The next-generation consoles are drawing ever closer, with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 slowly unveiling themselves to the public in the form of gameplay showcases, spec reveals and rumours making their way across the internet.
While many elements of both consoles remain shrouded in mystery, the cards in each player’s hands are slowly being dealt in the form of small yet unexpected announcements and reveals in recent months. Things are starting to heat up something fierce.
Sony has placed a deliberate focus on specs, hosting a lengthy presentation filled with detailed jargon and spreadsheets intended for developers, leaving the more casual consumers awaiting something more digestible.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is dealing in terms that are easy to understand alongside a surprisingly ample amount of gameplay for titles coming to its next-gen footage, and PS5, since a number of them are multiplatform.
Release dates – When are PS5 and Xbox Series X coming out?
PS5 and Xbox Series X remain slated for release during Holiday 2020. However, ongoing manufacturing concerns due to Covid-19 mean we could see this change. However, both companies have remained steadfast thus far in both their messaging and launch intentions.
System specs – How powerful will the PS5 and Xbox Series X be?
Here’s the full comparison table of PS5 vs Xbox Series X specs:
|Xbox Series X||PS5|
|CPU||8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU||8x Zen 2 cores @ 3.5GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU||12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, 36CUs @ 2.23GHz|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320mb bus||16 GB GDDR6/ 256-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||10 GB @ 560 GB/s, 6 GB @ 336 GB/s||448GB/s|
|Internal Storage||1 TB Custom NVME SSD||Custom 825 GB SSD|
|I/O throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)||5.5 GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)|
|Expandable Storage||1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)||NVMe SSD Slot|
|External Storage||USB 3.2 External HDD Support||USB HDD Support|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive|
|Performance Target||4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS||–|
The two next-gen machines include somewhat similar GPU and CPU load-outs, however they are custom-built, and this means measuring power at this stage is quite difficult.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be capable of real-time ray tracing. Ray tracing is a new light rendering technique and is only available on high-end gaming PCs at the moment, requiring a considerable amount of power to produce without tanking performance.
Sony and Microsoft have long stressed that the SSD storage plays a massive part in next-gen hardware. An SSD will significantly reduce loading times and enables developers to include far more (and/or more detailed) assets in their games. It should also ensure the user interface is faster and more responsive when handling multiple applications.
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Design – What will the PS5 and Xbox Series X look like?
For Microsoft and Xbox, this question has been asked and answered. We know the exact design of the Xbox Series X and its controller – offering a new take on the console form-factor with a standing cuboid design.
While the new Xbox console is quite a big departure for designs past, the controller is sticking with the manufacturer’s tried and tested (and mostly revered) controller formula. However, a much-needed share button is being implemented which will make the process of capturing videos and screenshots much, much easier.
For those worried that the standing design of the Xbox Series X may impede their carefully thought out home setup, it can be used on its side and should fit into most existing entertainment centres. There’s also the rumoured Xbox Series S, which will apparently be a smaller console with specs more akin to Xbox One X than its fully-fledged older sibling.
As we lead up to the planned Holiday 2020 release dates for the two next-gen consoles, Sony has trailed behind Microsoft in terms of product reveals – but it now seems like it may be on its way to catching up. We’ve finally been given an idea of what the PS5 design will look, in the form of the new DualSense controller (RIP DualShock).
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The DualSense reimagines PlayStation’s traditional controller design for the PS5 – with a frankly more Xbox-y take. Before we get onto the colour scheme – and we will get on to the colour scheme –- the shape of the controller looks ever slow slightly more angular and chunkier. We get the redesigned shoulder buttons, said to offer a new level of haptic feedback.
On first viewing, it may look like the analog sticks remain unchanged but, after taking a closer look, the edges do seem to be more reminiscent of the texture on current Xbox One controllers. They also appear to be a tinsy bit closer together than before, although our eyes could be playing tricks on us.
Onto the colour scheme and, while the new white-black two-tone style is striking in its own right, perhaps the most interesting thing is the implications for the PS5 itself. Does this mean the PS5 console will come equipped with this new futuristic design? This would be a departure from the all-black designs of Sony’s launch consoles ever since the PS2.
The controller also seems to ditch the traditional coloured face buttons – appearing to opt for a light grey look. Elsewhere, the Share button has now been replaced with Create, the lightbar is integrated around the sides of the new look touchpad and a new microphone array for chatting with friends without the need for a headset.
