At this point, the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S, and the PS5 are all less than two weeks away from launch. Next-gen really is right around the corner, and it’s an exciting time in the industry as always. Based on everything Microsoft and Sony have been revealing about their respective machines over the last few months, there’s more than just a few reasons to be excited about the years ahead. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been going over some of these talking points across multiple features, and here, with next-gen within touching distance, we’ll be doing that once more, and cover some more important details you should know about the upcoming consoles.
The user interface of the PS5 was the last crucial detail about the console that Sony had been holding back, but not that long ago, they revealed that at long last, giving us a glimpse of several new features. Of course, that includes something as basic as your main home screen, which looks like a cleaner, more polished version of what we have on the PS4 already. Of course, the larger UX on the PS5 has been overhauled, but the design of tiles and each tile having its own subpage has become familiar to PlayStation users.
Meanwhile, Sony have also confirmed that the PS5’s UI will be rendered constantly in 4K, which is a nice bonus to have.
BACKWARD COMPATIBILITY (XBOX)
We’ve already spoken plenty about how the consoles will natively enhance older games in various ways, either with enhanced resolutions, booster frame rates, automatically added HDR, are a combination of multiple of those. On top of that, “nearly all” games running on Xbox Series X/S via backward compatibility will benefit from 16x anisotropic filtering, which will significantly improve image quality. Of course, this is something that Microsoft were already doing to some extent with the Xbox One X, but the next-gen consoles seem to be taking it a step further with wider application.
Activities is one of the biggest new features that Sony have added in the PS5’s new user experience. Displayed as cards on the screen, these Activities show players various small- and large-scale challenges and objectives from the game, from specific tasks to collection completions to particular levels or quests, and more, from across whatever game it is that you’re playing at the time. Interestingly enough, you can also use the Activities cards to jump directly into the part of the game that has whatever Activity you selected.
LOADING SPEEDS (XBOX SERIES S)
Faster load times is one of the things that next-gen consoles are highlighting the most, thanks to their solid state drives, and though the Xbox Series S is significantly weaker than the Series X or the PS5, it seems that’s one area where the console isn’t lagging behind. It has a PCie Gen 4 NVMe SSD, same as the Xbox Series X, and according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, it actually loads some games faster than its more powerful next-gen counterpart. Speaking with Kotaku, Spencer said that Sthe Xbox Series S has “surprised” him in terms of how it performs, before adding that it actually loads some games faster than the Xbox Series X does, since it’s loading in lower-res assets.
GAME HELP (PS5)
Another new feature that Sony recently spoke of while revealing the PS5’s UX was Game Help. Exclusive to PlayStation Plus subscribers, Game Help will entail official in-game tips and guides, coming in the form of photos or videos included by the developers of the game themselves. And yes, you can watch these clips and play the game simultaneously. With a feature such as this one, which will obviously require developers to put in additional work into a game for the sake of including tips and guides, it remains to be seen how widely (and well) it’ll be used, while it being exclusive to PS Plus subscribers is also a bit of a bummer. That said, it does put accessibility and ease of use on the forefront, which is great to see.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (XBOX SERIES X)
We’ve spoken in previous features about the fan noises and cooling systems of all next-gen consoles, and while we know that both Xbox and PlayStation have effective solutions in place, when it comes to the Xbox Series X, we also have some hard numbers to back that up. As per GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb, the Xbox Series X has an average temperature of 47.7C, lower than the average temperatures of the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro at 52.1C and 62.5C respectively. At minimum, the Series X’s temperature measures at 38.9C, compared to the Xbox One X’s 50C and the PS4 Pro’s 60.1C. Finally, when it’s at its hottest, the Xbox Series X’s temperature measures at 50.4C, compared to the Xbox One X’s 54.5C and the PS4 Pro’s 65C/
The DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers have ben two of the PS5’s biggest talking points, and Sony seem intent on making them a core part of their next-gen experience. If, however, any of these features don’t appeal to you, or you find yourself just unable to engage with them properly, you will have the option to turn them off. The DualSense’s controller manual makes it clear that you can do so by heading into the console’s settings menu.
RDNA 2 (XBOX)
Recently, AMD revealed the next generation of their new Radeon RX 6000 Series, running on RDNA 2 architecture, and impressed quite a few people. Not long afterward, Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will also be running on RDNA 2 architecture- in fact, Microsoft has stated that the two new Xbox consoles are going to be the only next-gen consoles to have full hardware support for all the new RDNA 2 capabilities AMD recently shared.
Speaking of which…
HARDWARE ACCELERATION CAPABILITIES (XBOX)
What exactly are the RDNA 2 hardware acceleration capabilities that the Xbox Series X/S boast of? Well, there’s ray-tracing, of course, which we’ve spoken about quite a bit over the last few months. On top of that there’s Mesh Shaders to afford developers greater flexibility while designing their games’ geometry, Variable Rate Shading to deliver even more granular grain control, and Sampler Feedback to improve memory efficiency and bandwidth.
Many months ago, when Sony revealed the DualSense, they briefly talked about the new Create button, which is replacing the DualShock 4’s Share button. After months of not mentioning it again, recently, Sony detailed the improvements they’re making to sharing on the PS5. For instance, you can now share your screen with members of your Party. Meanwhile, you can also view other Party members’ screens with picture-in-picture while playing your own game. The interface of selecting browsing captured screenshots and videos has also been cleaned up, and made much faster and more easily accessible, as has sharing your captured clips and screens on social media.
ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES (PS5)
Sony are also taking various steps to ensure that the PS5 is more accessible to all players, including players with disabilities or impairments. Many features are in place for this purpose, including voice-to-text dictation, closed captions, button remapping, inverting colours, and more. There’s also Screen Reader, which lets blind or low-vision users to hear on-screen text, while deaf or users with impaired hearing can type messages, which is then spoken out loud to other Party members. This feature is also confirmed to support nearly a dozen languages.