For the last two console generations, there really wasn’t much separating PlayStation and Xbox. While Nintendo was out doing its own thing, ignoring the rest of the gaming world to do whatever weird stuff it felt like, the console lines for Sony and Microsoft were drawn on things like which 2-3 exclusive games a year people liked more, and which controller shape felt more comfortable.
But this console generation, something interesting has finally happened. Beyond just announcing yet another “fastest ___ console ever”, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 are embracing the things that make them different, further developing their own defined corners of the gaming world.
PlayStation has always been the place to play deep, immersive single-player games. God of War, The Last Of Us Part II, and Spider-Man were some of the best games of the last generation, and they were only available on PlayStation. But the new PS5 DualSense controller has really hammered that difference home.
I’m so excited to see the faces of people when they get to use the DualSense controller for the first time, because it’s one of those things you have to feel to believe. While I personally find the new shape less comfortable to hold than the DualShock 4, the adjustable resistance on the triggers and haptic feedback zones make it truly revolutionary.
After using it, I immediately wished I’d gotten NBA 2K21 on the PS5 instead of the Xbox Series X. It genuinely changes how much you feel a part of the game, and improves reactions and feedback. It’s wonderful on a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, because you can feel when the webs attach to the walls, and the triggers become harder to press based on the effort Miles has to exert. It just seems like it’ll translate really well into sports games.
Whether third-party developers continue to put in the work to take full advantage of all the PS5’s DualSense has to offer after the initial novelty wears off remains to be seen. But the power this has to foster deep immersion without having to resort to the discomfort of VR is huge.
On the greener side of the fence, Xbox is now the place for a family on a budget. Xbox Game Pass is a massive deal for those who all want to be able to play different games without having to buy the big, expensive titles outright. And you don’t even have to get a new Xbox Series console to play all the new stuff – that still works on Xbox One.
When folks do get their new Xbox Series consoles, though, all their old games and accessories can come with them, including the spectacular Xbox Adaptive Controller which made the Xbox accessible in a whole new, never before seen way.
While that makes it affordable for families and casual gamers, the Series X still has the power and performance of a serious console, not to mention all the cross-platform games and the pretty deep bench of first party developers making games for Xbox. With all of Microsoft’s new studio acquisitions, it’s going to be interesting to see how the balance of exclusive quality perception changes.
That’s not to say this is worth reigniting the console war over: both consoles are extremely good and have a lot to offer players. It’s just now the choice between them is going to be easier for a lot of people because each console has its own unique offering. Better yet, for those who want both, there’s now far more ways to justify that decision, too.