Buying Guide: Xbox One or PlayStation 4

It is hard to believe that it has been nearly two years since the PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One launched. It seems that in that time, we have only scratched the surface of what these two amazing pieces of hardware are capable of.

But you aren’t here for a history lesson, right? You want to know if you should spend your hard earned money on Sony’s Machine or Microsoft’s device in order to get your gaming fix.

The Games

Will console exclusives, like Xbox's Halo 5, tip the scales in the console wars?

Will console exclusives, like Xbox's Halo 5, tip the scales in the console wars?

A console’s game library will make or break it.

You would expect exclusive first party titles to dominate the charts during this early life of the consoles but apart from Bloodborne for the PS4 and Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One, there hasn’t really been any notable titles. Instead, third party titles like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny, the Witcher 3 and Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor have ruled the roost, placing first-party titles on the back seat.

What this means is that basically, at this point in time, you could pick up either console and enjoy the best games available.

However, it is still early in the consoles’ life span so consumers have to make a choice based on what might be instead of what is.

For sure, both platforms have awesome first party titles coming in.

The Xbox One will see stalwart franchises like Halo 5, Forza and Gears of War making a return to the console while new IP like Alan Wake creator, Remedy’s new shooter, Quantum Break and the latest title from Mega Man and Metroid Prime creator, Recore are set to expand the console’s library of solid titles. There are however, still no really great Kinect titles available.

The PS4 is no slouch in the exclusives department with some of the most exciting upcoming releases coming from Sony’s own studios.  Regular suspects like Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank together with a list of some of the most exciting new IP in years, including the much anticipated The Last Guardian and post-apocalyptic action game Horizon Zero Dawn, make the next year or so an amazing time to be a PlayStation user.

Unchartered 4: One of the several exclusive games under Sony's stable that gamers are waiting for in anticipation.

Unchartered 4: One of the several exclusive games under Sony's stable that gamers are waiting for in anticipation.

Overall though, like the last generation, your decision will be based around which franchises you care for. Both platforms have serious contenders and perform equally with multi-platform titles so if you are a big Halo buff, Microsoft’s offering is for you or if you are a massive fan of Uncharted get yourself a PS4. If you absolutely adore both - well, purchasing both consoles is not a bad idea.

Another niggling point is backwards compatibility. At the moment only the Xbox One has this feature but there are limited titles which work for now

The Hardware

Simply put, both machines have solid hardware under the hood. Both run custom ATI chips that perform neck and neck on third party titles.

Beyond that, issues such as that ultra-noisy fan in the old PS3 and the Xbox 360’s Red Ring Of Death, seem to have been eliminated and the Xbox 360’s heat problems seem to have been solved as both consoles run cool and quiet, even after extended gameplay.

The Playstation 4 impresses with its sleek design.

The Playstation 4 impresses with its sleek design.

Microsoft have also bundled its new and improved Kinect sensor in some versions of the Xbox One and for the most part, it works great with the system allowing you to use hand gestures and voice controls to control the machine. It also looks a lot better, a lot slimmer and discreet which means you can put it on top of your TV and not look silly.

Where the consoles differ though, is in the looks department.

The 11-inch wide PS4 is the slimmer of the two consoles, with design cues taken from the PS3’s second generation slim model. Bold angles and a sleek matte finish make Sony’s machine a very sexy addition to any entertainment console.

The 13-inch wide Xbox One on the other hand is not bad looking per say but it kind of just looks like a black box with a half matte, half sheen design.

The Xbox One controller boasts better gaming ergonomics, but is the lack of a built-in rechargeable battery pack a deal-breaker?

The Xbox One controller boasts better gaming ergonomics, but is the lack of a built-in rechargeable battery pack a deal-breaker?

As for the controllers, this one is also a toss-up. The Xbox One uses an updated version of the amazing Xbox 360 controller with a better D-pad for fighting games and rumble built into the triggers making shooters feel more realistic as each press of the trigger is met with a bespoke rumble. Microsoft really has created one of the best pure gaming controllers ever made, trouncing the PS4’s Dualshock 4 in terms of gaming ergonomics. However, and this is a big issue, especially in 2015, the controller still runs on normal batteries (read: non-rechargeable) and you will have to pay extra for a rechargeable battery pack.

The PS4 controller is yet another Dualshock. As far as design goes, this is the same controller that Sony has been giving us since 1997. The company seems to have gone for a “if it aint broke don’t fix it mentality”, however, what the controller lack in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in function. The controller has a speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack and most importantly, has a micro-USB powered rechargeable battery.

UI/Interface

This is where the consoles differ the most.

Sony has very much channelled the spirit of Japanese design here and built a UI that is incredibly smooth, simple and easy to use. Like the PS3’s XMB, all the menus are available on the home screen and the screen isn’t cluttered with fluff. It looks like a great companion to your home entertainment system in your living room.

The Xbox One on the other hand is pure America. The UI, which looks like Windows’s 8’s tile design, is bright, flashy and puts the social experience front and center, integrating your friends list in every step of the UI. Xbox UI themes also seem to be of a better overall quality, augmenting the UI in fun and exciting ways. However, like the Xbox 360, it is a bit cluttered with certain sections buried under a variety of menus.

Both consoles can also double as entertainment hubs allowing you to stream video, music and other media to your TV. The machines can also run a variety of apps like YouTube, Netflix and Spotify.

Conclusion

Basically, both consoles are quite good and choosing between them is much harder than it was last generation. At the end of the day, it comes down to the first party titles. If you are already invested in Sony’s ecosystem of games and have no interest in Microsoft’s offerings then your choice is clear and same is true for fans of Microsoft’s console.

It really is a great time to be a gamer.