Once upon a time, when a new console would be released, people would just line up on the launch day and buy the damn thing. Once the shop ran out, too bad. Preorders were not a thing back in the day and it was just pure dumb luck if you got it when you wanted it. How things have changed. Today we are sitting at home due to that damn virus, looking at our computer screens, with several windows open trying to refresh the pages to get a preorder for the next generation of consoles from anywhere. It’s in this vein that I am going to give my experience with getting my hands on the new Playstation 5 & Xbox Series X console from beginning to end, all the ups and downs, surprises, and disappointments, etc.
September 17, 2020: 6 am: Playstation 5 Preview Show
At 5 am on September 17th, I rose from my slumber, grabbed a Redbull, some eggs on toast (sunny side up), and made my way to the computer to sit down with Keith in Discord and watch the newest promotional video stream from Playstation that would promote the Playstation 5. We got a great show that announced things like Final Fantasy XVI, Spider-Man: Miles Moralez, Hogwarts Legacy, and much more.
The main event of this show was that we finally got the price and release date for the Playstation 5 console itself! After all of that, I jumped on Twitter to see what EB Games (The biggest game retailer in Australia, also the Australian arm of GameStop) would tell us about when we could preorder the console; the tweet I saw had the usual “We will inform you about preorders as soon as we know” statement, which usually means that we would have a day or two before the announcement would be made. So I went back to bed to get some sleep before starting my day properly… I was a fool. What I didn’t know was that while I was asleep, 45 minutes after I went to sleep mind you, EB Games announced with a 15-minute window before it happened, that preorders would go live for the Playstation 5! So I slept through the launch day window for preorders.
September 17, 2020: 10 am: Playstation 5 PreOrder
As luck would have it, I would re-awaken at about 9.30 am to messages from Keith on Discord that EB Games started preorders for Playstation 5 consoles. To confirm, I jumped on Twitter to find out that not only did I miss the launch day preorder allotment, but that a second Post-Launch shipment would be up for preorder at 10 am! With less than 15 minutes to go, I ran down to the other end of the house, got the computer running (Thank god for NVMe M.2 SSD drives and their super quick boot times), and got onto the EB Games website with less than 10 minutes to go. I sat on the preorder page and waited for the timer to count down… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… GO!
I clicked the order button, picked the delivery option, picked my payment, and… I got it! A Post-Launch Playstation 5 was preordered and my credit card was charged $200… But something was wrong. Something didn’t seem right. There was one word on my preorder that should not be there… Diskless… I had preordered a Diskless edition of the Playstation 5, which I did not want since I still prefer physical media and sometimes get discs from PR companies for reviews. I was panicking! I quickly jumped back onto the EB Games website and went to the standard console preorder page and pressed the same sequence, praying that I could get one before everything sold out again. Luck was on my side I was easily able to get a standard Playstation 5 console preordered, but I couldn’t cancel my diskless edition through the website, leaving me an extra $200 out of pocket. But at least I got what I wanted in the end.
September 24, 2020: 8 am: Xbox Series X PreOrder
Here we go, the second round. You’d think that after the Playstation 5 preorder system had issues with the launch day shipment the EB Games would have learned something and prepared their servers for the insane influx of people who would be preordering the Xbox Series X… Nope! Since people knew about the preorder date and time for about a month, there were more people than expected waiting online for the order button to go live, and I was one of them.
I got up with about 30 minutes to go on the count down timer, having set up the CORRECT webpage the night before so I didn’t have a repeat of the Playstation 5 preorder mistake. The count down got down to zero and that order button went live… I clicked the button… waiting… waiting… Page error… FUCK!! Press it again and wait again for the same result. At this point, I begin to worry and turn to Twitter. It seems I’m not the only one having this issue. I give it one more try before giving up and waiting for a future shipment… Success! I had made it to the checkout page. I put all my info in and hit the confirm button, my mobile goes off confirming that EB Games has taken the $200 payment, so I go to my email to confirm the order, and… Nothing.
Again I go to Twitter to find I’m not the only one who has had payment taken but no confirmation. People start talking Class Action Lawsuits for fraud and false advertising. Eventually, EB Games posts on their Twitter that their system is overloaded and that preorders have been suspended and a second shipment preorder would go live at 3 pm that same day.
