It's been six months since two hype trains raced into the station and pretty much wrecked the joint, six months since the PS4 and the Xbox One finally emerged into the sunlight and the next generation of video consoles truly arrived. Sales records have already been smashed, uptake on both consoles has been strong, but there's still a sense that we've not hit our stride yet. There's a feeling that we're still waiting on truly next-gen games to along with these shiny new pieces of hardware, and for some the reasons for making the generation jump might not be so clear.
But we're six months on from launch now, after a plethora of services updates, games releases, price fluctuations, and adventurous bundles. So has the landscape changed? If you haven't bought a new-gen console yet, is now the perfect time? And, if so, which one should you buy? Slapping down £400 for anything requires keen judgement and lots of weighing up of factors. Thankfully, we've done all of that for you. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our totally scientific, completely unbiased, rigorously researched six-month showdown.
It's PS4 vs Xbox One once again. Only this time, everyone's a little bit older.
PS4/Matt: I was sceptical of the PS4's design to begin with, back when all we had were images and wishful thinking, but I have to say it looks awesome. The touch buttons to start and eject are perhaps a little fiddly -- I'm never quite certain exactly where the sensors are so I sort of end up rubbing the general area in a worryingly sensual fashion, but that might just be me. In terms of build quality, though it feels incredibly robust and sturdy. It sometimes gets a little hot, the front groove is a dust magnet, the USB slots are occasionally tricky to find, and you don't want to use it as a coffee stand, but it's an outstanding piece of kit and surprisingly quiet.
Xbox One/Jon: Despite being tucked away in my AV cabinet, the Xbox One has revealed a significant flaw in its design: the glossy plastic half is a magnet for unsightly scratches. Dozens upon dozens of them have mysteriously appeared, alongside a deeper divot from something as simple as putting down a remote control. It's clear that Microsoft seriously cut corners in terms of materials here - and the piano black finish is a horrible dust trap to boot.
Otherwise, the console itself is still as quiet and solid as ever. It just looks like I dragged it through a thorny bush backwards.
It's been six months since the PS4 and Xbox One launched, and it seems like a good point to take stock of the first half-year and see if it's worth buying a next-gen/new-gen console any more than it was back in November last year.
In many ways, it still feels right to call the PS4 and Xbox One "next-gen" consoles. After all, it doesn't exactly feel as though the new black boxes of gaming entertainment have quite hit their sides, nor that developers (especially third-party outfits) are giving the more powerful pieces of kit the attention that they perhaps deserve. But nonetheless, they have been flying off of the shelves since their winter launches, and there have been plenty of gamers delighted with their day one purchases.
But what of the rest of you? Still uncertain about making that leap? Don't know which console is actually the better proposition after six months of updates and new services, and key game releases? We fret not, because that's what we're here for. In the name of science, we've conducted a clinically impartial podcast of awesomeness to sort this out once and for all, and to inform you of the best possible choice you can make should you be thinking about buying a new console right now.
For science, then! And shits and giggles.
I've said a couple of times this year already that you could be forgiven for forgetting that we'd even had not one, but two next-gen consoles release at the end of 2013, such is the dearth of activity that we've seen in the early part of 2014. That's changed a little in recent weeks as the Titanfall hype train has begun to gather steam and bundles have started appearing for Respawn's shooter on Xbox One and Sucker Punch's latest inFamous title on the PS4.
But for me at least, there's still a sense that although I've bought the ticket and am standing, waiting for the arrival of this heralded new generation, not much has changed as yet, and that aside from some shinier graphics here and there, the new box is pretty much the same as the old box -- at least in terms of what's on offer.
Dead Rising 3 stood out for its scale, allowing for zombie-mashing on a previously unimagined level. It's an enormously important thing -- an expansive feature only made possible thanks to increased power, that fundamentally ties into the central core of the gameplay. It's brilliant, though somewhat marred by the inescapable torrent of insulting tripe that's forming the game's DLC menu -- the less said about that, the better.
We should note too the shining, shimmering splendour of Killzone: Shadow Fall. It's still the only next-gen title to really drop my jaw in terms of visuals, and it did a fine job of selling the power of the PS4. Sadly, though, that's about the only thing it did a fine job of, trading the potential and promise of its first level for something wholly generic, unimaginative, and laborious.Click here to read more...
Fancy a look at the future of graphics for facial performance capture? Then you really need to see this outstanding video which was produced from a collaboration of three teams. Capture, casting, voice recording, writing and direction was handled by Side, 3Lateral took care of head rigging and Cubic Motion was in charge of animating the results.
The three teams decided to produce the demo because they wanted to show off their skills at the cutting edge of what they were capable of today. In an interview with Develop magazine, Side MD Andy Emery said: "We've had it, as three outsourcing companies, where we've worked on various big projects, but been frustrated in the past by the fact we can't showcase anything we've worked on publicly until a point where everything has moved on."
