With a few rounds of stock drops and some extra releases/next-gen updates, I imagine most of you have had a chance to live with your consoles for a little while. So after all the hype, how’s your PS5 or Xbox Series X (or S!) treating you?
The positioning of both consoles was always pretty clear from the outset. The PS5 pitched itself as offering transformative, generational change. The Xbox Series X did the same with a greater focus on services than exclusives.
The exclusives would come, Microsoft promised. But until that point, here, knock yourself out with a few hundred games.
We’ve been here before. A few years ago, not long after God of War dropped and surprised absolutely everybody — I still remember people legitimately wondering at the start of the year whether it’d be delayed because there was so little chatter about the game — I wrote about the contrasting situations Microsoft and Sony had found themselves in.
Rightly so, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said singleplayer games were difficult to fund. The gulf between a game that sells consoles and something that you’d enjoy, but probably wouldn’t pay for unless it was on sale, is enormous. And most games find themselves in the latter category. Hell, if anything, almost every Microsoft exclusive over the last few years has suffered a similar fate. Remember Crackdown 3? Sea of Thieves at launch? Halo: Master Chief Collection? Halo Wars 2?
Sony’s investment in experiences and escapism always made more sense upfront. The only catch was that they were betting an exceedingly absurd amount of money — hundreds of millions in some cases — in the hope that they’d stick the landing.
And with Spider-Man, God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Last of Us 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, the Demon’s Souls remake, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sony absolutely did.
But what happens in a year or two when Microsoft starts to really stick the landing? I was saying to my partner just the other day, “Man, it’d be nice to play Flight Simulator on the couch.” It’s technically possible if I drag my PC out to the living room and go through the ignominy of sorting out cables, working out which HDMI device I’ll temporarily sacrifice, and so on.
But that’s such a pain in the arse. I’d rather just fire it up on the Xbox Series X. Which everyone can do later this year.
Sony’s big exclusives haven’t really arrived yet. It was a blast playing through Astro’s Playroom, but that’s a few hours of work. Miles Morales is killer too, but again, you can knock that over in a weekend. And Demon’s Souls is undoubtedly excellent, but it’s also an acquired taste of sorts: If you didn’t like the series before, Demon’s Souls won’t be your cup of tea. (It’s really, really good though.)
What you’re left with after that point is waiting for games to eventually get their PS5, or Xbox Series X, optimised releases. God of War finally got its PS5 update, and it’s basically perfect.
It’s also, however, kind of the experience you get from playing a lot of these games on PC. You can’t obviously play God of War on PC yet, but Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn have made the jump. So it’s transformative if you didn’t have access to that before, but for a lot of gamers who invest in multiple devices over the course of a generation, it’s not as exciting as it could be.
At least not yet. By the end of 2021, or 2022 when a new Battlefield drops, Starfield arrives and games start leaving the last generation behind, that opinion will probably change. And that’s normal. Platforms take time to develop.
I’ve enjoyed busting out the Xbox and digging through Game Pass for new titles — Slay the Spire alone has made my partner’s Game Pass subscription worthwhile five times over. But the Switch is still getting more interesting, different games, particularly local co-op titles, than the major platforms. And the PC is increasingly looking like better value again. Getting an RTX 3000 series card or a new CPU is still a nightmare, but at least you’re not forking out $100-plus every time a new game comes out on Steam.
But if you haven’t gotten a next-gen console yet, don’t fret. They’re amazing, and the DualSense is great when it works, but those next-gen experiences that we were promised are still to arrive.
For those who have been living with a PS5 or Xbox Series X for the last few weeks, or months, how do you feel about your purchase?