Xbox One vs PS4 - Neck-and-neck but which is best for you?
Xbox One or PS4? Which next-gen console should you buy for Christmas?
It was always going to be a hard-fought battle for supremacy in the next-gen console war, but with the Xbox One and PS4, Microsoft and Sony have gone all-out to make sure that their console dominates. Since they launched last year, Sony has taken an early lead with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One by around 50%. However, there's a good argument that a lot of that had to do with the Xbox One's high launch price, because it shipped with Kinect. Now Kinect is optional, and both consoles cost a similar amount, it's not so easy to pick which one you should buy.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, our Xbox One vs PS4 showdown. 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 which will be the best device to own come Christmas. We've updated the article to include the latest official console bundles to tempt you this winter.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, using the navigation at the top and bottom of the page or just skip to the end for a summary.
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - PRICE
XBOX ONE The Xbox One console's 'real world' price has dropping steadily since launch, partly due to actual price drops, but also thanks to a series of 'free' bundled games and more recently the option to buy the console without the Kinect sensor. Most recently the standalone console has dropped in price to as low £310 online. Retailers are even offering the White Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive bundle (below) for £326. There's also an Assassin's Creed bundle just annoucned with two games for £349. For all the latest prices and details, see our Xbox One deals page.PS4 Prices on the PS4 have finally started to fall, and we've even seen a standalone console online for as little as £306 inc delivery. There are plenty fo bundles about too, with mosty offering a game and a console for around £349, with FIFA 15 and Destiny proving the most popular. For all the latest deals and prices check our PS4 deals page.WILL THERE BE FURTHER PRICE CUTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS? With yet another £20 sliced off the official price of an Xbox One, we're pretty sure that's it for price cuts from Microsoft (though we've said that before admittedly). And with PS4 prices finally coming down (though not officially) to £329, and with Sony still having the market lead, we can't see it going any lower either. So we'd be confident to buy a console today.Beyond official price drops, retailers have been cutting prices yet further, especially at www.simplygames.com . Such bundle deals are bound to get sweeter on both consoles as we approach Christmas. Just how sweet will depend on the amount of consoles the two companies can manufacture this year. If demand is high and stock low, retailers won’t care to cut prices, but if there’s an excess of hardware to shift, then expect better deals. Don't leave it too late though, as a sell-out is still a possibility this year, especially of the more-popular PS4.WHICH ONE IS BEST? – Sony has responded to Microsoft's price cutting and both are on an even footing for now
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.
Our most-wanted 2014 games are coming to both formats, we've all been playing Destiny and then there's Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 to come this year, at least one of which should impress, if not both. In 2015 both consoles will receive Tom Clancy's The Division (pictured below), The Witcher 3, Rainbow Six Siege and Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. There's going to be a lot to play ... next year.If you've tired of Destiny's mix or shooting and loot grinding then there are some other titles worth picking up. 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 buys, and now widely available for less second-hand, and we really enjoyed Wolfenstein: The New Order too (though it's grisly stuff at times). Like being scared? We're currently playing Alien Isolation and The Evil Within, and will have full reviews of those soon.
EXCLUSIVE GAMES - XBOX ONE
As we approach Christmas the exclusive titles are now appearing. We've recently been playing Forza Horizon 2 and it's a technically outstanding title that really shows off the Xbox One, its controller and Xbox Live.Before Christmas there'll also be anarchic shooter-cum-free runner Sunset Overdrive, plus the re-mastered versions of the Halo series in the Halo: Master Chief Collection (which comes with beta access to Halo 5 no less). It's not a huge line-up of 2014 exclusives, but it's certainly significantly stronger than Sony's efforts for 2014.Of course we can't talk about Xbox One without mentioning Titanfall. 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. Since launch, ex-CoD developers Respawn Entertainment have supported the game brilliantly with technical tweaks, new game modes and additional features - all for free - plus some solid DLC map packs. This continues now, with another huge patch adding a horde-style defence mode imminent any day now. Titanfall is the multiplayer shooter that keeps on giving.
