Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 reviews – our roundup of the critics

The next generation of game consoles from Microsoft and Sony is nearly upon us. The Xbox Series X|S and the PlayStation 5 both hit the market next week, which means we’re on the threshold of a new generation of games. Because the two big consoles make up such a major share of the gaming market, their capabilities are important to PC gamers – it’ll be the technical power of these two boxes that determines the upper limit on most of the games we’ll be playing on PC.

So how have the critics reacted to the new consoles? Our own hardware specialist Damien has had some time with Xbox’s launch units, the Xbox Series X and Series S. He reckons this is as close as consoles have ever gotten to parity with gaming PCs – they even exceed gaming PCs in some ways, thanks in part to the entire player ecosystem having their games installed on lightning-fast NVMe SSDs, making multiplayer loading times as quick as they’ve ever been.

You can read more of Damien’s thoughts on Microsoft’s new offerings over at our Xbox Series X|S review.

Here are some additional thoughts on the consoles from our colleagues around the web, with scores where applicable:

Xbox Series X|S

  • “[T]he Xbox Series X could be the ultimate gaming system, period.” – PCGamesN
  • “A powerful console that is sure to set a new standard, but one that is ultimately let down by its launch line up.” – The Loadout9/10
  • “The next generation of Xbox offers two speedy, smooth options that focus on iteration over innovation.” – Game InformerB+
  • “It doesn’t necessarily break ground with its launch lineup or initial feature set, but the Xbox Series X is a powerful console with tangible improvements that matter.” – Gamespot
  • “[A] console is defined by its games, and in that sense, I still feel that I barely know the machine at all.” – Eurogamer / Digital Foundry
  • “Powerful, currently lacking in next-gen wows, and killer for backwards compatibility.” – VG247
  • “If you’re looking for a console that rivals premium PC performance and features the most robust library of any console ever released, you can’t go wrong with Series X.” – The Gamer

PlayStation 5

  • “Sony’s next-gen machine offers deep immersion, flexibility in use, and lightning-fast speed.” – Game InformerA-
  • “The real star of Sony’s new console is its controller.” – The Verge8.5/10
  • “One of the PS5’s key strengths – its lightning-quick SSD – is also one of its weaknesses.” – IGN
  • “The ultimate draw remains its big exclusives.” – PC Gamer
  • “The PS5 is a promising console that draws a clear line for the next generation, providing an experience that doesn’t sacrifice performance for fidelity.” – Gamespot
  • “[I]f you’re after that new generation thrill, PS5 is currently the only choice.” – VG247
  • “The improvements here are all in the details.” – The Gamer

Yeah, so, not a lot of actual scores in that lineup – you’ll have to actually read the reviews to find out what the critics think. But they’re almost uniformly enthusiastic about these new consoles at launch – the Xbox models offer impressive power and speedy load times, while the PlayStation 5’s technical innovations open up a world of new possibilities for graphics, audio, and feedback. Critics are a bit divided over how much of a leap forward they think these consoles represent – especially with so many ‘next-gen’ features already available on PC.

What’s missing right now is a lineup of new games, which will really be what determines the value of these new machines. While developers settle into the new space the consoles have created, though, both new systems offer impressive backwards compatibility – so you won’t have to leave your favourite games behind if you decide to make the switch.