Pictured above, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, which are launching this November. (Photo courtesy of TechRadar)
Nick Barrieau –
This November, both Sony and Microsoft are preparing to launch their next generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles, which many Fitchburg State students are excited for. While these shiny-new consoles are jam packed with technical upgrades and improved visual fidelity, they also have some downsides to consider, which are always present when purchasing a brand new piece of technology. Both of these gaming titans, namely Xbox, are competing in some new and nontraditional ways, such as offering monthly payment plans for their consoles, providing game streaming services, and releasing digital only consoles with no disc drive.
The first consoles out of the gate will be Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S, which will both be releasing on Nov. 10. After stumbling at the launch of their last console, the Xbox One back in 2013, Microsoft has rebounded and returned with some unique and very different ideas that they are banking on. As you could already tell, there isn’t a singular next generation Xbox. Instead, Microsoft is releasing two separate models to try and appeal to a greater audience. The Xbox Series S is the more budget-friendly option out of the two consoles, since it will cost only $300. However, Microsoft cut out many features to get to this price point. The Series S has no disc drive and also has far weaker specs than the more powerful Series X. This means that the Series S will only work with digital games, and will not be able to match the graphical power, resolution, and framerates that the Series X will be able to churn out. One possible advantage is that the Series S is incredibly small due to having no disc drive, and Microsoft is claiming it will be the “smallest Xbox ever”. Overall, if you are a more casual gamer, or someone who doesn’t care about having “true” next generational graphics and power, the Series S is shaping up to be a perfect fit for you. Make sure you have good internet and the money to buy more storage though, because the Series S only has 512gb of storage, and you’ll have to download all your games.
The Xbox Series X sits on the other side of the power spectrum. This is the console Microsoft is offering up to satiate gamers who want mind-boggling graphics and next generation experiences. The Series X will have a disc drive, so physical games will work on it, and it will also support most Xbox games going all the way back to the original Xbox. This is a huge advantage that the next Xbox has over PlayStation, since the PS5 will only support PS4 backwards compatibility and none of the other former PlayStation systems. The Series X offers a 1TB SSD (solid state drive) for storage, and 16GB of RAM. Games will feature up to 4K resolutions and framerates reaching up to 120 frames per second. On top of everything else, the Series X will support 8K output, for when 8K televisions become more affordable. What’s not exactly affordable for a college student, would be the Xbox Series X, which will cost a meaty $500. Both Xbox models are using a “new” controller, however it features minimal change from the Xbox One controller design and still takes batteries.
Fitchburg State Junior and Xbox fan, Zachary Cyr, said, “I had no reason to get the Series X at launch, but I’ll be getting it as a Christmas gift, so I’ll probably get it within the first few weeks if it’s not sold out. The ability to play on the next gen with all the improved graphics is the main reason I want one, and to be able to play the next best thing.”
If you really wanted to invest in an Xbox Series S or Series X from day one on Nov. 10, but you find yourself short on cash, Microsoft is offering a monthly payment plan. It will cost either $24.99 a month for a Series S or $34.99 a month for a Series X, both for 24 months to spread out the total cost. These plans also include 24 month subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is one of the advantages Xbox has over PlayStation. Xbox Game Pass is Xbox’s answer to steaming services for gaming. Game Pass Ultimate gives subscribers the ability to download any of the hundreds of games on the service, with new games getting added frequently, and all Xbox developed games being added the day they release. Subscribers can also access many of these games on PC, and can now stream games to their phone to play on the go.
The Xbox Series launch lineup of exclusive games, since the latest release in their largest franchise: Halo Infinite was delayed into 2021. Besides Halo Infinite, Xbox didn’t have much for their launch lineup, and now the only exclusive games releasing at launch are Gears Tactics, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, and Tetris Effect: Connected. All three of these games have been released on other platforms already, or will be released on other platforms after they launch on Xbox. I imagine most Xbox fans will wait until the release of Halo Infinite to purchase either one of the next generation consoles. It is also worth noting that Halo Infinite will be playable on the previous generation of Xbox One consoles as well.
Following the extreme success PlayStation 4, Sony will be launching the PlayStation 5 on Nov. 12 with two models. Sony will offer a cheaper PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, however unlike the Xbox Series S, the only difference will be having no disc drive. In terms of specs and power, both models of the PS5 will be identical. The Digital Edition will retail at $400, while the standard PS5 will cost $500. As of the writing of this article, Sony has not offered a payment plan for the PS5. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are very similar in terms of their specifications, with a few key differences. The PS5 also has 16GB of RAM, but has only a 825GB SSD for storage. However, Sony is touting their ultra fast SSD as a game changer that will eliminate loading times from games, and also offer many other improvements. This SSD is so fast, that there is no compatible drive on the market that can be purchased to upgrade PS5 storage yet, which may become problematic for launch consumers. The PS5 also has 3D audio capabilities, which will allow players to hear sounds coming from every direction. On top of changing how players hear games, Sony is trying to expand upon ways for players to “feel” games with their new DualSense controller. The DualSense controller will offer haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, along with a built in microphone. Haptic feedback will expand upon rumble effects, and the adaptive triggers will be able to offer resistance for certain actions.
PlayStation is offering a decent selection of exclusive launch titles to their early adapters, including Demon’s Souls, Destruction All Stars, Godfall, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Both Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure will also be launching on the PS4 as well. The PS5 also includes Astro’s Playroom as a pre-downloaded game for anyone who purchases the console. FSU Senior, Caleb Huston, said, “Since many of the major releases are also coming to the PlayStation 4, which many students already have, I don’t see them getting a PS5 for the next year or so.” When asked about the price, Huston said, “I thought it would have been more expensive, so I’m pleasantly surprised.”
To combat Xbox Game Pass, Playstation will be offering a new service: the PlayStation Plus Collection, which will be available to all PS+ Subscribers on PS5 and offers many critically acclaimed PS4 games to download and play. Since the PS5 will be backwards compatible with most PS4 games, it will also support use of PSVR headsets and software. It is currently unknown whether Sony will continue to support the current PSVR unit with original games on the PS5.
While console launches always entice technology enthusiasts and serious gamers alike, it isn’t always the best idea to invest from day one. New technology often has either hardware or software issues that can ruin the new console experience, such as the original Xbox 360’s infamous “red ring of death”. At the same time, consoles are at their most expensive at launch, with the least features and games they will have throughout their lifecycle. It isn’t difficult to get lost in the hype cycle and constant excitement of new consoles, since they only release once every five to seven years and offer tantalizing new features. No matter whether you prefer Xbox or PlayStation, November will be sure to please fans of both consoles. Be sure to read The Point to stay informed and up to date on all your next generational console news.