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PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X – Which next-gen console is for you?

Team Sony or Team MS?
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You’ve saved up for it and in 2 months time, you’re ready to throw money at your nearest retailer for that brand new console fix. But have you asked yourself – which next-gen console is for you?

For a moment when September began, we were not sure whether or not the next generation would get delayed or continue as planned. Just like an exciting TV saga, in much awaited fashion, leaks of the Xbox Series X and Series S forced Microsoft to reveal their cards showing aggressive pricing options for both the Xbox Series X and Series S at $499 and $299 respectively. Like a poorly kept secret, everyone even knew of the existence of the Series S even before it was forcibly revealed.

Sony, firing back, has announced their pricing details as well at $499 USD for the Standard Edition and $399 USD for the Digital Edition.

With four consoles and two companies to choose from, we’re here to lay out the groundwork and hopefully provide an answer to the question of which next-gen console is for you. Of course if you had the budget for it, why not buy both! Not everybody can, and if you have to choose only one, this will help you out.

Xbox Series X: The Powerhouse

The most powerful next-gen console, the Xbox Series X pulls no punches with their tech. They’re boasting teraflops, RAM, ray tracing, and all other tech mumbo jumbo that go past non-tech savvy gamers’ heads. The bottom line is if you want a console that screams power without breaking a sweat, the Series X is the right console for you.

With a competitive price of $499 USD, you’d be hard pressed to find a PC that can perform at this level and price point. It is just not possible at this point in time. Compared against the entry level cost of a gaming PC or laptop which would be around $700 and extends to as high as $4,000, the Xbox Series X is a convenient way to secure a powerful plug-and-play box without the high prices and tech know how to set up a definitive gaming experience.

At this point, however, with only a handful of games at launch and even losing Halo Infinite as a launch title, securing a Series X is basically saving it up for the future barrage of Microsoft exclusives. Remember all those studios that Microsoft acquired through the years? They’re prepping up and in a year or two, we’ll finally see the fruits of their labor and even Sony must be shuddering at the though.

The Series X will also get you the best graphical performance for multiplatform games starting day one. It would also be the next best place to play AAA titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 versus that of a full spec gaming PC or laptop at launch.

If you are a longtime Xbox gamer and have kept all your games from the original Xbox to the most current Xbox One, its backwards compatibility would benefit you greatly as almost all your games will be playable on launch. Some backwards compatible games would receive a graphical enhancements, sweetening the deal. Furthermore, Game Pass is a really great service. How great? How about free Bethesda games?

Personally, this console will reach full potential very soon, not just at launch. All the benefits listed outweigh the cost, but for now, unless you really feel the need to make your current gen games look fantastic while waiting for future titles, the Series X can wait a bit, especially if you have an Xbox One. It can “wait”, but the need to purchase eventually is almost assured.

PS5 Disc Edition: The Classic

The brand strength of the Playstation really carries its weight throughout this debate. For every benefit I would list for the Xbox Series X, just the first party pedigree alone of Playstation is enough to counteract any spec showcase. The power isn’t up to par, but what you’ll get is the continued promise of high quality first party games from Sony’s studios like God of War, The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, Uncharted… Hell, Horizon Forbidden West is even part of the first wave of exclusives about to come into play. 

Call me cynical, but the quality of games is really what pushes console sales and the service/benefits of said console is mostly secondary. Personally, I can count how many consoles I’ve purchased due to the exclusivity of games alone and it started with PS1 for Final Fantasy 7 even if I had more games I could’ve picked up for the Nintendo 64 back in the day. The trend continued from there: PS2 for Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X, PSP for Crisis Core, Xbox 360 for Lost Odyssey, PS Vita for Persona 4 Golden, Nintendo Switch for Octopath Traveller, and a PS4 for Persona 5. After acquiring said console, we can just hope that the console would have enough new pedigrees for it and the behavior just carries over. Right now, from all the showcases from both parties, PS5 has the most exclusive games I could see myself playing in the future (with the future possibility of Final Fantasy 7 Remake 2 coming out with timed exclusivity on the PS5).

Historically, the best and the brightest aren’t usually the most popular when it comes to gaming. Sega’s hardware was far superior to Nintendo during the Master System and Genesis days, but Nintendo was the market leader in the late 80s up the mid-90s. Sega lost again to Sony Playstation with both their Sega Saturn and Dreamcast being outperformed even with better specs. Playstation, with the exception of the PS3 who boasted its tech more than its library, continued to perform well in the latter generations. It’s always been about the quality of the games and which console secures exclusivity. The name of the game mostly hasn’t changed, although Microsoft disagrees with this strategy.