EXCLUSIVE GAMES - PS4
The biggest PS4 exclusive to date is still Infamous: Second Son (pictured below). This is a solid single-player game mixing some brilliant particle effects with some solid 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 good game 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. It's worth noting that the most-heralded release on the console of late has been the Last of Us Remastered, a prettied up version of one of the best games of recent years, originally on PS3.A big blow for Sony was The Order 1886 getting delayed until 2015. We played recently at E3 and it looks superb, though we're yet to be completely convinced that there's enough breadth in the game to make it more than a very fancy shooting gallery. Other than this, there's only the fabulous-looking, social racer Driveclub. That game is now out, full review coming soon, but is missing its much-hyped Dynamic Weather effects for now, and has received fairly average reviews from most sites.All of that adds up to a very unconvincing 2014 for Sony's exclusive titles, with Microsoft's lineup of Titanfall, Forza Horizon 2, and possibly Sunset Overdrive, walking all over inFamous, Driveclub and the absent Order: 1886. Things are looking up for PS4 early next year, with Bloodborne in particular looking pretty special, but based on current performance Microsoft seems to have its studios up-and-firing while Sony's have spluttered so far.WHICH ONE IS BEST? – With Titanfall and Forza Horizon 2, the Xbox One has the edge in exclusive games this year, but the PS4's stronger graphical showing in multi-platform titles evens things up somewhat
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - CONSOLE
With both consoles going for the all-black look, with differing glossy and matt bits, we can't see anyone being too thrilled, or put off, by their respective designs - if we really had to pick a winner we would opt for the 'edgier' looking PS4 with its raked angles.However, the Xbox One's larger, boxier shape looks to be better designed for cooling those internal components. Inside, a single large fan sits above the core chipset and blows air through a vent directly above it. We can't think of a more simple or straightforward way to get rid of heat and do it quietly.Based on iFixit's PS4 teardown video, above, it uses a smaller 85mm centrifugal fan pushing air outwards around the edges rather than straight up. We aren't engineers, but we've built and cooled a lot of PCs in our time, and complexity is rarely a good thing when it comes to cooling.Thanks to Eurogamer, we have power usage and decibel figures for both consoles. The Xbox One is reported to have peaked at a power usage of 125W, significantly below the 140W of the PS4. This was also reflected in noise levels, with the PS4 proving to be noticeably louder, both close up and at a distance, plus it pushes out hotter air than the Xbox One. The PS4's cooling system looks to be doing a good job then, but the more powerful hardware, drawing more wattage and so creating more heat, looks to make it the louder console - though not by much.According to iFixit the PS4 will let users upgrade their hard disk for a larger capacity disk, or faster SSD, simply by removing a few screws. These are regular screws too, so you won't need specialist Torx equipment to get inside the console. The Xbox One hard disk can also be replaced, but it's a far trickier process, again head on over to iFixit for a video breakdown of how to do this.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - The PS4 looks cooler and has no power brick, but the Xbox One runs a little quieter. Take your pick
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - SPECS
One of the most surprising things about the next-gen battle is how much we knew, and how long ago we knew it. The earliest sketchy leaks of the specifications of both machines were largely accurate, and have now been proven by revelations from developers working on both platforms.What we know now, as we did some time ago, is that the PS4 has a significant horsepower advantage over the Xbox One. It has 50 per cent more GPU compute units, allowing for greater parallel processing power that can either be used for onscreen fidelity, or for in-game effects like real-time physics. It also has a simpler memory system with a single lump of 8GB of fast GDDR5 memory, compared to Xbox One's DDR3 memory and 32MB high-speed cache. Simple is always good when it comes to console architectures, with some developers already criticising Microsoft's design and some multi-platform games being forced to run at a lower internal resolution than on Sony's hardware.Microsoft has tried to catch up by bumping the CPU and GPU speeds by small amounts. According to developers it dedicated a small but significant amount of resources to quick-switching between apps and the Kinect device - resources that are much needed. These are now being freed up by Microsoft, which should also help close the gap.The Xbox One certainly suffered last year in direct comparisons of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. More recently though games such as Destiny and FIFA 15 haven't shown such differences, with them being largely identical to play on the two consoles - though there is often evidence of the PS4's superiority in small ways.We'll have to wait until Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare comes out next month to really get a gauge on how much ground Microsoft has clawed back, or just how far the PS4 is ahead. With developers having had a good time to get used to the hardware now, the differences should be clear and significant.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - A clear cut advantage here for the PS4, its more powerful graphics hardware is already paying dividends in games
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - MULTIMEDIA FEATURES
