As we approach the second anniversary of PS4 and Xbox One’s release, it is time, once again, for those of us who haven’t made the jump to the current generation of consoles to weigh the pros and cons of the Big Two next gen systems so we can make the most of presents heading our way this holiday season.
And while brand loyalty might have already made your mind up for you, let’s look at how PS4 and Xbox One matchup head-to-head so that you can better decide which console is right for you.
The PS4 and the Xbox One both offer a large library of games to play in just about every genre. Many of the new generation’s best titles are available for both consoles including must-plays The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
As of Fall 2015, Xbox One is putting a greater emphasis on first-party exclusives, with big titles such as Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6 and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. PS4, meanwhile, has a few big first-party games like Until Dawn and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, but Sony has focused on pushing third-party titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Destiny: The Taken King, both of which have PlayStation-exclusive content. Both consoles have plenty more highly anticipated titles and it would be futile to try and list them all now in an effort to sway you to one side or the other.
As far as games go, Xbox One has a slight edge with backwards compatibility. Starting in November 2015, approximately 100 Xbox 360 games will be playable on Xbox One at no extra cost. Mass Effect and Perfect Dark Zero are both already backward compatible for preview members. Developers need only to give Microsoft the OK in order for their 360 games to work on Xbox One, meaning that the console’s game library could be at least twice the size of PS4’s if enough companies consent to backwards compatibility.
Sony is standing firm on no backward compatibility for PS4, preferring to make gamers subscribe to PlayStation Now for $20 a month. A PlayStation Now accound allows players to stream a small library of PS3 games including hits like Batman: Arkham, Assassin’s Creed and the Uncharted series.
Sorry, Sony. Xbox One’s robust first-party offerings and backward compatibility with previous gen games gives it an edge over the PlayStation 4 in the games department for now.
Hardware & Design
You might have a certain predilection for how one of these plastic rectangles look, but hear out the details before you pick your side.
The PS4 is sleek, angular and only 6.1 pounds. It is as easy on the eyes as it is to transport. Xbox One is, well, more boxy. Weighing 7 pounds and measuring 13 inches wide, the Xbox One is a bit harder to transport and will take up more shelf space than the slimmer, 11-inch-wide PS4.
Both consoles start with 500 GB of storage, which might seem like a lot until you consider that most games take up upward of 50 GB on your hard drive. Both consoles support expandable storage. Xbox One is as simple as plugging in any USB 3.0 external hard drive for more space. PS4 owners will have to open their console and swap in a new 2.5-inch or SATA drive. Advantage Xbox.
The Xbox One’s controller is a lighter and more ergonomic version of the Xbox 360 controller with flatter, snappier face buttons and glossy bumpers at the top. Microsoft also offers a $150 Elite Wireless Controller for the hardcore gaming crowd, which features built-in soft grips, swappable thumb sticks and d-pads and fully remappable buttons.
PS4’s familiar DualShock controller has more special features than the standard Xbox One pad, with a front-facing touchpad, motion-control capabilities, a built-in speaker, and a light bar at the top that changes colours based on battery level or the game you are playing. The PS4’s DualShock 4 supports micro USB charging right out of the box, whereas you’ll need a $25 charging kit for the same functionality on the original Xbox One controller. Advantage PlayStation.
The Xbox’s Kinect camera accessory is now down from $500 to $150 and lets Xbox One owners navigate their console with voice commands; play gesture-based games and even video chat via Skype. PlayStation’s $60 PlayStation Camera doesn’t have the Kinect’s voice command options or motion-based game library but it does let you log in to your system via facial recognition and can be used as a personal webcam when broadcasting gameplay to Twitch.
It might be a matter of personal taste but Sony’s PS4 is more attractive, lighter-weight and offers more functionality out of the box than the Xbox One.
Performance and Graphics
Graphics-wise, you are not going to go wrong with either console. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One are capable of graphics and frame rates that eclipse previous consoles (obviously).
If you care about the nuts and bolts of each console though, both of these machines have an 8-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar processor with 8GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon GPU and a 500GB hard drive. And as we have already mentioned, both consoles support expandable storage, though PS4’s extra storage is a bit more complicated than the Xbox One’s.
Smoothness and resolution, however, don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The Xbox One version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare jumps between 1360 x 1080p based on how hectic the on-screen action is. According to Digital Foundary, this allows the game to stay at 60 frames per second more often than the always-1080p PS4 version.
The difference between 1080p and 900p may not matter to most gamers, but if resolution is all you care about, PS4’s resolution makes it the console for you.
Interface and Streaming
The New Xbox One Experience brings a completely revamped, Windows 10-powered interface to Microsoft’s console. With larger icons for easier navigation, shortcuts for getting to games quickly and a new guide that lets players reach their friends, notifications and messages with a single button-tap, the Xbox One’s interface is a slick new interpretation of the old 360 interface.
The PS4’s interface is similarly slick and is still king in terms of capturing gameplay moments and sharing them with friends. A quick tab of the DualShock 4’s Share button brings up a menu that lets you record a clip, broadcast your gameplay or take screenshots. Plus, the PS4-exclusive Share Play feature lets players give up control of their game to an online friend for up to 60 minutes so long as they are PlayStation Plus subscriber. Now that’s cool.
