2020 is the year of gaming. Despite numerous delays and the lack of a major game-focused conference this year, two brand-new consoles are hitting store shelves this holiday season. (Sorry, Atari VCS, You don’t count!)
The question on everyone’s mind is simple: Do you purchase on day one, or is it better to wait a few months and try to snag a bundle?
This article will look at both the next-gen PlayStation5 and the next-gen Xbox Series X, their launch lineups, backwards compatibility, and more to help you decide which, if either, is worth your money.
At the time of writing, neither Microsoft nor Sony has announced the exact release date or launch price of their next-gen consoles. The two companies are engaged in a game of chicken that has left consumers scrambling for information. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult to compare the two based on price alone.
Several leaks have suggested that the next-gen PlayStation 5 will retail for $499, with the discless version instead selling for $399. Given that the Xbox Series X is likely to release at a similar price point, it is a good idea to budget roughly $500 for each console. If you prefer an all-digital library, you may be able to snag one for less.
The launch lineup for both next-gen consoles is a bit scarce. While many titles have been shown, the vast majority have 2021 release dates. Even those with 2020 release dates that are not confirmed to be release titles are seeing pushbacks, most likely as a result of COVID-19 related issues.
One of the most notable titles for the PlayStation 5 was Arkane Studios’ Deathloop, but it has now been delayed until well into 2021. On the other hand, there are still notable titles like Astro’s Playroom that will launch with the console, with others (like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla) that will be available either at launch or shortly after.
The main game for the months following the release of the next-gen PlayStation 5 is Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the follow-up to the 2018 hit. Godfall is another PlayStation 5 exclusive that has gained a lot of attention online.
Many of the third-party games will be available at launch on both consoles. Assassin’s Creed, NBA 2K21, Watch Dogs: Legion, and others like these will be available soon following launch. If you’re looking for exclusive titles only, the PlayStation 5 currently has the better lineup.
On the exclusive front, the next-gen Xbox Series X doesn’t have a ton of options. The biggest title (and the most likely system-seller) was Halo Infinite, but that has now been pushed back into 2021. The only other true exclusive is Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and even that is only a timed exclusive—one with a rather niche audience.
Neither console’s launch titles are confirmed yet, but at the present moment, there’s not much in the way of new games that have to be played on day one.
The main reason at this moment to pick up a next-gen PlayStation or next-gen Xbox is for backwards compatibility. The Xbox Series X will launch with backwards compatibility for numerous original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One titles. According to Microsoft, it will be the most backwards-compatible console in history.
It will also have access to all games on the Game Pass library—well over 100 titles, all curated and chosen by Microsoft. Due to this, gamers on a budget can pick up the Xbox Series X and play their favorite titles from the current generation until newer games that take full advantage of the next-gen specs release.
The PlayStation 5 isn’t slouching in backwards compatibility, either, though. It has been confirmed to have backwards compatibility with PlayStation 4 games, as well as with PlayStation VR. Whether it will be backwards compatible with earlier generations is not clear yet.
Given what is known about the PlayStation 3 architecture, it isn’t likely that the PlayStation 5 will be able to run PS3 games natively. Sony will likely turn to another solution such as PlayStation Now to emulate, rather than actually “run” PlayStation 3 games.
What you should keep in mind is that your favorite games from this generation will run more smoothly and provide better performance on the next-gen consoles, so if you have a title that doesn’t run great that you’d like to try out, picking up one of the next-gen consoles could be worth it.
The technical specifications of the next-gen Xbox and next-gen PlayStation consoles have been the focus of most discussion about the two consoles. Here’s what has been shown so far.
The Xbox Series X has the following specs:
- Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU at 3.8 GHz
- 1 TB NVMe SSD
- 16 GB GDDR6 memory
- 12 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU
The PlayStation 5 has the following specs:
- AMD Zen 2 CPU at 3.5 GHz
- Custom 825 GB SSD
- 16 GB GDDR6 memory
- 10.28 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU
From a purely technical standpoint, the next-gen Xbox Series X is more powerful than the next-gen PlayStation 5. If performance and graphics are your focus, the Xbox Series X is the better pick of the two.
Which Console Should You Buy?
Both of the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles are monsters. The amount of power Microsoft and Sony have been able to pack into these machines is impressive, but deciding between them is impossible. That choice depends entirely on your personal preferences.
If you are a Sony fan with a huge PS4 library, then a PlayStation 5 will give you the ability to play all of your current games as well as new ones with better performance. If you’re an Xbox fan, then the Series X’s backwards compatibility will let you revisit old favorites.
However, if you’re going purely for exclusives and new titles, it might be better to wait until after launch for a bundle, as there are few titles worth purchasing a new console for, at least right now.