The next generation of consoles will be among us by the end of this year, with the Xbox One and the PS4 both being released in the holiday season of 2013. The new Xbox has been confirmed as a November release, whereas we donâ€™t yet have the exact date for the PS4.
Gaming has truly evolved since the previous generation of consoles though, and these giants of the gaming world are also now becoming all-encompassing entertainment systems rather than just a vehicle for big budget games.
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2013 started on Monday, 10 June and we finally saw what the PS4 looks like, with many other morsels of news being announced for both the consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony are preparing for a mammoth battle, so letâ€™s see how things are shaping up.
Although the PS4 was announced some time ago and well before the One, we havenâ€™t really been able to see what it looks like, until now. At E3, the worldâ€™s biggest gaming and electronic entertainment show, we finally got our eyes on the newest member of the Sony gaming family.
The console is almost entirely black with a strip of purple dividing the different shades of the console. It has a very unassuming design, really. Gone are the swoops and curves we saw with the PS3. The sides of the PS4 have a slight angled offset, which does change the design significantly. Some might find the design boring, but we feel it looks quite sleek. Itâ€™s not as businessman-like as a suit, but not as hostile looking as a honey badger.
The Xbox has a very similar design, in fact. It offers a sleek, modern look and Microsoft claim to have chosen a â€™black boxâ€™ design as it was meant to be out of sight. The reasoning behind this is that it is a fully fledged media centre, and not just a console. So, like a Blu-ray player, it is not really meant to be seen, just used.
The two consoles have a very similar heart beating underneath the dark skin. The biggest difference is the type of RAM it uses. The PS4 uses 8GB GDDR5 RAM, while the One will be running 8GB of DDR3 RAM. The GDDR5 RAM we find in the PS4 is basically the same we find in modern PC graphics cards. This is to optimize graphical output, and it is estimated that the PS4 will have about a third more raw graphical processing power than the One. That being said, on the initial demonstrations we saw from both companies, it was near impossible to see any difference.
The rest of the hardware is pretty much identical. We do not have final confirmation as to the PS4 hard drive as of yet, but we assume there will be different variants at launch. The Xbox One will come with 500GB space at launch.
An important consideration for consumers is of course price. At launch the Xbox will cost $499, whereas the PS4 will be retailing at $399.
Here is a summary of the hardware specs:
|Xbox One||PlayStation 4|
|Availability||November 2013||Holiday 2013|
|Hard drive||Built-in (500GB)||Built-in|
|Motion control||New Kinect (bundled)||Move controller|
|CPU||8-core x86 AMD||8-core x86 AMD|
|RAM||8GB DDR3||8GB GDDR5|
|Wireless||Yes (802.11n w/Wi-Fi Direct)||Yes (802.11n)|
|HDMI||Yes (in and out)||Yes|
|Suspend/resume game support||Yes||Yes|
|Native gameplay sharing (video)||Yes||Yes|
When using the console for their primary purpose, gaming, the userâ€™s most important input mechanism is the controller, naturally. Both controllers are an evolution on the predecessor.
Sonyâ€™s DualShock 4 controller differs from previous iterations in that there is a clickable touchpad on the front. This is an interesting addition as it gives developers more options when designing games. We look forward to seeing it in action.
The controller also includes a â€œlight barâ€ at the front, which enables motion control functionality with the PS4â€™s eye camera to track your position and identify where the controller is. According to Sony, it can, if need be, adjust the split-screen orientation during multiplayer couch gaming. It also includes a social-focused Share button, with a built-in speaker and a headphone jack.
The Xbox One will have the same controller identifying capabilities, but will do this with the Kinect that will be included in all shipments (also contributing to the higher price). The Xbox One uses Wi-Fi direct to connect its controller to the console, compared to the PS4â€™s Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity. On paper at least, this would make the Xbox connection much smoother as the Wi-Fi direct has a maximum throughput of 250Mbps whereas the Bluetooth 2.1 can only manage a theoretical 3Mbps. Whether we will see any real difference in everyday use remains to be seen, though. We suspect this much quicker Xbox controller is to support add-ons, such as an updated version of its keyboard pad and a microphone for voice chat.
The PS4 will allow users to watch streaming video through Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus (among others). It will also include services like Music Unlimited, Flixster and Crackle. According to Sony, they are also busy working on â€œcutting edgeâ€, exclusive PS4 programming which is being â€œdeveloped with games in mindâ€. Unfortunately, we donâ€™t know much about it as of yet.
Microsoft, on the other hand, explained from the get-go that their new console was meant for more than gaming; it is not merely a (X)box to play video games on. The entire system will be integrated into other facets of home use.
The Xbox One will allow you to switch â€“ in live time â€“ from the game to TV, the internet, a movie, Skype etc. and it will do this all easily and smoothly. There is apparently no need to switch inputs as this will all be done with voice control. It will also multitask, allowing you to run games and other apps simultaneously.
While the TV capabilities of the Xbox might still be limited on our shores, it should be upgradable in the future to be used as our US counterparts will from launch. It doesnâ€™t replace your decoder box, but allows the decoder to be plugged into it.
There will always be self-published games on every console system, and we have a lot to look forward to on both. There are the ones we already know, like Gears of War, Fable and Halo which will appear on the Xbox only, where titles such as Killzone, Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank will remain PlayStation only.
At the E3 press conference we learned of some other key exclusives. For the PS4 these include Infamous: Second Son, The Order, The Dark Sorcerer and Killzone: Shadow Fall. It will also exclusively receive about 10 new indie titles.
Microsoft included the important exclusives Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Titanfall and Dead Rising 3 to its press release. They also said that DLC (downloadable content) for the new Call of Duty: Ghosts would be released on the Xbox One first.
Are you looking to buy one of the new generation consoles? Which would you choose? Also, which one do you believe has the best list of excusive games?