The next-gen is almost upon us and as a gamer the upcoming console goodness has been increasingly occupying my mind, so much so that even during trivial matters such as work, my cogs are constantly whirring at an ever-increasing rate to fathom out which console to go for. I have both the XBox One and the PlayStation 4 pre-ordered and the time has come to choose a side, and I need help. But before I throw this to the arena for you to give your opinions I thought a background on my increasingly tumultuous thought process may be in order.
It all started way back in February when the Haus of Shuh revealed their plans for the next iteration in Sony’s prestigious gaming history and I, like many of you, was impressed by what they flaunted on stage. The opening vista of Killzone: Shadowfall, the support of indies and pretty epic hardware that console gamers have been drooling over. I recently bought a PS3 and have to say I do think it’s a pretty great platform (bar the controller, more on that later) however for my sins I am an Xbox player by and large, choosing to do pretty much all my gaming on Microsoft’s current console, with much of that time passed having played Halo, I love Halo. For me in general though the XBox 360 is just better, it’s more social, has a better controller, an easier GUI etc etc. So with Sony being first out of the gate with their reveal I was eager to see if Microsoft could come out with the goods.
My wait would end three months later, with bated breath I sat patiently watching the countdown tick away, then rather impatiently waited through Major Nelson’s pre show babble and finally it began. I would see what I would be playing on for the next seven years. It’s on! Look at all those awesome….sports…..and T…V….shows…yaay. To say the least I was a little confused by the whole reveal, and the following statements both conflicting and unpalatable, always online, can’t share games etc all of it left me a little glum. Microsoft butchered my expectations and as the month went on and as the bungles continued they literally gutted those expectations in front of me and cooked up the sweet meats and served them as a TV dinner, so along with the rest of the internet I pulled the napkin out of my collar pushed back in my chair and walked out of the Xbox diner.
So off I went along with the rest of the internet over to the food truck Sony had parked up just outside and realised the food from here looked a lot better. Games by the baker’s dozen, full on support and open publishing for indie developers, all told the social aspects of the platform had been greatly improved and the hardware on paper even trumped that of the Xbox One. The one niggle I had was with the PlayStation controller, in fairness to the DualShock 3 it isn’t the worst controller in the world but in my opinion it’s not far off, it is small and flimsy and those thumbsticks might aswell not be attached the amount of good they do. Conversely the 360 controller is a tour de force in-game input and frankly made me happy to hold it. However reading reports about the DualShock 4 being worlds apart from its pigmy predecessor and claims it was even better than Microsoft’s current gen offering I thought “Screw it, this is my next-gen console” and the pre-order went in.
Happy in my choice I was more than ok to watch the news unfold for both consoles, particularly in Camp Redmond which each week seemed to be in the press for one thing or another, good or bad. It seemed to be one gaf after another for a time with their mixed up messaging and overly corporate double speak. A day came (about a week later) when Microsoft finally heard the raging mob on Twitter and reversed their always online policy, however I was still scorned from what I perceived as their initial attempt to shaft me. Of course that wasn’t the only U-turn, they changed their policies on pre-owned games, lending games to friends, including a headset and then being able to turn off the “always on” Kinect. Essentially what Microsoft did was bring everything in line with Sony’s stance in the most crucial areas.
Regardless of what you think the reasoning behind these changes were, whether it to please gamers or to maximise profits, which lets face both companies are trying to do on both counts, to me it seemed that all my objections were gone and the XBox One became a product I would quite like to have for the first time. But was it worth choosing over the PS4? Well just to be sure another pre-order went down, you know, just in case, then cancel it later when I was sure.
Then came Eurogamer 2013, the day I could hold a PS4 controller and finally be sure I had chosen the right platform for the next few years. So after queueing to get into the Sony area I finally held the controller and to my chagrin it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Now admittedly my first experience was marred by the fact that Blacklight Retribution was an early build and I was unable to invert the Y axis but I did spend about 40 minutes actual game time with the controller so got a decent idea what I would be playing on for the next few years. Now don’t get me wrong the DualShock 4 is by far and a way worlds better than the DS3, the thumbsticks are solid and a lot more response and in fact the whole build in fact feels a bit more premium, however, having heard it was more ergonomic I would have to disagree to some extent, sure it is shaped to fit in my hands more comfortably compared to the last iteration, but to me it still suffered from causing my grip to be a touch too narrow which for me if I were to game for a few hours on end could become a problem. I think this is down to Sony’s insistence in keeping to their “iconic” controller shape. Sorry Sony but that retro controller shape is not applicable these days so move on for the sake of my hands.
The Xbox One controller however was bloody lovely, mainly because its pretty much the same as the 360. Also Titanfall, a console exclusive (maybe), was next level awesome. Also Xbox is an ecosystem I am invested in with a gamerscore and large friends list that would be have to be basically left behind. But on the other hand the Xbone’s features, whilst cool, I wont really use that much, like the Kinect, or wont be available for some time after launch, like video sharing to YouTube. It is a good product in my eyes but feels rushed and unfinished in some areas. Also I don’t think I am the target audience for the One, sure I love Halo, I mean it cemented my love for video games as a grown up, but I don’t play Fifa/Madden or Call of Duty or watch much TV and that’s where Microsoft have their gaze fixed. They have cast their net wide but it seems the catch of the day isn’t me.
So that puts me back at square one. Do I go with the PS4 – a product which has the raw power and variety of gaming experiences but to me is a little lacking in having a truly great controller, whose launch exclusives don’t grab me and lets face don’t have the proven chops for a seamless online matchmaking experience, or do I go for the Xbox One, home of Halo, a brand I am invested with solid input and online infrastructure but which seems to a degree to exclude me from its demographic from the outset.
If you made it through this read then thank you and if you have an opinion on what I should choose answers on a postcard please, or in the comments below. Any advise will be taken kindly. Thanks again.
-The Quim Ninja