Both new consoles use Blu-ray drives, so playing the latest movie releases shouldn't a problem - once you've downloaded and installed a day one update (neither will play Blu-rays without an update). Only Sony has added 3D Blu-ray playback to its device, though. Both are more than capable of playing cinema-quality 4K (or UltraHD) movie files too, when those become more widely available.Both consoles support some media streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. However, the Xbox One hasn't launched with BBC iPlayer (which is on PS4), which is disappointing seeing as it's available on the Xbox 360, and it's not likely to be available until the middle of the year now. Sky's Now TV on-demand service is also now available for both consoles.Sony has also taken the unusual decision not to support CD or MP3 playback out of the box, or let the PS4 act as a DLNA media receiver to play video and audio files streamed from other devices on your network. These omissions look to be cynical attempts to drive you into the open arms of Sony's own music and movie offerings, and there's no confirmed timescale as to when such features might appear.As a home entertainment hub the Xbox One looks promising, with Microsoft putting resources into multi-tasking so you can switch from a game, to a Skype call, to Netflix and then to the main menu almost as quickly as you read this sentence. It also has a HDMI input so you can feed TV from a set-top box, allowing you to switch quickly between live TV and any other function in an instant. DLNA support has just been announced too, with a wide range of file formats supported, so you can stream all your videos, music and photos through the box.Its Unified Guide has launched in the UK now, allowing the Xbox to control some set top boxes, including Sky and Virgin's. Plus it has its own Xbox One TV tuner coming out shortly which will turn the console into a fully-fledged PVR with support for Freeview HD channels.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - If you're looking for a multimedia hub then Xbox One is the better choice, there's no still iPlayer or 3D Blu-ray support, but with DLNA support and very fast task-switching, plus a cheap optional TV tuner, it's streets ahead of the PS4
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - SHARING AND STREAMING
The last generation of consoles pre-dated the popularity of the likes of Facebook, and YouTube. Unless you bought dedicated hardware to capture footage from your console, your exploits were stuck on the screen. The next-gen, though, is set to take your greatest moments, and most catastrophic failures, and let you share them with all and sundry online.
Playing Killzone again. Still insanely pretty. #PS4share pic.twitter.com/By1ECwAwfw— Seth Barton (@SethBarton1) January 26, 2014
Before we know it Facebook is going to awash with gameplay videos from those wanting to show off both their prowess and their fancy new console. If this idea excites you more than horrifies you, and it's bound to split opinion, then which console is the better choice?The PS4 can record up to 15 minutes of video footage; in fact it's doing so all the time. It has a rolling buffer of the last 15 minutes of gameplay as 720p HD video. By using the dedicated Share button on the controller you can start saving the buffer into a clip, or stop it saving, or take a screenshot.You can then do basic editing, just trimming down the clip really, and then share the clip (or screenshot) with other PSN owners, or upload it to Facebook (or Twitter for screenshots only). Since the spring update you can also copy the video/screenshot off onto a USB stick drive so you can share it on other services, most notably YouTube, or email it to someone. There’s also a well-featured editing suite, called ShareFactory, free with the console, it has powerful timeline editing and lots of fancy effects. You can also stream live to Twitch.tv and Ustream services in 720p, with a sidebar for comments, though you can't archive clips there for others to watch later.The Xbox One also records a rolling buffer of video content. It's only five minutes in this case, again at 720p, but that should prove plenty. It records both onscreen action and records you playing via Kinect, plus you can start recording using a simple voice command.The Upload Studio editing software is slick-looking, with a handful of templates that allow you to mix onscreen video with that from the Kinect camera. You can bookend a piece of gameplay with you talking to camera, or have a picture-in-picture effect showing you playing the game, and add skins to the final render to give it all some personality. Microsoft now has Twitch.tv support, so you can share your stompy robot fighting with people across the internet.Microsoft now supports uploads to Youtube, and Sony will be adding support shortly, which will please many people who like to show off.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - If sharing gameplay with friends is a big deal to you then PS4 currently has a slight edge for ease of use and flexibility, if you like to watch Twitch while you play though, then Xbox is the better bet
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - CONTROLLER
The controller is arguably the most important part of a games console. And the Xbox 360 controller was arguably the best of the current generation consoles. In our opinion it was more comfortable to hold and with better analogue sticks than the PS3, and the fact it also worked brilliantly with PC games was a bonus. The success of the first-person shooter genre on consoles can probably be attributed is small part to Microsoft's joypad design team. Both companies have made improvements to their controllers for the next-gen, but whose looks to be the best?Microsoft found a number of improvements to make on the already great 360 controller for the Xbox One. The headline feature has to be refined vibration control, with extra rumble motors for the left and right triggers providing fingertip feedback linked to in-game actions, such as pulling a trigger or squeezing the accelerator. It really works and gives you useful feedback rather than just fairground-esque effects. The rest of the controller is great, especially the improved D-pad, but we're not yet sold on the redesigned shoulder buttons or slightly smaller analogue sticks.The PS4 controller, DualShock 4, has certainly come on leaps and bounds from its predecessor. It's more comfortable to hold, the sticks are much improved with greater resistance and precision, plus the triggers feel more responsive than the spongy messes on the DualShock 3. The stand out feature on the PS4 pad is the small touchpad. This will allow for touch controls in games, swipes and the like, plus easier navigation when using a cursor (web browsing for instance). The whole pas also acts like a button and can be clicked in four different directions. A light bar on the back lets the PS4 camera detect multiple controllers too.