It’s been nearly five months since the PS5 and Xbox Series X debuted and, within mere moments, became extremely difficult to buy. But in spite of supply chain woes, arguments still rage whether you should buy Sony or Microsoft’s console.
My colleague Tom Prichard managed to snag an Xbox Series X, but has found he uses it only for watching 4K Blu-rays, given the lack of new exclusive games. On the other hand, gaming guru Marshall Honorof has noted that he tends to use his Xbox Series X more than his PS5. Well, I’m here to say scrap the “versus” augment. Even though I’ve previously been a vocal proponent of waiting to buy a new games console, you should get both, if you can.
I’m in the disgustingly lucky position of having both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. (Don’t worry. I paid the tech journalist equivalent of the Iron Price for them, by working myself into the ground to write masses of pre- and post-launch coverage.)
While I feel the console war narrative is rote and irrelevant, occasionally I’ve found myself wondering which system I’d grab if my flat apartment was on fire — after I got hold of my fantastic Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, at least. The Xbox Series X is lighter, but the gargantuan PS5 would serve as a good makeshift shelter.
In truth, I can’t really make a decision, as I use both consoles almost equally. For the first time in about a generation-and-a-half, it’s worth having both a Sony and a Microsoft console.
Xbox Series X marks the spot
It would be easy to dismiss the Xbox Series X as merely a graphical upgrade to the Xbox One, or more pertinently, the Xbox One X. But it’s a lot more than that.
Granted, the Xbox controller hasn’t changed much, and a lot of games are still available on Xbox One consoles. But the Series X is simply the best place to play Xbox games from across the generations. Comprehensive backwards compatibility and Auto HDR give older games a fresh look, and help to smooth out performance issues. Optimized Xbox One-era games are an utter joy to play at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, or higher.
The Series X came into its own for me with Xbox Game Pass getting ever more expansive, with the inclusion of more EA games and Bethesda titles. I’ve found myself playing games I’d normally dismiss. Game Pass and the speedy SSD of the Series X make it easy to bounce between games on the fly. I can dip into Forza 4 Horizon for a bit of irresponsible driving around a condensed Britain, then switch to the tight shooting galleries of Gears 5 or Halo: The Master Chief Collection in but a handful of seconds.
And when my fellow Xbox Series X owner Nathan Spendelow pops online, I can bounce from those games into some co-op multiplayer, and annoy the life out of him by forging my own path in Sniper Elite 4. Using Quick Resume for this, a function the PS5 simply doesn’t have, is an utter joy, and is a quietly transformative gaming experience.
PS5: A new gaming experience
As for the PS5, that’s my console for engaging games and first-party exclusives. While I’m not 100% convinced by the DualSense controller, the more I use it, the more I like it. And more games are starting to tap into the controller’s advanced haptics, to the extent that it feels properly innovative to use, even if it’s a little jarring at times.
The PS5’s interface, while far from perfect, feels fresh in comparison to the Xbox Series X’s UI, which is just a small evolution over the Xbox One’s. Sony’s console design may be divisive at best, but I like the way it lights up, and it’s also super quiet.
Mix all that with more compelling exclusive games like the remastered Demon’s Souls — a game I need to prepare for with a strong drink at hand, and a can-do attitude — and the PS5 feels like a special-occasion games console. Heck, even playing the PS4-era The Last of Us Remastered on the PS5 feels special, with lightning fast loading and the DualSense’s built-in mic making a satisfying click every time I turn the Joel/Ellie’s flashlight on or off. Oh, and the patched God Of War feels superb on the PS5.
In short, the PS5 and Xbox Series X both offer different and equally compelling gaming experiences. With more exclusive games on the horizon for both consoles, such as Fable 4, Horizon Forbidden West and Deathloop, the systems can only get better.
Obviously, the major hurdle is tracking down a PS5 restock or finding where to buy the Xbox Series X. But if you get lucky with one, don’t dismiss the other.