Since the rumors began of a next generation console from each of the reigning kings of video games (Sony and Microsoft), there has been a battle within the gaming community over which one would, or is, better. (Caveat! This battle has been going on since the original Xbox and Playstation consoles.) This article is meant to serve as one man’s opinion of each system. If you are looking for an in-depth look at specs, I would advise you to look elsewhere, as this is an opinion article from somebody that owns both platforms, not a tech geek review. I have been a PC gamer for many years, but always have had an Xbox in the home, but I will try to remain unbiased. It has been almost 3 years since each console was released (11/15/13 for the PS4, 11/22/13 for the Xbone), but the battle is still going strong, so let’s begin.
Ease of Use
Consoles have gotten progressively more and more involved as the years go on, incorporating new technology as it has become available. Therefore, controllers had more buttons, the consoles had more screens, and the users had more confusion. (Because really, who reads instruction manuals.) From the simple Xbox that played the game as it was loaded into the disc drive, to the XBone (as the Xbox One is affectionately called) that uses a modified Windows 10 operating system, the game has changed. (Pun intended.) I want to take a few minutes to break down both consoles, and how well their OS works.
PS4: Honestly, Sony killed Microsoft in this department. The operating system is easy to grasp, with apps that you have used currently on the home screen, in the order that you have used them. A simple tap of the PS button on the controller brings you to this screen no matter what you are doing, and there is minimal amount of lag time. It wastes no time when swapping from app to game, and minimizes load times, even without installing the games to the hard drive. Notifications are hidden after a brief announcement, but are easy to find due to the tabs on the top of the screen that allow you to change settings, view friends, and even connect your Facebook profile to your Playstation account.
XBone: I have a Windows 10 laptop, and am an avid supporter of Microsoft over Apple, but even for all that, I’m not the biggest fan of the XBone home screen. Much like the PS4, it has the last 5 apps that you have used next to each other, but there is a lag time getting back to the main screen, even though it’s a simple press of the XBone button. Games must be installed onto the hard drive, which takes away from its 500GB HDD, and can sometimes aggravate, depending on how anxious you are to play the game. Notifications are a little more difficult to access than the PS4, as the tabs are tiny icons on the side of your screen. The avatar creation tab is more aggravating to use than anything else. Overall, the OS seems to be slower than its Sony counterpart, which can grind on the nerves of anybody that is used to the blinding speed of today’s technology.
Most non-gamers would question what difference a controller makes. The answer, though, is everything. Being comfortable with a controller can mean the difference between life and death, first and last. As with the OS, the controllers have become more and more involved over the years, following along with the games having more button combinations for the myriad of moves or skills that you can execute.
PS4: The PS controller hasn’t changed much over the years, with its dual triggers, dual bumpers, dual joystick, vibration feedback, and small stature. This holds true for the Playstation 4, as well. If you have smaller hands, then the PS4 controller is perfect for you. If you have above average sized hands, then you’ll want to get a custom controller. From time to time, with fast paced games, I found it slightly difficult to transition from one button combination to another, because my fingers are too long. The addition of a touchpad on the controller was nice, for inputting information, as well as adding another aspect to certain games. Being able to move the controller to highlight apps and such was also a new spin, however, the movement sensing is so sensitive that it cancels itself out. I found myself reverting to using the joystick to highlight what I needed, and using the buttons to select, because it was less of a headache. They also added a ‘Share’ button, which allows you to take screenshots of achievements, record video highlights, and share them with social media. (Cool if you’re a kid, but kind of pointless to anybody else.) A nice aspect is that you can connect ANY 3.5mm headset, as well as the controller being rechargeable.
XBone: Again, the Xbox controller hasn’t changed much. Microsoft has always stuck with a bulkier design than Sony, whether it’s the console or the controller. (Xbox 360 Slim being the exception; it’s smaller than the PS3.) It fits grown hands much easier, and the offset joysticks provide an ease of use that I didn’t find in the PS4. One aggravating aspect would be the clicking noise from the bumpers, as this is non-existent on the PS4. That is balanced out by the ability to turn the controller off, a feature that is not found on the PS4, as you have to wait for it to disconnect itself. The XBone controller is no-nonsense, with none of the upgrades that the PS4 controller has as far as the touchpad and whatnot, but in reality, it doesn’t need them. It feels lighter, and is better for big hands. Its major downfall is that you have to use headsets specifically made for the XBone port. The XBone controller takes batteries, but they seem to last longer than the rechargeable battery on the PS4.
What good is a console without a solid library of games? You can’t have a successful one without having the other. And depending on what you enjoy playing, you will want to choose a certain console. Here, we will briefly explore which library is the better option.
PS4: God of War. Killzone. Crash Bandicoot. The list goes on, some more recognizable than others. Playstation has a huge list of exclusive games, which is a boost to the console as a whole. It also has a ‘pay for’ option called Playstation Now, which allows you to stream a library of over 300 games, whenever you want, without having to pay for individual games. Some of these games are older, some are new, but it gives you a variety that battles the Steam library.
XBone: XBone has its own list of exclusives, though not quite as long as the PS4. There are various companies that use a similar streaming service, but only for games from their company. However, with XBox Live Gold, you get access to 3 games a month for free, and they are yours forever. Once again, sometimes they are older games, sometimes they are newer, but you don’t have to pay as when you’re paying for Gold, when you compare it to paying for Playstation Plus, and then adding Playstation Now on top of that. An added perk is that the entire Xbox 360 library is slowly becoming backwards compatible. What does that mean? It means if you own an Xbox 360, as you play the games on that console, you will be able to install them on your XBone the next time that you log in.
