2020 was...something. There weren't many bright spots this year, but throughout all the months cooped up at home, one thing I had to look forward to (along with tons of other people) was the release of the next generation of gaming consoles.
All of my life, I've considered myself to be a pretty devoted PlayStation fan. I spent a lot of my childhood playing through countless titles on the PS2, was introduced to so many amazing franchises on the PS3, and was the proud owner of a PS4 and PS4 Pro during this most recent generation. I also had an Xbox 360 and Xbox One S as secondary consoles during those times, but they were never my go-to destinations for console gaming.
Going into 2020, I was pretty confident that the PS5 would be my next primary console. I mean, why wouldn't it be? PlayStation has always been the platform I gravitate towards, so buying an Xbox Series X in place of it didn't seem to be a likely scenario
Fast forward to December, however, and I currently have a Series X hooked up to my living room TV with no PS5 in sight. And you know what? I couldn't be happier. I know that's a blasphemous statement coming from a self-proclaimed PlayStation fanboy, so let me explain myself.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X both have the same general goal: to be a fast and future-proof system that can power all of your gaming adventures for the next few years. Both consoles have achieved that goal with ease, but the way in which Sony and Microsoft are approaching it is drastically different. Where Sony is leaning strongly into the generational divide and sticking with the model of paying $60-$70 for every new game you buy, Microsoft is fully embracing the Series X (and Series S) as a gateway to the best trick up its sleeve — Game Pass.
I first started dabbling with Game Pass about a year or so ago, initially using it to catch up on Xbox franchises I never spent much time with (Halo, Gears of War, etc.). It proved to be a nice addition to the games I was playing on my PS4, but as time went on and I dug a bit deeper into Game Pass, I've started to realize that almost all of the games I was playing were Game Pass titles.
Not only is the sheer value of Game Pass unmatched by anything else in the industry, but what I've come to appreciate even more is how it makes me step out of my gaming comfort zone. Dead Cells, Celeste, Ori and the Blind Forest, and A Plague Tale: Innocence are all things I've played because of Game Pass, and I've thoroughly enjoyed every single one. None of those are games I would have ever thought about buying outright, but Game Pass has provided an avenue for me to try something different.
The more and more I got sucked into Game Pass on my Xbox One S, the more I realized it's something I want to experience to its fullest potential. So, naturally, the Xbox Series X started to become the more appealing console. There are certainly titles on the PS5 I'd like to play at some point down the road, but as someone that can't really shell out $60+ every time I want to play a new game, being able to spend $15/month (or nothing at all when using Microsoft Rewards) for hundreds of different options is something I just can't ignore.
Game Pass was certainly a big deciding factor, but it's not the only thing that ended up pushing me to Team Xbox for this generation. In terms of overall simplicity and ease-of-use, Microsoft easily pulled ahead of Sony.
Smart Delivery didn't sound like the most exciting feature on paper, but as it would turn out, it's proven to be one of the nicest conveniences about the Series X|S. If one of my Xbox One games receives a patch that optimizes it for the Series X, that update happens automatically in the background without me ever having to lift a finger. The opposite is true for upgrading your PS4 games on PS5, with Sony requiring you to manually enable upgrades if/when they're made available.
There's also the matter of expandable storage. Not only is there no option currently available for expanding the PS5's SSD, but when an official solution is made available, you'll need to actually open up the console and install it yourself. On the Xbox Series X, adding another 1TB of space is as easy as plugging in the Seagate Storage Expansion Card.
It's a little pricey at $220, but using the card couldn't be any easier. I took mine out of its packaging, plugged it into the back of my Series X, and it instantly popped up with another 1TB for me to store all of my games. And, if I somehow find myself needing another card down the road, swapping between them will take just a couple of seconds.
There are plenty of other wins, too — such as Quick Resume for instantly jumping back and forth between multiple games, backwards compatibility for virtually all Xbox/Xbox 360/Xbox One games, and the seamless UI that doesn't need to be re-learned if you're coming from an Xbox One.
For me, playing games is all about having a fun escape from the real world. I don't want to think about my console like another gadget I have to troubleshoot and manage — I just want everything to work as seamlessly as can be. Microsoft did that with the Series X. I can play virtually any game in Xbox history, access a bunch of them at a great price via Game Pass, and potentially headache-inducing things like expandable storage and cross-generational upgrades are handled with ease.
I'd love to pick up a PS5 in a year or two and check out some of Sony's best PS5 games, but when it comes to the gaming console I'll be calling home this generation, it's going to be the Series X. The value and simplicity behind the console are truly remarkable, and the best part is that those things are only going to get better in the coming years.
You can't really go wrong picking up either console (assuming you find one in stock), but at least for me, I'll be spending my time with the Xbox.
Power your dreams
Simply amazing (if you can find it in stock)
If you don't already have an Xbox Series X, buying one is quite the challenge. Should you come across available inventory and are in the market for a new console, it's definitely worth your attention. Between incredible horsepower, the inclusion of Game Pass, and so much more, the Series X has a lot going for it.
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