On the frontline of the console wars, it’s difficult to find perspective. Whether you’ve already chosen a side and are deep in the trenches, or you’re just trying to figure out if an Xbox Series X (see on Amazon) or PS5 (see on Amazon) makes a better Christmas gift this year, you’d be hard pressed to find a measured, bipartisan take on the internet. Instead, the seemingly endless battle between Microsoft and Sony is littered with fanboys using Starfield ass mods to “dunk” on each other and CEOs arguing over console exclusives and their perceived value.
I’m not a console warrior, nor am I a specs girl. I don’t care about framerates or ray tracing all that much; I’m not fussed about the power of processors. I grew up playing PlayStation until my high school boyfriend introduced me to Halo 2, then I bought an Xbox 360 so I could play Halo 3. I currently own a Series S and a PS5, both of which are jammed into a too-small entertainment console in my living room. But there is a distinct delineation between what kind of game I play on each device, and it’s worth discussing: I use my Series S for my competitive shooters, and my PS5 for almost everything else.
I spend a lot of time playing Overwatch 2 on my Series S, but I also use its rather small storage for Warzone, Apex Legends, and Halo Infinite (see on Amazon). These are my core four shooters that I regularly rotate between—I never play those first three on my PS5, even with the console’s extra storage space making it a lot easier to keep (and update) huge games like Call of Duty. There are a few reasons why.
As I mentioned, I got an Xbox so I could play Halo 3 (see on Amazon), which means I cut my teeth in the FPS world using the heftier Xbox controllers. As such, my hands became molded to them, my fingers grew comfortable with their curves. Even with slight variations in their design since the 360 days (like the controversial d-pad change that removed the disc in the Xbox One controller, or the extra button added with the Series X/S model), Microsoft’s controller has felt ergonomically superior for years.
The setup of the triggers and the joysticks, the way it rumbles, even the sheer heft of its plastic has always made Xbox controllers a more comfortable fit when compared to PlayStation’s DualShock and DualSense, whose symmetrical joysticks give me hand cramps. The size of the PlayStation controllers’ triggers also baffle me, and have historically made my attempts to play anything like Fortnite or Call of Duty rather miserable.
Then there’s the social aspect—I find it a lot easier to invite people to parties and chirp enemy players on Xbox’s interface. As Twitch streamer Jynxzi often shows during his play sessions, it’s easy in games like Rainbow Six Siege (see on Amazon) and Overwatch 2 to find a player in your match, navigate to their profile, and send them a friend request or, in Jynxzi’s case, an unhinged voice memo. I use this feature often to reach out to players in Overwatch comp who aren’t talking and (mostly) politely request that they swap a character or heal more when playing as Moira. I don’t find those features as simple on PlayStation.
Of course, my Xbox preference would not exist were it not for Halo 3, the sole reason why I’m a shooter player in the first place. And Halo’s exclusivity to Xbox consoles is a large reason why those same consoles remain my preference for my daily competitive game session. When I have a few bad rounds in Overwatch, I can seamlessly swap to playing some lighthearted matches in Halo Infinite. Everything is right there, at my fingertips.
But aside from Starfield, an Xbox-exclusive RPG that sucked up a good chunk of my time before proving a bore, if there’s a narrative-focused game, I’m playing it on my PS5.
There’s two major reasons why the PS5 is my go-to console for big-budget campaigns: Sony (often exclusively) releases some of the best single player games, and the DualSense’s features make my gaming experience so much better.
The controller’s groundbreaking haptic feedback system does a lot of impressive stuff. It offers different firing modes based on how far down you pull the trigger in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (see on Amazon) and adds an extra layer to Prowler Stash puzzles in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (see on Amazon) by requiring you to apply different pressure on each side. And it feels great when it’s not offering more depth and just, literally, vibing—like when I swing through New York City as Miles Morales or ward off scaries in Alan Wake II. Swiping on the touch pad at its center adds even more layers to a gaming experience, and there’s nothing that delights me more than when a phone call emanates from the built-in speaker. And because Sony knows how powerful its DualSense is, all of the studios working on first-party games make the most of it.
Those first-party titles are, by and large, some of the most polished modern gaming experiences you can get. Whether it’s God of War: Ragnarök (see on Amazon) or Horizon Forbidden West (see on Amazon), Sony’s games are akin to Hollywood blockbusters or fine-tuned supercars—they’re written like ancient epics, acted by icons, and so often without the jankiness that can scar new releases. Whether or not that makes them demonstrably better than other games is not the conversation here, but it is undeniable that they feel like they’re worth $70, especially when you have all the power of the DualSense in your palms.
Of course, the PS5’s storage size is a key element—though I may not care about frames per second, I do love that I can have Skyrim, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Elden Ring, Spider-Man 2, and Alan Wake II stored on there and regularly updated without having to uninstall anything.
Without realizing it, I’ve trained myself to boot up my PS5 when I’m in the mood for a lengthy, relaxed night of gaming that involves scouring worlds for hard-to-find objects or taking on daunting bosses, or power up my Xbox Series S when I want to shoot shit and yell into my headset. The consoles have become intrinsically linked with those different play styles, to such an extreme that, when I tried to play last year’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare II on PS5, I almost immediately shut it off and swapped back to Warzone on my Series S instead.
If you have both consoles, when do you play each and why?
See the Xbox Series X on Amazon
See the PS5 on Amazon