The ninth generation of console gaming is set to kick-off this November, with both Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S and Series X consoles launching, as well as Sony’s Playstation 5 hitting store shelves; but deciding on which one to buy is no easy decision. So, we’ve broken down what you need to know to help make your console-decision a whole lot easier.
What are they?
Breaking it down as simply as possible, the Playstation 5 is Sony’s successor to the PS4, which features two different models: the standard 1TB model with a disc drive, and a digital-only PS5 model with no disc drive and a slightly lower profile.
The Xbox Series X is the big-daddy of the Xbox line-up, with a 1TB hard-drive and disc drive, while the Series S is a smaller, discless version with a 512GB hard drive and a little less oomph in terms of power.
Release Date & Price
Below are the prices for each console model, along with the South African release dates:
- Xbox Series X: R11,999 (10 November 2020)
- Xbox Series S: R6,999 (10 November 2020)
- Playstation 5 standard edition – R11,999 (19 November 2020)
- Playstation 5 Digital-Only Discless model – R9,999 (19 November 2020)
Under the Hood
Playstation 5: The PS5 (and its digital alternative) are rocking an AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz, 16GB of GDDR6 memory, and a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 10.28 TFLOPs of processing power. The digital-only Playstation 5 ditches the disc-drive in order to save cost and space.
Xbox Series X: The Series X is a processing beast, with AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures providing 12 teraflops of power. It supports ray tracing, it can render up to 4K (3,840-by-2,160) resolution at up to 120 frames per second, and it’s “8K ready,” which indicates it can upscale to that resolution.
Xbox Series S: The Series S uses the same AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture at the Series X, but it has only 4 TFLOPS of processing power. It also has 10GB of RAM compared to the X’s 16GB, meaning the Series S has a much lower rendering resolution ceiling of 1440p. It can still handle ray tracing, and supports 1440p at up to 120 frames per second, but games won’t render at 4K. The system still upscales to 4K, so it’ll look fine on your 4K TV, but don’t expect quite as much sharpness, smoothness, or overall detail.
On the digital front, Microsoft’s GamePass is a winner of a service, providing Xbox gamers with over a hundred games to download and play, including all first-party Xbox titles. Microsoft also dropped a bombshell earlier this year, announcing that Electronic Arts’ digital game subscription service, EA Play, will be bundled with Xbox GamePass going forward. GamePass Ultimate is priced at R149 p/m, while standard GamePass is R99 p/m.
Playstation’s PS Plus membership gives PS gamers two free games per month, although these are random, along with discounts on other games. Sony did announce the PS Plus Collection, which is bundled with the normal PS Plus membership and will allow gamers to play a handful of first-party PS exclusives and other big-name titles, such as God of War and Uncharted 4. At launch, there will be 18 games available on the PS Plus Collection.
What about the games themselves?
Of course, as is the case with every console, the value really comes down to the games you can play on it. Both Microsoft and Sony have been somewhat quiet on the announcements of exclusives, but if you’ve been a fan of either company’s exclusives in past generations (such as the God of War franchise on Playstation or the Gears of War series on Xbox, for example), you can expect sequels or follow-ups to those respective games on the new systems.
Smart delivery/free upgrades: Also good to keep in mind is what Microsoft is calling ‘Smart Delivery’, which essentially means that Microsoft will automatically enable you to download the ‘best’ version of any game if you’ve already purchased it on a previous generation, i.e. if you buy Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla on Xbox One, you also get it on Xbox Series X/S. Sony is doing this too with most cross-generational PS4/PS5 games, although they don’t seem to have a buzzword for it.
In terms of launch line-ups for both consoles, what we do know is the following:
All PS5 Launch Games
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Astro’s Playroom
- Borderlands 3
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
- Demon’s Souls
- Destruction AllStars
- Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
- DIRT 5
- Just Dance 2021
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered
- Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
- NBA 2K21
- Observer: System Redux
- Planet Coaster: Console Edition
- Poker Club
- Sackboy: A Big Adventure
- The Pathless
- Watch Dogs Legion
All Xbox Series X/S launch games:
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Smart Delivery)
- Borderlands 3 (Smart Delivery)
- Bright Memory 1.0
- Cuisine Royale (Smart Delivery)
- Dead by Daylight (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
- DIRT 5 (Smart Delivery)
- The Falconeer (Smart Delivery)
- Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Gears 5 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Gears Tactics (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Grounded (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- King Oddball (Smart Delivery)
- Maneater (Smart Delivery)
- Manifold Garden (Smart Delivery)
- NBA 2K21
- Observer: System Redux
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Planet Coaster (Smart Delivery)
- Sea of Thieves (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- Tetris Effect: Connected (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- The Touryst (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)
- War Thunder (Smart Delivery)
- Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
- Watch Dogs: Legion (Smart Delivery)
- WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (Smart Delivery)
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Smart Delivery)
- Yes, Your Grace (Smart Delivery)
Which one to buy?
Although the Xbox Series X is more powerful on paper, the specs should (almost) never lead a decision for a new console – the game library should. At the end of the day, the correct purchase is the one that will give you the most value, so more important than ‘which console outmuscles which’, is rather how many exclusive games are there from either platform that catch your eye. Both have impressive games when looking at large studios, but are also providing support when it comes to innovative indie games.
Before making a decision, it’s a good idea to plot out which current and upcoming games you’re looking forward to the most, and if more of them are exclusive to one or another console, that should lead your decision. If exclusives aren’t going to play a part in your decision-making, then price-point and technical expectations should play a role. If you want to dive into next-gen at the best possible price and don’t mind not having the highest resolution, the Xbox Series S is an affordable and more than capable next-gen gaming machine.
Which console are you leaning towards? Let us know by commenting below and tweeting us @MenStuffZA!