the complete catalogue so far:
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Battlefield 1
- Days Gone
- Detroit: Become Human
- Fallout 4
- Final Fantasy XV
- God of War
- inFAMOUS: Second Son
- The Last Guardian
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Monster Hunter: World
- Mortal Kombat X
- Persona 5
- Ratchet & Clank
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- Until Dawn
Each of these games were positively reviewed on release, with many receiving critical acclaim, accolades and legacies being among the greatest games ever made; Bloodborne, God of War and The Last of Us especially. Maybe you’re new to the PlayStation eco-system, you’ve missed out on a fair few of last gen’s critical darlings or maybe you just fancy a replay of Uncharted 4 after trading in your physical copy. Whichever way you look at it, a free collection of last-gen games of the highest quality, performance-boosted by the PS5, is an unquestionable bargain if part of a subscription you need to play online anyway. Compared to Game Pass, there’s a lot less games on offer, but it’s a list of gaming marvels. Getting them alongside the purchase needed for multiplayer is like earning a selection of grade-A steaks for the price of a Big Mac.
Bloodborne, God of War, Persona 5, and many more generation-defining PS4 games will be available to PS5 owners with PS Plus subscriptions. PS Plus Collection details: https://t.co/dMivI3BtEX pic.twitter.com/sADvurZq7Q
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 17, 2020
What’s that? You want MORE games? You wouldn’t MIND buying a little extra months for a bigger catalogue on your PS5? WELL. PlayStation actually does have a literal Game Pass equivalent. It’s just no-one talks about it. PS Now is a monthly subscription service of around the same price as Game Pass ($9.99/£8.99), allowing you to select and download/stream from a catalogue of over 650 games from the PlayStation 2, 3 and 4 platforms. THAT’s where an annoyingly unclarified snag rears its head. PlayStation recently confirmed PS1, PS2 and PS3 games won’t be compatible on the PlayStation 5. If PS2 and 3 games ARE to be playable on the PS5 via PS Now, it will be through streaming using emulation tech. The problem is, PlayStation as a company has been the definition of the word “unclear”, doing little to no marketing for PS Now building up to the launch of the PS5, as well as no word on how much of the service’s catalogue will work on the new console.
Nevertheless, even if PS2 and PS3 games won’t be playable on PS Now for PlayStation 5, the service still boasts over 300 PS4 games to download and play on your next-gen console. That’s triple the amount of games available on Game Pass for around the same price each month. Many third-party PS Now games stay on the service for longer too. The trade off however, is that the PS Now games are usually far older titles. Unlike Game Pass, which adds first-party permanent day one exclusives and triple-A third party titles after a year or less on the market, you’ll be waiting at least a couple of years to see them on PS Now. You might see the odd critically acclaimed first-party exclusive from the year before, but only in a very limited window. PS Now is ideal for a lapsed or new gamer wanting to catch up on games released up to 2018. For regular players, it’s handy for the odd game you forgot you missed out on, but it’ll likely earn no more than a month’s subscription. Until PlayStation decides to invest in it more as Game Pass competitor that is.
Who should be getting a PS5? Lack of company transparency aside, this beauty of a machine is for anyone that’s after the guarantee of playing exquisite new games within their next-gen console’s first couple of years. If gaming as a medium for you is about unforgettable narratives, awe-inspiring worlds and experiences on par with the best of cinematic storytelling, the new PlayStation’s launch line-up of exclusives surpasses all that came before it, making this the easiest choice you’ve ever made. With astonishing gameplay and design, those pretty next-gen visuals are icing on an already-delicious cake. It’s first-party exclusives may be full price, but paying for masterpieces are usually worth it.
It’s a shame PlayStation’s quality over quantity stance didn’t carry over to it’s selection of games on PS Now, but if you’re the type to immediately pay the additional fee needed to play online (the same on any platform), the playable gems that are the free games from the PS Plus collection are enough of a bonus to getting a PS5 already. The console’s boost mode will bring new life in performance to any last-gen title, enough to keep you sated whilst deciding which of the new technologically and narratively superb games to play next.
Finally, if you’re a PS4 owner who’s loved their PlayStation experience on the platform so far, there’s absolutely no reason to stop now.
The Xbox Series X or S? Get Serie(s)ous
Let’s say you’re looking down Microsoft’s path towards gaming value. Which of the two new Xbox consoles should you go with?
First, both will release worldwide on November 10th 2020. Price-wise, the Series X costs $499/£449 and the Series S would set you back $299/£249. What do you lose with that £200 difference? Basically, two thirds of the power and half the storage. Comparing some of the Xbox Series X specs to the S, the GPU drops from 12 teraflops to 4, 1TB of storage drips to 512GB and up-to 8K resolution falls to 1440p with 4K upscaling. FPS performance though, ranging from 60 to 120 frames per second, seems to be the same on both. But unlike the X, the S has no disc drive, meaning only downloaded and streamed media can be played.
