As time passes, we say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. This year we are graced with the arrival of the modern generation of gaming with the PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One (that I shall call Juan since it’s easier than typing Xbone, X1, or something like that). Here I’ll present a basic review of both consoles while going into more detail about each of them in future articles.
Design: In terms of design, both consoles look sleek in black, but in my opinion the PS4 takes this round. The Xbox One is big, built like a tank. It’s heftier than my laptop even, and that is saying a lot. Meanwhile, the PS4 is sleek, small and doesn’t weigh a lot, unlike the Xbox. The weight of the Juan is close to the original Xbox, which was released in 2001. For a console released in 2013, being gigantic isn’t a good thing; especially in this day and age where technology is much more powerful, but also comes in small and ergonomic packages. The Xbox One also includes a Kinect in the package, which is also huge and apparently necessary to properly use all available features in the system. I’m not a huge fan of the Kinect and I don’t think I ever will be, but even still I feel like its inclusion was forced. Once connected, the Kinect stays on and remains listening even while it’s supposed to be off and not listening. So gone are the days of playing in your underwear since the thing is always watching (creepy), and some games are affected negatively because of it. For example, cursing in NBA gets you technical fouls, and if you pause while playing Dead Rising 3, the Kinect will unpause the game if it hears something.
Controls: Here I have a slight preference for the PS4 instead of the Xbox One. The PS4 controller feels much better, literally applying the concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, while making a few adjustments to better treat a gamer’s hand. The Xbox One, on the other hand, just decided to ditch the almost perfect design from its predecessor, the Xbox 360, and tried to go with a more modern look, which sadly hurts after playing for a while. The controller’s left and right Bumpers don’t feel sturdy enough for a shooting game, but that might just be me. On the plus side, the XBone already has available a fightstick for your fighting game needs. This was one of the reasons I got excited for a Xbox One since I’m a fighting game fanatic. The stick will be reviewed in a future article.
Operating System/Dashboard: Here is where my real gripes begin. The Xbox One’s dashboard is horrible! It’s not user friendly at all and is even less detailed when you try to explore it. Up to the point of this writing, I haven’t managed to have a properly working party, and playing with friends is one of the main reasons people play video games. The design overhaul from the 360 to One is not very good in my opinion. I know that Microsoft tried to incorporate the Windows 8 design into the system, but it makes everything hard to use. Gone is the easy access to a store where everything is separated and you could easily decide what to get. Gone also is the accessibility of your game library if you have downloaded anything, and it’s not even possible to see your previous downloads, or maybe I haven’t found it since it’s so frustrating using it. I’m just sort of glad that opening a game is easy but when I try to play any of my downloaded games, it becomes a huge hassle and I lose all interest in even trying to play them.
The PS4, however, went for a more iPhone-esque design. Everything you download and install, the disc you have inserted in the console, apps and more appear below with their own space like a block, BUT to access any other options not available in the main menu, you just press up and everything is a breeze to locate. The store keeps the same design from the PS3, while the system settings are on the far right. The notifications tab lets you know what you’re downloading and uploading, if you’ve received any messages, or unlocked trophies. These are basic changes that actually make everything enjoyable.
Games: While it’s hard to believe now, the games, the granddaddy of them all, are still the reason you buy a new system in the first place, the basis for which you’ll go to a midnight launch. Unfortunately, the PS4 had a limited release on launch day and so far lacks exclusives like the Xbox One. There are still many games that are either free to play, or at least just fun, but they lack that hook to keep you playing over time. The Xbox One has more exclusives and the games are good enough to keep you coming back for more. The likes of Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Crimson Dragon in the XBone were far more attractive than Knack, Killzone: Shadowfall, Warframe, DC Universe Online and Flower on the PS4. When comparing the games, it’s hard to argue against the fact that the Xbox One had the better launch titles, but since that was due to time restraints on Sony’s part, it could all change in a future!
In the end, it all comes down personal preferences. My heart favors the PS4 because it’s simple and not much of a hassle to play what limited games it has. But my head knows that, since games are what ultimately matters, the Xbox One is the better console for now, with its much better game library as of launch, and of course Killer Instinct. I did say I was a fighting game fanatic.