September 25, 2020: 11 am: Xbox Series X Preorder Part 2
Just as I got back to bed, I decided to see if I could call the EB Games customer support line to see what the situation was when it came to people who had been charged for the Xbox Series X/S but not received a confirmation email. I was on hold for about an hour before getting a lovely lady in the customer support center who explained that due to the influx of people placing preorders that the system was overloaded and the tech people were working through a backlog of orders and confirming those manually with stock levels for each store and then confirming the preorders with customers. I was told that this will take a few hours and that they are giving priority to customers who have already been charged for the console first.
September 25, 2020: 4 pm: Xbox Series X Preorder Part 3
I kept an eye on my email throughout the day, leaving the email client open so when the notification window popped up I would know what email would come in. Every time the notification window popped up my heart would jump thinking that I was about to either be excited or disappointed. At 3 pm, when the second shipment went up for preorder… Nothing. EB Games delayed the 3 pm shipment preorder to 6 pm due to them still working through the backlog of the 8 am shipment. At this point, I decided to give up and to wait things out. I was leaving the status of my preorder up to chance: Either I would get lucky and get a launch day Xbox Series X, or I would be without either next-generation consoles for a little while and maybe be playing in the new year.
I don’t know what piece of luck I used up that day, but some sometime after 4 pm, I would get the email seen above where EB Games confirmed that I have been one of the lucky people who have been given the chance to get the Xbox Series X at launch! Finally, something going right. As someone who spends a lot of time playing games for review, not having a next-generation console at launch felt like a kick in the nuts as it would put us behind the ball when it comes to getting reviews out to you, the people. So while I didn’t have a Playstation 5 at launch, I would get an Xbox Series X at launch, which was something at least.
October 14, 2020: 7 pm: Upgrade!
Since the preorder episodes were done and dusted, I figured all there was to do was sit back and save up as much money as possible to buy the consoles when I was able to get them. Luckily, due to that damn virus, my state was in Stage 4 lockdown, meaning that we couldn’t do anything but sit at home. A good thing about this was that the Australian Federal Government decided that since most of the country was already in lockdown since March, that everyone would be getting payments from the Government to keep the country running and people living lives during this horrible time in human history. As someone who is unemployed and a student, I was getting unemployment payments, which normally were just enough to keep the house running and have food on the table. But the Government decided to give an additional payment which doubled the money I was getting, allowing me to easily put $250 a fortnight away onto my credit card to afford the consoles and maybe some games too. so that’s what I was doing.
What I wasn’t expecting was to be checking my email after dinner that night and receiving two emails, both titled “Update to the status of your Playstation 5 preorder” from EB Games. The first thing in my mind was: “Fuck! No Playstation 5 till sometime in 2021. Thank god I’ve got an Xbox Series X at least”. But when I opened the email I was shocked to read that EB Games had bumped my preorder up from post-launch 2020 order to a launch day order! I was getting a Playstation 5 on launch day! So say I was shocked was an understatement… However, that shock and excitement were short-lived as news started hitting the news websites only an hour later that EB Games had a glitch in their system and people were getting upgrade emails that were soon made invalid, so I waited for mine to be revoked… And nothing showed up, but I was still worried.
October 23, 2020: 2 pm: Xbox Series X Call
Getting phone calls from companies is something I’m very used to since I deal with so many of them for The Outerhaven, but when EB Games comes calling, it’s usually to confirm that a preorder is ready to be picked up or something has gone wrong. Now I do have a couple of outstanding pick-ups from EB Games like WWE Battlegrounds, which I got from 2K Games directly. So I figured that they were calling me to ask when I was coming in to pick the game up or if they can do a refund… Nope.
On the other end of the phone was a nice girl from EB Games Ringwood, my local store. Let’s call her “Vickie” for the sake of it. Vickie was calling to talk about the upcoming Xbox Series X launch in November. As it’s been well aware now, that damn virus has made things harder to do in everyday life, and picking up a console is no exception. Vickie informed me that due to that damn virus that they are doing a staggered pick up for orders on launch day and was asking when I would be able to be available to pick up my Xbox Series X at launch. I booked in the 10 am slot since the 9 am slot was already full.
At the same time, I took the chance to address some issues, such as trade-ins for consoles and games, the 50% extra trade-in value birthday coupon I had since late September, if the upcoming VIP trade-in day bonus extended to consoles, the remaining payment for the consoles, the upgrade email, and finally the Playstation 5 mistake. Vickie was more than happy to address my questions and have a good general chat at the same time. I gained a lot of information from her and was thankful to her for her time and the organization that EB Games was taking to help make sure that launch days are as virus-safe as possible. Vickie also mentioned that since I was confirmed on the list for the Playstation 5 launch day shipment that I will be getting another call in the next few days to go through the same thing all over again for that.
