It’s that time again, gamers. Brand new, “next-gen” consoles are hitting the market is less than one month. Since their debut earlier this year, gamers around the world have been crusading for their respective favorite brand of gaming enabled black boxes. There have been misguided policies, hilarious jabs, 180’s, back-pedals, and all sorts of things coming from the big two (Sony and Microsoft) over the last few months. But don’t fret, worrisome consumer, I’m here to make sure you’re making the right decision when you head out to buy one of these consoles this holiday season!
So the VERY first question you have to ask yourself when considering a purchase of this magnitude is: why am I purchasing a console at launch? Are you in the gaming industry? You should probably own one, if not both, as soon as possible. Do you use your system primarily as a Netflix/Hulu box? Stick with current gen for now. Do you want to be the talk of the town? The cock of the walk? Buy all the consoles! Want your Call of Duty to look glorious? Buy a next-gen console. Want to make sure you’re set for new releases in the future? You get what I’m saying here. Figure out the WHY you want one and if your pocket book can reasonably sustain that want.
So, if you’re still with me, I assume you’ve decided that your wallet can take the hit and that there’s good reason for it to do so. Now let’s move on to those who can only justify ONE of those consoles (I did not emphasize ONE because I’m suggesting the Xbox, I just like emphasizing things, okay?) There are a few things to consider when you’re selecting your console of choice. I know, because I slang these bad boys at a local retail shop. These are the kinds of things I ask customers when determining what kind of system they should buy. They are:
Types of game preferred?
Who is the console for, primarily?
What do you want your console to do, besides play games?
Which platform, if any, do you feel most comfortable with?
Now, I can usually decipher which console to recommend to people based on the answer to the first three questions (first four for a launch system). But people who are more commonly referred to as “gamers” require a bit more digging. So let’s start with question one:
WHAT TYPES OF GAMES DO YOU PREFER:
This one is very straightforward. We live in an age where console exclusives are almost always timed exclusives, which means they will eventually be on other systems. So the thing you have to pay attention to here are games published by the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony) and their “second party” publishers which are publishers that only release games on certain consoles.
Nintendo is focused on its big franchises that are primarily kid oriented but not at all just for kids (Ex: Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pokemon).
Microsoft is focused on Kinect games, action games, and shooters (Kinect Sports, Gears of War, Halo).
Sony is focused on a mix of all of these (Play Room, Ratchet and Clank, Last of Us)
Buying console for your kids (10 and under) only? I’m going to recommend a Wii U. Not every single time, because there are other factors, obviously. But we’re getting to those. Want to play shooters? Xbox One is your system. There is just no beating that controller paired with a great shooter. Maybe you’re looking for more storied (RPG’s, or Naughty Dog developed) games but wanting a decent shooter and a game for the kids (or maybe you just enjoy letting your inner child out)? The PS4 is the right call for you here.
WHO IS THE CONSOLE FOR, PRIMARILY?
This section is primarily to focus the consumer on the specifics of why they are buying the console. Are you buying for your kids, or for you and a significant other, a parent, grandparent, friend, just for you, for you and your friends, whatever. Why are you buying this system? I don’t want to spend much time here, but basically, this question will help you reach your conclusions in the other areas.
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR CONSOLE TO DO?
There are three areas to this section:
I want a console to play games.
I want a console that is a total entertainment device
I want a console that is mostly for games, but has the option to be a slightly less impressive entertainment device (because I like to live loose and keep my options open, okay?)
You can probably see where I’m going with this. If things like Netflix, cable TV on your console, apps, and the whole entertainment experience done right is for you, if you find yourself using your console mostly for things that are NOT video game related, the Xbox One is for you. Also, with the new Kinect and Xbox Fitness, the Xbox One becomes a great partner for fitness junkies.
If you just want to play games only and don’t care about all the bells and whistles like graphics, online and social media, video sharing, and all of that. If you’re just in it for the game, man, then go Wii U. Seriously. With new Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Super Mario 3D World coming out in the next 6 months or so, the Wii U is becoming increasingly more appealing. Nintendo makes quality stuff people, you’re going to want to play these games because they’re fun as hell.
If you’re in the middle, the Playstation 4 is for you. I am NOT saying the Xbox One does not have fantastic games, and I’m not saying Netflix sucks on the PS4. But Sony has clearly focused more on games in the past than on overall entertainment and therefore they don’t do it quite as well as Microsoft.
LAUNCH LINEUP/WHATS AVAILABLE THIS HOLIDAY
I’m going to go on record here and say the best game coming out this holiday is probably going to be Super Mario 3D World. There are other great quality games that have already come out on the system that are worth your hard earned dollars (New Super Mario Bros U, Scribblenauts Unmasked, Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3). Not to mention Nintendo’s back catalog that becomes available to you through backwards compatibility (with Wii game discs) and downloadable games.
Now, let’s take a look at the awesome games that are going to be available on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 day one.
Not much. Call of Duty and Battlefield fans are going to cry about that, but you’re really going to want to wait until the next iterations before you go looking for truly “next gen” games.
Xbox One’s exclusives at launch include Dead Rising 3, Ryse, Peggle 2, Killer Instinct, and Forza 5. Peggle 2 is probably the only one I can say is worth the money (although I’m not a racing game fan, sorry Forza people). Dead Rising 2 was not very fun so I can’t recommend plopping down $60 on a launch title sequel that has had VERY LITTLE press released with less than a month to go. I’ve played Ryse and I can definitely say, “meh” in response to it. Peggle 2 is a downloadable game, and not a full priced retail disc so it becomes “worth it.”
Now let’s take a look at Playstation 4’s exclusive launch lineup that’s worth mentioning. Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, and Contrast. Two of those you get for free with the system if you subscribe to Playstation Plus (Resogun and Contrast). These exclusives are a bit more tantalizing than Xbox One’s for sure. But the real meat here is by far the downloadable games, once again. That’s one thing that Playstation 4 has over all other consoles, indie games. If indie games are your thing, PS4 is the console for you, hands down.
The rest of the launch lineup for the two consoles is a wash. Same games, just different black boxes and controllers.
If you’re already on Xbox Live with an established friends list or Playstation Online/Plus with the same, then that’s going to be a HUGE draw when it comes to the next set of consoles. But the other big factor here is the quality of the online service. With both Microsoft and Sony now charging to play your games online, this has become more clear cut than in the past. Microsoft takes the cake on this one. If you just care about the games, and their single player campaigns (RPGs, Action Adventures, Puzzle games) then you’re absolutely fine with a PS4 or a Wii U. However, if you want the premium online experience (as far as stability goes at least) then you want an Xbox One. Dedicated servers and cloud based gaming is the future of online gaming and it doesn’t get any better than Microsoft’s new baby.
WHICH PLATFORM DO YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE WITH?
Spend most of your time on an Xbox 360? You’re probably sticking with Microsoft. Love the free games and discounts you get with your Playstation Plus account? You’re probably sticking with Sony. Feel like Nintendo will never do ya wrong? That’s where your money probably already went. This area is pretty straight forward.
So while I can’t just say “Buy this console guys!” I can lead you in the right direction based on your answers to these questions. Are they general? Sure. Without knowing your response I can’t give you detailed and precise follow up questions. My purpose is to get you thinking so that you’re not wandering in the darkness with hate speech from fan boys guiding you in the wrong direction. All three consoles have their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll eventually own all three, I’m sure. But if you can’t afford to plop down $900 for just consoles (and roughly $200 more per console for accessories/games/subscription services) I hope this helped you narrow your focus on which one is best for you.