Cubic Motion's Simon Elmes added, "We wanted to create something we could share, and that was completely in our control, where there was no sacrifice made to compression, or many of the other restrictions we sometimes face."
So without the restrictions of NDA's or having to produce something for a specific game, the three teams were able to produce this video short which shows a woman recording what looks like a video diary letter home. There's an impressive range (and more importantly, depth) of emotions on display and unlike many facial tech demos, we're not just looking at a chatting floating head. Instead, we have a full cinematic cutscene complete with a background and real-time lighting reflecting on the character's face. Hell, even the shifting material on the t-shirt looks good. Take a look for yourselves and let us know what you think in the comments section.Watch the video after the break.
Last week we learned via a Eurogamer interview, that 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot only started to make a profit nine months after its March release date, despite selling 3.4 million copies in its first three weeks. If it takes that long for a game that good that sold that well to actually make money, how long can companies afford to make similar blockbuster big-budget games?
Tomb Raider’s budget was reportedly around £60 million ($100 million), which is probably why Square Enix set their sales targets so high (5 million units) in the first month, which would have seem them move into the black straight away.
With Tomb Raider on the PS3, 360 and PC platforms being available for a tenner or less nowadays, I can now see why Square Enix are throwing such weight behind the upcoming PS4 and Xbox One versions and why they can’t really afford to charge any less than they are. Not that savvy shoppers can’t shop around to avoid the £50 RRP and pre-order it for about £38. Despite my earlier reservations, maybe some of these next-gen re-releases aren’t such as bad idea if they’re going to keep these companies going. Not that I’m ever going to pay £50 for one.
But what about brand new games or IPs that we hope to have dropping our jaws on the PS4 and Xbox one over the next few years? As the costs to make a game get closer to those of producing a film (GTA V reportedly cost at least £100 million), it’s going to get harder to turn them into profitable properties.Click here to read more...
One of the big questions that's been going around of late has been just how much better next-gen versions of current-gen games look, and whether or not it's worth taking the jump. To help you come to an answer, we've stuck a bunch of Xbox 360 footage from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag next to similar footage from the PS4 version of the game.
Throughout the summer and autumn, developers were banging about how working with next-gen consoles has allowed for better current-gen games too thanks to scalable engines. This is particularly evident in AC4 thanks to the refined AnvilNext engine. With both versions side by side, it's clear that the superior processing power and graphical grunt of the PS4 allows for more consistent, varied effects (particularly when it comes to weather and lighting), and much sharper detail. By contrast, the current-gen version looks like it has a softness filter on it to smooth out the rough edges and literally gloss over graphical issues. That's not to say that the Xbox 360 version looks bad -- on the contrary, AC4 is a gorgeous game regardless of platform -- but players can more fully appreciate the level of detail that has gone into the game's art direction on next-gen platforms, something I touched upon in my review.
The shadows are no longer spongy, indistinct ink blots, and that feeling of lacking solidity is replaced by a game world made rather more tangible by essentially focusing the camera. Lines are cleaner, background items and objects more clearly realised and rendered. You won't necessarily lose anything by getting this game on current-gen systems, both versions are feature-complete; but I've found the PS4 version to be more immersive simply because I've played both. Everything is just that little bit more immediate in terms of aesthetics, a little more crisp and clean and clear.Click here to read more...
The Xbox One launches worldwide tomorrow. It seems like it's been more than a handful of months since Microsoft's widely derided initial reveal. We've had u-turns aplenty and constant mixed messages, but is the Redmond company bouncing back at just the right time? There are still so many questions to be answered, not to mention a few niggling technical issues that Microsoft could probably have done without, and there's still the matter of that price point... but can the Xbox One's rather impressive launch lineup make up for that?
I've made no secret of the fact that I pre-ordered an Xbox One. Perhaps I subconsciously can't say goodbye to eight years of Gamerscore, but Microsoft's console has managed to capture my imagination despite the truly horrendous reveal event back in May.
The launch lineup plays a major role. I'm not expecting any legendary games for the ages here, but unlike the usual shelf-fillers, Microsoft have secured an open-world zombie game, zoo management sim, first-party racer and other varied delights you'd rarely expect from a brand new console. There's also a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon, one of my favourite franchises of all time, though it's a bit cack by all accounts. Seethe. Still, Titanfall's coming, which makes me very happy indeed.
And then there's Kinect, which looks set to turn the basic user experience into a futuristic playground. I can talk to my console. I can command it to dominate my entire AV system with its IR-blasting functionality. I can access my entertainment, friends list and games collection with a few well-chosen words, a prospect that might become old hat in a few days, but fills me with genuine childlike excitement nonetheless. Kinect may have missed the dream of Minority Report on Xbox 360, but I don't mind skipping straight to the Starship Enterprise on Xbox One.