Will sticking to traditional techniques bite Sony years down the line? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is for certain, there’s almost no way you can go wrong with a PS5 purchase and that’s a fact.

PS5 Digital Edition: The Digital

Unlike the Xbox, there is only one difference between both PlayStation 5 models. For $100 more, the savings you would incur from purchasing a digital console would push you to miss out on not just the physical copy of the game, but also from the freedom of picking up a PS5 game outside of PSN. That’s a big consideration for some, for some not so.

I’m primarily a digital gamer from 2012 onwards with the advent of full AAA games coming out on Xbox Live and with the improvement of the PSN platform in 2013 thereafter. The only physical games I’ve picked up recently were for the Nintendo Switch Lite as storage is an issue. The PS4 discs are merely glorified installer discs at that point and the biggest benefit is that you save on internet data versus that of digital use.

For some savings, I don’t see the benefit of going fully digital when it severely limits my options in where to acquire games. While the PSN has been beneficial for me as a gamer, I would pay the extra cash to widen my options even if I seldom pick up physical copies. Plus the fact that both editions come equipped with the same 825 GB SSD, spend the dough and save on physical copies of the games down the line if they’re readily available for you.

Also, if PSN somehow goes down for extended periods, well, good luck downloading that 50GB game.

Xbox Series S: The Impulse Buy

The biggest draw of the Series S is the fact that you can pick up a next-gen console for chump change. At $299, you cannot beat this value. If you’re strapped for cash, and you really need to have a console on day one, the Series S is the way to go.

However, it is digital only and doesn’t have the same power as the full fat Xbox Series X, unlike both PlayStation 5 models. As argued in the PS5 digital, the console locks you into having Microsoft as your only distributor. Having no disc drive, it limits your backwards compatibility to your digital purchases. Plus with its price point, it will definitely work as the next-gen version of Xbox One S, limiting its capabilities to that of an entry level console. If you want more options and graphical improvements, your only option would be to upgrade, forcing you to shell out more money in the long run.

Though that being said, due to these difficult times, there’s still a benefit of the Series S in terms of its price point. If you haven’t upgraded your TV from 1080p to 4K, it’s a definite plus. It’s a perfect entry level console as well if you’ve missed out on the last two generations and would like to get back on the console train. By this point, you probably don’t have physical copies of the games in the last two generations and unless you’re willing to scour stores for copies of old games, the digital library is there for you to catch up. It’s also a great second console if you plan on buying both without breaking the bank.

And so with all this talk, we ask again, which next-gen console is for you?

Buy an Xbox Series X because…

  • You want to get max specs and performance without taking out a second mortgage for a decked out PC.
  • Disc drive gives easy access to the biggest gaming collection out of all the consoles due to its backwards compatibility.
  • Game Pass opens up to a large quantity of games including future first party and third party games on day one.
  • You don’t mind those tried and tested AAA exclusives that Sony parades around and instead may want something different and something “western”.

Buy a PS5 disc edition because…

  • High quality of first party games at launch: Spiderman: Miles Morales, Godfall, and Demons Souls.
  • First wave of first party titles promising: Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and Ratchet and Clank. Even God of War.
  • You can rely on the promise of great games year in and year out, some with PlayStation exclusive deals and content. It is Sony, after all, and almost every year they have legitimate Game of the Year candidates.
  • More options with second hand game purchases through physical copies from local retailers and groups.

Buy a PS5 digital edition because…

  • You want the same PS5 for $100 less.
  • You’re primarily a digital gamer and have no need for physical copies.
  • You’ve got a great internet connection.
  • It’s a much better console spec-wise to a Xbox Series S.

Buy a Xbox Series S because…

  • It has the perfect price point for an entry level console.
  • You have no plans on upgrading your 1080P HD TV.
  • You game casually but still want a taste of the future.
  • You’re planning to buy a PS5 but also want an Xbox as a second console on a limited budget, so as not to miss out on all these games.

At the end of the day, purchasing a console at launch is no easy feat. They’re usually way over the price point you’ve paid for on your last console and the titles usually lack in quality at launch. Given that the battle for this next generation is being drawn out at its endgame, Microsoft pulled a fast one with its aggressive pricing. Sony, backed by its pedigree, is relying on its fan base to push its sales.

In the end, it’s all about your needs and what would be the best possible buy. If you want the specs then get the Series X, but if you want the games, PS5 has the library, and if you want the cheapest console there’s the Series S.

There’s a market for everyone these days and at the end of the day… Why not both?

Author

Vincent Ternida moved Vancouver, Canada in 2006 and called it home ever since. He spends the lockdown catching up with his Japanese RPGs, writing his new manuscripts, and figuring out why he suddenly became the main character of the latest Haruki Murakami novel.

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