In the last of our half-time roundtables, we cast our eyes ahead to Christmas and chat about some of our opinions regarding the next generation of video games consoles and, if we had to choose, which way we'd go at the current time.
I think it’s fairly obvious that, at this point, Sony are riding the momentum of E3 into a very strong psychological lead for next-gen sales. Even after the come down from the high that was this year’s press conferences (much sugar was consumed that evening, and that crash at 5am… ugh) I feel that, despite the fact Microsoft have backtracked a number of their policies (in the most bizarre manner, I might add) the Playstation 4 is still the most likely to get my money at the end of the year.
The Xbone certainly had a strong line-up of games on show, perhaps even stronger than the PS4’s when you focus on exclusives (although you need to forget about Ryse. Yay for Quick Time Events!) but you just know that, in the long run, Sony will be bringing a breath of well-made exclusives that will cater for all tastes, and that is what is the most attractive prospect right now with or without the support for indie development and distribution.
That said, if I don’t get a next-gen console in the next twelve months I probably won’t be too disappointed. After all, I have a backlog of games that still need clearing (some of which are from 2011!) and my PC gaming experience is stronger than ever. Basically, if I get my hands on an Oculus Rift there’s a good chance you won’t see me for months as I’ll be living a virtual life in Skyrim, catching butterflies and fish. WITH MY BARE HANDS.
Or not. Whatever.
If I wasn't working in the video game industry, I'd almost certainly be saving my money this Christmas. There are just no compelling reasons to buy either machine straight off of the bat for me, and I'm dreading to think what my backlog is going to be like for the current-gen systems given the slew of top notch releases we're anticipating for the Autumn and Winter seasons.
However, were I forced to lean one way or the other, there's no real alternative to the PS4 for me. Sony have won the first few ideological battles -- and let's not kid ourselves, until we get proper, lengthy hands-on with an assortment of games for these systems, that's all this is -- but they've done so by remaining true to pro-consumer and pro-developer initiatives. Even with the mandatory PS+ requirement for online multiplayer on PS4, the service itself is phenomenal value for money, and Sony's attitudes towards indies have made them plenty of friends. Microsoft have always been happy to be the COD and FIFA console, but for more diverse gaming experiences for next-gen, early fingers point to Sony.
We've ragged on the Wii U so much now that it's boring us to tears, but that's because Nintendo have completely failed to react fast enough. And even those 2014 games, good though they are, seem awfully familiar. This generation leap is looking like one of the safest, most imaginatively bereft jumps we've had in a while, and that's pretty sad.
My advice? Buy a PS3. The Last of Us has just come out, there's Puppeteer and Rain and Beyond and Gran Turismo 6 to come exclusively to that console later this year, and you can buy a preowned one for under £100. Sony have been wiping the floor with Microsoft in terms of exclusives for some time, and that bodes well for the PS4, though there's not enough there for me yet personally to make the jump this year.
To be honest, I'm not convinced that either the Xbox One or PS4 have done enough to deserve a pre-order yet. Microsoft has clearly forgotten that public relations requires you to relate to the public, but on the flip-side, Sony have done little more than show up with a small number of exclusive sequels and multiplatform games. Sure, the PS4 costs £349, but is that really a reason to buy something? Lots of things cost £349. Does that mean you should instantly reserve them?
Gun to my head, I'd pre-order a PS4, but only because they've pledged to support indie games (and, erm, their executives are actually competent). When you stop pointing your weapon at me, I'd prefer to wait until we can empirically compare the quality of both consoles' game libraries.
Oh, and it's painful to see the Wii U floundering so badly as a day-one adopter. Nintendo has correctly admitted that they need more compelling games, but they need them this year. Now. Not 2014. Still, I can't wait for The Wonderful 101... and next year is going to be an absolute belter.
I’ve had a long look at the pros of both the Xbox One and the PS4, and there’s simply only one console for me next-gen, and it’s the PS4. It’s not even Microsoft’s anti-consumer policies that have put me off. The PS4 just looks better in every way that I want. I’ve enjoyed the DualShock controller for years, so I’m happy to continue with the tweaked version. The sequel exclusives for Killzone and Infamous are games I can’t wait to play and my mind can’t even prepare for how good the next God of War and Uncharted games are going to look.
The share button is going to be fantastic, especially for us gaming journo types, as we’ll be able to show you exactly what we’re writing about in reviews. Everyone being able to create videos without capture cards and PC software is going to be great for user-generated walkthroughs, hidden item guides, glitch reporting and so on.
And let’s face it, the price difference between the PS4 and Xbone is significant and the value offering by one multi-format fee for PS Plus is a major incentive that Microsoft simply can not compete with. With any luck, the PS4 will also build some enthusiasm for the Vita, which is currently looking a bit pasty.