PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X shootout: Which is the best next-gen console?

Find out which console comes out on top as the two titans go toe to toe

The new console generation has arrived! Both systems are now available as of November 12, with the PlayStation 5 launching slighter later in some select regions on November 19. We’ve reviewed both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, coming to a verdict on their merits individually – but how do they compare and which one should you pick up for holiday gaming sessions? We’re going to run through all of the pros and cons for both, on everything from the price to specs, before finally arriving at the winner.

Follow along as we provide you with everything you need to know about Microsoft and Sony’s foray into the next-generation, to hopefully help you make that all-important decision when you’re shopping for a new console.

Price

PS5
Sony’s PlayStation 5. Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The Xbox Series X and the standard edition of the PlayStation 5 both cost £449.99, which would make many surmise that this round might end up in a tie – especially if you care about having a disc drive on your console. But Sony has an ace up its sleeve with the disc-less Digital Edition of the PlayStation 5 at £359.99. Moreover, you won’t be compromising in regards to technical ability as you would be with the Xbox Series S at the (extremely frugal) price of £249.99.

For the extra £110, the PS5 Digital Edition features a meaningful upgrade in terms of specifications. For my money, the disc-less PlayStation 5 is the best next-gen deal. Given the apparent trend towards digital purchasing, and if you aren’t fussed about trading in your completed games or picking up pre-owned physical copies of new titles, then it would make sense to drop the disc drive and save some cash.

Winner: PlayStation 5

Technical Spec

xbox series x exploded
Image: Microsoft / Xbox

This is where things get a little tricky. After going hands-on with both consoles, they seem on par with each other in terms of power. Both are capable of 8K (whenever that becomes feasible) and 4K at 120 Hz on select HDMI 2.1-capable televisions. The leap from 30 to 60/120fps in games is just as meaningful as the jump from 1080p to 4K, and both Sony and Microsoft impress on this front. The fluidity is pretty astounding across the board.

If we’re talking raw horsepower though? The situation is all-too-similar for both. The average consumer will likely not even notice the difference, and we don’t have the boundary-breaking next-gen library just yet that can test them both to their limits. However, I think when we crunch the numbers, the Series X just might have this one.

Similarly, both consoles feature a lightning-fast SSD, which replaces the typical hard drives of yore. This means that the systems boot in literal seconds, and can keep games suspended in-situ for when you want to hop in and play as soon as possible.

However, the loading times on the Series X are a tad more impressive than the PlayStation 5 in some cases, and the Quick Resume feature which lets you swap between a number of suspended games at once gives Microsoft an edge. Add the fact that the Series X has more usable storage space by default, and Xbox takes the win for this category.

Winner: Xbox Series X

Peripherals

PlayStation
DualSense controller. Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The new Xbox Series X controller is a superb revision of one of the greatest peripheral designs of all time. Microsoft has taken an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with its controller this generation, and you’re not going to grumble when you go hands-on. The textured grips and triggers give it a luxury feel, and it does seem as if the haptics have had something of a bump in quality over the Xbox One controller range. Having a USB-C charging port is another immense boon.

However, Sony has really changed the game with its controller this generation. The DualSense is a masterfully crafted piece of technology, and its premier bells and whistles do a great job of ushering you into the next-generation, instead of reminding you of the past.

The haptics present in the PS5 controller are simply mind-blowing, from the way you can feel the direction of the wind and the ebb and flow of the tide in Astro’s Playroom to the clink of a sword against armour and the emanating buzz of an enchanted weapon in Demon’s Souls. It brings so much to the table, more than you might think. This battle is a no contest. With an awesome mic array and many other user-friendly features, it’s a decisive win for the PlayStation 5.

Winner: PlayStation 5

Design

Xbox
Xbox Series X. Credit: Microsoft

Both of the new consoles have opted for somewhat left-field designs. The Xbox looks like a small fridge, and the PS5 looks like a spaceship. If they went to the same school, they wouldn’t be friends, so it’s tricky to say which is best, given their divisive nature.

The Xbox is inoffensive and suave – it blends in nicely with the average TV setup and is quite a gorgeous little unit. The PS5, on the other hand, feels like it landed on the earth via meteor. It’s been designed to stand out. It’s big, bold and beautiful, and will draw the attention of anyone in the room. I don’t mind it too much, but some people have a problem with how it looks.

The PS5 is for the futurists, those so proud of their hobby that they don’t care who knows about it. It’s an absurd machine, but it reflects a fundamentally absurd, ground-breaking hobby, so it feels kind of right that it looks that way, at least in my eyes.

Beyond the physical design of each unit, the internal UI and systems are also worth mentioning. The Series X looks pretty much the same as the last generation. In contrast, the PS5’s interface is as futuristic as the console itself, with particle spray log-in pages and the unobtrusive activity centre letting you “get to the good bit” of games quickly and access everything you need without feeling like you’ve been pulled out of the immersion.

All in all, it’s a close one. It’s going to come down to your personal preference. Is your living room more suited to an extravagant console or a nonchalant one?

Winner: Tie

Exclusives

FFXVI
FFXVI. Image: Square Enix

The Xbox Series X suffered a massive blow when Halo Infinite was delayed to 2021. It’s left a tricky void in regards to exclusive games that has yet to be filled. Especially at launch, the PlayStation 5 dances around the Series X in regards to exclusive titles. On day one, you’ve got hotly-anticipated exclusive games like Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (although the latter is also available on PS4). Having played both of them, I can safely say they’re excellent – Demon’s Souls especially is a genuinely stunning showcase of what the new console can do, with its 60fps fluidity and tremendous vistas.

The Series X doesn’t really have an answer for this, beyond the unparalleled catalogue of the Xbox Game Pass service. Most of the launch games are timed exclusives, such as Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Tetris Effect: Connected, titles that will come to other systems in the future. If you want something that feels “next-gen” to play, you’re stuck with third-party games. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla look and play with incredible flair on the Xbox Series X. But it doesn’t have a Demon’s Souls of its own to really wow consumers with and draw them in with something they can’t get anywhere else. This isn’t really Microsoft’s strategy anymore honestly, but exclusives still do matter to many consumers.

Regardless, the future is bright for the Series X. Games like Halo Infinite and Psychonauts 2 are coming soon, and Avowed and Fable are there in the far-flung future, but there’s nothing too tangible on the horizon. Even then, Sony is still one step ahead of Microsoft with a new Ratchet & Clank game, Horizon Forbidden West, Deathloop and Gran Turismo 7 in 2021. Not to mention Final Fantasy XVI is also on the way too, seemingly in the near future. The deck is stacked!

Winner: PlayStation 5

The Verdict

It’s unbelievably close between the two big players this generation, more so than ever. Both consoles are fantastic pieces of technology that provide excellent value for money, especially if you’re an early next-gen adopter. However, I think the PlayStation 5 does edge out the Xbox Series X just slightly.

The PS5 feels like more of a step forward than the Xbox, which hasn’t been revised too much but has the power where it counts. You’re getting games that feel inherently “next-gen” on the PS5, nurtured by a mind-blowing controller in the DualSense, providing all of the immersion you could ever ask for. If you want to feel the potential of the future and get that wow factor, I think the PS5 is your best bet right now, especially at the excellent £359.99 entry point for the Digital Edition.

Overall winner: PlayStation 5

The Xbox Series X is now available worldwide. The PlayStation 5 is available in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. It will only launch in the UK and the rest of the world from November 19.

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