PS4 or Xbox One: Sony and Microsoft go head-to-head at E3 - so which will you buy?

Both firms have unveiled their latest consoles, but what can we learn from a direct comparison?

So. Dust has settled, hands have been shown, and metaphors have staled into cliché. Both Sony and Microsoft have revealed their eighth-generation consoles and fan-boys on both sides are proclaiming victory in comment sections around the net.

Whilst the general tenor of gaming op-eds is that Sony have stolen a march on Microsoft (Kotaku’s leader of ‘Sony just smacked the Xbox One in the mouth’ comes to mind), is it really as clear cut as that? Let’s go through this, play by play:

Looks

Starting off with the least important factor it seems that there’s not much to choose between the two. Both appear as black slabs, divided into sections, with the main difference being that the PS4’s whipped-back slant makes it italic to the Xbox One’s bold.

Both controllers are along the same lines, taking no chances, though the PS4’s DualShock 4 does have a capacitive touchpad, a headphone jack in the controller, and a built-in speaker, whilst the Xbox One’s controller has only smoothed out its previous iterations and added vibrating feedback in the triggers.

Hardware, aka, ‘what’s in the box?’

Turns out you can judge a book by its cover – as the PS4 and Xbox One’s similarities continue to the innards. Both have gone for custom AMD chips and eight-core CPUs with 8GB of RAM – though the PS4 has an edge there, using GDDR5 instead of Microsoft’s DDR3.

Sony also has the graphical edge with its GPU estimated by ExtremeTech to be on a par with the Radeon 7870 whilst the Xbox One’s is nearer to the Radeon HD 7790 - a step down for certain.

Both units have their own motion sensor, though the Kinect 2.0 seems to be more sophisticated than the PS4’s Eye, with the latter having to be purchased separately (though with the price difference – which we’re coming to – this doesn’t seem to be a big deal).

In terms of the peripheries that didn’t get seen at E3 – by which I mean the second-screen experiences for both consoles – it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Whilst it’ll be easier to hook your smartphone up to the Xbox with SmartGlass, being able to stream PS4 games to the PS Vita is a far more attractive – if you’ve already shelled out for the Vita that is.

Games

Microsoft looked pretty terrible on this front prior to their E3 conference, with their initial unveiling focusing on the Xbox One’s multimedia possibilities. However, most commentators have agreed that their E3 roster did a lot to soothe troubled hearts.

Beginning their conference with Metal Gear Solid V was poking Sony in the eye whilst taking their long-cherished exclusive (Hideo Kojima was even roped in show support), Microsoft ran through frenetic and fun looking titles like the goofy looking, Crackdown-inspired Sunset Overdrive and the Roman hack-and-slash Ryse (for which Crytek has pulled Kinect support in favour of a real controller).

There were more explorative titles, including the game-building sandbox Project Spark and the TV-influencing Quantum Break (though exactly how the game will influence the show and vice versa is still unclear).

Rounding out the roster were some expected big-name titles (the latest Halo & CoD, Battlefield 4, Witcher 3), and an expected big-small-name (a Minecraft port, following the games success on the 360), and a powered-up Panzer Dragoon refresh in the shape of Crimson Dragon. So basically a selection that should please any disgruntled Xboxer.

But Sony did just as well, if not better. They have their own flagships in the shape of sci-fi shooter Killzone: Shadowfall; open-world-y action adventure title Infamous; and the latest title in the venerable Final Fantasy franchise. This is without mentioning the new big-thing from Bungie, the gorgeous looking Destiny, which looks like it’ll take the best bits from Mass Effect but add some actual creativity into the look and design of the game.

Plenty of titles were shared with the Xbox One (including Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs and Diablo III), but the PS4 certainly boosted its support for indie titles. Perhaps most attractive were a pair of fantastic looking second-games from indie superstars: island puzzler The Witness from Jonathan Blow, the man behind Braid; and Transistor, from the studio that brought the world Bastion (it looks pretty similar as well – dreamy action/adventure).

DRM & used-games

Here’s where Sony really have Microsoft over a barrel. Unlike games lineup which might just come down to which titles take your fancy, the PS4 provides a selection of yes/no options, the answers to which Sony just knew were going to please.

US CEO and President Jack Tretton looked like he was trying to stifle laughter when he told audiences that ‘yes’ - the PS4 would be free of limitations on used games, that ‘no’ - there would be no need for online connections, and, a bonus, that ‘yes’ - the console would even be region-free (the Xbox One is not).

Totting it all up: price & conclusion

And this is perhaps where Sony really run away with the thing – the Xbox One will be out in November and will cost $499 in the US and £429 in the UK (don’t do a currency conversion, you won’t be pleased); whilst the PS4 (release date unknown) comes in at only $399 in the US and £349 in the UK.

Quite a lot has been made out of these prices, and a lot of it justified. Comparing the two, it seems that Sony really have solidified the PS4’s position as the better games machine – with slightly better specs for a hell of a lot cheaper, and less worries about unnecessary add-ons you don’t even care for.

But Microsoft is promising more than this. Although the multimedia features of the One have been widely criticised, they are key to its appeal. For a box that you might have in your front room for up to seven years, it doesn’t seem crazy to pay over four hundred pounds for it. And thinking about how much functionality for the 360 was added over the years, you can imagine that the machine you’re left with will be more than the one you bought.

The main thing is: do you even want this? Is TV that big a deal when you can get Netflix on your laptop and a HDMI cable to plug it into your TV? Do you want to Skype people whilst you’re trying to immerse yourself in a game?

Microsoft has definitely got more ambitious, but it seems like they’re trying to carve out a new niche for themselves in the market – the do-everything smartbox – rather than just sticking with what they know people want. The names said it all really – the PS4, which gives you more of the same; and the Xbox One, which wants to set a new precedent.

Update: Many thanks to those who pointed out that the Xbox One and PS4 are eight generation, not seventh generation consoles.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

    £18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

    £16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks