Can you feel it? That tremble in the wind, that sense of possibility thrumming all around you? That, friends, is the approach of relatively minute, in many ways arbitrary change. The next generation of consoles is nearly upon us, and now you have a decision to make: Buy, or wait? On this week’s episode of Splitscreen, we talk about the pros and cons of upgrading straight out the gate (and a whole lot of other things, too).
We begin the episode by taking a journey into console history, discussing our favorite console generations (and, for some reason, Gex the gecko) before bombarding resident console reviewer Mike Fahey with questions like “Should we get a PS5 for Spider-Man: Miles Morales or just play it on PS4?” and “If you dropped both the PS5 and Xbox Series X off a building, which would have a better chance of surviving?” Then we close out by making our wildest predictions about the new generation of consoles and the distant, unknowable future. Smell-o-vision? It’s finally gonna happen on the definitely upcoming and real PlayStation 5 Senses. Oh, and you’d better believe that roaches are gonna infest the heck out of your regular PS5 and use it to usher in a new world order. But at least Halo Infinite will be fine. Not great, but fine.
Get the MP3 here, and check out an excerpt below.
Nathan: I want to play Spider-Man: Miles Morales. I have a PS4. I don’t really want to buy a PS5. I assume you played the original Spider-Man when it came out in 2018; compared to that, is the PS5 version of Miles Morales so much better that I should get a PS5? Or should I play it on PS4, the way god intended?
Fahey: God did not intend the PS4. Playing it on the PS5, that’s where the lack of load times really comes in. There’s nothing. You go from the opening screen where he’s sitting on the subway just hanging out, you choose your game save and count a few beats, and you’re in this whole open-world New York. It’s super fast. It’s ridiculous. What kept me from getting into a lot of the side things in Spider-Man, like going into buildings and some other stuff, was those load times. I was like, “I don’t want to wait for that” and “I don’t want to wait to go back outside.” Now there’s none of that! You go into a building, you wander around, you do your mission, you find a vent when you’re done, you zip out, and you’re back in the damn city. It doesn’t even transition. That building’s part of the whole landscape.
Is it looking better? I think it’s looking a bit better. The reflections, if you’re in 4k mode, are nuts. They’re real-time reflections. You can look at the building you’re crawling up, and you see the one behind you, or the one off to the side. It’s not pre-rendered in any way. It’s just straight up “There’s a reflection of the thing.” Or you can turn on 60 FPS mode and try not to look in any of those windows because you’re not getting reflections, but boy he’s moving fast. He’s a fast guy.
Ash: I’m just wondering: Does any of this matter? I feel like such a weird gamer in that none of that matters to me. I don’t care about load times. I don’t care about ray tracing. I don’t know the difference between 4k or 30 FPS and 60 FPS. I’m sure I could see it if it was, like, side by side, but they make such negligible impacts on me. What is any of this for? Why do I care about this? Why should I care about this? Why should I care if a game has 4k textures and all that bullshit? All that symbolizes to me is some poor developer in Toronto had to work 90 hours a week to make that work, or his boss was going to get mad at him.
Fahey: Well, he shouldn’t have gotten a job at Ubisoft.
Everybody: [Laughs ruefully.]
Fahey: Oh, I’m sorry. Again with the Ubisoft.
Nathan: At least he has options. He can just go to work at CD Projekt.
Fahey: No, no.
Well, EA’s hiring.
Ash: Not them either. What about Blizzard? Nope, Bobby Kotick. Never mind.
Nathan: I mean, they’re probably just gonna lay 800 people off again soon anyway. And give, like, $400 million to Bobby Kotick.
Fahey: Anyway, there was actually a question in there, and the answer is: No, it doesn’t really matter at all. You can play all the games. Until there’s a game on the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X that you can’t really play on the other systems, it doesn’t matter all that much. These are both sort of incremental upgrades. What’s gonna make the difference here is the PlayStation 5 with that haptic [controller] technology—that’s the big difference. And its guide, its revamped UI, the guides you have that let you hop into games—that will change your experience of games in a massive way.
So if you’re playing Spider-Man on the PS5, you might have access to challenges or tracking information or some data or hints—or Astro’s Playroom, same thing—that you might not have if you’re playing the game on PS4. Now Astro’s Playroom is not for the PlayStation 4. That is the pack-in exclusive, and the one exclusive PlayStation 5 game, really. But compared to the two generations, the PlayStation 5 people who upgrade immediately will get the most immediate impact.
The Xbox Series X feels like an Xbox One. That’s the gist of my review. It’s a more powerful Xbox One. It uses the same exact UI. I’ve taken screenshots of both. You can’t tell the difference. It’s the same exact thing. It’s just how the games play on the Xbox Series X. You can still play them no matter what. I don’t know how big a difference quick resume will make. I think that’s gonna change how people play multiple games, but it won’t necessarily make them better. It will just make people better at juggling.
Nathan: Right so, a quick final question before we move on to our next segment. Fuck, marry, kill: PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch.
[A truly terrible discussion ensues.]
For much more, including the aforementioned terrible discussion, check out the episode. New episodes drop every Friday, and don’t forget to like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Also if you feel so inclined, leave a review, and you can always drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtra, Fahey is @UncleFahey, and Nathan is @Vahn16. See you next week!