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - It's partly down to what you're used to, but the Xbox One controller has the edge for us with a proven design and those new rumble motors
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - ACCESSORIES
The Xbox One's Kinect sensor doesn't feature in any of this Christmas's big bundle deals, but it's still a useful bit of kit. Kinect will sign you into your console based on facial recognition, which is great for multi-user households. It knows where you are in a room, can read your facial expressions, the force of your movements, your centre of gravity as you move and can even work out your heart rate from the flush of blood in your cheeks. However it looks to be slipping from favour and will end up being an accessory option, much like the PS4 Camera, only technically far more able.Both consoles have been trumpeting their support for second-screen gaming, where you use a tablet or smartphone to add extra capabilities to a game. It's a nice idea and there are certainly applications, Battlefield 4 being a good example, but developers have been wary to date of putting too much effort in as they don't know how many players will try it and the games have to stand up without such extra features.Sony allows for remote play away from the main console with the PS Vita handheld or the new PlayStation TV. With either, you'll be able to play PS4 games streamed over a Wi-Fi network. This means you'll be able to keep on playing even when others want to use the TV, whether that be on a handheld, or on another TV in the house.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - Motion controls vs Remote Play, though you'll have to pay extra for them (one way or another). We imagine most buyers won't be too bothered with either, but one might just sway you?
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - ONLINE SERVICES
Microsoft charged for its premium online service from the off and the investment certainly paid dividends, with a technically-great service that simply worked. However, it's hard to see exactly what you got for your money. Sony offered multi-player online gaming for free, but always lagged behind for players and the smooth-running of the service - the hacking of the PlayStation Network and its 24-day shutdown in 2011 being the obvious low point.However, Sony introduced its excellent PlayStation Plus service, giving quality free games away on a monthly basis. Now the two companies are converging, with Microsoft giving away free games with Xbox Live Gold and Sony requiring PS+ to play games online. Sony's advantage comes from its acquisition of cloud gaming company Gaikai, which is finally coming to fruition with Share Play the System 2.0 update. It will allow your remote friends to jump into your game, even if they don't own it. Imagine playing a local co-op game with a distant friend, or letting them help you through a tricky bit, or show a secret area in a single player game.It's hard to divide the two, though Microsoft has made bold promises of dedicated servers for multiplayer games and it has the track record to back them up. If online multiplayer is more important to you than anything else, we'd be leaning towards the Xbox One. However, to date Sony has been giving away some great little games with PS+ including Resogun, Don't Starve and Outlast.WHICH ONE IS BEST? - You have to pay to play online either way, Microsoft has the better track record, but Sony is currently giving away better games
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - CONCLUSION
Simply based on the number of category wins, the Xbox One is rivalling the PS4. It has recently grown into being the multimedia hub that Microsoft always promised, ideal for those who want to switch quickly between, or multitask, all the different functions a next-gen console could be expected of - games, media streaming, Skype, live TV and more. It's ability to pause a game, go into standby, and go straight back to gameplay even days later when turned on is brilliant.The PS4 is a simpler proposition, but it's one that delivers on its promises. When we first started talking up the next-gen consoles one of our big hopes was 1080p visuals at a solid 30fps or silky 60fps to make the most of Full HD TVs. To date, both consoles have struggled somewhat to achieve these figures as consistently as we'd like, but the PS4 is certainly a step ahead in terms of its graphics performance. Although recent exclusive titles, such as Forza Horizon 2, have shown it can shine.Xbox exclusives have had the edge to date, with Titanfall proving to be an excellent shooter and Forza Horizon 2 being the best racer this year, there's also Sunset Overdrive coming up too. None of these exclusive titles have quite reached must-have proportions yet, maybe Halo 5 will, and the cross-platform lineup is looking very strong. However, while the PS4 has a technical edge we are starting to become concerned about its misfiring internal development. At present, the PS4's has a technical edge makes it better bet in the long-term, that said the Xbox One makes a good case with its multimedia capabilities, proven online service and has a Christmas release season with a slightly stronger line-up of games. If you're planning on buying both eventually anyway we'd say get an Xbox One