It is night time. The rain is falling, droplets pelting at the plastic exterior of the two machines standing opposite each other on an open field. Lightning flashes, and for a brief moment ere the thunderous boom ensues we can discern the two solitary figures staring each other down – the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Project Scarlett. The two consoles are each backed by a loyal army of followers ready to battle it out. The next Console War is about to begin!
All the dramatics aside, now that Microsoft has revealed some info regarding their upcoming Project Scarlett at E3 we can finally start speculating what the next Console War will be like. We’re still expecting to get many more reveals that could tip the scales in either console’s favor in the coming months, but for now, let’s digest everything we know so far, shall we?
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The first things that both Sony and Microsoft have revealed about their upcoming consoles were some key specs. This was to be expected. But what we didn’t expect were the almost identical pieces of hardware that both the PS5 and the Xbox Project Scarlett (names not final) boast:
Both consoles will be running on a 3rd-gen AMD Ryzen CPU. Sony has gone on record saying that their new console would be running on an octa-core CPU, and while Microsoft didn’t really mention the core count at all, it’s really hard to imagine they would opt for anything different. These CPUs will be using the new and improved 7nm Zen 2 architecture.
Both the PS4 and the Xbox One run on the AMD Jaguar APUs, so the fact that the AMD legacy would continue on in the next console generation does not come as a surprise. It’s pretty much mandatory for backward-compatibility. But what there doesn’t seem to be a radical change in the CPU department, you have to keep in mind that the Ryzen CPUs are miles ahead of any other AMD-made CPUs before them.
All in all, this is a massive jump forward and one that’s quite becoming for this ‘generation gap’.
Both consoles will also be utilizing the new AMD Navi graphics. Now the situation with the graphics is a bit unclear at the moment, simply due to the fact that we don’t know everything about these Navi graphics.
Yes, we have all the info we could want on the Navi line-up that will launch this summer, but we also know that these Navi graphics cards will not feature ray-tracing whereas the ones in the new consoles will.
Nevertheless, we’re still excited for the summer release of these new graphics cards, since they will provide some insight into what we can expect from this technology. It’s not exactly a teraflop count (which wouldn’t even be applicable, since the Navi cards perform better than older cards with higher teraflop counts simply because of their new and refined architecture), but it’s the only inkling we’ll be getting of the potential these new consoles have.
We also know for a fact now that both these consoles will use SSDs for storage.
The obvious benefit here is that we’ll spend way less time looking at loading screen. But there’s also another benefit – now that developer can finally start working with SSDs as a baseline it will seriously expand some of their options. So you can expect next-gen games to be much more open and expansive than they’ve ever been before.
The SSD in Project Scarlett will also double as virtual RAM. How exactly this will work is still unclear, but it is another reason to get excited regardless.
But of course, the specs are only part of the equation. A much larger emphasis has to be put on the games themselves, especially the exclusive titles.
To say that the Xbox One lacked a strong presence of console exclusives would be an understatement. Part of the reason behind this is that Microsoft is looking to maximize sales by offering most of its games on both its platforms – the Xbox consoles and the PC.
This time around Microsoft is looking to pull out all the stops and to this end, they revealed the long-anticipated Halo Infinite as their launch title. As gamers, we’re ecstatic over the prospect of a new Halo game, but do keep in mind that this launch title will not be a console exclusive title. Halo Infinite will be coming to the PC and the Xbox One as well, giving you one fewer reason to buy the new Project Scarlett.
Sony, on the other hand, has yet to reveal which game will be spearheading their march into the next console war. However, given the impressive roster of current-gen exclusives, we have no doubts that it’ll be able to match the enthusiasm raised in the gaming community by Halo Infinite.
Backwards-Compatibility and Streaming
Another thing we already know for certain is that both the PS5 and the Xbox Project Scarlett will be backward-compatible. Project Scarlett will be backward-compatible with all previous versions of the Xbox, however, we still don’t know to which extent the backward-compatibility on the PS5 will follow suit.
The reasons why the PS4 wasn’t backward-compatible with the PS3 was that it used a completely different architecture. Since it couldn’t rely on the hardware for aid, the console would have had to run a virtual emulator in order to run PS3 games, which is simply wasn’t powerful enough to do. But the PS5 will have both the same AMD legacy of the PS4 and enough raw power to run a virtual machine that could let you re-experience even older titles. This is, of course, just speculation but it’s feasible speculation, so fingers crossed!