It used to hold true that, on a console, you could only play with others if you had a second controller, or if you were lucky enough to have a system that had system link. But in today’s society, online multiplayer is huge, even to the point where games like Titanfall and The Division are purely online. If you don’t have Gold or Plus, you’re not playing the game. However, there is a difference in the online communities, similar to the difference between Alliance and Horde on World of Warcraft.
PS4: For $9.99/mo, you have the ability to have Playstation Plus, which allows you to play online with people all over the world. I did this exactly 4 times. Why so few? Because I met exactly ONE person that I enjoyed playing with. Other than that, I ran into people who left their Playstation Eye mic open, with babies screaming, or dubstep and hip-hop blaring. I ran into middle school kids slinging racial slurs every time they died. Team coordination was non-existent, and I found myself taking my headset off more often than not, and muting the lobby so as not to hear it through my TV speakers. The only time I enjoyed playing online was when I ran with my personal friends.
XBone: Once again, $9.99/mo. (Keep in mind, you can save by buying 3, 6, or 12 months at a time.) Xbox Live Gold. It provides the same service as the Playstation Plus Network, but for whatever reason (maybe time of day, maybe the servers I am placed in), the community seems to be more.. mature. I still ran into the occasional loudmouth, racist kid that seems to have slept with everybody’s mother, but that was outweighed by the people that sat back and hung out, chatting and having a good time. The biggest advantage was that there was a sense of teamwork, as people watched each other’s backs and called out incoming enemies. It was simply a better experience overall.
Size and Build
This seems like a silly category to add, but bear with me. Depending on where you are planning on keeping your console, as well as where you are playing, this category may help you out.
PS4: A sharp design (and I do mean sharp) makes the PS4 easy on the eyes. Its gentle pulsing light changes colors to let you know if it is in rest mode, updating, or off. The design is modern, and allows the user to either rest the PS4 on its side, which can make it easier to fit in places that the XBone cannot.
XBone: There’s a reason that they call it an Xbox. It is literally shaped like a box. The XBone is bulkier than the PS4, and cannot be stood on its side, making placement of the console a little more difficult to decide than that of the PS4. The light on the console (and controller) is a blinding white, with no option to dim, so if you’re watching TV in a dark room at night, be prepared to cover it up.
Okay, so I know that I said that we wouldn’t be going in-depth as far as the technological aspects of the consoles, and I plan on keeping true to that. However, I do want to mention a couple of things about each system before I provide you with my final verdict.
PS4: One massive disadvantage that I discovered immediately was the fact that the PS4 lacked the ability to connect wirelessly to a 5GHz band, instead relying completely on the 2.4GHz band. This creates more interference, and can lead to an overall worse online gaming experience. Playstation allows the user to change out the HDD, which is nice, considering that it came out as a 500GB system, but now has a 1TB variant. Want to add even more memory? Too bad. PS4 doesn’t support flash drives or external HDD drives. In fact, it only has one HDMI port, an ethernet port, a PS4 camera port, and a couple USB ports. Sony chose to go very minimalistic in its approach, claiming that it was focusing on gaming. The system runs fairly quietly, though on a hot day, you can hear the fans struggling to keep up, even in a ventilated area. Sony stuck a 1.6GHz 8 core processor into the PS4, and went big with the GPU, installing a 1.84 teraflop chip that is based on AMD Radeon PC GPU technology. They also added 8 GB of RAM, but 3.5 of that is swallowed up, reserved for its OS, which can be a detriment to developers.
XBone: Is this thing even on? Since I got my XBone, I don’t think I have heard it whine at me once, even when it was 102 outside and 75 in the house. It also has the ability to connect to my 5GHz band, creating a much better connection (bonus.. every other electronic in the house is on the 2.4GHz band except my XBone and phone) and overall better experience when attempting to connect. The XBone has a 1.7GHz 8 core processor, which made me wonder why it seemed slower than the PS4. Once again, the XBone is a 500GB stock console, with a 1TB variant, but unlike the PS4, it supports external hard drives. It also has a wealth of ports, including an HDMI In, an IR Blaster, 2 extra USB ports in the back, an optical audio port, a Kinect port, as well as a K-Lock to the right of everything. Its 8 GB of memory is on par with the PS4, but only claims 3 GB for the OS (which may explain why it seems to run slower, actually). While it has a similar GPU to the PS4, it only has a pipeline of 1.31 teraflops, however, Microsoft claims that some of that can be reclaimed when playing Kinect-free games, as they use some of the pipeline for.. never mind. Even I don’t understand this stuff. Either way, the graphics don’t seem to suffer.
Advantage: XBone (If you’re a techie, or developer)/Push
The Bottom Line
So here’s the thing. Each one of the systems has its own advantages, and detriments. If you’ve read this far hoping for me to tell you which direction to lean in, I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you. There’s a reason that I own both of them. In my mind, the XBone wins, which may be because I’ve been an Xbox fan for so long. But I’m also planning for the future. Microsoft has plans for a 4k XBone in the future, and all games will be backwards compatible with it. Sony has yet to announce anything of the sort. The next next-generation of consoles is also something to think about, and Microsoft has shown a propensity for keeping the older generation still relevant. Let’s face facts. Having the newest and best is nice, but as you get older, a certain nostalgia comes into play, and you want to relive old games for the first time (at least I do). Microsoft seems more and more focused on making that possible, with its backwards compatibility. They also seem to pander to the gamers that don’t want to spend a whole bunch of money on games, with the streaming services as well as the Games with Gold. Sony seems like it’s gearing more and more towards the upper echelon of gamers, with pricier consoles, and having to pay for absolutely everything, sometimes costing more than its Microsoft counterparts. But in reality, you can go either way, and still get a great gaming experience.
TL;DR.. PC is the master race when it comes to gaming. The new Sega system in the works may change that, but for now, that’s my final word.