For the parents out there, if you want to keep the kids entertained for years to come with a seemingly-infinite number of high-quality video games with a spend that’s as controlled as possible, an Xbox Series S with a Game Pass subscription is a no-brainer. Gamers who have less cash and don’t want their credit rating affected by the All Access financing scheme are likely inclined to hop on the cheaper version too. However, that’s where recommendations for the Xbox Series S end.
The next-gen bargain of a Series S cannot be denied, but part of the reason it’s so cheap is that it’s a technological compromise. For the end of this year through 2021, it’s a wonderful compromise. Beyond next year though, games are only going to get better and more demanding of the hardware playing them, making the Series S increasingly irrelevant overtime. Games will only get bigger in size too, meaning the lesser space on the Series S will more often leave you having to delete and re-download games if you regularly rotate whatever you’re playing. Games are not only going to look and play are better on the Xbox Series X, but you’re also future-proofing yourself for the whole of the generation.
Game Pass has taken away some need for physical versions of new exclusives on Xbox , but if you’ve got some Xbox One, Xbox 360 or original Xbox game discs that you might want to play handy, you’re absolutely going to need the Series X to enjoy the platform’s backwards compatibility. The same applies if you want to play any blu-rays, 4K blu-rays. In short, owning physical media = get the Series X.
Being on a budget with the immediate need to play next-gen games is really the only reason to consider getting a Series S. But if you want the best visuals and performance in your Xbox experience over the next few years, with the extra storage and media options to back it up, now’s not the time to compromise. If you can’t afford a Series X outright and the All Access scheme isn’t for you, a lot of upcoming games will be cross-gen anyway. So save up, play on whatever current gen console you’ve got for now and make that investment into an Xbox Series X when the time is right. It’ll be worth the wait.
The PS5 – Standard or Digital Edition? Get Physical
Comparing specs of the two PS5’s on offer is a lot easier than the Xbox side of things, given they’re literally the exact same machine. Sony decided a lower spec console would be problematic. The PS5 consoles release on the 12th of November 2020 in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea before the rest of the world gets it a week later on the 19th.
Both the standard PlayStation 5 and its all-digital counterpart possess a 3.5GHZ AMD Zen-2-based CPU, a 10.28 teraflop GPU, 16GB of RAM and 825 GB of SSD storage. The difference? The standard console comes with a 4K UHD blu-ray drive, which turns out to be costly, bringing the PS5 to a $499/£449.99 price tag whilst the all-digital version sits at $399.99/£349.99.
Since specs and prices were both revealed, many PlayStation fans asked themselves “is $/£100 really worth being able to play discs?”. You may be doing that right now. Well, stop. It absolutely is worth that price. More so, even. Aside from cutting off the option to enjoy any of your PS4, blu-ray or 4K discs, going all-digital also means you’re needlessly limiting your options to the overly expensive marketplace that is the digital storefront when buying games.
With PlayStation and Xbox titles, a new game getting launched is like a new car leaving the sales lot, gradually decreasing in value overtime. Lower price tags slowly pop up in hopes of drawing sales after initial buzz dies down and the next big games are released. In the world of buying physical media, video game retailers (and Ebay sellers) are among the most determined in undercutting each other in price for the sake of earning your business. Contrarily, game prices on a console’s digital storefront will fall much slower simply because they don’t need to, either charging more for the convenience of being able to play a newly-bought game much quicker or because of the necessity of an all-digital console like that of the PS5, being tied down to only buying games directly from the PS Store.
Looks like game prices are going up.
— Ryan Brown 🎮 (@Toadsanime) September 16, 2020
Whilst the PlayStation Store does have digital game sales, they’re often much less impactful than that of retailers. If a game that launched at £49.99 dropped in price after a year to £34.99 on the PS Store, it’s likely you’d have been able to get a physical copy from a retailer at that price months prior. With it being confirmed that PlayStation 5 games will start selling for around $/£70 at launch, the need to shop around will be more prevalent than ever. Plus, you can’t sell or trade in digital copies of games. If funds are limited and you want to afford the next big release, trading in a physical game you’ve already completed definitely becomes a valued option.
If you buy a digital PS5, well before we start to see major price drops after the new generation’s first couple of years, you’ll be paying way more than that $/£100 you saved in the long run. Putting up a bit more money now will give your bank account a lot less heartache in the future and you an infinite amount of freedom in where you buy your games. Shop smart. Get that standard PS5.