Xbox One vs PS4 - Which console is best for 2016?

Xbox One or PS4? Which console will serve you best throughout 2016?

Xbox One vs PS4

By this point in your usual console life-cycle everything has pretty much settled down. Yes, both consoles have decent catalogues of games and have sold enough hardware that you needn't worry about whether big titles are coming to your console. However, this time something a little strange is going on and it's worth thinking twice before you choose a console to buy today.

The PlayStation 4 has sold more than the Xbox One to date, that was mainly down to the Xbox's slow start, but it's also attributable to Sony's machine having slightly more powerful hardware, which means slightly better-looking games. The Xbox One had the advantage in terms of exclusive titles, but with Sony finally rolling out the brilliant Uncharted 4, it has the upper hand there too, for now at least.

Latest updates

Strange things are afoot at Sony, though. For starters the company will be taking a big risk in launching its PlayStation VR headset in November. Historically, expensive peripherals for consoles are not only certain failures but also serve to distract and fragment games development from the core console itself. On the plus side if VR interests you, and it should, then having the opportunity to pick up the headset later this year is an exciting option. 

Stranger still, rumours have leaked that Sony is preparing to launch a PS4.5, PS4K or PS4 Neo. This amounts to a more powerful version of the console, which will be fully compatible with the current device but have superior graphics and smoother frame rates in games, as well being better more suited to VR. Sony is apparently committed to fully supporting the original PS4, so buying a console today isn't a risk. That said, with the new device looming and a price cut on the original a near-certainty, it's frustrating that we don't have release date for the updated console. For more details read my PlayStation Neo article.

By comparison, there's not much to talk about from an Xbox One point of view. The company has spoken about unifying its Xbox and Windows platforms and may move away from a traditional console release schedule in future, but so far it's just talk. That said, you can buy an Xbox One today without worrying about whether a better one is going to come along in just a few months. There are some rumours of a big announcement at E3 in June, with a new controller design and updated hardware, but there's nothing coming from developers, which means it won't be a radical move like Sony's.

Xbox One vs PS4

In this article I'll be putting the two consoles head-to-head over a number of categories. I've tried to be fairly concise, without leaving out anything crucial. I don't believe that either console is simply better for every gamer, it all depends on what you want from it. Have a flick through the article and at least read the areas that interest you most, before heading to the conclusion.

If you really want all the nitty-gritty, head over to our full Xbox One review or PS4 review for complete breakdowns of all various features.

Price

Unsurprisingly, both consoles have fallen in price since their launches way back in late 2013 (has it been that long!). However, neither has had any major price drops or redesigns (like the Xbox 360 S or PS3 Slim) that would allow for a far lower price. Instead prices have been slipping down gently over time, with both consoles now available for around £250.

The Xbox One and PS4 are now also available with bigger 1TB hard disks, though prices for those are considerably higher than the basic 500GB consoles. The extra space is great for those who like to have loads of games installed at once, but as a team we've been coping fine with the smaller drive by simply uninstalling older titles.

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 the option to buy the console without the Kinect sensor. You can buy the console standalone for as little as £220 right now, with FIFA 16 or Battlefield 4 for £250, or with two top titles for £280, for all these deals click the link below.

For all the latest prices and deals, see our Xbox One deals page.

PS4 Prices on the PS4 have also fallen considerably, and you can get a standalone console online for as little as £260. There are better bundles, though. The best is undoubtedly a DOOM and Uncharted 4 double pack for just £270, two of the latest and best games around. For that and more deals, click the link below.

For all the latest deals, bundles and prices check our PS4 deals page.

Which one is best? – Deals chop and change regularly, the Xbox One is a little cheaper on its own, but there's not a big difference when it comes to bundles at present, and so you shouldn't be making your choice on price alone.

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, exclusives haven't been as critical in the battle between the Xbox One and the PS4. Both consoles use very similar hardware, as I'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. To date, many exclusives have fallen short of must-have status, with the biggest games on both platforms being multi-platform releases.

MULTI-PLATFORM

My most-played games from this generation have appeared on both formats. I played a lot of Destiny and Far Cry 4 was another early big hit; then there was the excellent The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the bonkers Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. As a team we also enjoyed playing Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Star Wars: Battlefront too, so plenty to keep you entertained there.

As I note in our hardware section, the PlayStation has the technical edge in most of these games, with slightly higher resolutions producing sharper visuals in game. It's not a huge difference and I wouldn't abandon an established group of friends on Xbox Live for it, but it's worth keeping in mind, all other things being equal.

EXCLUSIVE GAMES - XBOX ONE

The Xbox has seen some good exclusive content, nothing truly must-have but strong additions to its line-up. Forza Horizon 2 is a technically outstanding title that really shows off the Xbox One, its controller and Xbox Live. There's also anarchic shooter-cum-free runner Sunset Overdrive, plus the re-mastered versions of the Halo series in the Halo: Master Chief Collection and a similarly remastered Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. It's not a huge line-up of exclusives, but it's certainly significantly stronger than most of Sony's efforts to date. 

Most importantly, for many, the Xbox One can finally boast a triple AAA exclusive shooter in the form of Halo 5: Guardians. Its taken some time but the game looks stunning, especially in its multiplayer modes. And then there's Rise of the Tomb Raider (also available on PC, and PS4 probably later in the year), which is a great action romp in much the same fashion as the first game. We're also winding up for Gears of War 4 later this year.

EXCLUSIVE GAMES - PS4

The big PS4 exclusive, Uncharted 4, is finally with us. Its delay from last year was yet another setback in Sony's exclusive software line-up, but it's been well worth the wait. The final game is simply brilliant throughout. However if you're not a long-term fan of the series, you'll really want to play the earlier releases in their remastered form.

Speaking of remastered games, there's The Last of Us Remastered, a prettied up version of one of the best games of recent years, originally on PS3. The Order 1886 looks incredible but there's not enough breadth in the game to make it more than a very fancy shooting gallery. Then there's Driveclub, which had a rocky start but is improving slowly with updates and tweaks. Bloodborne is pretty special, but its incredibly demanding design certainly isn't for everyone.

Which one is best? – The best third-party games look prettier on the PS4 and with Uncharted 4 arriving the PlayStation 4 finally has its first smash hit exclusive.

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