Both consoles allow players to broadcast gameplay directly to Twitch, though PS4 is the only one of the two that can also stream to YouTube. Interestingly enough, PS4 players can share their screenshots and videos to Facebook, while Xbox owners can share their clips to Twitter. I guess social media platforms had to choose one or the other too.
Off-TV play is permitted on both systems for those times when the TV is being hogged. Sony’s Remote Play feature lets you stream PS4 games to a PlayStation Vita handheld or Xperia devices. Windows 10 users can stream their Xbox One titles to their laptops or tablets.
Though Xbox One’s interface and streaming is impressive, Sony takes this category because it’s more intuitive for broadcasting gameplay and sharing with friends.
No offense PlayStation but Xbox One is the superior home entertainment machine. Microsoft allows Xbox One owners to transmit their cable box’s TV signal, allowing quick switches between playing a game and watching a show. It can also snap your TV to the top right for picture-in-picture gaming/TV watching.
If you’ve sprung for Xbox Kinect, you can flip through channels via voice commands and see what shows are trending via the OneGuide app. Sometimes it can be a bit laggy but it is very cool to switch from game to TV without destroying the living room in search of the lost TV remote.
Both consoles support the essential popular streaming services. Neftlix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Amazon Instant are all available as are niche streaming services like WWE Network, Crunchyroll and NBA Game Time. Xbox One also supports HBO Go, Fox Now, CW and Comedy Central.
Even if you’re not the type to use the myriad of channel-specific apps, Xbox One and PS4 both have made it easier to cut the cord. PS4 now offers Sony’s own PlayStation Vue online TV service (starting price: $50 a month), which features a lot of major cable channels, such as MTV and Nickelodeon, and nearly limitless DVR. You also get local affiliate channels, which means you can still catch prime-time TV, local news and sports if you live in the cities where this service is currently being offered (Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco). Xbox One, meanwhile, offers access to SlingTV, a similar online TV service that offers a myriad of popular networks for $20 a month. Even if you don’t have cable or Sling, Xbox One now has the ability to receive basic over-the-air live TV, as long as you have a separate antenna and adapter handy. The Xbox One is also set to receive a built-in DVR in 2016 via software update, which will allow you to record over-the-air TV and watch your shows on Xbox or any Windows 10 device.
PS4 is the only console out of the two that offers Spotify access. Xbox One does offer apps like Pandora and its own Groove Music, but Spotify’s PlayStation app has the unique ability to keep playing in the background and blend seamlessly with whatever game you are playing.
So while Xbox One has a few more bells and whistles for TV watching, PS4 has the edge on how to enjoy music. If more TV apps is more important to you, then Xbox One should be your pick. If accessing your Spotify account while gaming is more important to you, PlayStation 4 is your console.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold ($60 yearly, $10 monthly) and Sony’s PlayStation Plus ($50 yearly, $10 monthly) online services are both required if you want to play any game’s online multiplayer mode, and both come with their fair share of goodies to keep players from resenting another subscription they have to pay.
PlayStation Plus members get two free games per PlayStation console per month, while Microsoft’s Games with Gold provides the same service for Xbox gamers. Both programs have given away everything from new indie games to older blockbusters.
The value of each online service is largely dependent on the hardware you own. PlayStation Plus covers PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. Games with Gold applies to Xbox One and Xbox 360. The free games offered by either service ramins in your library for as long as you are subscribed.
Both services offer frequent discounts on digital games, and both provide cloud storage in different capacities. PlayStation Plus provides 10 GB of cloud storage while Xbox One saves everything on their cloud regardless of whether you have Xbox Live Gold.
PlayStation Network has suffered some pretty glaring and infamous outages, which adds to Xbox Live’s credibility.
You want cheaper with a wider range of free games? That’s PS4. You want better cloud storage and online stability? Pick Xbox One.
The Xbox One and PS4 have never been more attainable, retailing at $349 each.
The basic Xbox One includes a 500GB hard drive, a controller and the choice between Gears of War: Ultimate Edition or the LEGO Movie Videogame. For $50 more ($399), you can get a 1TB console, a $499 config that includes a Kinect camera and a handful of games. You can also opt for the $499 Elite Bundle, which includes 1TB of storage, faster flash storage and Microsoft’s modular Elite Wireless Controller (which is otherwise sold separately for $149).
The basic PS4 includes 500GB of storage and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for $349. For a 1TB PS4, the only current option is to pick up the special $429 Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 edition of the PS4 that ships with a copy of the game.
There are also a ton of other packages available, including Fallout and Tomb Raider bundles for Xbox One, and Star Wars and Destiny bundles for PS4. Both systems ship with all the peripherals you need to get started, though the fact that the PS4 is rechargeable rather than battery-powered will save you some cash eventually.
Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4
PS4 has superior hardware and sharing capabilities to deliver a more user-friendly experience. The Xbox One boasts a robust library of exclusives, backward compatibility and versatile entertainment options. Both retail for $349, so which one do you choose?
Our answer: whichever one your friends are going to buy/get as a Christmas present. Both are powerful machines that will provide you endless hours of entertainment. But what good is it if you can only play Destiny on single player while the rest of your squad is enjoying raids together?
Talk to your friends today about which console they are getting and follow suit. If they are also undecided, share this article with them so they can learn the different perks of each system to make an educated purchase.