The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are no longer individual consoles, but platforms that span several hardware iterations and thousands of games. That makes choosing between them harder than ever before — but we do think there’s a clear favorite in this battle.
Both systems can play many of the same games. Performance, though, is dependent on the console you’re using. The Slim PS4 is the more powerful machine, albeit slightly, over the Xbox One S with the ability to typically display games at a higher resolution. The difference isn’t always drastic, but on most TVs, PS4 titleswillsimplylook better. There are some claims of the PS4 dropping frames on some games, and while it hasn’t been reported as a widespread issue — many games run at smooth 30 or 60 frames per second without issue — it’s still worth keeping in mind.
The best course of action is to see how your favorite games perform on each before making your decision. Many gaming websites upload side-by-side graphics comparisons for big releases, which can give you an idea of what to expect.
If you’re investing in the more expensive PlayStation 4 Pro on Xbox One X consoles, however, Microsoft gains the edge. The Xbox One X is capable of running many games at a native 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, consistently outperforming Sony’s premium console.
In any case, these differences only apply to third-party games where the two versions can be compared side-by-side. First-party titles tend to take better advantage of the system they’re developed for, and therefore will look great regardless of which console they appear on.
The standard Xbox One controller retains many of the core elements of the 360 controller, plus it adds two more rumble motors and losesthe bulky battery pack on the back. It also has smaller thumbpads on the analog sticks, which some will find refreshing, others frustrating. Microsoft alsoreleased an “Elite” version of itscontroller,onethat allows for numerous customization options and multiple triggers for differentinput variations. While the Elitecontroller is certainly exciting, it also costs a whopping $150. Unless you’re the hardest of the the hardcore, it’s likely not something you’ll need.
The DualShock 4, on the other hand, showcases vastimprovements across the board when compared to the previous DualShock controllers. It’s bigger and comes outfittedwith outward-curving triggers, along with aclickable touchpad on the front and a multi-functionlightbar. There’s even a little speaker in the controller that some games make effective use of. The embedded thumbpads are larger than the Xbox controller’s, though that’s simply in line with the controller itself.Overall, the PS4 controller feels a bit more hardy, and will fit most gamers’ hands better. It’s a slim margin of victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Ports are a telling distinction between the Xbox One and PS4. Microsoft packed an IR Blaster and two HDMI inputs into the One, thus allowing you to connect the console to satellite boxes and cable TV. Considering Sony omitted these ports, it’s clear that Microsoft wants to win over a wider demographic of consumers. Both consoles do tout an Ethernet port, as well as two USB inputs, but only the PS4 comes with a camera port at this point. If you want to use Kinect on your Xbox One S or X, you’ll need an adapter that is now out of production.
Both consoles are available with 500GB or 1TB of storage space, which is enough to house a decent collection of games and other media. Still, 1TB of storage is the bare minimum formost desktop PCs, and nearly four years into the life cycle of these consoles, space can be at a premium if you’re downloading new games regularly. Luckily, both systems’ storage can easily be expanded viaexternal hard drives.
Altogether, there’s little separating the Xbox One and PS4 in terms of connectivity and storage. The Xbox gets the win due to itswider selection of ports.
After nearly five years, both theXbox One and PS4 have libraries withhundreds of games, and each console has its own set of exclusives. In many ways, this is one of themajor selling points for choosing one console over the other. Though most third-party games are available on both systems, there are exceptions, and both Microsoft and Sony make deals to secureconsole exclusives now and then (though most Microsoft games these days are also available on PC).
If you’re looking to get a console for its exclusives, however, you will want to get the PlayStation 4. Sony’s own first-party studios release multiple great exclusives for the system each year, such as God of War and the MLB: The Show series, and its third-party partners also develop exclusives such as Detroit: Become Human and Nioh.
The Xbox One, meanwhile, has few noteworthy exclusive games each year. Aside from big series like Forza, Halo, and Gears of War, the exclusives we’ve seen for the Xbox One are lackluster. There are exceptions, such as Sunset Overdrive and the inventive pirate game Sea of Thieves, but these pale in comparison to what Sony offers its players.
This holiday season, Sony will release Insomniac’s Spider-Man, which is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year, while Microsoft will release Forza Horizon 4. If you’re into racing games or first-person shooters, the Xbox One has you covered, but most other genres are more plentiful on PS4.
