Despite both being ‘next-generation’ consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were not born equal.
Microsoft’s Xbox One was slightly underpowered compared to the PS4, a situation that was then made considerably worse when Sony announced its 4K games console the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Then there were the games. While the Xbox had its family of Forza, Gears of War and Halo it struggled to gain footholds with brand-new IP like Sunset Overdrive and ReCore and Quantum Break.
Sony on the other hand had The Last of Us, Uncharted, Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Bloodborne with the promise of yet more IP including the highly-anticipated Death Stranding.
Microsoft is looking to change all this however. The Xbox One X is a staggeringly powerful piece of technology, and along with its new console the company is planning to take the fight to PlayStation.
So how do they compare?
Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Specs
On paper, the Xbox One X wipes the floor of the Pro, it’s that simple.
To understand why we must first explain what a teraflop is. In layman’s terms a teraflop is a relatively heavy handed way of describing how many calculations it can make per second.
The Xbox One X has 6 teraflops of computing power, compared to the PS4 Pro’s 4.2. In terms of memory the Xbox One X wins again boasting 12GB against the PS4’s 9GB.
This specs lead allows the Xbox One X to play games in “true 4K” resolution, something that Microsoft believes the PS4 Pro is unable to do.
This is where things get really complicated. You can’t really say that one console offers “true 4K” over the other as it massively depends on the game.
Some games on PS4 Pro can run in pure 4K, whereas in other cases developers have chosen to sacrifice the resolution but use the console’s power to add in other features like a larger game world or faster frame rates.
Games like Forza Motorsport 7 (see above) will run in native 4K and at a full 60fps on the Xbox One X.
While the Xbox One X does have more power it is still at the mercy of the games themselves. Developers may well look at the Xbox’s specs and again decide that they would rather use that processing power to dramatically increase the intelligence of its characters or the number of them.
Ultimately while you are going to see better resolutions on the Xbox One X, the components needed for you to fully appreciate them are complicated.
Both consoles for example support a TV technology called HDR10. It’s a relatively new technology that can dramatically improve the contrast levels and colour reproduction of an image. However because it’s so new it’s currently only found on more expensive 4K TVs, again something that not everyone has.
Xbox One X Vs. PS4 Pro: Features
Things in this department are thankfully a little simpler. The Xbox One X boasts a 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc drive meaning you can play your 4K Blu-rays. The PS4 Pro does not support this.
Both consoles support 4K streaming through Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and both have an app store with hundreds of apps including YouTube and Twitch.
The PS4 Pro and indeed the PS4 both support virtual reality through the PlayStation VR headset.
While Microsoft PCs do support virtual reality with HTC’s Vive and Oculus Rift, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X do not support virtual reality at this time.
One major selling point for the Xbox family is its backwards compatibility. Both the Xbox One X and Xbox One S will let you play your old Xbox 360 games and soon, original Xbox games. As long as they’re on the list of compatible titles and you own them then you can play them.
The PS4 and PS4 Pro do not support backwards compatibility with PS3 or PS2 games.
Finally both companies offer a subscription gaming service, however they’re both very different.
The Xbox Games Pass costs £7.99 per month and gives you access to a library of new and old games that you can download and play as many times as you’d like.
PlayStation Now on the other hand costs £12.99 per month and lets you stream a library of PS3 and PS4 games. The games run on servers and are simply streamed to your console, saving you space on the hard drive. How good your experience is will depend on your internet connection.
Xbox One X Vs. PS4 Pro: Games
This is where it all gets very interesting. Xbox announced over 42 games at its E3 2017 press briefing with 22 of them being exclusive to Xbox.
While that might seem like a lot, looking beyond the numbers it’s clear that many of these are “indie” titles, essentially smaller games that are made by independent developers.
In terms of blockbuster exclusives the Xbox One X currently has:
Forza Motorsport 7
Sea of Thieves
State of Decay 2
In comparison PlayStation hasn’t even held its E3 2017 briefing and already it has:
The Last of Us 2
God of War
Detroit: Become Human
In this regard PlayStation has the upper hand. It has more exclusives and more brand-new titles (not sequels) as well as a track record of those games reviewing incredibly well.
Compare the critical acclaim that Horizon Zero Dawn got to say ReCore or Sunset Overdrive and you start to get a sense of the battle ahead for Microsoft.
Xbox One X Vs. PS4 Pro: Conclusion
At this stage it’s impossible to say if anyone as “won” in this contest. The Xbox One X has only just been announced so until we can actually get our hands on the console and start living with it for now it’s simply going to be based on what we know so far.
In terms of raw power, Microsoft has made all the right decisions. The Xbox One X is a remarkable-looking piece of technology. It’s very powerful so should be futureproofed against the next generation of TVs and the technologies that come with it.
It’s also incredibly expensive. At £449 it boasts a price that hasn’t been seen since the the PS3 when a new games console represented a major shift forward in technology.
The PS4 Pro by contrast is £349, a price that many believe could actually go cheaper by the end of this week.
What the Xbox One X lacks, or certainly appears to lack at the moment is a solid foundation of exclusive games that will make a person with a 4K TV think: “I should buy this over the PlayStation 4 Pro”. Yes the games might look slightly better, but if they’re not games you want to play in the first place then Microsoft has already lost the battle.
The next 12 months are going to be very interesting, either way.