October 29, 2 pm: EB Games VIP Trade-In Week
October was a weird time for people in the State of Victoria, which includes me, as we were in the final stages of Stage 4 lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. This meant that people were not allowed to leave their houses unless it was to go to the Supermarket/Grocery Store for food or to medical facilities for Doctor visits and medication. Even fast food was take-away or delivery only, so no sit-in dining. It was a time where people were going crazy as we entered this stage of lockdown back in March. While this didn’t affect the pre-order process, it did mean that those of us who wanted to do trade-ins with games, consoles, and accessories were looking like we wouldn’t be able to do this due to the lockdown. Thankfully, Victoria was allowed to reopen stores on October 27th, leading to EB Games to announce that their upcoming VIP Trade Week where trade-in values doubled was going to start early in Victoria so that the people working EB Games would be able to deal with the influx of trade-ins that the state would provide. So I packed up my Xbox One S, my spare Playstation 4 (My step-father found one in a house cleanout he did and gave it to me), some games and accessories, and headed off to trade them all in.
While Victoria was in lockdown, my local EB Games store had relocated inside Eastland, the mall nearby, from a small location near the food court to a larger location next to its sister business, Zing Pop Culture. So I went in and began talking to the store clerk about what had happened with the pre-order for the Playstation 5, which they easily fixed for me, leading to an extra $100 off each console. Then when it came to the games and accessories, it turned out that a 50% bonus coupon I had from my birthday gave me a better trade-in by 10% on those items, so I earned almost $200 for 6 games and a wired Xbox controller that I got from a flea market for $5. Then came the main event, the consoles, which ended up being a good $420 once all the bonus and VIP membership stuff was taken care of. Overall, I had somewhere in the range of $680 in trade-ins for everything, and with only $450 left on each console, I was able to pay everything off for only $240 of my own money. So I paid that and also paid for the new Yakuza game, and Spider-Man: Miles Moralez too, all up costing me $450, not too bad all things considered.
October 30, 7pm: Playstation 5 Call
Nothing overly different here from the Xbox Series X phone call, the girl who called up asked if I had done the VIP Week Event, if I needed any extra accessories (Got to give that upsell a try) and when I wanted to come to pick the console up. I asked about getting in ASAP, so I was put down to 9 am.
November 10, 10am: Xbox Series X Pick Up
So after a weird night of the Police showing up at my door at 1 am to check out a domestic disturbance call from somewhere in my area, I awoke at 9 am to get myself ready for what I expected to be a long wait in line to pick up my Xbox Series X. What I didn’t expect was for there to be NO LINE at 10 am. But there were a lot of staff on the floor talking to customers and working out what they wanted or had to do in-store. As I walked in, a nice guy named Andrew asked if I was getting the Xbox Series X or Series S, so I told him and he went to the back to collect my console. I was at the counter with Chelsea, a lovely girl who, bless her heart, tried hard to upsell me on accessories, Xbox Live and Game Pass, other games, and even a bag to carry the console and game (I got the new Yakuza game), to which I denied her everything since I’ve already got what I need. So with the console in hand, a game in the other, I went back to the car and headed home.
November 10, 10.30am: Xbox Series X At Home
With the console now in my home, what is the first thing I should do with it? An unboxing video of course! Since just about everyone else was doing one, why not get in on the action. Luckily, my camera, which has gone unused for months, still had about 50% battery charge in it, enough to record the unboxing video that you see above. Once the recording was over, I set the console up next to the largest TV in the house, aka the one in the lounge room, and then came here to update my post. Once I completed that, it was time to do set up and have my first experience with the Xbox Series X.
Setting up the console was a breeze, and of course, the first thing that the console needs to do out of the box is to download a system update. The good thing is that while you are waiting for the 770Mb day one update to happen is that you can finish the setup process via the Xbox app on your phone. So I download the app, do the connection code thing, then proceed to set up my Xbox Series X as a fresh new system, even though it did automatically bring over a lot of things from my Xbox One S settings, like app and shortcuts, which I had to update or remove based on what they were.
Once everything was set up, I proceeded to navigate through the easy to work menu system to find what games I own, have via Games for Gold, and Game Pass. I looked through the Game Pass offerings, which now include EA Play titles, and select We Happy Few to download since it was only 11Gb in size and also one of the very few titles stating they are optimized for the Xbox Series X… Then tragedy struck! My internet goes down! I check with my ISP, Telstra, to find that they are doing upgrade works in my area today from now till sometime around 9 am tomorrow. Safe to say I was pissed off. Even now I’m updating this by tethering my cell phone to my computer and running on 4G network data speeds (Thank god my cell phone is with a different provider as the 4G back up for my Telstra modem was also unavailable).