Of course, the PS4 did offer some degree of backward-compatibility through the PS Now subscription that let you stream older games. We’re as glad as anyone that the new console generation will not focus entirely on streaming, but streaming is still here to stay and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, in order to compete with Google’s Stadia, Microsoft and Sony have decided to form a united front of opposition. To this end, they have entered into a streaming partnership that obliges them to share all streaming technologies for the entire duration of the next console generation.
Whether you love or loathe the idea of game streaming this is exciting news and there’s no denying that the next couple of years will bring some key advancement to this technology.
What’s more, the new consoles will also be backward-compatible with some current-gen accessories. So if you’re a proud owner of a PSVR, you won’t have to buy the PSVR 2 to enjoy next-gen games in virtual reality.
Both machines will also feature optical disc drives, so everyone with a suboptimal Internet connection can breathe a sigh of relief. And if you’ve got loads of current-gen games on discs, you may even be able to sell off your PS4 since you’ll be able to play all those games on the PS5 anyway.
Learning from Past Mistakes
Most importantly, it looks as if the companies are not looking to repeat some costly mistakes they have made in the past. PS4 has been the unequivocal winner in this gen’s console war, selling more than double the amount of units.
Well, the answer has many layers to it, one of them without a doubt being the better offering of exclusive titles. But certain mistakes made by Microsoft also played a large role in this, so let’s reflect on them, shall we?
First of all, there was the price. Yes, the Xbox One was technically the more powerful console, but this could’ve only been relevant if they launched it at the same or similar price as the PS4. As it stood, the Xbox One was $100 more expensive, so the slightly better performance just didn’t do enough to justify this hefty price tag. Yeah, you got the Kinect, but let’s be real – no one used or even liked the Kinect and jettisoning it into the cold oblivion was one of the best things to ever happen to the Xbox One.
A similar thing happened to Sony with the PS3, so hopefully, both companies have learned their lessons.
But perhaps even more importantly, Microsoft made the same mistake that EA is currently making and that Blizzard had made (but thankfully relented on) – they decided that it was up to them to dictate what gamers wanted!
Just like we apparently don’t want single-player games or an MMO that doesn’t hold your hand, Microsoft figured we also don’t want to play games on our consoles as much as we want to, say, browse the Internet! As such, the Xbox One wasn’t just a gaming console; in fact, the console reveal put a much larger emphasis on media than it did on gaming!
And even though the console was already fighting an uphill battle against the PS4, Microsoft decided to be greedy by adding a totalitarian DRM policy that, among other things, required an Internet connection to play offline games and prohibited selling your games or even lending them to your friends. This policy was, of course, abandoned, but by this point, the Xbox One had already lost all its momentum.
Thankfully, it looks like Microsoft has learned its lesson and is focusing on the thing we really want the most from gaming consoles – gaming. They promise that the new console is designed and optimised for gaming first, which is excellent news.
Now so long as Sony just keeps doing what they have been doing, we can expect this Console War to be one for the ages and all of gamerkind to come out victorious.
Price and Release Date
But of course, you wondering how these new consoles will cost?
Unfortunately, we don’t know the precise figured, but you shouldn’t expect either console to come out cheap, we can tell you that. With the kind of hardware they’re packing, it’s hard to see them going for anything less than $500.
We’re hoping to get proven wrong! But as things stand, $500 is a good and possibly optimistic guesstimate.
When can you expect these consoles will hit the shelves?
The Xbox Project Scarlett will get a holiday 2020 launch, and while we still haven’t heard anything about a release date from Sony, it’s hard to imagine they’ll let Microsoft have all the holiday shoppers to themselves.
So in all likelihood, both the PS5 and the Xbox Project Scarlett will launch by the end of next year.
In conclusion, the new console generation is looking to be one of the most impressive in recent memory, but also one of the most homogenous.
From what we know there isn’t really a lot that separates the Xbox Project Scarlett from the PS5 on the hardware and accessibility fronts. This may very well change as new reveals are made, but as things stand, we can expect that gamers will be looking at games and prices first and specs second when making their purchases.
Nevertheless, we’re still eagerly waiting for the next Console War to commence!
Even if you’re not a ‘console peasant’, there are still plenty of reasons to get excited about this upcoming event. The most objective one would be the fact that most AAA titles get developed for consoles first, so now that the baseline hardware the developers get to play with is more powerful it means that you’ll get better games even as a PC gamer.
But there is another reason – the memes!
The previous Console War has gone down as one of the most hilarious ones yet. Between the three-episode South Park epic that centered around this topic as well as the many online parodies like the ones made by Flashgitz and Mashed, the upcoming Console War has some big shoes to fill if it intends to deliver the same level of entertainment.