Most of the time, unless you’re a diehard fan of a certain franchise or a particular exclusive catches your eye, you’ll be able to play the biggest games on either console. Landmark games such as The Witcher 3and Fallout 4are available on both systems. Upcoming games like The Division 2 and Anthem will also release for both consoles. But if you have to choose one for games alone, it’s an easy decision.
As wasthe case with the Xbox 360, the Xbox One offers backwards compatibility for a select number of games, though that number has grown substantially since the feature debuted in 2015. If youinsert an Xbox 360 game into the Xbox One, you’ll be able to download a digital version of said title. Some games are even available for purchase throughMicrosoft’s digital store, and a few games come bundled with a free digital copy of an older Xbox 360 game (i.e.Fallout 4). That’s not all; each month,Xbox Live Gold members will receive a free Xbox 360 game as part of Microsoft’s Games With Gold program.
When it comes to playing old games on the PS4, you currently only have one option: PlayStation Now. PSNow is a streaming service that allows you to playPS3 games (and even some older PS4 titles) for $20/month, or $45 for three months. Unfortunately, depending upon your internet speed,game performance can be slow due to lag. The catalog isn’t comprehensive either, and even if you own a physical or digital copy of an older game, you’ll have to pay to play it. It was rumoredthat Sony planned to bring somePS1 and PS2 classics into the PSNow fold, butit has yet to happen. Simply put, you can’t insertan older PS disc in your PS4 and play it. If you need to scratch the retro PlayStation itch, you’ll probably want to keep those old consoles around.
Winner: Xbox One
Sony and Microsoft offer similar online services. Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold give users access to online gaming, free monthly games, sale discounts, and other special features for an annual fee.Both services clock in at $10 per month, or $60 for a year.
Xbox users can also subscribe to EA Access, which nets them 10% discounts on EA titles, as well as access to a sizable stable of (mostly) older EA games for $5 per month, or $30 for a full year. Sonyreportedly declined the program, citing a perceivedlack of value forthe gamer. Xbox gamers can also purchase game bundles from the digital store, which often include downloadable content and/or in-game virtual currency, for less money than the contents would cost if purchased separately. Additionally, the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative, which includes select titles, allows gamers access to games on both their Xbox One and their Windows 10 PC at no additional charge.
PS4users do have a few advantages of their own; PlayStation Now, mentioned above, allows gamers to stream a litany of PS3 titles from their PS4. It’s a cool service, though you’ll need a really good internet connection if you want the games to play smoothly.Sony also offersPlayStation Vue, a cloud-based streaming service that functions similarly to Sling TV, offeringaccess to more than 75 different networks. It’s a respectable option for cord-cutters, though if you don’t have high-end internet, the quality can be iffy.
One key feature does tip the scales into PlayStation’s favor, though — free games. Subscribers to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold both earn free games monthly, but the PlayStation selection has proven better over the years. That’s partly due to the PS4’s better exclusive title selection. Sony has offered some of the best games of this console generation, like Bloodborne, for free.
The Kinect was a useful launch peripheral for the Xbox One, but Microsoft has since discontinued the motion-sensing camera, leaving new Xbox One players with no good way to capture their face if they want to livestream a game. The PlayStation Camera, on the other hand, is a less robust device, but it’s still being produced and does the job nicely — you can even use it to sign into your profile.
In addition, Xbox gamersin possession of an Oculus Rift VR can streamany Xbox One game to the Oculus headset, and choose from one of three immersive VR environments: “Citadel,” “Retreat,” and “Dome.” It’s a pretty cool feature, allowing playersto essentially game in IMAX, but unfortunately, there’s no additional Rift functionality. On the other hand, we were blown awayby Sony’s PSVR when it released, and as the list of compatible games grows, so too will the value of the VR set itself. You’ll need the PlayStation camera; if you don’t already have one, you can get it bundled with PSVR and a game for around $300.
In any case, PSVR is surprisingly refined, and extremely fun. A cool “social screen” feature feedsthe display from the headset to your TV, so people can see what you’re seeing. PSVR-compatible games are designed with the experience in mind, so it’s more than just a mammoth screen. Some games work better than others, but it’s absolutely an experience most PlayStation gamers will want to have.
