I saw all of the warning signs; I knew what to expect on day one when I opened the box, but I blew right past those thoughts just to get my Xbox Series X pre-order before they were all sold out. I regret it and have no one to blame but myself, so let this serve as a warning. Just wait.
I bought both a PS5 and Xbox Series X on day one, and it frustrates me to say that one of these consoles will be collecting dust for months. It’s not even about the games (well a little bit), but rather the overall experience, and more specifically, the controller.
Xbox made a good console, for sure, but PlayStation defined what next-gen gaming actually feels like. If you’re thinking about getting an Xbox Series X right now, you should wait. Here’s why.
What do I even play?
When I booted up my Xbox Series X for the first time, I became a little giddy. I was already playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on my Xbox One, so I was able to see the performance difference in the game. Playing on 4K at 60 frames per second is magical and those fast loading times are wicked. But a sudden realization crept in. After Valhalla, my Xbox will sit there collecting dust. I have nothing new to play.
I could’ve easily gotten Assassin’s Creed for the PS5, so I lucked out by having something to play on the Series X. The lack of games is not Xbox’s fault per se, especially since Halo Infinite is experiencing development woes. I don’t mind waiting for the games, but I regret buying an Xbox Series X so early.
Meanwhile, on my PS5, I have already beaten Demon’s Souls and Astro’s Playroom. I’m going to start on Bugsnax, jump between Godfall and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and then after all of that I’m going to play Spider-Man Remastered to finish up the DLC I missed and finally move to Spider-Man Miles Morales. There’s so much to do on the PS5. You could argue that some of these games are also available on PS4, but they’re not available on any other next-gen hardware.
I was always going to buy an Xbox Series X to play exclusive games and Xbox Game Pass titles as well as games I already owned, but it wasn’t necessary to get right away.
Xbox needs to rethink its approach to the controller
When I started messing with the new Xbox Series X controller, I was impressed by the shift in the ergonomics despite how similar it looks to the old controller. I love the new grip and how the bumpers are positioned. However, it doesn't compare to the PS5 DualSense controller.
I was completely blown away by DualSense. Not only is the PS5 DualSense way more comfortable than its predecessor, but it completely revolutionizes the immersion in games.
PlayStation has made the controller part of the immersive experience thanks to its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Typically, I put my controller down when a cutscene plays, but now I hold it firmly just to experience the low rumbles of a boss revealing itself or the sword-slashing combat of a scene that’s all about exposition (ahem, Godfall).
In Demon’s Souls, I felt the weight of my rolls as the rumble pulsed through my hands. And I can’t begin to explain what it’s like to blast basic soul arrows at enemies and still feel immensely powerful in the process. In Godfall, my heavy attacks would give me resistance on the triggers, so every blow I landed was even more intense and heavy. Astro’s Playroom is also an excellent showcase of the controller’s features. Even walking around would create a low rumble that felt ever so tingly.
The experience is reminiscent of the first time you jump from a controller without rumble to one that has it, or from a controller without triggers to one with them. It's a feature that redefines the gaming experience.
This thing even has a damn microphone and speaker. You have no idea how shocked I was when I joined a party chat with my brother and started talking to him through my controller while I was setting up my headset in the background. The quality isn't ideal, but it’s incredibly convenient.
PlayStation defines what next-gen gaming is supposed to feel like, whereas Xbox gave me a simple hardware upgrade.
Xbox feels like Xbox and that’s a problem
Before I dove into Valhalla, I got a brief feel of the Xbox Series X’s interface, and I was severely underwhelmed. It looked exactly like my Xbox One. Some people might be okay with that, but I wasn’t. The UI didn’t evoke this feeling of “next-gen.” You could argue that it doesn’t have to look new to be next-gen. And while that’s true, it should be capable of more. Xbox’s Quick Resume feature is awesome, and I love being able to swap seamlessly between games. That’s one neat thing that Xbox has over PlayStation, but it’s not enough.
The PS5’s chat system has been completely revamped and repurposed to make it more user-friendly. It’s very reminiscent of Discord, where you can hop into a call with individual people instead of joining a party. You can even seamlessly share your screen so your friend can watch you play. I completely forgot I had my stream running for hours when I played alongside my brother in Demon’s Souls, and during that time, I didn’t notice any performance dips.
Another cool feature is Game Help. I like looking at guides, but sometimes I’m too lazy to search something up on my phone, so I’ll walk around a game aimlessly until I find what I’m looking for. Now Game Help is a part of the PS5’s UI. I can simply click on the objective I’m currently on in a game and it’ll show me a little video on how to finish the mission. I used this a lot when looking for puzzle pieces in Astro’s Playroom.
Xbox doesn’t need a Game Help equivalent, or even a revamped chat system (although that would be nice), but what it does need is more quality-of-life features. Quick Resume is cool, but this single feature doesn’t hold up to the PS5’s features, especially since the PlayStation's SSD is super fast so loading into a game is already seamless.
What Xbox needs to do to make the Series X my main console
My Xbox Series X isn’t going anywhere. When those Xbox Game Studios games roll around, I want to play the hell out of them. But apart from those titles, I don’t think I’ll be playing anything else on my Xbox. My PS5 will be my main driver.
I fail to see the point in playing third-party games like Resident Evil Village on my Xbox when I could be playing it on my PS5 where I can experience the immersive haptic feedback and the intensity of the adaptive triggers.
The Xbox Series X is likely to get better as time passes. Xbox is getting a whole library of next-gen games within the next few years, and the Series X will hopefully see some new features. However, I would sacrifice new games and features just for a controller that is on par or better than the PS5 DualSense. Controller immersion is the future, and Xbox needs to go all-in if it really wants to compete with PlayStation.
Regardless of what Xbox does in the next few years, I regret buying the Xbox Series X on day one. All it’ll do after Valhalla is collect dust until Halo Infinite launches.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.