Firstly, if you’re reading this without having read Part One, I suggest you get on that now, and not least because this is, like, a list examining the pros and cons of next-gen machines, and not reading half of it would be a bit daft, no!? Secondly, if you have read Part One, thank you, and I hope you found it useful, and I hope that you also find this one, and its conclusion, helpful too.
Right, anyway, let’s get started, shall we?
I mean, duh, right!? I’m not clairvoyant, but if you’re even thinking about buying a Next-Gen Games Console, I’ma go right ahead and guess that you might, possibly, be interested in playing games on it. As we saw in Part One, they’re both perfectly capable of allowing you to do just that, and in terms of all the under-the-hood-stuff, they’re both pretty impressive little machines.
However, in the ‘Games’ section, I’ll be looking at a slightly more specific element of games. This being a comparison between the two main Next-Gen Consoles, and consoles being a thing on which to play games, it makes sense to look at the differences between the two machines. Whilst, for the most part, your big Triple-A games tend to be released for both the Xbox One and PS4 (sometimes with slightly different bonuses/extras on a particular console, but that’s about it), they do both differ slightly in line-ups and such.
The most obvious manifestation of that is in the field of big, Triple A-type EXCLUSIVES (i.e games you’ll only be able to play on one console, but not the other). Indeed, now that both consoles have pretty much leveled-out in terms of cost, Games have become the most visible front in the battle for Gamer’s hearts and minds – and where most of the big guns get blasted into our faces.
And it is a very important part of your decision, and perhaps even the most important part. Nobody wants to spend a lot of money on a console, then not be able to play a particular game just because it’s only available on the other one. In a way, this was a big part of the reason I went from the Xbox 360 to the PS4 – because having missed out on some of Sony’s exclusives during my time with the 360 (and having heard they’d be remastered and/or with rumours of back-compatability always being an ever-present thing (I’ll cover that in a bit)), I saw it as a great opportunity to broaden my Gaming Horizons. Obviously, the cost of that was that if the next installment of an Xbox exclusive came out after I’d made the leap, I’d either have to make do with the last-gen version of it, or not play it at all. Complicated, eh!?
It gets even more complicated because (I think) there’s no objective “right” answer here – and a lot of this is entirely your decision to make, based on your own personal preferences. Sometimes it might be an obvious choice – say if you’re a diehard Halo fan – but, more often than not, you’re going to have to make some tough calls. You’re also going to have to do a bit of research, particularly with regards to the immediate future. Again – and personally speaking – a big part of the reason I’ve recently opted to get the Xbox One in addition to my PS4, is precisely because there are exclusives currently available (and hitting soon) that I’m definitely interested in, and enough of them to make it seem worthwhile.
So, for me, that included the new Halo, Tomb Raider, the batshit crazy Sunset Overdrive, Sate of Decay, Titanfall, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Dead Rising 3. There’s the new Gears of War dropping soon, as well as the intriguing Quantum Break, Scalebound, Elite Dangerous, a new Crackdown, and a new Fable installment.
Over on the PlayStation 4 side, there’s currently The Last of Us, The Uncharted Collection, InFamous Second Son, The Order: 1886, Until Dawn, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Bloodborne and Little Big Planet 3. In the “dropping soon” category, there’s The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, Street Fighter V, The Witness, as well as the game I’m perhaps most excited/intrigued about – No Man’s Sky.
There really is no easy way to ascribe a winner in this particular fight. See, I could link to this full list, which suggests that there are more PlayStation exclusives, but even that’s not the end of the story, and not necessarily enough information with which to make a decision. I could tell you a big part of the reason I opted for the PS4 in the first place was that I’m a big fan of Indie type games, and the PlayStation just seemed to have more of those – but a) that’s a personal preference, and b) Microsoft are very much catching up in this exact respect.
What I would recommend though, is for you to consider one or more of the following things; your game buying budget; your game playing time; and finally, any particular GENRES you’re a big fan of.
If, for example, you know you’re only going to have the time or money to really commit to 5 or 6 big Triple-A type titles, and your top 5 or 6 (or a significant percentage of those 5 or 6) are exclusive to one particular console, that kind of makes your decision for you, right? Conversely, if you’ve got loads of time and/or money, and one console’s exclusives just don’t provide enough hours of gaming goodness for you (allowing for cross-platform releases too, obviously), that might also be a deciding factor.
