By Dillon O’Toole
Pre-orders: the final barrier. These are the hurdles of the quarantine gamers. Their mission—to find a new gaming console; to seek out new games and developers; to boldly go where no console gamer has gone before.
Besides being an excuse to ripoff the Star Trek opening monologue, this article was written to remind anyone who may have forgotten that November’s cold winds bring with them the release of the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S. That’s right, this November is going to have massive division amongst young people over petty differences and disputes, and also the presidential election is happening. All jokes aside, if you have an interest in getting a new console, you’re going to have to make a decision. While making this decision, you’ll have to consider what traits are most important to you among what the consoles are offering.
Let’s talk about the availability of the consoles. Both consoles sold out quickly during their respective pre-order periods and both are out of stock at the time of writing. Both Microsoft and Sony have assured customers that more consoles will be available at the time of launch, but if you weren’t one of the individuals who managed to get a pre-order on the consoles, it seems likely that the next chance you will have to buy a console is on their respective release days (November 10th for the Xbox Series X/S and November 12th for the Playstation 5).
Microsoft and Sony are each releasing two different versions of their upcoming gaming systems, one of which has a disc drive and the other which is digital-only. For both companies, the console with the disk drive will be the most expensive option at $500. Playstation’s digital-only console, the Playstation 5 Digital Edition, is being sold at the retail price of $400 while Microsoft’s digital-only console, the Xbox Series S, is being sold at a price of $300. Both versions of the Playstation 5 have the same specifications (excluding the absence of the disc tray), but the two versions of the Xbox have different specifications, with the Series X (the one with a disc tray) being more powerful than the Series S.
In an ideal world, everyone would be able to comfortably buy both consoles. The world we live in is certainly not an ideal one, and as such, it is necessary to think about which console would be better for you. For some people, this decision may be obvious as they may already have a significant investment in the previous generation of consoles and will want to carry that investment over into the new generation. For others, the decision may not be so obvious. To help those who may be undecided, the following sections will list some pros of each respective next-generation console.
One of the biggest draws to Playstation are the exclusive games. The Playstation 5 is no exception, as it already has several games that are part of critically acclaimed series coming exclusively to the console. Some of these exclusive games are Demon Souls (a remaster of the precursor to the Dark Souls franchise), Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West (a sequel to the 2017 game Horizon Zero Dawn), Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. On top of the new exclusives coming to the Playstation 5, Sony has announced that many Playstation 4 games will be backward compatible with the Playstation 5 so those of you with older games will be able to keep playing your favorite games from the previous generation. One final point is, as mentioned earlier, that both the disc and disc-less Playstation 5s have the same specifications, so no matter which version of the console you have, you will get the same gaming experience.
While Xbox may not have had as many blockbuster exclusives over the lifespan of the Xbox One, they seem to be course-correcting themselves for this generation with multiple purchases of development studios. Some of the exclusive games developed by these studios are Halo Infinite, Fable, Forza Motorsport, State of Decay 3, and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. On top of Microsoft’s previously-owned studios, their most recent acquisition was the $7.5 billion purchase of ZeniMax Media that gives Microsoft ownership of several iconic franchises such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Dishonored. While these series have not been announced to be exclusive to Xbox at this time, it can be expected that these games will appear on the Xbox Game Pass. The Xbox Game Pass is one of the ways that Microsoft is aiming to create a more affordable gaming experience. The Xbox Game Pass works much like Netflix does; you pay a monthly subscription and in return get access to various games that Microsoft pays to have on the platform, as well as any first-party Microsoft game. In addition to the Game Pass, Microsoft is also offering a program called All-Access in which one could buy a new Xbox console by paying a monthly fee over the course of two years that includes the console itself as well as a Game Pass subscription. To finish off the Xbox section, the new Xbox consoles will be backward compatible with all games currently playable on the Xbox One (excluding Kinect games) which includes games from both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360.
For those of you unsure of which console to buy, I hope the very brief overview of each console has helped you come closer to a decision. As this is just a brief overview, I would urge you to look further into the information available on each console before making a purchase. To those of you who have already decided, good luck getting a console, and happy gaming.