Over the next fortnight both Sony and Microsoft are launching their next-generation gaming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X respectively.
The Xbox Series X launches in the UK on Tuesday, while the PS5 hits UK shores on Thursday 19 November.
Both come ahead of Christmas and during another month of COVID-19 lockdowns across the country.
This might seem like perfect timing for gamers, but few consumers are going to buy both consoles – so which is going to do better during this generation of the console wars – and crucially, how do the consoles themselves compare?
Both consoles are available for £450 in the UK and their prices match each other in every other territory they’re being sold in too.
Microsoft will be hoping this contributes to its next-generation console performing better against Sony’s than last time, when the PS4 outsold the Xbox One by more than 112 million units to just under 53 million.
In terms of sheer hardware specs, there’s not much between them – indeed they’re so similar it isn’t worth listing those specs in full – but the Xbox Series X has the slightly more powerful processor.
Both definitely deserve their next-generation marketing, but while their innards might amount to consoles which are very similar, they have very different appearances.
The design of Xbox Series X is certainly more understated than that of the PS5. Microsoft has gone for a handsome black obelisk with a large exhaust patch and some slight green flair, but generally feels like it deserve being called a box.
The PS5, on the other hand, is a more busy. It has a main black body draped in a curved hard white cape, avoiding the solid geometric look of the Series X.
Reviewers have generally been split on whether they like it or not, but they’re generally agreed that it does look very futuristic and is the more science-fiction inspired device of the two.
One of the best indicators for market performance by a games console is how many unique games it is going to have, and both Microsoft and Sony have plenty to shout about here, although not immediately.
Earlier this year Sony put a lot of games into what was planned as a 40-minute showcase for the PS5, including one set in the Harry Potter world, a sequel to God of War, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and a new Call of Duty game – but these aren’t going to be available at launch,
Another version of Microsoft’s flagship Xbox game, Halo Infinite, has also been delayed until 2021, but the console will be backwards-compatible and Microsoft’s new Game Pass feature means there will be “thousands of games to play”, spanning four generations, when the product is released.
Game Pass is Microsoft’s Netflix-style games feature, where for a monthly subscription users will be able to download and play different games.
Microsoft and Sony both say there will be a range of games which have been optimised for the next-generation console available from day one, including Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and, of course, Fortnite.