In particular, testers have found steadier frame rates on the PlayStation 5. At least during the initial versions of Dirt 5, Assasin’s Creed: Valhalla, CoD: Black Ops – Cold War, and Devil May Cry 65.
The core issue doesn’t appear to be the platform. In theory, the Xbox Series X is more powerful than the PlayStation 5. And yet, third-party titles are running slightly better on Sony’s side.
Underneath the real-life performance, there’s untapped potential on the Xbox Series. Let’s see why…
By the end of the article, we’re also checking Cyberpunk 2077 running on the XSX and the PS5.
We listed all of these titles in our previous article about late-2020 console games. Check it out if you need further info:
PS5 vs. Xbox Series – “GDK”
There’s being a lot of talk about Microsoft’s “GDK,” so we’re going to explain.
Here’s the core issue. Microsoft waited for a specific AMD technology before they started producing the Xbox Series lineup.
“Full RDNA 2 support,” as they called it, arrived in August. That means the Xbox Series’ GPU is a version of the current AMD RX 6000 GPU lineup.
Furthermore, we can assume the PS5’s GPU is instead an early prototype of “Big Navi” graphics cards. The specs detail it’s also RDNA 2, but we don’t know precisely what the “full support means.”
Either way, Microsoft started production in August. Simultaneously, developers began working on Xbox Series games and “Optimized for Xbox Series” exclusive titles by summer 2020.
Microsoft released the Xbox Series X Game Development Kit in June. It was a new kit that ended the Xbox One GDK useless. That means developers could submit games for the platform as of June.
Overall, Microsoft had a tight schedule to release developer kits and produce Xbox consoles.
Sony handled things differently. The PS5 developer’s kit wasn’t new; it was only an upgrade over the PS4 GDK. Because of that, developers had access to PS5 kits by late 2019, early 2020. That’s a significant advantage.
PS5 v. Xbox Series X gameplay videos
Microsoft’s promised “the most powerful console in the world.” The results are accurate, on paper, with a stronger GPU, a more robust CPU, a faster SDD, and more storage.
Checking on PS5 vs. Xbox Series reviews, you’ll find that results say differently.
In specific, Digital Foundry has tested various games across two consoles.
Devil May Cry 5
Virgil’s quest runs at smooth and constant 60fps on the PlayStation 5. On Xbox Series, though, the game dips to 40fps.
“The dips look really strange to me, and it kind of suggests to me some kind of API limitation on the Xbox side where the GPU is being held back by something” – Digital Foundry editor Richard Leadbetter
With ray tracing, both consoles look very similar. That’s suggesting the PS5 is punching above its specs.
Assasin’s Creed: Valhalla
Various game testers have found the Valhalla version for the Xbox Series carries some screen tearing. Moreover, there’re regular dips below 60fps.
The PS5 version runs with steady frame rates, but it includes screen tearing and slow texture loading. Overall, it looks like Ubisoft’s title is poorly optimized for new-gen consoles.
Regarding image quality and resolution, the Xbox Series X appears to fall behind. Notably, the PS5 offers better textures and a higher average resolution.
In performance mode (120fps), the PS5 details are greater than what we see on the Xbox Series X.
DIrt 5 developers Codemasters are aware of the gap. They say they will launch an upcoming patch to fix Xbox Series performance.
The developer teams praised the Xbox Series’ developer kit. They said they had to start working on the Series version before they had the GDK, which ultimately made the work difficult.
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War
Cold War also shows differences between the two console versions. In this case, the Series X has a significant advantage on ray tracing while running on smooth 60fps.
On the other hand, the PS5 drops to 40fps in some scenes and cinematic cuts with ray tracing on.
Keep in mind that these are closed testing and benchmarks that may not represent your personal experience.
I advise you to take a look at other gameplay videos. Here’s one from a reliable YouTube channel:
What could this mean?
The comparisons show the PS5 has a slight edge over the Xbox Series X.
These differences are present on third-party titles only. Notably, I should say games coming from Xbox Studios show impressive performance. At least, that’s what optimized Xbox exclusives make us think.
Here’s gameplay footage for Ori and The Will of Wisps:
That makes us think the tight GDK schedule harmed Xbox series games. Developers take time to understand new software codes.
Xbox One’s original developers’ toolkit also suffered sub-par performance at launch. Still, developers claim Sony’s solutions are better, even if that currently means “easier to use.”
Overall, the performance gaps regarding the PS5 vs. Xbox Series are about game optimization, rather than the Xbox itself. We expect further patches coming soon. That said, a full year may pass until we see the real performance the Xbox Series X can achieve.
Microsoft is also aware of the performance drops. Talking with The Verge, Xbox’s head Phil Spencer explained they entered the game development competition because they were waiting for a specific AMD GPU technology.
“We are aware of performance issues in a handful of optimized titles on Xbox Series X|S and are actively working with our partners to identify and resolve the issues to ensure an optimal experience. As we begin a new console generation, our partners are just now scratching the surface of what next-gen consoles can do and minor bug fixes are expected as they learn how to take full advantage of our new platform. We are eager to continue working with developers to further explore the capability of Xbox Series X|S in the future.” – Phil Spencer (taken from The Verge)
Here’s another gameplay for Borderlands 3, optimized for Xbox Series X. It runs at 4K, 60fps, and HDR. There’s also a mode that makes the game run at 120fps.
Variable refresh rate
Another thing we should note is that the Xbox Series launched with variable refresh rate support. Given that you have a TV that supports the feature, it can smooth out frame rate issues and deliver better performance at 120fps.
The PlayStation 5 doesn’t have variable refresh features, though.
That also makes us think Sony equally rushed the launch of the PS5. Current stock problems for both consoles can only confirm the theory.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series: Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay
The last bit we need to check is Cyberpunk 2077 running on both consoles. Bear in mind that CD Projekt Red is showcasing the retro-compatible version. They will release an early-2021 free patch that can better take advantage of the new hardware.
W already reviewed the Cyberpunk 2077 Xbox gameplay in a previous article. I’m leaving the video below, which details the Xbox One X vs. the Xbox Series X. In all honesty, both look similar and equally stunning:
There’s also PS5 vs. PS4 Pro gameplay footage. As it contains gameplay from the first portion of the game, you may not want to see it. Either way, both consoles look similar, although the textures appear to fall a bit behind the Xbox counterparts.
Here’s the video;
All in all, game graphics and performance also depend on the developer’s optimizations. CD Projekt Red is taking its time to optimize the game for all consoles fully.
That said, I don’t think Ubisoft or Activision are the best examples of game optimizations.
Another side note: Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay looks a bit underwhelming on consoles.
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Microsoft’s initial performance matters significantly. The console doesn’t have a great selection of exclusives to play. The broad catalog of the new-gen console is about third-party titles. The games we listed here are what’s hot right now.
We can conclude that it will take time before the Xbox Series X reaches maximum performance. The PlayStation 5, though, is probably hitting its performance peak very soon.
As the “full RDNA 2 support” and the GDK matures, we’ll see better results on the Xbox Seris. The real test will start once Microsoft exclusives start launching in 2021 and beyond.