The PS4’s interface is designed to be accessible. It’s simple and anyone can figure it out. It lacks customization though, so the games and apps you have used at some point are displayed in an lengthy horizontal display. The more games and apps you have, the longer it will take to go through.
The Xbox One’s UI is a bit more complex, but it’s also more robust and functional. The interface is designed to work similarly tothat ofWindows 10, and though it may take some time to properly acclimate, the design is far more accessible and intuitive once you do.
In addition, Microsoft updates the Xbox One interface regularly, adding features at the behest of the gamingcommunity. While the PS4’s menu is simpler to navigate for newcomers, the Xbox simply has more features to help you find the games or apps you’re looking for.
Winner: Xbox One
Both the PS4 and Xbox One were built with more than simply gaming in mind. Microsoft has spoken time and time again regarding its bold vision for a world where the Xbox One is the only box in your living room, and believe it or not, the One is quickly achieving that vision. The One is now equal parts streaming box and gaming console, and unlike Sony’s next-gen counterpart, the system is designed to operate your cable box and record regular programming.
Both consoles feature the usual third-party subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, along with app offerings likeHulu Plus, HBO Go, Twitch, Ustream, and Crackle. While there was a long period where the Xbox store offered far more apps than its PlayStation counterpart, that has largely been remedied, and there are few — if any — apps that you can’t get on both consoles.
The Xbox naturally outputs uncompressed PCM audio data, while the PS4 supports DTS HD; there’s little difference (if any) in terms of audio quality. A recent update added bitstream passthrough support for the Xbox One, so connected AV receivers can now decode audio natively. This means newer, object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are now supported via Blu-ray disc audio while The PlayStation 4 has always supported bitstream passthrough.
The PS3 was — and remains — an excellent media device, one capable of streaming music and video from your PC and playing content directly off of a USB-connected device. The PS4 took a while to grow into its potential, but today it qualifies as afully-fledged streaming console. Sony’s PlayStation Now serviceoffers more than 100 PlayStation games for instant streaming, that is, so long as you opt for either the $20 or $45 subscription. PSVue, similar to Sling TV, provides an opportunity to ditch cable altogether, if your internet is fast enough. Packages range from $30/month to $65/month, with more than90 channels available overall. You don’t even need a PS4 to subscribe — lots of streaming devices have a Vue app — but that doesn’t really matter here.
Microsoft has taken a different approach to media streaming. The company optimized the Xbox One as a media device when it tore down the Xbox Live paywall, granting users free access to streaming services such as Netflix (although for apps like Netflix, you will still need a subscription to that particular service). If you’re a cable TV subscriber, you can even connect your cable to the console for greater functionality and performance.Previously, we crownedthe Xbox victor here due to its cable integration, but the introduction of PSNow and PSVue haseffectively evened the odds.
After a slow start, 2015, 2016, and 2017 saw the release of several acclaimed PS4 exclusives, and it looks like the future won’t be much different. From the mysterious Hideo Kojima productionDeath Stranding to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us: Part II, there are plenty of upcoming games you can only play on PlayStation 4, and Sony shows no signs of slowing down.
Despite the PlayStation’s clear advantage when it comes to game libraries, Microsoft clearly has a long-term vision for the Xbox One. The Xbox Play Anywhere initiative is off to a good start, allowing gamers to switch seamlessly back and forth between their Xbox One and their Windows 10 PC. In the future, look for the program to expand, and for cross-platform play to become a more prominentfeature.
Upcoming games are more limited than they are on PS4, but players can look forward to Gears 5, Halo Infinite, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, to name a few.
While both consoles certainly offer a lot, we have to give an edge to Sony’s PlayStation 4. The Xbox One is better for non-gaming applications and content, but if that’s what you care most about, you can get those features in a Roku, Apple TV, or any number of other dedicated devices that will stream content for a fraction of the price. If you’re buying a PS4 or Xbox One, you want to play games, and, in this case, Sony has built a better dedicated gaming machine.
Sony has shown stronger support for independent developers so far, and both the current and future game lineups look better for PS4 than for Xbox One.Most AAA games these days are released for both consoles, but the PS4’s list of exclusives easily trumps the Xbox’s.
Updated on 6-20-2018 with information on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and the systems’ game libraries.
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112