Once the internet started working again, I finished downloading We Happy Few and DOOM Eternal and got to work giving them a shot. Now, in my lounge room, we have a nice 65″ LED TV that I got a few years ago so that I could get rid of my horrible, heat-spewing, LCD TV that I had been using for about 8 years by that point. Suffice to say, the picture looked really good at 65 inches on that TV. Firing up DOOM Eternal was a treat as I had not played it yet up to that point. The game ran smoothly and looked pretty cool… Then it hit me, I have a slightly smaller (32″) 4K enabled TV sitting in the office. So I packed up the Xbox Series X, moved it into the office, and hooked the console up.
Holy shit did it make a difference!
After going through the HDR set up for the game’s option, I jumped back into DOOM Eternal and DAMN, the change to a 4K TV was amazing. Everything was so bright and sharp, and the movement was so slick (partly in thanks to the controller being so easy to use). Now I want to update all my TVs to 4K versions. So I continued to play for a while before I remembered I had to try the new World of Warcraft Shadowlands pre-patch event, which took up the rest of my evening.
November 12, 10am: Playstation 5 Pick Up
So here we go, the big event. With thousands of people buying the Playstation 5 all at once and almost 4 times the orders according to the people at EB Games, it was time to go pick up the console for me. And… It was too easy, kinda. As you can see in the photo above, there was no line again at all at 10 am. According to the guy at the entrance, the store was open from 7 am (something I was not told about at all) and that’s when the line was at its longest. So I walked right in and instantly someone was asking me what I was picking up and went to prepare it for me at the counter while I waited in line for people to finish up doing trade-ins towards their consoles.
Once those people completed their purchases, pickups, and trade-ins, I got to the counter and once again had Chelsea serving me at the desk. She asked for my EB Games card (A membership card that keeps all my info on their systems), and then for some ID… But I had nothing on me at the time since after moving around a bit, nothing has my current address on it, nor do I drive so that is out of the question. My only ID would be my passport and that is back at home, and I didn’t want to go back home just to get that. So we confirmed my details via questions (So it was pointless) and I got my console, a copy of Spider-Man: Miles Moralez, and headed home, only stopping to pick up some sushi from Costco for lunch.
November 12, 12 pm: Playstation 5 At Home
So with the console now in my home, it was time to play some video games… HA! Silly fool! I had to film the unboxing video for the site, which you can see above, then start the setup process for the console, which included updating the firmware, updating the controller firmware, signing into Playstation Network, setting up accounts, setting up family settings, setting up privacy settings, agreeing to EULA, Terms & Conditions, and so forth. Finally, I get to one final step before I can start playing: Transferring my save data and other settings from my PS4 to my PS5… Which will take an hour or so according to the automated timer system. So I had some lunch, watched some YouTube, and relaxed while checking into the lounge room now and again to see how the process was going.
Once that was all over, thanks to the system installing Spider-Man: Miles Moralez in the background while setting up the system, I finally got to sit down and play the game. Now, the first thing that I noticed was that the game had some internal options, something that the Xbox Series X did not. These options were “Fidelity”, which allowed for things like Ray-Tracing, Dynamic Lighting, etc, but reduces the frame rate to 30fps! The other option was “Performance”, which removed all those bells and whistles but gave a slightly lower 4K/60fps experience. Well, I didn’t pay $750 for a “smooth but lesser” experience, I want my shiny graphics damn it! So 30fps does look a bit off, but the improved graphical image is worth the sacrifice (No Keith, don’t hit me with the “Frame Rates Matter” stick, I’ll be good, I’ll be good!) as the way the sun changed the shadows in real-time, Miles reflecting nicely off all other windows as he swings in front or beside them.
So now that both consoles are on the shelf and have been played a bit, what are my thoughts about them both? Well, the Xbox Series X feels like there was a lot more care put into the way the controller feels in your hands and how responsive it is, and everything internally is done with the ease of access that you don’t really need to mess with too many options to get the console doing what you want from it. The Playstation 5 on the other hand, is a beast of a console that shows nothing but raw power from the second you turn it on, however, you do need to get into the system settings and do a lot of changes to maximize the system to its full potential. However, there is no difference in the way that the systems play games and how good it feels to play games in 4K (Even at 30fps sometimes). Neither one is “better” than the other, both have their good and bad points, but at the end of the day, it’s all about playing games and enjoying them.