My only major concern about the Xbox One, save that it seems to be tougher to develop for than the PS4 and the fact that Microsoft needs to get their rear in gear regarding indie development, is that it probably isn't an "All In One" entertainment system. Without proper media streaming (why isn't it a Windows Media Extender? WHY?!!) or proper TV guide support in the UK, it feels more like a middle man that squats between your television and the TV content you already watch and pay for. We'll know the truth of it soon enough.Click here to read more...
Next-gen is here, as you'll no doubt know having watched our magnificent PS4 unboxing video. So we all sat down to have a little chat about our thoughts on each of the big three consoles that'll be adorning the shelves this Christmas, and deliver our thoughts as consumers and critics on the major platforms up for grabs.
First up, it's the PS4...
Much has been said about the key titles slipping into next year, leaving early PS4 adopters with only Killzone: Shadow Fall standing out as a must buy exclusive. It’s a good thing I bloody love that series then isn’t it?
Everyone seems to forget about the third-party titles around launch. For either console, players are going to be throwing their cash at Battlefield 4, COD: Ghosts, FIFA 14 and Assassin’s Creed IV. These games will keep PS4 gamers going until next year when the likes of Infamous: Second Son and DriveClub (PS+ Edition at least) arrive. Add there’s the new Uncharted to look forward too.
The above third-party titles have seen a drop in sales as gamers wait for the next-gen versions, so it looks like plenty of you are going next-gen as soon as possible. I can’t see either console bombing to be honest though, so I wouldn’t be expecting a price-drop by March (or even summer) when the other titles turn up to the party. Some of the older game’s prices may have dropped by then, but can you avoid spoilers for that long?
I’ve been glad to see Sony’s core message always stick to gaming in the build-up. I’m buying a games console after all. Sure, I’ll use LoveFilm or Netflix, but there’s no need to make a song and dance about a last-gen feature every five minutes.
Although there’s no reason to buy the camera this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how Sony uses it. The damn thing has eye-tracking in it and Sony rarely mention this, so it’d be nice if they start putting the camera to good use next year or at least make it sound like attractive piece of hardware to us and developers.
Overall, it’s a no brainer that I’m ordering a PS4. The exclusives work better for me, I’ve always preferred the DualShock controller, PS Plus has been fantastic value so far (Contrast on launch day too) and the money I’m saving over an Xbone will pay for some extra games.Click here to read more...
The next console generation starts this week, at least if you're American. The PS4 and Xbox One are just scant days away, heralding a brand new age of gaming goodness, and the promise of a new wave of exceptional titles.
However, before the PS4 and Xbox One move in, they'll have to clean house.
This generation has seen any number of stupid design decisions, awful consumer-hurting business practices and downright lazy omissions seep into videogames - that we'd like to see killed off in their entirety going forward. Here are ten of the most deserving offenders that, frankly, should be first against the wall.
In no particular order:
Add your own in the comments. There's more. There are always more.Click here to read more...
It's a murky state of affairs, the whole Titanfall debacle. We always knew that the game would be coming to PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One only at launch, but the recent months have been filled with whispers of the possibility that the game might make an appearance on the PS4 at some point. Until this week, that is.
It wouldn't matter, of course, had the game not been the toast of the summer and autumn conventions. From E3 to Gamescom, from PAX to EGX, Titanfall has been the next-gen title that everyone's been talking about, and with good reason: it plays amazingly. At first it was the drama: this is, after all, the first game from Respawn, the Vince Zampella-led company that marched forth from under the thumb of big bad Bobby Kotick and defected from Infinity Ward to start anew. At EA.
Cue the handbags graphic.
Click here to read more...
The PS4 and Xbox One are out in less than a month. We're scant days away from the next console generation, so close we can taste the pixels, and so ready for it too. This has been a long and satisfying hardware cycle, but it's time for a change. Expect our front page to be all next-gen all the time once November starts in earnest.
However, we started out as a simple deals blog and delivering useful consumer advice has always been at the forefront of our minds over the last few years. So here, dear reader, is perhaps the most useful piece of advice we'll ever give you.
Think long and hard about whether you should actually wait until Spring 2014 to buy a next-gen console. It's the eleventh hour, the final countdown, and it might actually be a good idea to sit this one out - if not outright cancel your existing PS4 or Xbox One preorder. Not only will you save a cubic metre of dosh in the short term, but you'll probably have a better Christmas too. It all comes down to cold hard logic.
Click here to read more...
Battlefield 4 has been unleashed over in the US and tests have been run on both next-gen consoles to produce some statistical data and visual evidence of disparity between the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
Somewhere along the line a whole 180p of resolutions has been lost, probably down the back of Microsoft's couch.Click here to read more...