Finally, regarding the “genre” thing, and let’s say you’re a fan of RPGs, or platformers – does one of the consoles have more to offer in that particular genre than the other – again, allowing for cross-platform releases – and does that mean more to you than an absolute number of exclusives!?
I mean, I could say that one has the best exclusives, that the other has the best near-future ones, or even that one has both of these categories nailed down – but that would be subjectivity turned up to eleven(ty-twelve).
One final thing that I will mention here though – and I appreciate it’s probably not an issue for many people, but is worth considering in the age of Amazon and eBay and suchlike – is that there are a few differences with regard to REGIONAL RESTRICTIONS. Whilst (ostensibly) Next-Gen gaming is region free – it doesn’t entirely work out like that in practice, and there are a few “quirks”. I’m overjoyed that I can buy both my Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games here in Brazil, and that they’re in English, and that they’re not blocked. I’m also quite happy that – because I’m running stuff through a UK bank account/card – all my PSN/Xbox Live stuff’s UK based.
However – with my Xbox One, rather bizarrely, sometimes this means the Achievement list for a particular game reverts to Portuguese – weird, but no biggy, especially considering I don’t seem to have any issues with Downloading DLC, or particular ‘Day One Edition’ type bonuses and stuff. That, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be the case with my PS4 – because it seems to properly freak out when I try to download bonus content from one region, when my PSN stuff’s in another. That can be huuuugely frustrating – especially when it’s, say, a bonus mission or such, and I’m missing out on some cool content. It also makes me reluctant to even try downloading proper DLC for games I’ve bought here – just in case it doesn’t work – which is going to be a real kicker when Fallout stuff starts dropping, for example.
If you do move around a lot, or if it’s a possibility, it’s also worth noting that the Xbox One allows you to actually relocate your Xbox Live location – with certain caveats, and you have to remain in your new region for (I think) 6 months before you can change it back. Again, this likely won’t matter much for most people, but even if you’re not going anywhere, but you’re all about buying and shipping games from other regions, it’s definitely worth considering this aspect, and how it might affect you. Anyway…..
Result, Round Four:
Who wins this one is entirely down to you – and will depend on your own preferences, tastes, circumstances and what appeals to you. In a way, I’m actually genuinely neutral in this round – and the fact that I’ve bought both now, and because a big part of that decision was the strength of the exclusive games line-up for both consoles, just reinforces that. Essentially, it’s a draw, but one where you get to cast the deciding vote – after doing your own research. Yeah, I know – Booo, Ugh, Work, etc, etc, but hey, them’s the breaks, folks!
Ok, I’ve already admitted I don’t really have any friends, but I’m reliably informed that I’m the exception rather than the rule in this, So I’ll cover the whole “friends” thing anyway – in the interests of objectivity or somesuch. And actually, it is quite important when choosing which console you might stump for, and, as we’ll see, it could well be a deciding factor – regardless of how strongly you feel about any of the other categories. Hell, even though I don’t have any friends that I can physically interact with IRL, I do have ones I can play with via the magical medium of online gaming – and that really does mean a lot to me.
Basically, it comes down to this: do all of your friends have one particular console? More accurately, do the friends you’re most likely to be gaming with already play on an Xbox One or a PS4?
So, let’s say you’ve decided that the whole “Starfleet Captain” thing’s a deal breaker for you – is all the swiping and swooshing, and yelling things like “Xbox, make it so!” going to be as cool if you’re doing that on your own whilst all of your friends are having the time of their lives whalloping each other in the crotch on Street Fighter 5? Or, if we flip-side-reverse it; if you’ve (fairly understandably) opted for the PS4 because of the blue lights, are those LEDS going to be enough to sustain you through the inevitable, soul-crushing loneliness of knowing your friends are all bonding over Halo 5, and you’re not!?
Indeed, one of the most significant developments in gaming’s recent past is the rise of online gaming – and whereas, in the good old days of split-screen MP, having different consoles actually allowed a group of friends to maximise their gaming joy – nowadays, y’all need to be on the same page to reap many of the Multiplayer benefits. And, even if you’re not into competitive Multiplayer, increasingly games are encouraging co-operative multiplayer too, and (I speak from experience here) it can be quite grim never getting to experience that part of a game because your friends list looks sparser than a Christmas Tree at the end of January.
Sure, if you think you’re never going to be into any aspect of Multiplayer you can go ahead an discount that, but there are still other benefits of console same-pageyness, including game borrowing, game sharing and, if you’re hilariously socially awkward like, erm, some guy I know, it’s often great to just have something to talk about.
