Xbox One and PS4 are mere weeks away. As both consoles look set to be around for at least the next 5 years, with many tantalising and exciting games and innovations on both machines, you can expect many a gamer to pick up both of them during that time. One has to come first, though. Dave Green explains why, at launch at least, he’s plumping for the Xbox One…
Since May of this year, I’ve had a PS4 and Xbox One pre-ordered at my local games emporium, with the full intention of picking both up on their prospective launch days. I love gaming. Although a (lapsed) Nintendo fan-boy at heart, I don’t want to put a limit on my experiences; since being able to afford and buy my own hardware and games, I’ve bought them all – N64, Playstation, DreamCast… you name it, I’ve had one. However, as the launch date for the next-generation approaches, I’ve decided to give away my PS4 pre-order. Its launch, and Sony’s short to mid-term vision for the console, just isn’t doing it for me. The Xbox One very much is.
You see, so far the PS4 is looking very much like an Xbox 360 mark II – from its familiar games line-up, to its UI and online infastructure and trophies; it’s safe. Which is fine but I already HAVE a 360 and I’ve no desire for the same thing with prettier graphics again. I generally buy a console for its exclusive games, the main reason I remained loyal to Nintendo for so long in fact, and with Killzone and Knack the PS4 launch line-up is weak sauce. Indie titles? It has them in spades for launch. I love indie – but I want something that will test and utilise new hardware, not something that will run just as well on a PS Vita; many of them will be fine games indeed, but I want something like the Xbox One exclusives Below and D4; games that utilise every capability the console has – fresh and new, that’s what Indie titles are about (as an aside, I also appreciate how the new Live Marketplace doesn’t segregate Indie from “Mainstream” – they’re just GAMES, like it should be). Microsoft have a defined vision with the Xbox One – it’s trying new things with the platform and that, as well as exciting and boundary pushing games, is what I’m looking for.
Both consoles have had backtracks and neither will be the console that was initially revealed. I must admit, I was disappointed when Microsoft pulled the initial u-turn in terms of the Xbox One being almost fully digital. That excited me. I’m always connected to the internet. I like what Valve have done with Steam – I wanted that in a home console too. I still think that’s the future Microsoft are moving towards and it’ll happen sooner or later. I completely understand, though, that the intital Xbox One alienated people and would have left behind a huge number of gamers, and what we have now is a much more balanced and enticing prospect to a wider audience. Crucially, Microsoft have stood by their vision – the much maligned Kinect camera is back and central to the Xbox One experience.
Over the last few days, Microsoft have started to show the benefits of this – from speedy code scanning to navigating the impressive and forward-thinking UI with voice, gesture and more. It remains to be seen if any games will use the device in a meaningful way, but Kinect Sports Rivals and Indie title D4, from the master of mental Swery (of Low Fat Gaming favourite Deadly Premonition fame) are leading the way in this regard – at preview stage, both games have highlighted the vast improvements of this new Kinect camera. Sony, on the other hand, have sidelined theirs – despite evidence of the machine being built with it in mind. Word around the industry is that Sony ditched bundling their camera in the box to get the PS4 out cheaper than the Xbox One – good for the short-term but not promising for their long-term vision – with the potential install base for their camera now split, what are the incentives for a developer to create something exciting for it? It’s not a problem for Xbox One – everyone will have one, like it or not, which is why we’re already seeing games like the previously mentioned Below and D4.
Which brings me to the price of the consoles – and price is an important factor. And the Xbox One IS more expensive. For me, it represents more value day one than the PS4. Let me explain; for my hard-earned Euros I’ll be getting the console, Kinect, a headset, a free copy of FIFA 14 OR Forza 5, Killer Instinct (a free to play title) and Kinect Sports Rivals pre-season. That’s great value. What represents even greater value is the one of the main reason I buy a console – platform exclusive games. The Xbox One, simply put, has a better line-up for this year and, with the massively hyped Titanfall to come in March, first quarter of 2014.
Day one you’ve got the choice of the astonishing Forza 5, the swords-and-sandles epic Ryse: Son of Rome, the zombie-filled open world apocalypse of Dead Rising 3, retro-fun with Crimson Dragon as well as curios such as Powerstar Golf, Zoo Tycoon, Fighter Within and, from the creators of the indie hit ‘Splosion Man, Lococycle – as well as the plethora of 3rd party games that will be available for both consoles. What the Xbox One DOESN’T have, but the PS4 does, is an exclusive FPS – but Microsoft’s platform does have exclusive DLC for Battlefield 4 and CoD: Ghosts. As well as dedicated servers. Don’t underestimate this; dedicated servers for every online game is a big deal – no more host advantage on the likes of Battlefield, FIFA, CoD and the inevitable Halo. This is something the PS4 can’t offer.
But what about the resolution of the games I hear you cry? Let me clear that up for you. Yes, some launch games will run in a higher resolution on PS4. Some. This is because Microsoft were behind in delivering software tools to various companies – basically, some developers have had PS4 dev kits for longer, so naturally, at launch, you’d expect certain titles to be a little more developed. This is only an issue at launch. It’s not like the Xbox One can’t display games at native 1080p, running at 60fps – arguably the best looking game across both consoles at launch is Forza 5. It’s 1080p, 60fps. Resolution is not all important anyway; Ryse: Son of Rome – which looks staggering in motion, by the way – was originally unveiled at 1080p but Crytek took the decision to change the resolution to 900p because, get this, it better suited the techniques and art direction of the game. That’s what’s important. Battlefield 4 on PS4 runs at 900p. Will this stop you from playing it? It really shouldn’t. If resolution is the most important thing to you in gaming, then you’re doing it wrong my friend.
Ultimately, it comes down to taste and judgement. You might read this and agree. You may read this and, rationally, disagree with every point. That’s fine. For me, Microsoft’s vision of a cloud-based, digital future, with its slick UI, unparalleled online capabilities, robust games line-up and integration excites me. That’s not to say the PS4 doesn’t. In fact, I’ll be laying down my cash for one as soon the excellent looking Infamous: Second Son and intriguing The Order hit the shelves. I’m also a JRPG fan, and Sony’s platforms have always been a rich home for these. I’ll get one, and that’s the trick; there will be enough good stuff on both consoles to warrant a purchase – but not at launch. In my eyes, the Xbox One is currently a more enticing proposition. One things for sure though, which ever console you decide to pick up this Christmas, you’ll have fun with it and I genuinely hope you do, dear reader. For me though, the (immediate) future is green. Jump In.
– Dave Green. @davidpgreen83