Sony PlayStation 4
Let’s start with the all-important question: Should you buy a PlayStation 4 over an Xbox One? At launch, the answer is yes. Sony’s console is significantly cheaper than Microsoft’s, but is more powerful - you only have to look at multi-platform games like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4, which both look better on the PlayStation 4. The console itself is also a thing of beauty - small, sleek and stylish, with a new controller that’s way more comfortable than its predecessor. Sony has also bundled everything as standard to make setup a breeze, including a HDMI lead, a simple power adaptor (no heavy brick) and a headset - next-gen is here, but does Sony’s latest console stack up to the competition? Let’s find out.
The PlayStation 4 is packed with impressive next-gen features. You can play PS4 games on your PlayStation Vita using the magic of Remote Play, which is really useful if someone is using the TV. The console is constantly buffering the last 15 minutes of gameplay, so if you do something amazing, it’s easy to upload a clip of it online. While the camera is £50 extra, all controllers have Move motion controls baked right in via a light on the front. And speaking of controllers, we love the thick rounded handles, concave triggers and ridged thumbsticks - making it the most comfortable DualShock ever.
There are some great third-party games at launch including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4, but the lineup of indie games, such as Hohokum, Octodad and The Witness, really mark the PS4 out as a console for fans of quirky, experimental titles. The system menus are also snappy and responsive, allowing you to watch a friend’s game in progress, and jump into that game in seconds.
Sony now charges for online gameplay through its PlayStation Plus service at £40 a year, but as that service offers superb, recently-released games for free every month, including Contrast and Resogun on the PlayStation 4, it’s worth paying for. The launch lineup of exclusive games isn’t that strong otherwise: it’s difficult to get excited about a new Killzone title, while the now-delayed Driveclub looks pretty weak next to Xbox’s Forza (perhaps why it was delayed to next year) - driving fans only have the multi-platform Need for Speed: Rivals to sink their teeth into. The camera is an optional extra on the PS4, and is nowhere near as advanced as Kinect on the Xbox One.
Media support on Sony’s console is also extremely limited at launch - you can access Netflix, but the machine will not play stream video from a local PC or other DLNA device, and it won’t even play MP3 files, making this exclusively a gaming machine at heart. You’ll also need a PlayStation Network account (sign up for one now on the website if you don’t have one), and there’s a mandatory day-one 300MB system update to download.