Well, this is it. At long last, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are out, ushering in the next generation of gaming. With the Xbox One released last weekend, and the PS4 a week before that, the next-generation has become the current.
While I have yet to get my hands on an Xbox One, I have been able to play a few hours on the PS4, and I will say one thing, the controller is fantastic. Gone is the blocky, uncomfortable feel of the PlayStation 3 controller that worked so well with past iterations of the console. While the first two PlayStations were served well by the design, it was clear that something needed to change when the Xbox 360 debuted its sleeker, smoother controller. Now, the PS4 controller boasts contours similar to the Xbox 360's, a popular design that was carried over to the Xbox One.
While I have yet to pick up either of the new consoles, I will be purchasing a PS4 over the Xbox One. Previously, I chose the Xbox 360 over the PS3, a decision I've never regretted. To me, the Xbox 360 had the superior console of the two and provided a better user experience overall. Prior to that I had a PlayStation 2, instead of an Xbox... see a pattern here?
Of course, my decision to leave Microsoft and return to Sony has nothing to do with simply keeping things tit for tat, but rather a consumer decision based on Microsoft's apparent contempt for its customers when the Xbox One was announced earlier this year. At that time, the Xbox One was slated to be always online, required a mandatory camera and microphone accessory (Kinect) and would not allow the sharing and lending of games. Microsoft has since pulled a 180 on those policies in the face of what can only be described as universal outrage amongst the gaming community, and now the Xbox One functions similarly to the much-loved Xbox 360 (though you still can't purchase one without a Kinect).
Sure it's great that Microsoft "listened" to gamers in reversing its policies, but after having claimed that changing the console back to what consumers wanted wouldn't be as easy as "flipping a switch" and then promptly flipping said switch, who's to say Microsoft won't revert back to its intended policies once people have an Xbox One in their homes? Additionally, Microsoft's desire to whore out its Xbox interface to advertisers despite it being a user-paid service isn't winning it any points in my books, and with past reports highlighting the company's intent to use Kinect to monitor users viewing habits for advertising purposes... well that's just a bit creepy. I'm definitely going to miss several Xbox-exclusive IPs when I make the move back to Sony, as I've invested good chunks of time into the likes of Halo and Forza. However, as much as I love playing those games, I enjoy not being commoditized even more.
The concept behind the Xbox One is that it's supposed to be the only system you'll ever need in your living room. It will play your DVDs and Blu-Rays, allow you to surf the Internet, run your cable box through it and provide the gloriousness that is Netflix. To be honest, there will always be better devices to do all of the above and for me, all I really want is a gaming console. The PS4 is just that, a gaming device without the frills, though it can also do the aforementioned, sans cable box connectivity.
But don't let me sway you either way. Really, the two consoles have very similar innards and both are very capable machines from a hardware perspective. On the outside, the Xbox One is a giant black box that some feel is a throwback to chunky electronic devices of yesteryear, while the PS4 takes on a thinner, slanted look. The difference in pricing may also be enough to sway buyers, as the PS4 comes in at $399 while the Xbox One commands a heftier $499, likely due to the accompanying Kinect.
As expected, both consoles have experienced hiccups during their launch, with some PS4s failing to boot up and some Xbox Ones having faulty disc drives. At this point the issues reported seem to be only affecting small numbers of both consoles and it doesn't appear to be anywhere near the same level as the Red Ring of Death, from the original Xbox 360s.
My advice for anyone with a bit of patience? Wait a few months for the kinks to be ironed out and for the consoles to become more readily available. There will be more games available, more people to play with online and more bugs and glitches already identified and fixed.
So there you have it folks, the Xbox One and PS4 are finally here, but if you can handle not being one of those people who always has to have the latest and greatest gadget before everybody else, then your best bet is to chill out and enjoy what you've got. Besides, nobody will care who had what console first in a year's time when everybody has one or the other.