Xbox One vs PS4 - Which to buy this Christmas?
Which next-gen console is best for you? Xbox One or PS4? Read our head-to-head guide
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, 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, or just skip to the end for a summary.
XBOX ONE VS PS4 - PRICE
XBOX ONE 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. A first price cut occurred in late February dropping the cost of Microsoft's hardware down to a slightly more reasonable £399. It also bundled must-have shooter Titanfall, which in effect brings the console down to around £360 - as most people would buy the game anyway. This deal is still available today from Microsoft, see our Xbox One deals page for more details, though that's likely to end soon as new bundles have just been announced.
Microsoft has recently given in to pressure from gamers and is finally selling the console without the Kinect peripheral, this version of the Xbox One costs £350. At Gamescom Microsoft announced three new bundles, all without Kinect. The first two both cost £350 and for that you get the console and a bundled game, essentially for free. The big seller is likely to be the Xbox One FIFA 15 bundle, but there's also a new White Xbox One bundle which comes with anarchic shooter Sunset Overdrive. Finally there's a new Xbox One with a 1TB hard disk, though it's only available at present as part of the expensive Xbox One Call of Duty bundle at £430. And if you don't like the sound of the bundled games on offer, then just sell on the download code and pickup Titanfall instead (you can get digital codes online for under £30).
PS4 The PS4 remains at its original £349 price. There are no deals that compare to Microsoft's 'free game' bundles, which makes it effectively more expensive than its rival for the first time. An eye-catching deal at present is a Last of Us Remastered bundle which you can pick up for under £370 if you shop around. It's not a true next-gen game, but if you haven't played it then it's still one of the finest action-adventures ever made.
WILL THERE BE FURTHER PRICE CUTS? The big price move has now occurred with the Xbox One dropping Kinect and joining the PS4 on £349. With its new bundles now announced we're pretty sure that's it for price cuts pre-Christmas. Sony may be ahead in console sales, but this side of the holidays Microsoft is more than matching its rival in terms of exclusive titles, and with effectively a cheaper console we can't see the price changing again on either side.
That said, onreason to wait a little longer is because retailers 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, retailers won’t care to cut prices, but if there’s an excess of hardware to shift, then expect bigger deals. Don't leave it too late though, as a sell-out is still a possiblity this year, especially of the more-popular PS4.
BEST FOR YOU? – The Xbox One is now effectively cheaper by around £45, thanks to some great bundled games, but the price differencs still 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.
MULTI-PLATFORM At present most of our most-wanted games are coming to both formats: Destiny, Assassin's Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Tom Clancy's The Division, The Witcher 3, Rainbow Six Siege and Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. However, it's worth noting that many of these games aren't coming until 2015, with only the first three on this list confirmed for release this year
The Division looks incredible and it's coming to both consoles, but not until next year
To date, the most next-gen title on either console is arguably 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 and we really 'enjoyed' Wolfenstein: The New Order (it's grisly stuff at times).
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.
EXCLUSIVE 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. 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 great DLC map packs.
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, possibly between Battlefield, Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront. And that's a rotation we'd happily buy into.
The biggest PS4 exclusive to date is arguably 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 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.
Infamous: Second Son is incredibly pretty and good fun, but it's not quite a must-have
A big blow for Sony was the 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, we have the rather fabulous-looking, social racer Driveclub coming in October (though even that will be missing its much-hyped Dynamic Weather effects), and beyond that it's looking a bit sparse for PS4 this year.
Meanwhile over on Xbox One, Driveclub's main contender is the free-roaming Forza Horizon 2, then there's 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). Again, not a huge line-up of 2014 exclusives, but one better than Sony has managed.
BEST FOR YOU? – It's still early days, Titanfall continues to impress on Xbox One, but we still think that multi-format games will dominate this console generation, and PS4 has the edge there