As the sun sets on the seventh generation of consoles, the eyes of the gaming world are fixed firmly upon the future. Yet one question burns brightly in many gamers’ minds: should I buy a PS4 or an Xbox One – or maybe even a Wii U?
Many will have no doubt made-up their minds based upon brand loyalty or familiarity – with the breadth and depth of their friends lists bearing heavily upon proceedings. But there will be many others – like myself – who would welcome an entirely new experience into their lounges. So long as it’s the best one available.
The thing is that the eighth generation of consoles is perhaps more fragmented and fractured than any other that has preceded it – something that brings with it a number of interesting choices for the modern gamer.
And so, dear Voxelites, if you’re sat staring at your old machine wondering where to spend your money next, gather a pew and some warm cocoa … and read on:
It’s easy to overlook the Wii U given its lacklustre performance and limited choice of games – but don’t write Nintendo’s latest off just yet. Although it may have all but disappeared from supermarket shelves up and down the country, the Wii U represents an obvious choice for anyone in love with Nintendo’s particular brand of gaming – or for someone looking for something that’s going to please adults and children alike. As the cheapest option on the table, it’s arguably something that could be considered as a second console to one of this generations’ real heavy-hitters. Failing that, it’s home to a number of unique and interesting titles that you simply won’t find elsewhere.
The chances are, though, that if you have any inclination towards the Wii’s successor, you’ve probably bought one already – making the argument a little moot. Then again, if you’re underwhelmed with the opening gambits that Microsoft and Sony’s libraries offer, you could do worse than to take a cheaper, six-month detour into the Wii U until things pick-up towards next summer and a few more bundles and used-games appear in stores. Who knows: you may even just fall in love.
The Voxel Verdict: a great way to keep your younger children happy this Xmas without breaking the bank on an Xbox One or PS4 – and you can trade it in next summer when they’re bored if you feel like it. But seriously: if you need an advert to explain it’s a brand new console, you know that you should have given it a new name #marketingfacepalm.
Sony made a number of notable mistakes with the PS3 – something that they paid for dearly. Dropping from the status of ‘demi-god’ in the sixth generation to being an ‘also-ran’ in the seventh must’ve been a huge blow to the experienced and proud Japanese giant – a lesson that they’ve clearly learned from if the PS4 is anything to go by.
Elegant, powerful, refined and affordable; the PS4 is a product-designer’s wet dream. The thing simply oozes class from every pore and if early reports are anything to go by, it will have the upper-hand this generation in terms of raw power and flexibility. Given the relative complexity of coding for the PS3’s cell-based architecture, there must be developers the world over breathing a collective sigh of relief. But in making the PS4 a distilled perfection of what they hoped to achieve with the PS3, have Sony missed the boat with respect to projecting a clear and ambitious vision for the future?
The Voxel Verdict: the core-gamer’s choice – simple as. But a gamer is no island – and maybe the Xbox One’s all-in-one media vision will entice you in years to come?
Whilst Sony have fine-tuned the traditional console blueprint to within an inch of its life and Nintendo have tried to be lo-fi-leftfield once again, Microsoft have been arguably the boldest of all in their plans for the future. Make no mistake: Xbox One is not a games console. It’s a voice and motion-activated media-hub that happens to play games – a fact that’s seen many gamers turn their backs in disgust. And it’s an ugly brute too. Subtlety: thy name is not Xbox.
Attempting to act as a digital black-hole in the centre of your lounge, sucking-up HDMI input, watching your every action, listening to your every sound and integrating services and content like nothing before; the Xbox One is an intriguing move on Microsoft’s part. After two generations of courting gamers, the gloves are finally off: Microsoft want to own the lounge in the same way that they own the office.
And fair play to them. They’re putting their money where their mouth is and offering content-junkies an experience like nothing before it. Yes, it’s an invasion of your privacy – from a company with a back-door wide open to the NSA – but like Google and Facebook before it, the services that you get in return arguably outweigh any privacy drawbacks. So long as you’ve got nothing to hide.
Is this a vision that will appeal to the typically staunch gaming community? Perhaps. The last time I checked, gamers also spend a fair amount of time watching TV and films, using the Internet and listening to music – so why wouldn’t an all-in-one solution work? Despite the Xbox One not being a games console, it’s still packing a punch in that department with Titanfall looking like a mouth-watering proposition if there ever was one.
The Voxel Verdict: don’t count the Xbox One out – despite the PR car-crash that has been Summer 2013. As the powerful exclusives roll-out and the content providers get truly on-board, this tightly controlled environment and gaudy slab of plastic may yet prove to be alluring to the hardcore massive.
I’d give it six months. Seriously. As things stand, there aren’t any games out on either new console in the immediate future that warrant the entry fee. Those that do are already available on PS3 and Xbox 360. Sure, they might not look as polished, but the core game is there nonetheless – and that’s what it’s all about, right? By next summer the path of Valve will be clearer and the libraries of all platforms will be much healthier.
But that’s not enough for some of you – I get it, I really do. Some will have a primeval instinct that needs scratching and a console that needs buying sooner rather than later. In that context, there’s only one choice to recommend: the PS4. Yes, Microsoft have bold plans for the future – a future that you may yet want to be a part of. But right now – at this juncture – what matters the most to gamers is power and fidelity and the PS4 offers these with aplomb at a highly competitive price.