Xbox One vs PS4 - The best next-gen console for you?
We help you choose which next-gen console is best for you in our head-to-head guide - Xbox One vs PS4
The Xbox One and PS4 next-gen consoles have been duking it out since late last year, with the PS4 taking a lead in sales, outselling its rival by around 50%. We've got our full up-to-date reviews of both if you want all the nitty-gritty, head over to our Xbox One review and PS4 review for complete breakdowns.
However, if you want a rundown of the differences between the two consoles then you're in the right place. Here we're going to put the two consoles head-to-head over the most important issues, so you can work out which next-gen console is best for you, and whether you should buy now or wait for later in the year.
Now, it can be a lot to take in if you're fresh to the "which is best" debate, so we've split the decision into several main categories – have a browse through to find the ones most pertinent to you, or just skip to the end for a summary.
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - PRICE
Initially the Xbox One console cost £80 more than Sony's console - £349 for PS4 vs £429 for Xbox One – a difference largely accounted for by Microsoft bundling its motion-capturing Kinect controller with every console. However, while the PS4 has kept its price, the Xbox One has had a number of price cuts, and bundle deals, in its first six months.
A first price cut occurred in late February dropping the cost of Microsoft's hardware down to a slightly more reasonable £399. It also continued its launch trick of bundling a game with the console for free, initially this was FIFA 14, but now must-have shooter Titanfall has taken its place, which in effect brings the console down to around £360 - as most people would buy the game anyway.
More recently Microsoft has given in to pressure from gamers and is finally selling the console without the Kinect peripheral. This version of the Xbox One will cost £349, though at present the deal of a bundled game hasn’t been extended to it. There’s bound to be some kind of change there though as looking at the GAME: Xbox One order page shows that the console with Kinect, Titanfall, Watch_Dogs and a couple of decent Blu-ray films can be picked up for just £410, a far better deal than the Kinect-less console alone at £349.
The PS4 remains at its original £349 price. Most of the stock currently available online comes bundled with at least one game for £389. That's not a problem, after all you've got to play something on it, but it might irk those who want to download all their games or who are only planning to play smaller download titles for now. For further details on bundles, see stock and availability below.
The big price move has now occurred with the Xbox One joining the PS4 on £349. And we feel that’s the way it’s likely to stay for the time being. Neither company will be keen to enter a price war this early in the console lifespan, you can't put the price back up easily once you've dropped it, and both will have large R&D costs they need to recoup.
Bundles deals are now starting to look tempting, as we mention above, especially on the comparatively struggling Xbox One. However with some big games due this year on both consoles, we don’t see there being any big price war this Christmas, bundles are bound to get sweeter though on both consoles, just how sweet will depend on the amount of consoles the two companies can manufacture this year. If demand is high, retailers won’t care to cut prices, if there’s an excess of consoles though, then expect bigger deals.
BEST FOR YOU? – The Xbox One is now cheaper, due to some great bundle offers, but the difference isn’t great enough to make it a deciding factor
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - GAMES
You can talk hardware, controllers and operating systems all day, but it's the games that really matter on a console. Previous console generations have often been defined by their big exclusive franchises, such as Halo, Mario and Uncharted. If you really wanted to play a certain game, you had to but the console that had it.
However, this time we're not sure that exclusives will be as critical in the battle between the Xbox One and the PS4. Both consoles use very similar hardware, as we'll discuss later, and the ever-increasing costs of games development mean that Sony and Microsoft will have to splash huge amounts of cash to compete with titles that will be released across multiple formats.
At present most of our most-wanted games are coming to both formats: Watch_Dogs, Destiny, Tom Clancy's The Division, The Witcher 3, Assassin's Creed 5, Elder Scrolls Online and Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. Some of these titles are coming to both new and old consoles, but they all look a lot better on the latest hardware.
The Division looks incredible and it's coming to both consoles this year
To date, the most next-gen title on either console is probably Battlefield 4 , with its 64 player battles matching those on the PC for scale. If you're looking for single-player thrills then Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag and the 'Definitive Edition' of Tomb Raider are both great picks.
To date the graphics hardware in the PS4, more on which later, has proved superior. Multi-platform games have largely looked sharper or run smoother on Sony's hardware.
There are some exclusive titles out there, and Titanfall on Xbox One is undoubtedly the biggest. The EA-published game is exclusive to Microsoft formats, with Windows PC and Xbox 360 versions also available. The game is undoubtedly excellent, though without a single-player mode it's not for everyone, and though it's very slick it doesn't do anything technically that feels truly next-gen. You can read our full thoughts in our Titanfall review.
We're mainly playing Titanfall at the moment, though you'd have to be a die-hard shooter fan to buy an Xbox One to play just this
The exclusivity deal between Microsoft and EA was signed well before the launch of the next-gen consoles, when the Xbox 360 was the consoles of choice for first-person shooters. It's probably a deal that EA now regrets, with the PS4 proving more popular to date, losing the company many sales. We very much doubt that Titanfall 2 will be exclusive therefore, but after years of working to tight schedules and on endless sequels with Call of Duty, it's hard to predict when the developers at Respawn will do a sequel. Publisher EA has talked of a three-shooter rotation between Battlefield, Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront. And that's a rotation we'd happily buy into.
The biggest PS4 exclusive to date is Infamous: Second Son. This is a solid single-player game mixing some brilliant particle effects with some great brawling action. It certainly looks next-gen but the gameplay isn't really much beyond that which you'd expect from an older console. It's a must-bu for PS4 owners, but it's not enough of a reason to buy a PS4. Read our full thoughts in our Infamous: Second Son review.
Infamous: Second Son is incredibly pretty and good fun, but it's not quite a must-have
Coming soon after that will be The Order 1886. We haven't been given a chance to play this for ourselves yet but it looks pretty impressive. It's a single-player only story-driven, third-person actions adventure in a steampunk Victorian London. Head over to http://theorder1886.eu.playstation.com for more details.
BEST FOR YOU? – It's still early days, Titanfall has been a big hit on Xbox One, but we still think that multi-format games will dominate this console generation, and PS4 has the edge in head-to-head comparisons
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - STOCK AND AVAILABILITY
The initial stock shortages of both consoles was mercifully short, and now you can order either online and expect it to be despatched without a delay. As we note above, the bundle deals are generally better on Xbox One, and it seems to be in better supply when surges in demand do occur.
Stock of the PS4 is still fluctuating. Most days you can pick up a console for immediate delivery, but others in seems in short supply. Buying a console in a pack with a game is easier, and you have to have something to play on it, but you might not be able to find the game you want bundled.
If you want a PS4 you might have to buy a bundle with a slightly discounted game