Anyway, for whatever reason, it makes a great deal of sense to at least think about how your console decision fits in with the decisions your friends have made – or even might make soon.
Result, Round Five:
Again, pretty much your decision to make, based on your own particular circumstances. I could award this to the PS4 just because, statistically speaking, it’s twice as likely that your friends will have that console, but, you know, lies, damn lies and statistics and all that. Officially a draw – again – but one in which your friends probably get the deciding vote.
Finally, I’ma look at the general area of future-proofing, and the reason I’ve left it until last is that, in many ways, it incorporates elements of all the previously mentioned topics. What are your friends going to be getting? What games are coming out over the year(s) ahead? What updates might improve the UI, gimmicks etc for one, or both, of the consoles? What peripherals might arrive for one console that elevate that one waaaaay above the other in your estimation?
Obviously you’ll need to find a balance here, and there’s no point opting for one console because at some distant point in the future there’ll be something you like – especially if you prefer the other one right now. But, on the other hand, if there is something due to launch for one fairly soon, it’s definitely worth factoring that into your decision now!
So, let’s take a look at some elements, and let’s pretend we’ve got some magic crystal ball shit going on – because, in a way, we have, it’s just that we call it “the internet”.
In terms of GAMES, I’ve already linked to that Wikipedia page, and that helps us to see what we can expect, making it pretty damn useful – especially because it covers next year and slightly beyond. Here too – if you’ll permit me – I’ll take the opportunity to briefly digress in the area of BACK-COMPATIBILITY.
Right now, that’s walking a weird line between future and present, with some last-gen games having already been made accessible from the Xbox One, and yet more scheduled to be at some point. That was another big reason I personally decided to get an Xbox One recently, because a) I can reduce the number of boxes stuffed under my TV, and b) because I can now play (some) of my 360 games on the XB1, I could sell the former to offset the cost of the latter. That’s no small thing, and it totally changes many aspects of the cost/benefit analysis of jumping to next-gen.
Sony, for their part, are also talking about various back-compatibility options in the near future, so it’s worth looking into how these would impact upon your decision. Unfortunately, given there’s no universal back-compatibility fix, there’ll be some element of luck involved in whether your favourite game makes the generational leap with you – on both consoles. For me though, Microsoft have the edge in this particular area because they’ve already started, and therefore have some momentum and/or have placed some money around their general mouth-ey area.
Next, let’s use our future glasses to look at upcoming PERIPHERALS and see how this might impact your decision-making now. The next big thing in gaming, for example, is most likely to be VIRTUAL REALITY. I’ve already gone on record as being ridiculously excited about that shit, and having now tried out a couple of versions of it, the prospect of looking like a tool in my own living room soon – and whenever I damn well please – fills me with immeasurable joy.
If you are interested in VR, and if you are prepared to pay (what’s likely to be) a not insignificant chunk of moolah for it, then that’s likely to make the PS4 more attractive to you. Sony VR (the artist formerly known as Project Morpheus) is due to hit the shelves next year, so that’s definitely worth factoring into any decision you’re making now.
Microsoft’s future game-changing eggs seem to have been placed firmly into a ‘HOLOLENS‘ shaped basket, as well as hedging their bets with some degree of Oculus Rift potential, so that’s absolutely something to consider too. The Hololens is definitely intriguing (and worth getting excited about, I think), but I’d very much suggest it falls in the ‘longer term’ bracket – perhaps not even being a viable option until as late as 2020. The same thing – to some extent – applies to any Xbox One/Oculus Rift compatibilty, and there are a few significant issues that need to be addressed before they’re a match.
The final thing I’ll be looking future-wards with is GENERAL TECHNOLOGY. Back when I wrote a first year evaluation of Next-Gen, I covered some of this, but basically, what’s on the horizon, and how does gaming fit into your general technology-based future? An obvious example of this is 4K technology – and given that seems to have survived the initial sink-or-swim phase – more people will be making that leap when their current Telly fucks off to the big TV showroom in the sky. My 4K TV’s inbuilt upscaler makes a difference to my gaming, I think – particularly 3D gaming – and it gets me excited about genuine 4K games. Both Sony and Microsoft have made some sounds regarding 4K potential, but neither have made a firm commitment to long-term 4K capability yet, quite probably because they just haven’t figured out how it would work.
There is the possibility that it would require an external doodah to take on some of the burden, or perhaps even require re-purchasing a new range of 4K consoles (which, for me, will be pitchfork sharpening time), so it’s mostly a tie at this point. However, because of “Synergy” and such, if 4K gaming’s a big deal for you, it’s worth considering that Sony are already hard at work in that field in their TV making divisions – and that might just give them the edge down the line.
