I’d now choose PS5 over Xbox Series X — but not for the reasons you’d think

Sony PS5 on a table next to a TV
(Image credit: Future)

The idea of a console war is a little silly these days, given both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are brilliant machines with their own merits. But assessing the PS5 vs Xbox Series X conundrum is still relevant, as not everyone has a hefty $1,000 to get both games consoles. 

But I’ve long struggled to give a definitive quick-fire answer to which console one should get. At first I advised waiting until the nightmare of tracking down a PS5 restock or seeing out an Xbox Series X restock became easier to handle. Then I decided that both have merits and if you can, both are worth owning; I still stand by this.

However, if you were to put a gun to my head — please don't, as it’s not my idea of fun — and force me to pick one one, I’d now choose the PS5. 

But this is a very recent realization and one that I feel could only happen thanks to the state the PS5 is now over a year after its release

Not only has Sony ironed out issues with the console thanks to a suite of PS5 updates, as well as letting users add in more internal storage, we now have enough titles to properly populate a best PS5 games list; backward compatibility has also improved on the PS5

Yet that’s not why I’d choose Sony’s big, bold machine. Rather I’m interested in the PS5’s narrow but excellent hardware ecosystem. 

Ecosystem excitement

PS5 updates

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

When the term ‘ecosystem’ is mentioned, it’s easy to think of Xbox and its play-anywhere ethos thanks to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming. And on the software and services side, Xbox reigns supreme.

But I’ve found the combination of the PS5, DualSense controller and the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset form a mini hardware ecosystem that works very well with the PS5’s first-party games. 

Used in tandem, the whole experience of playing a first-party PS5 game like the stellar Deathloop feels that bit more special. Sure, the Xbox Series X has a brilliant controller and the very good Xbox Wireless Headset, but neither come with the custom advanced haptics or proprietary Tempest 3D Audio tech of Sony’s peripherals.

Granted, the DualSense and Pulse 3D Wireless Headset aren’t exactly new things for the PS5, but it’s only recently that I they’ve come to the fore for the console experience.

Deathloop was the first PS5 exclusive that really grabbed my attention since the console’s launch in November 2020. It showed how the clever haptics of the DualSense can aid immersion, while the headset allowed me the precise audio feedback to get a feel for when rival assassin Juliana Blake was sneaking upon me.

This sowed the seed of a PS5 hardware ecosystem concept in my head, but it only bloomed this year. And that’s thanks to the arrival of Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7.

Both are tuned to take advantage of the PS5’s haptic capabilities and its 3D audio, as well as put the graphical horsepower and super-fast SSD to the task.

In Horizon Forbidden West, the DualSense lets you feel the tension of a drawn bow string through the controller’s triggers, as well as the subtle feedback from brushing against long grass or swapping stokes while swimming. 

PS5 DualSense controller with Horizon Forbidden West game

(Image credit: Future)

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset adds to this immersion, especially when compared to just using TV speakers. I can pick out the mix of whirrs and clanks of the machines in Horizon Forbitten West, as well as the skimming of wind across large open spaces.

And in Gran Turismo 7, the 3D audio effect is arguably better, with audio tuned to deliver a soundscape that really makes you feel like you’re on a track; speaking as someone who took an Audi R8 around the Ascari race track, I can say that with a degree of confidence. 

The DualSense plays a big part too, with the haptic motors conveying the feedback of subtle track changes such as momentarily going off the track and onto grass — another thing I’ve experienced first hand. The haptic feedback also lets virtual drivers get a feel for tires at the limit of grip, as well as the difference in pedal feel and acceleration through the DualSense triggers.

Take all this and add in bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeous graphics and load times that make for near instantaneous gaming, and using the PS5 feels simply awesome.

While I will happily grab my Xbox controller and play a bit of Halo Infinite or Forza Horizon 5 while I wait for food to cook or coffee to brew, PS5 gaming feels more like an event.

I’ll pour myself a drink, turn down the lights, get comfortable, pop on the headset and grip the DualSense, a smile creeping onto my face as the PS5’s splash login screen gives way to a carefully curated library of amazing games. This feels like the gaming equivalent of sitting down to a three-course meal at a high-end restaurant with a limited yet tantalizing menu in front of me; I love it.

And thanks to the release of Elden Ring, and a whole host of big games on the horizon, not least of which is God of War Ragnarok, I’ve got a lot more PS5 gaming moments to look forward to. 

So if you have to choose, Sony’s strangest looking console yet is the one to get… at least until Starfield and Fable 4 arrive.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • Bloodklot
    Have you tried the driving after they updated Cyberpunk 2077? It’s amazing. Every shift and acceleration you can feel in the haptics. Also the haptics in Ghost of Tsushima is also incredible
  • Jiren710
    Don't waste your money. They're already working on a better version of the PS5 basically the PS5 pro lol so yeah don't waste your money yet
  • Dave WJR
    I wouldn't. The XVox controller feels so much nicer. Having made the jump from PS4 to XBox series x, I hate having to use my friend's PS5 controller. Also, something I never hear mentioned....the Xbox games store is everything. They give huge discounts on great games (indie and AAA titles) and it has a great UI. And now with Gamepass being so ridiculously amazing and cheap, finding and playing games is an incredibly inexpensive and happy experience (and with the cloud gaming, you don't have to wait for installs to try out a game). Playstation 5's store UI is TERRIBLE, they rarely run good discounts on good games, PS Now service is a joke, let's face it: Sony butchered VR. Even if Sony rides the coattails of FB making VR mainstream with the Quest, there is NO reason to believe Sony will allocate the energy or resources necessary for PSVR2 to come close to competing with FB's next VR device. Overall, my initial regret of getting a Series X over the PS5 (due to availability), I am now ecstatic I didn't get stuck with the PS5