In just a few weeks, the American public will finally get its collective hands on the next generation of consoles — the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Games like “Grand Theft Auto V” show the current hardware will stick around for a few more years, but everyone is already looking ahead to bigger and better machines. The PS4 will drop first on November 15, followed by the One on November 22.
Like Ford and Chevrolet, fans of Microsoft and Sony will stick with their preferred brands — 360 owners will buy the One and PS3 owners will buy the PS4. But every genre has its core group of independent voters; the undecided who could swing in either direction. Microsoft and Sony have fired shots in the months leading up to November 15 and 22, and both consoles went through changes (especially the Xbox) to please public opinion. Now that it’s almost time to make a decision, here’s a rundown of what to expect from the future in console gaming.
Photo by Marco Verch via Wikimedia Commons
Release: November 22
What a trip for the new Xbox. Its announcement met mixed reviews back in May when Microsoft said the One would require a constant Internet connection and Kinect to play games, even if those games are single-player and not using the Kinect at all. Gamers took to blogs and forums, and eventually Microsoft backed away from these limitations and decided the One can operate offline and without the Kinect (but it’s still included with the total package).
There won’t be an “arcade” and “elite” version of the One. Just one, well, One. It’ll run off an 8-core AMD chip running 1.75 GHz and 8GB RAM with a 500GB hard drive for storage. The next-gen consoles will push more downloadable content, so the hard drives are beefier this time around (but no SSD, sadly). The new Xbox finally jumps to Blu-Ray, so “Final Fantasy” won’t ship on several discs like the 360.
The controller is similar enough to the 360’s that gamers should have a sense of familiarity when picking it up for the first time. And though the One isn’t backwards compatible with 360 games, companies like EA are letting gamers upgrade a Battlefield 4 download for $10 if they buy the game early for current consoles (same goes for Sony).
Photo by tofuprod via Wikimedia Commons
Release: November 15
While Microsoft fumbled over a PR nightmare after its Xbox One announcement, Sony got to sit back and plan its retaliation for the PlayStation 4. To start, Sony priced the console a clean $100 less than the One and never attached the same always-online requirements Microsoft did in the Xbox One’s early days. Sony made great efforts to advertise the PS4 as a purist’s machine for gamers.
The hardware specs are almost identical to the Xbox One — same 8-core AMD CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. And like the One, the PS4 won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games. That seems like a huge bummer, but backwards compatibility is a nightmare for game developers and will only be a good thing for games in the future.
The new PS4 controller is the same basic layout as the PS3 with a new LCD screen in the center. This could be used for anything from a UI hub to ammo counts during first-person shooters.
So, if budget is a top priority, save $100 and go with the PS4. If you’re geeked about the new Kinect, go with the Xbox (much better than Sony’s equivalent). But either way, both consoles are going to deliver a fantastic gaming experience.