Then there’s all this talk about CLOUDS and such. Here it’s Microsoft that have the edge because of their Synergised Business Diversification and Overlap Department (which may or may not exist). Cloud computing is about ‘streaming’ games, yes – something Sony’s already doing – but it’s also possible to use ‘clouds’ (seriously, who came up with that name?) to effectively improve the performance of consoles and games. By offloading some of the processing, rendering and procedural generation burden to clouds you can – assuming you’ve got decent internet bandwidth, there are enough servers to cope, and some other technical things doing some technical-ey things – take next-gen gaming to the next level. At the moment, this is only really used in Multiplayer Games (it’s often referred to as the “dedicated servers” thing), but the possibilities for Gaming in general haven’t been overlooked by Microsoft, and given they currently have significant cloud real-estate (and dedicated offices with people doing cloud-ey things), I think they’re in a very strong position in this aspect of future shenanigans.
Anyway, I realise I’ve geeked-out way more than I intended to here, so I’ll wrap this section up forthwith……
Result, Round Six:
This is a close one – for a change – but I’m going to give it to the PlayStation 4, and I’m going to do that because I am very, very interested in Virtual Reality – and that’s hitting next year (OMG, OMG, etc, etc). If you’re not interested in it though, or if we were looking longer-term, then Microsoft would almost certainly have at least as much future-potential, thus giving them a solid shout for a re-match a wee bit further down the line.
If you’re still reading at this point, have a gold star because this was, by any conceivable measurement, a really fucking long piece(s). I ask you to remain with me for just a little bit longer though, as I wrap up everything I just covered – and possibly risk your eternal wrath by performing something of a cowardly cop-out. Twice.
The first is that, even though my “Round” system has the Playstation 4 just about edging out the Xbox one, that’s assuming that you view each round as being of equal importance. In a way, you’ll need to decide what weighting to give each round for yourself. Like I said, if online gaming with friends is a really big deal for you, for example – feel free to assign that round double importance.
The second is that, even though I’ve tried to be thorough in the stuff I’ve listed in each round, the weighting of each thing in the list is, subjective. Once more, it’s your call if you feel I’ve got a bit carried away with, say, blue lights, or if you think I’ve over-estimated the importance of Frame Rates, or headphones, or whatever.
That said, though, and for what its worth, I would – if forced to do so under the threat of bodily harm – lean towards recommending the PlayStation 4 if you’re looking to meet your Next-Gen needs right now, and if you’re just a general, average, all-around gamer. I think it just about edges the Xbox One in most categories – at least right now – and I think it has a slightly better line-up of games – and particularly because I do have the PlayStation Vita – which makes the PlayStation Universe just that little bit richer and more absorbing than the Xbox One universe.
However, I do also really love my Xbox One, and at no point have I felt that it was a waste of money, or that I’d paid for something that’s significantly worse than a similar thing I’ve already got. Microsoft have, to their credit, spent a lot of the last two years listening to gaming chatter, and have steadily, consistently worked to improve the Xbox One – and the experience of its users. Two years ago, when I opted for the PlayStation 4, I put a lot of effort into making the decision – but, if I’m being honest, it really wasn’t a difficult one to make in the end, and the PS4 walked it with ease. Making that decision now would be a hell of a lot more difficult, and even though I’d probably arrive at the same place – just – I can easily understand why somebody else would choose the Xbox One now, and how even just a slight difference in preferences would make that a no-brainer for them.
Essentially, that’s what I’ve tried to highlight consistently across these two posts – that it is a close decision, but that it’s your decision to make based on exactly those preferences, and I’ve tried to give you the relevant information to facilitate that decision. I imagine I might not have succeeded in that entirely, but honestly, I really, really hope it helped.
I’d also say to anybody reading this in the ‘already have one, is it worth getting the other?‘ camp that yes, it absolutely is. They’re similar, obviously, but if you’re in a position to get the best of both worlds – particularly in regard to games – both of those worlds are really awesome, and having access to them both is a genuine thing of joy for me.
Finally, if you think this was hard work to read through, imagine what it was like to freakin’ write. It nearly killed me. So, on that note, and given it’s the season of goodwill and all that jazz, if you do know anybody who’s currently considering buying a next-gen console, and you think this might help them out, please (for the love of all that’s holy) point them in this general direction.