The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been two of the biggest and most successful games consoles of all time, but eventually the industry had to move on. Now it's the PS5 and Xbox Series X's time to shine.
Microsoft and Sony have both dripfed us details of their respective consoles, and now we now the core specs and designs of both devices, and have seen the first gameplay too. The biggest things we don't know are concrete release dates and how much each will cost - but for now, which comes out on top?
Both consoles have been confirmed to launch during ‘Holiday 2020’ by their respective companies, but we don’t have anything more specific beyond that.
Different versions of both consoles are expected, but their release will likely be staggered throughout their life cycles, usually to ensure there’s no more than three years between new devices, so it's likely that there will only be one version of each at the initial launch.
The Xbox Series X has a tall, blocky chassis reminiscent of modern PC towers.
This is a real departure from previous Xbox consoles, which have all loosely retained the same design. However, it should still be able to slot nicely into your existing home entertainment setup, as Microsoft has confirmed that the console can be placed horizontally or vertically.
By contrast the PS5 is both more and less traditional. The overall shape is more similar to previous home consoles, with a flat thing shape that can be laid horizontally or vertically.
However the flowing edges, white finish, and blue LED lighting all represent a pretty radical departure in terms of design for Sony - though all these touches are mirrored in the accompanying DualSense controller.
The only other wrinkle is that the PS5 actually comes in two variants, with an ever-so-slightly smaller PS5 Digital Edition that drops the disc drive.
Both consoles will undoubtedly include fairly substantial performance boosts over their predecessors. The PS5 and Xbox Series X will both be sporting AMD’s Ryzen CPUs, with a GPU from the same manufacturer to match. On paper the Xbox hits harder - with 12 teraflops of GPU performance to the PS5's 10, and a 3.8GHz CPU compared to 3.5GHz from Sony, but the Japanese giant has emphasised that its figures represent performance levels the PlayStation 5 will hit almost all the time, while Microsoft's are simply peak performance, and not typical of normal usage.
It’s also clear that both Sony and Microsoft are eager to ditch the spinning hard drives on current-gen consoles, in favour of the more efficient SSDs, though Sony has opted for a faster drive that should mean quicker game loads and easier game development compared to Microsoft's offering. On RAM the two are effectively identical though, with 16GB GDDR6 apiece.
Expandable storage differs though. Microsoft has partnered with Seagate to offer custom expandable memory cards using a proprietary format. By contrast Sony has said that it will support off-the-shelf internal M.2 storage, but with one caveat: cards will need to be the right size and speed to be supported, so don't go stocking up on M.2 drives just yet, as the company is yet to reveal which cards will work.
Both consoles should support ray tracing and 3D audio, and both tout their ability to run games at 8K, to support the new wave of 8K TVs.
As with this generation, many of the biggest next-gen games will be available on both consoles. The likes of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil 8 have already been confirmed for both PS5 and Xbox Series X, while major existing games like Fortnite and Destiny 2 will also appear on both sets of hardware.
In terms of exclusives, the PS5 has the Spider-Man: Miles Morales spin-off and Godfall at launch, with Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart due in 2021. Bethesda's Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will also both be timed PS5 exclusives, though are expected to arrive on the Xbox at a later date.
As for the Xbox, we know it'll get Halo Infinite, which is set to be a launch title, but that's about it for now in terms of definite exclusives. Microsoft has promised to reveal first-party games in July however, so it won't be long before we know what the company has to stack up against Sony's launch lineup.
Both consoles will also support backwards compatibility, to encourage players to stick with their brand of choice. Microsoft has also promised that any compatible game will run on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X from just one purchase - so you won't have to buy any game twice to play it again on the next-gen console.
We have relatively few details to go on so far, but we’d give the edge to the PS5 at this stage.
The Xbox’s expected performance edge means it might trump Sony's console in terms of pure numbers, but Sony's promised games lineup is very strong indeed, and it's hard to see Microsoft matching it on exclusives at this early stage.
Of course, this is all subject to change. Ultimately both consoles will be powerhouses running the latest and greatest in gaming technology, and it will probably make sense to stick with your current console provider.