Xbox One vs PS4 - Which console is best for Christmas 2015?
Xbox One or PS4? It's been a close fight but will 2015 prove decisive?
With two Christmas seasons under their belts the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony are now well bedded in and ready to slog it out for your cash this Christmas 2015. There's some tempting bundles now on offer, a strong line-up of excellent third-party software and the Xbox has a couple of big-hitting exclusives as well. In short, there's never been a better time to buy.
In this article we'll be putting the two consoles head-to-head over a number of categories. We've tried to be fairly concise, without leaving out anything crucial. We 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.
Both consoles have fallen in price since launch, with october seeing the PS4 finally drop its official price for the first time, down to £300. The Xbox One officially sells for the same price, but when you actually shop around its Microsoft's console that has the edge in pricing. Both consoles are now also available with bigger 1TB hard disks, though prices 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 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. It's currently available with a download code for FIFA 16 for as little as £250 if you shop around. Plus we've seen a 1TB console plus Fallout 4 for just £280. The Xbox One is cheaper than the PS4 at present, and whatever the reasons that's no bad thing if you're about to buy one.
PS4 Prices on the PS4 have also fallen considerably, and you can get a standalone console online for as little as £260. There are plenty of bundles about too, with the best currently offering FIFA 16 and Star Wars: Battlefront for just £299 - although that is £20 more than the equivalent Xbox One bundle. While the PS4 maintains its lead in terms of sales we expect it to continue to demand a higher price than its rival.
Which one is best? – Deals chop and change regularly but at present the Xbox One is cheaper and has more tempting bundles to boot.
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. To date many exclusives have fallen short of must-have status, with the biggest games on both platforms being multi-platform releases.
Our most-played games from this generation have appeared on both formats. We've been playing a lot of Destiny plus Far Cry 4 was another early big hit. More recently we've put a lot of time into the excellent The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the incredible Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. We're currently playing Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Star Wars: Battlefront too, so plenty to keep you entertained there.
As we 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 we 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 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.
EXCLUSIVE GAMES - PS4
The big PS4 exclusive, Uncharted 4, has been delayed until Spring 2016. That leaves a pretty big hole in the release line-up for Christmas. You can read our full reaction to the news in: Is there a PS4 exclusive jinx?
Infamous: Second Son is a decent open-world brawler but nothing special by today's standards. Then 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 but the Xbox One has a superior lineup of exclusives to date, plus there's Halo of course.