Virtual reality – Will the PS5 and Xbox Series X support it?
While a new headset hasn’t been confirmed to be in development, Sony has said that PlayStation VR will be compatible for PS5. Whether the Move Controllers and all existing titles will carry over remains unknown. Here’s hoping, since the company has build up a robust library of virtual reality experiences these past few years.
Conversely, the Xbox One X does not support VR – it’s consistently not been a priority area for Microsoft consoles. This trend is continuing into the next-gen, as it’s been confirmed that the Xbox Series X won’t have VR. Outspoken Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, controversially argued that “no one is asking for VR”.
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Backward compatibility – Can you play your old games on the PS5 and Xbox Series X?
Yes! Well, Sony has announced that PS5 will be backwards compatible with all PS4 titles, and the console will experience a slow-transition with several cross-generational releases. A similar thing happened back in 2013, so this is no huge surprise.
However, it remains unclear whether the PS5 will apply similar upgrades to older titles like the PS4 Pro does with Boost Mode, bolstering performance without the need for a dedicated patch. If this does materialise, it will be brilliant news.
A patent recently filed by Sony hinted at backwards compatibility for all PlayStation platforms, teasing the possibility of PS5 acting as a time capsule of sorts for thousands of games. Nothing concrete has been confirmed, but speculation is rife.
Microsoft has been even more precise on backwards compatibility. You’ll be able to play any previous Xbox game, going way back to the original Xbox console, on your Xbox Series X. Some games made for Xbox One are also set to get an Xbox Series X boost, with Gears of War 5 being the only confirmed title thus far. Accessories will carry over too!
We’re still waiting to see if the PS5 can match this. Backwards compatibility with the PS4 is excellent, but what about the PS3 and even the PS2 and PS1? A lot of older PS2 titles have started appearing in the PlayStation Store recently, so we’re hoping that this is a sign that Sony is working hard towards comprehensive backwards compatibility.
Microsoft also has “Smart Delivery” which provides players with a free upgrade on certain games if they own them on older platforms. A number of games have been confirmed thus far including Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon. This list will continue to grow moving forward, too.
Games – What can PS5 and Xbox Series X games we expect?
There’s a surprisingly robust list of games coming to next-generation consoles, although they’re also likely to appear on PS4 and Xbox One. In terms of Sony exclusives, the PS5 could eventually be home to the likes of The Last of Us Part 2, Ghosts of Tsushima and other Sony blockbusters. We’re also keeping our fingers crossed for Knack 3.
Sony’s purchase of Insomniac Games means PlayStation fans should also expect a new Spider-Man title, following the massive success of Marvel’s Spider-Man. A reveal trailer for Godfall showed off another PS5 exclusive, but the snippets seen so far have got a pretty mixed reception. Cross-generational title, Cyberpunk 2077, is likely to be one of the leading games on the platform at launch.
Microsoft has a smaller library of titles in the works, with only Halo Infinite and Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga confirmed as high-profile exclusives for launch day. However, it sounds likely that the game could simultaneously launch on PC. Yet, given how many studios Microsoft has acquired over the last year, the Xbox Series X has a potentially stunning library waiting in the wings.
Smart Delivery also gives Microsoft a major advantage moving forward, with Sony yet to adopt a similar system for its platform. This feature will provide players with free next-gen versions of specific games if they’re already owned on Xbox One or Windows 10. Confirmed games include Cyberpunk 2077, Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. If more publishers jump on the bandwagon, this is a mighty feather in Microsoft’s cap.
Related: Cyberpunk 2077
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Price – How much will PS5 and Xbox Series X cost?
Both platforms are keeping their cards close to their chests when it comes to price. Currently, we’re waiting eagerly to see which breaks cover first.
No formal announcements have been made regarding the price of PS5 and Xbox Series X, although they’ll both be competing for the cash of gamers at launch. Speaking to Wired, system architect Mark Cerny said the PS5 price would be “appealing to gamers.”
“I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set.” But with the high-end hardware that both consoles are flaunting, you can expect these machines to be more expensive than the current-generation consoles when they first launched. We’re predicting something around £400.
Who would you like win the PS5 vs Xbox Series X showdown? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter @trustedreviews.