Here’s the scenario: You wake up one morning with a new tattoo, no memory of where it came from, and $500 of mystery cash in your pocket. Obviously, it’s a sign from the universe that you were meant to buy a new game console. Getting the scratch is the easy part. But since the universe did not see fit to place $1,000 in your pocket, it leaves you with the agonizing decision of which one to buy. The interwebz has no shortage of people fervently trying to convince you why you should buy a PS4 over an Xbox One, or vice versa.
Where to begin? This kind of debate tends to inspire some, shall we say, passionate points of view on the subject. But in the end, most people probably weigh the pros and cons as they see them, and go with that choice. Here’s how I shook mine down, in priority from top to bottom.
1. The Controller: Xbox has always been my first choice in controllers. The use of offset thumbsticks just feels better. Games that don’t require precision movements, such as Dark Souls, are usually fine for me, but if I attempt a racing sim or shooter on the PS3, I end up looking like a chimp trying to juggle coconuts. I’ve tried the PS4 controller, and although it has made some improvements, stick layout is still an issue for me.
EDGE: XBox One
2. Cloud Gaming: Not to misconstrued with playing Alice: The Madness Returns while hotboxing, the subject of cloud gaming suffers from a lot of misunderstanding. While it can still be difficult to garner hard facts about the role it will have on next-gen. I feel I have a broad understanding of the role it will take, mostly because I have some friends who are programmers and have patiently answered a myriad of dumb questions from me. That aside, I’ve listened so some reputable developers give interviews and discuss integration of cloud gaming, and they’ve made it clear that this will be an important element. With many upcoming titles set to incorporate persistent worlds and seamless integration of single player, co-op, and versus play (much like the formula introduced by Demon’s Souls), an infrastructure of cloud servers may end up being the single most important element of next-gen gaming. As I understand it, Microsoft has 4 times the number of cloud servers as Sony, and is making them available at no cost to developers. Sony will spend this entire generation playing catch up as they try to match Microsoft’s service. I have no choice but to bet on the strong horse here.
EDGE: Xbox One
3. The Games: Hard not to put this at the top, but for the most part, many of my favorite game franchises are cross platform anyway. I’ve always said, I’ll need a must-have game to motivate me to get on the next-gen bandwagon. Elder Scrolls Online is one I’m watching, as well as Fallout 4, not officially announced, but rumoured to be coming at some point in 2015. Either of these would force me to get a new system, but neither is exclusive. I’ve always been a fan of exclusive Microsoft titles like Forza and Dead Rising, but not enough to warrant getting a new console just for them. One big wild card in this deck, though, is Demon’s Souls 2, one of my all-time favorites. If that gets announced, which it probably will, the PS4 may have the only exclusive that I feel I’d almost buy a console just to play. For that, I actually give the PS4 a slight edge (assuming the DS2 announcement is imminent).
4. Kinect: Mostly a non-issue for me. I have had ZERO use for the Kinect 1.0. It was clunky, imprecise, and had very little implementation in games. Kinect 2.0 looks to be light years ahead of its predecessor, and should give us the power to control our entire entertainment hub with voice commands. I’m hearing about some hilarious Kinect integration in Xbox One games, such as the story of a guy who was given a technical foul in NBA 2K14 because he swore after missing a shot. Sony’s optional peripheral is simply not capable of doing what the Kinect does, but even so, the inclusion doesn’t factor into my purchase decision.
5. User Interface: As much as I hate to admit it, the look and layout of a dashboard can be important. I get overwhelmed by the buttons at an ATM, so anything too adventurous in my game UI would only make me pull out my hair (no small feat for a bald guy). The UI goes a long way toward enhancing the experience when you don’t have to struggle to navigate. Xbox One and PS4 both disappointed me with their new interface, and actually served as as slight deterrent to me getting either. Personally, I liked the old consoles better in this regard.
EDGE: Xbox 360 and PS3
6. Online: Based on my experiences with both Xbox and PS3, I preferred Microsoft’s online system. However, I’m assuming that both new consoles, once all the bugs are worked out (yes, Microsoft, I’m talking to you), will have a comparable online environment. Both have a paid service now, and there’s no objective reason to think one will be better than the other six months from now.
7. Friends: Ah, peer pressure. Along with pimples and untimely erections, PP completes the holy trinity of male high school angst. But I haven’t been in high school since the days of legwarmers and camel-toe jeans, so I should be safely immune to peer pressure….. Not so fast. I don’t want to have a friends list populated by crickets. And since most of my friends are on the 360, the choice should be simple. Except a lot of them are still undecided. And believe it or not, I could conceivably purchase what I felt was an inferior system if enough of my good friends went that way. It would have to be the majority, and they would need to be friends I played a LOT of co-op and online games with. However, humans being what they are, most will probably stick with the brand they know, which is Microsoft.
EDGE: Xbox One
8. Price: Sony gets the edge out of the gate, coming in $100 cheaper. The only intangible for me, going forward, will be just how integral the Kinect will be to the overall game experience. Since it’s the primary reason for the price difference, it will have to prove its worth. But right now, it’s just a peripheral I don’t feel like I HAVE to have.
9. Customer Service: While I’m sure everyone has had different experiences, the fact is, from my POV, Microsoft is head and shoulders better than Sony in this department. I’ve played on both systems for years, and Microsoft usually fields calls with about the same wait time I’d find calling for help with my cable or telephone. You could probably Platinum Demon’s Souls from scratch in the time it takes Sony to resolve issues. I will give Sony the benefit of the doubt as far as making improvements going forward, now that the online is a paid service. But if I were buying a console today, Microsoft would still have the better reputation.
EDGE: Xbox One
10. Dependability: In 7 years, I had a grand total of 1 RRoD on Xbox 360, and it was on a console I had purchased used. Despite the nightmarish stories about the early years, I escaped unscathed for the most part. While Microsoft nearly had their brand tarnished forever by an epidemic of console failure, they recovered nicely. With the Xbox One’s design, you can tell that ventilation was a priority. I’m going to go with glass half-full, and assume that they learned their lesson, and we won’t see any issues. In fact, neither console has launched with abnormal failure rates, so I’ll have to declare this one a personal non-issue.
Verdict: Xbox One. At the end of the day, I gave the Xbox One the edge in 4 of my 10 categories, and the PS4 the edge in 2. The other four were either even or irrelevant. For this reason, the Xbox One gets my mystery money, if I were spending it today. For everyone else, obviously your results will vary. But you know what? Whichever you choose, as long as it works, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the crap out of it, and defend your purchase to your last, dying breath. Because, after all, that’s what gamers do!
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