The Crew is set to let us race through a massive open world on next-gen consoles and PC, at least, when it finally releases. To find out more about the ambitious proposition, I sat down with product manager Charles-Arthur Bourget earlier this year to learn more about what the exciting project has to offer - both in terms of raw scale and its innovative attempt to move the boundary between singleplayer and multiplayer.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): When The Crew was first announced at E3 2013, it very looked exciting, but was rather difficult to pin down. So perhaps most importantly of all: what is The Crew?
Charles-Arthur Bourget (Ubisoft): What we started with when we first starting developing the game is to recreate the entire USA. So we started with a huge playground to play with, and a lot of variety in that playground. The map is actually 5000km², it features a lot of different environments. So not only can you do your classic illegal street racing in the busy city centres, but you could also go offroad through the forests, on dunes, in the desert, there's pretty much no restriction when it comes to driving around.
So when we say it's an open world, we take it very seriously. It's for you to decide where you want to go.Click here to read more...
Oh man, this week on Game Buzz it all kicks off as we debate the hottest discussion topic of the year: which is the best gaming biscuit.
Elsewhere, we chat about Shinji Mikami's comments regarding the differences between the PS4 and Xbox One, and how there aren't any; we lament the "young" and "scrappy" OUYA's misfortunes and ask if there's actually a market out there for microconsoles; we discuss Pokemon and how wonderful it is that Game Freak have nixed the notion of DLC; and in light of Mark Rubin's remarks about some COD players not identifying themselves as gamers, we question why that should provoke any reaction whatsoever.
We also profess our love for everything that's in Hideaki Itsuno's head.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.
It's about damn time. Microsoft have finally gotten their rears in gear and unleashed Xbox One: Invitation in an attempt to tell people beyond those of us who spent our lives reading up on the latest gaming news on the web that there's a new console coming in a couple of weeks.
It's a shiny, name-dropping beast of thing, with appearances from a Titan, Zachary Quinto, Steven Gerrard, and a zombie. And do you know what? I actually think it's pretty good. Microsoft are unashamed of the fact that they want that dudebro demographic.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS4 | Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft | Ivory Tower
Imagine an adventure playground designed to superficially resemble the United States. It's the same shape and the major cities are in the right place, but everything is larger than life. A playground is supposed to be played with and romped over rather than sticking to scale, so buildings are bigger, colours are more vibrant, distances between cities have been compressed and the whole thing is generally much more fun than it is in reality.
Now imagine that this playground is 5000km² and created for cars rather than people.
This is The Crew, Ubisoft's ambitious next-gen racer that promises to blur the lines between singleplayer and multiplayer while delivering a healthy dose of unapologetic drift-heavy fun factor. Though it has sadly been pushed back into the deepest recesses of late 2014/early 2015, we recently got to grips with a demo and found The Crew to be an audacious attempt to push boundaries in the racing genre.Click here to read more...
Fancy taking a peak at a graphical benchmark for next-gen sports games? Of course you do, so here's some footage of swaggering NBA basketballers in 2K's upcoming next-gen version of NBA 2K14. The video shows some jaw-dropping in-game graphics, with an epic Mr-T beard on the Houston Rockets' Harden being the obvious highlight.
If genre-leading visuals are your thing, it may well be worth hanging on for the next-gen versions of the game that launch on the same days as the PS4 and Xbone. Matt reviewed the 360 version recently and gave it an 8/10, so expect big things.Click here to see the new trailer.
This week on Game Buzz we get stuck into the news that both Watch Dogs and Driveclub have been delayed, with two of next-gen's big hitters pushed back into 2014. We ask what this means for Sony in particular and how the playing field appears to be balancing out for the launches of the PS4 and the Xbox One in a few weeks.
Have the recent delays changed your mind? Are you getting a PS4? An Xbox One? Both? Neither? Give the Game Buzz a listen and hit us up with your views in the box below.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.
Tekken Producer Katsuhiro Harada has suggested that the PS5 might well take the form of a service rather than a console. Now, Harada is known for having some pretty far-out (yes, I've been watching Bill and Ted, sue me) ideas, but actually as this one goes, it's not really that far-fetched.Click here to read more...
My name is Jonathan Lester. I'm a hypocrite. And I think I want an Xbox One.
I should covet a PS4 more than anything on this planet, even if we ignore everything that happened before Gamescom 2013. By my own criteria, Sony's press conference was utterly perfect; cutting away all the hype, dubstep and bullshit that tends to rot most live shows to the core. Instead of a dubstep montage, Sony literally sat down and talked us through the user interface in a live demonstration, before showing us a cavalcade of great-looking games in a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact way. Not just stodgy AAA exclusives, but indie games, fantastic boutique titles, the type of innovative experiences I bang on about time and time again to anyone and everyone who'll listen. It was genuinely magnificent.
Then we bring back the last few months of staunch indie support and coherent communication, and the choice ought to be obvious.
And yet, gun to my head, I might choose the other One.
Click here to read more...