Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 12:01 am
PlayStation & Xbox: The next generation
This holiday season, the most-desired devices are the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But which console is right for your gamer?
Among the billions of gifts Santa sifts through this holiday season may be millions of the latest eighth-generation video game consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Sony’s PS4 teases innovative game portability and simple social sharing. Microsoft’s Xbox One has the potential to replace your remote control.
Both consoles promise next-level gaming and entertainment experiences, but which would deliver in your household? Read on for a guide to all the features of these new super systems.
A glaring difference in the standard console launch bundles comes in the form of price. The Xbox One, which launches in a special Day One Edition, retails for $499.99; the PlayStation 4 will be a full Benjamin Franklin less, at $399.99.
The Xbox One Day One bundle includes the console; a Kinect 2.0 sensor; commemorative controller, HDMI cable; and Xbox One Chat Headset. The PlayStation 4 will have a more spartan “bundle” – just the console and a controller.
As for peripherals, those hoping to save money by using previous versions of add-ons will meet disappointment: Neither system offers backward compatibility on accessories.
Both consoles have a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of RAM and an 8-core CPU processor, so both produce very similar performance levels. However, early reviews gave the PS4 a lead in performance.
The PS4’s controller, the DualShock 4, evolved more over its predecessor than the Xbox One controller did from the Xbox 360’s. Yet, Xbox fans will argue that Microsoft got it right the first time around. The DualShock 4 designers changed the back surface, analog buttons and triggers for better grip. “In addition to that, there have been all these great features added to it without compromising the basic feel of the DualShock,” according to Scott Rohde, PlayStation software product development head for Sony Worldwide Studios America.
The PlayStation Camera ($54) will enable a new tracking feature through a light bar at the head of the controller. “We can track the position of this controller with multiple folks in the room,” Rohde says in a promotional video. “It’s very easy for the PS4 to identify who’s who.” Xbox also got the hint and added this feature to its new controller.
The DualShock also has a touchpad for swiping motions and navigation, a speaker and a “Share” button that allow players to record gameplay, create video or screenshots and post them instantly online.
Up to four controllers can be connected to the PS4, and up to eight to the Xbox One.
The “Share” button is a step forward for the PlayStation’s online social features, but Xbox One has reigned in this space with its online gaming platform, Xbox Live Gold.
“With the Xbox 360, [Microsoft] really nailed online,” says Brian Crecente, news editor for the video game website Polygon. “Xbox Live is by far, on consoles, my favorite online experience, and I assume going into Xbox One that that’s not going to be something I have to worry about.”
Microsoft has taken it up a notch with advanced algorithms to match players based on skill level and more.
Motion and voice control
The Xbox One can be turned on by simply saying “Xbox, on” or sitting down with the controller in hand. And that’s just the beginning of the buttonless control gamers have in the new system, thanks to Kinect 2.0.
“The fact that it can do things like track room entry and motion, that it can see when you’re not paying attention, that it can tell what your heartbeat is, all of that is fascinating,” Crecente says. “If someone really took advantage of that and made a really cool game, I’d love that.”
Sony confirms that the PlayStation Camera will have voice control, facial recognition and interaction with its DualShock 4.
The PS4 and Xbox One will both have companion mobile apps. The Xbox SmartGlass app has been upgraded with faster speed, remote control abilities for nongaming activities and unique gaming abilities.
“Game makers realize that there is a ubiquity to smartphones and tablets,” Crecente says. “Everybody seemingly has one now, so they see that as an easy way to extend that experience.”
For instance, both consoles’ mobile experience will allow a players to go into “commander mode” in the game “Battlefield 4” and direct other players in real time.
The PS4 also is teasing the idea of remote gaming through integration of its PS Vita device and a PlayStation cloud service launching in 2014. The on-the-go-gamer will be able to start a game on his home console and continue playing on the PS Vita on their way out the door.
Both systems attempt to conquer your living room with TV services, too. Sony plans to launch an online, paid TV service by the end of 2013. The Xbox One can run apps simultaneously with games, movies and more. Plus, it has one interface – complete with motion and voice control – that allows control of normal TV functions.
“This holiday, you’re going to have people doing exactly what I’m doing,” Crecente says. “They’re going to be standing there in front of the consoles [at the store] – for the first time in a long time – really, really deciding which console they want.”