Whether you’ve been handed a Christmas list featuring one (or both!) of the consoles, or you’re a gamer on the fence, you’ll want to do some research before parting with your cash.
Here’s the important stuff you need to know about the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to make that decision easier.
What are the Xbox One and PS4?
They’re new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, the successors to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The US and Japanese companies each sold 80million of the last generation consoles, and they’ll be fighting hard for supremacy with their new hardware.
Consoles aren’t just for playing games anymore – they’re complete home entertainment systems. And video games aren’t just for children these days. The average age of a gamer is 30, according to research from the Entertainment Software Association, and the sophistication of modern consoles reflects that fact.
What do they do?
Mainly, they let you play the latest blockbuster video games. Made on budgets that can eclipse those of Hollywood films, the games often fuse cinematic stories with addictive gameplay. But the new consoles do a lot more besides: web-browsing, video chat, music and video playback, catch-up TV and social networking are just some of their other functions.
What’s the difference between Xbox One and PS4?
Their technical specifications are hugely similar, and the differences between the two consoles are both subtle and deliberate.
Each console uses an eight-core processor with 8GB of RAM. The specifics of each differ, but they make each console around 10 times more powerful than its predecessor in raw computing heft. In a straight race, the PS4’s faster – but there’s more to it than that.
Both use cutting-edge AMD graphics chips to deliver amazingly lifelike visuals. Without boring you with talk of Teraflops, the PS4 is more capable, on paper – but it’s all about how games developers use the tech. Many experts agree the difference between the two is negligible.
Both consoles have gameplay recording and sharing functions, letting you capture your finest gaming hour to share with friends, or broadcast to other players around the world. PS4 takes this idea the furthest with its share button built right into the controller.
Microsoft has put a big emphasis on its Kinect camera, which lets you control the console with your body and voice. It’s also gone big on multi-tasking, letting you jump out of a game to answer a Skype call in a flash, resuming where you left off when the call ends.
Xbox One is all about having all of your entertainment in a single device. Sony’s PS4 does a lot of similar tricks, but with a heavier focus on gaming.
The PS4 controllers, when paired with the PlayStation Eye camera, will track a player’s movements for gesture-based control. There’s also a touchpad built into the new control for tapping and swiping.
Owners of Sony’s PlayStation Vita will be able to play PS4 games on the handheld system via some kind of voodoo involving the cloud, and Sony’s promising a cavalcade of quirky, artsy indie games by working closely with small developers.
This is what tends to really separate gamers, and while launch titles are fairly weak in both camps, both consoles hold future promise.
PS4 has exclusives like dystopian shooter Killzone Shadowfall and superhero romp Infamous: Second Son, while Xbox One has the likes of racer Forza Motorsport 5 and space-shooter Halo 5. Big names like Metal Gear Solid V and Watch Dogs will be out on both consoles in time.Games are similarly priced on both consoles.
Insert coin to continue
Sony’s PlayStation 4 is the cheaper console at £349, while Microsoft’s Xbox One is £80 more expensive at £429.
The Xbox comes with the Kinect motion sensor camera included, while Sony sells a similar accessory as a £50 optional extra. Neither console requires a camera to work, but Microsoft forces you to pay for one, while Sony doesn’t.
Even with the camera peripheral factored in, PlayStation 4 still costs around £30 less than Xbox One.
Then there are the subscriptions. Both now charge a monthly fee for online gaming (Sony’s PS+ service used to be optional), but you don’t have to pay it if you don’t want to compete online.
PS+ costs around £3.30 a month and gives you free game downloads and cloud saving for free. Xbox Live costs roughly the same and also offers free games. Even if you don’t care for online gaming, you’ll still have to pay for Xbox Live to use apps like Netflix, which are free on PS4.
When the two consoles are so evenly matched, it may come down to simpler issues like pricing, or even whi ch controller you prefer. Prices are likely to go down too, so keep an eye out for deals on our shopping channel to get the best price.
|Cheaper, at £349||Relatively weak games line up at launch|
|Marginally more powerful, on paper||Camera sold separately (£50)|
|Motion/touch control||Only supports up to 4 players offline|
|Indie developer support||Does not support PS3 games|
|Free online apps like Netflix, Hulu||No external storage via USB|
|Exclusive games like Killzone, Knack and Infamous: Second Son|
|Great online service||More expensive, at £429|
|Kinect camera included||Kinect camera included (it’s not for everyone)|
|Exclusive games like Halo 5 and Forza 5||Marginally less powerful, on paper|
|Seamless multi-tasking||Xbox Live necessary for otherwise free apps (Netflix)|
|Voice control||Does not support Xbox 360 games|
|Supports up to 8 players offline|
|External storage via USB|