I own all three current gen consoles right now, but I’m thinking about selling one of them. I’ll start by bringing up the elephant in the room: Wii U. I think we can all agree that the Wii U is in a different category than the PS4 and Xbox One, and because I love Nintendo games, I have no desire to sell it. You might not like Nintendo games, and if so, then it doesn’t make much sense for you to own a Wii U, since there’s very little third party support.
The PS4 and Xbox One, on the other hand, are ripe for comparison given their similar technology and third-party support. To head off any accusations of Playstation fanboyism, let me state that if anything, I’m actually a Nintendo fanboy. If you look at the rest of my site and podcasts, I cover Nintendo extensively compared to other platforms. I’ve lived and loved their consoles for over 25 years now. Also, I owned an Xbox 360 last gen, and absolutely loved it. I bought a PS4 and Vita last year, and they are my first Playstation devices – I’ve always resisted the PS ecosystem because I couldn’t stand the controllers.
So, with that out of the way, on to the question: Xbox One or PS4? I think they’re both outstanding consoles, and depending on your needs, you might like one over the other. For me, here’s a dozen reasons (in no particular order) why I’m regularly gaming on my PS4 and my Xbox One hasn’t been used in a few months:
- The PS4 was built for gaming, and the Xbone was built as a media center. It becomes clear when you look at all the features that the PS4 was built with gamers in mind. I don’t watch TV, so I have no use for those Xbone features. The Xbone was also clearly designed with Kinect 2.0 in mind, and instead of sticking to their guns, they caved at the last minute and have all but phased out the peripheral. Which is a shame, because I really enjoy games that use the Kinect (I still use the original Kinect all the time), and that would have been a great reason for me to keep the system as a differentiator from the PS4. Instead, they’ve abandoned the device almost entirely, which means no developer in their right mind would create games for it, which means it’s dead.
- Exclusives. Sony exclusives that I care about include The Order: 1886, Bloodborne, No Man’s Sky, Street Fighter 5, Uncharted, Until Dawn, Persona 5, Rogue Legacy, Infamous: Second Son, MLB The Show, God of War, Last of Us Remastered, Axiom Verge…just to name a few. Xbone has very few exclusives that I care about. I will say that Ori and the Blind Forest was an absolutely amazing game, but I can’t think of any other exclusives that have me excited. Maybe Cuphead? Of course, I personally have no interest in Halo or Gears, but if you do, then it makes sense to keep the system.
- The Controller. Dualshock 4 is vastly improved over the Dualshock 3, while the Xbone controller takes a step back compared to the 360 controller. This is just my opinion, but I think the 360 controller is the best controller of all time. The Xbone controller by comparison feels clunky, big and out of proportion. I also really don’t like how far the sticks stand out from the controller. On the other hand, I’ve passionately hated all Playstation controllers until the Dualshock 4. It’s the sole reason I never bought a Playstation; that’s how much I’ve disliked using their controllers in the past. Thankfully, Sony completely redesigned their controller, making it bigger in a way that fits comfortably into an adult’s hands, and I’ve grown to really like it. Plus, it has a speaker in it, which is a really neat feature for games that utilize it for some in-game audio devices. As if that wasn’t enough, they put a headphones port right on the controller. There’s also a touchpad, but to be honest that feels gimmicky to me, not having seen a legitimate need for it in any of the games that I’ve played thus far.
- Cross-buy and cross-save. Many titles (indie in particular) offer cross-buy between PS4, PS3, and Vita. I’ve often bought games on the PS4 and ended up playing it on the PS Vita, for free. Many games also offer cross-save functionality, though some are better at implementation than others. I use that feature all the time in some of my favorite games like “Velocity 2X” and “Rogue Legacy.”
- Graphics. The PS4 almost always has better graphical output than the Xbone. It might be negligible to the average gamer, but it’s undoubtedly a more powerful console. Time and time again I hear the stats: 1080p on PS4, 900p (or sometimes even 720p) on Xbone.
- Playstation Plus. Let’s face it: PS Plus almost always has better and more recent games than Xbox’s Games with Gold. I’ve had both for years and I’m consistently impressed with PS Plus, and consistently disappointed with Games with Gold. Again, I loved my 360, but I just haven’t got as much value out of the free games.
- Zoom. Many modern game developers have decided that they need a super clean interface, so they reduce their text size in menu screens to the point of needing a magnifying glass. The recently-implement zoom feature for PS4 is extremely helpful for tiny text on menus for anyone who sits on a couch while gaming.
- Backwards compatibility. No, neither of the systems technically have it, but at least the PS4 gives you one way to enjoy games from previous generations through its Playstation Now service. Unfortunately, I’ll admit that service is lacking and needs improvement and better pricing, but at least it’s an option. Having just migrated from a 360 to the PS4, I missed lots of great PS3 titles, and I’d definitely like to pay them a visit.
- Remote Play. This doesn’t work with every game because of control issues, but for the ones where it does work well, it’s amazing. One of my favorite features of the Wii U is being able to pick up my game on the gamepad and let my wife watch something on TV, and remote play offers a similar experience on the Vita. Unfortunately, I feel Sony made a big mistake by not adding an additional L and R trigger to make up for the additional controls on the Dualshock 4, instead opting to phone it in by suggesting that players use quadrants of the touchpad on the Vita as a replacement for L2/R2 and L3/R3. I’ll let you in on a secret: It sucks. It never works. I rarely use L3/R3 in games, but L2/R2 is often indispensable, and it’s very unfortunate that they didn’t do what the New Nintendo 3ds did and add a few extra triggers with their latest redesign. It could have made remote play truly amazing, but instead now I can only use it for games that don’t utilize L2/R2…which drastically reduces the number of games that I can play on it. Still, it’s better than Microsoft’s option, which…oh yeah, never mind.
- Project Morpheus. Yes, Microsoft is experimenting with their HoloLens for “augmented reality,” but it seems like that tech is further down the road than VR. Sony plans to release their VR device in the first half of 2016.
- Audio options. The Playstation Gold Headset works great with virtual surround sound on the PS4. If I don’t want to pop out my usb adaptor from my computer for the Gold Wireless, I can just use any headphones I have lying around and plug them directly into the controller. Xbone will not let you plug in headphones; instead it requires an expensive, clunky adaptor (why!?!?).
- Aesthetic design. The PS4 is sexy and sleek. In contrast, when I pulled my Xbone out of the box, I was shocked; the first thing I thought of was those old PC towers I had in the 90’s. It’s a huge clunky block. I like everything about the PS4’s design much better, and although the Xbone does offer a ton of additional ports in the back, I have no intentions on using any of them apart from what the PS4 has as well. Again, the PS4 was built for games, and the Xbone was built for, well, other stuff.
I might buy back into the Xbox One once they redesign the console and announce more features/games that appeal to me, but for now it’s simply an expensive box in my living room. I feel like the PS4 was built for my needs. You might enjoy all the extra media features of the Xbone, and you might really love your Halo and Gears games; in that situation, by all means keep your Xbone. It’s a great console. The PS4 just happens to be better for someone like me.
Lastly, as a Nintendo fanboy I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t mention that if you enjoy Nintendo games, you should buy a Wii U. It’s a fantastic machine, and I play it more than any other device in my house right now. It has more great games than either of the other systems (IF you enjoy Nintendo games – I think most will agree they are just a different style than PS4 and Xbox One in general), it has neat unique features like off-TV play, a ridiculous back catalog of classics via the eshop, and it’s cheap.