Comparing next-gen gaming consoles is a pretty tenuous affair. Both have their adoring fans, and at this moment in time Sony as well as Microsoft will try to convince you that their offering is the one you need. The sad truth is that depending on what you want, you may be more inclined toward either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
As far as comparisons are concerned, both machines have similar hardwae specifications. Both have 8-core AMD processors, 8GB of memory and both come standard with 500GB hard drives. These basic similarities are completely unprecedented, and never before have two competing console gaming shared so many commonalities. If you delve deeper though, there are little details that set the two systems apart. For a start the PS4 uses GDDR5 memory as opposed to DDR3 on the Xbox One. The Xbox One makes of 32MB ESRAM to compensate for the slower memory type as compared to its competitor. Developers have yet to take advantage of this extra static memory though. The PS4 has in the mean time been shown to draw more frames per second than Microsoft's next-gen system however.
Where the Xbox One does stand out here though, is that is has a HDMI in port as well. This'll allow you to connect your multimedia devices or game consoles to the Xbox One and switch between your devices as you need. Clearly Microsoft intends for the Xbox One to be a more rounded device as opposed to a more gaming focused console like the PS4.
The real reasons we buy a console are for the games. The chances are that you're probably going to be suited to one system over the other because of this. Yes, both systems will have multiplatform titles like Thief and Mirror's Edge 2 but the exclusives are the reasons you're going to stick to one over the other.
After the PS4 was launched last week we saw that some of the launch games that got released with the system failed to live up to some expectations. Whereas, Resogun received major acclaim - and is possibly the best launch title for the PS4. We can possibly expect the same thing to happen with some of the Xbox One's major titles as well. We'll just have to wait till November 22 to know for sure.
Xbox One Exclusives:
Ryse: Son of Rome
Forza Motorsport 5
Dead Rising 3
Killzone: Shadow Fall
Instead of comparing which console has more and better games, I'll say this: While the Xbox One has more titles on launch there is no indication that any will be truly awesome, and as we've seen with the PlayStation 4 most of the games that came with it on Day One were disappointing in some way. One review of Knack described its combat as dull. Killzone: Shadow Fall's single player was also found to be lacking. My personal prediction is that Ryse will probably the disappointment of Microsoft's launch title selection, but I stand to be corrected on that when the reviews hit the internet in roughly two days time.
My suggestion? Wait and see.
I got to play with both controllers, and I'll say that choosing between the two based on initial impressions was as easy as fisting as a velociraptor. While the Xbox One controller's haptic feedback triggers increased immersion significantly, the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller felt solid, and those curved triggers at the back of the gamepad were a pleasure to use in comparison to the DualShock 3. Both controllers have indented analog joysticks for better grip on your thumb.
The DualShock 4 though has a built-in rechargeable battery where you're going to have to buy a play and charge kit for the Xbox One's, or possibly buy rechargeable cells.
This choice comes down to which consoles you're purchasing of course, just be aware that many DualShock 4 controllers that have been released on launch were shown to be faulty. We'll know very soon if the Xbox One gamepad will have any issues too.
While Microsoft has built up their own cloud system for use with the Xbox One, Sony has partnered with Gaikai for their solution. According to announcements made by Sony we can expect game streaming, DLC, save game handling and backward compatibility. While some of these features are a given on Microsoft's offering, Turn 10 has already announced using cloud processing for racing A.I. in Forza Motorsport 5. This tells me that there'll probably be some interesting uses for this technology in the future. As to what these will be, your guess is as good as mine.
Microsoft has the upper hand here. Kinect One captures video at 1080p. I could pull out other impressive numbers but in reality it's a sensitive motion camera with sound recording. It also has the ability to scan 2D Barcodes. PlayStation Move has a less impressive feature set, weighing in at 1280x800 resolution. While motion control is still in its infancy, there should be significant improvements over the first Kinect unit that Microsoft released some years ago.
Both camera units will interact with their respective controllers, and the Kinect One will detect where players are and move split screens based on user location. I'm not convinced that Kinect nor PS Move are the future of console control because most players will want to stick to their controllers to navigate their way around their systems. I got some demo time on the PS Move and Playroom at rAge this year and found it to be responsive enough but suffered from the same kind of latency issues that the original Kinect went through, only it was a little more responsive.
Both Microsoft and Sony offer their own paid-for services for online play. Where Microsoft's Xbox Live service extends its services into multimedia Sony's focuses on the gamer. If you're looking to only play games, the chances are you're more likely to go for PlayStation Plus. There are plenty of reasons to go with Sony in this area. Whether you're looking to get free games every month, exclusive access to betas and demos or free cloud storage Sony has a clear upper hand. Microsoft has yet to match the quality of Sony's free monthly game offerings, and I somehow doubt that this will change over time.
What about costs? R489 will get you a year's PlayStation Plus subscription, while you're going to pay $59.99 for a Xbox Live annual subscription. Remember that you'll need to pay to play online on both consoles.
Unfortunately we have no indicators of price for the Xbox One, but Phoenix Tech will import one for you at R8,500 with a game and two controllers. All Xbox One consoles will come with Kinect One units. We'll most likely get official stock in early 2014. The PlayStation 4 will come in at roughly R6,299, as listed on Takealot.com's site. You can get a PlayStation Camera and controller for R850 each. The vertical stand goes for R280.
While we're gaining big upgrades over previous generation consoles the titles will be the appeal, not the technology itself. Both systems are more or less evenly matched, with the PS4 being marginally faster. As the years go by we'll be seeing more of the performance potential on both systems unleashed. When you look at the visual quality of The Last of Us compared with Uncharted 1 the difference is chalk and cheese. If we keep this in mind it'll be easy to understand why judging a console based on its launch is a perilous choice. Lastly, At $100 more than the PlayStation 4, The Xbox One has the price disadvantage but you'll be getting the Kinect One unit with it as well. You're also going to have to pay extra for the PlayStation Move camera unit.
It's also worth remembering that there are going to be plenty of multiplatform titles released in the next few years, so no matter what choice you make, you should be fine. As long as what you're playing on is reliable there won't be any issues, right?
I would love to know where you stand - Playstation 4, Xbox One or neither?
UPDATE: Shuhei Yoshida has announced MP3, DLNA and CD Audio support in second update.
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd