Which Console Should I Buy?We’re coming up on the year anniversary of the Xbox One and PS4, and a lot has happened since last November. They’ve been around long enough for Sony and Microsoft to kit out their consoles with software updates, new features and other unique selling points. Of course, there have been a fair few new games released since then too, with some of the highlights including Destiny, Alien Isolation and Forza Horizon 2.
The PS4 is proving to be the people’s favourite, with stock shortages still a regular occurance and UK sales alone topping the 1 million mark. But Microsoft is fighting back, with the Kinect-free Xbox One and an entourage of incoming game hardware bundles, including £329 deals for games like Sunset Overdrive.
Overall, the Xbox One is a more rounded entertainment system, but it’s all down to your personal preferences. The decision is far from clear cut.
To help you work out which console is right for you, we’ve compared each aspect of the console duo, so you can make an informed decision in your Xbox One vs PS4 debate.
If you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, jump to the appropriate section here:
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Price
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Design
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Interface
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Apps
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Games
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Controllers
- PS4 vs Xbox One – Accessories
- Xbox Live Gold vs PlayStation Plus
- Top reasons to buy an Xbox One
- Top reasons to buy a PS4
Xbox One vs PS4 -Video Comparison
If you want to see both the PS4 and Xbox One in action then check out our video comparison:
See also: Does Xbox One and PS4 game revolution really matter?
A year into the lifecycle of both the Xbox One and PS4, the two consoles have pretty much reached a pricing stalemate. When the Xbox One was launched it was a whopping £80 more expensive than the PS4, due to the fact you were forced to purchase the Kinect pre-packaged with it.
However, back in May, Microsoft introduced a Kinect-free Xbox One option for the same price as the PS4 - £349.99. This help boost sales and made it a much more viable choice for those who couldn’t afford to spend over £400 on a new console.
The issues plaguing the Xbox One at launch have also been mostly removed. You no longer need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access entertainment services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video or the One Guide.
We’ve made a list of all the current and upcoming console hardware bundles you can purchase with their RRPs. Of course, if you shop around a bit, you can pick up console bundles for quite a bit cheaper, so it’s worth spending some time researching if you want a bargain.
Prices are based on the RRP of what was available at the time of writing
See also: Best Games of 2014
Xbox One – 10 per cent larger than 360, 'big black box' design, 3.18kg
PS4 – Slanted design, 2.8kg
In terms of design the Xbox One and PS4 are completely different prospects.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is far, far larger – an imposing black monolith of the living room. The PS4 is sleeker, slimmer and less likely to dominate your under-TV space.
Both keep the severe, black and masculine style that’s common to games consoles, though.
The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor, the Xbox 360. It weighs around the same as the last console, though, at roughly 3kg.
The PS4 is only marginally lighter, at 2.8kg. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, though, as they both have to fit in similar components.
Why the extra size in the Xbox One? It’s likely that part of the internal volume of the Xbox One’s case is there to aid cooling.
Overheating was a significant problem in the Xbox 360, responsible for causing many of the red ring issues that plagued the console’s earlier years.
We'd rather have the smaller PS4 in our living rooms, but the Xbox One may end up being more reliable in the long term thanks to that extra cooling. We've gone a year now though and neither console appears to have any major hardware issues which is great news for consumers.
SEE ALSO: Best iPad Games of 2014
This picture demonstrates the size difference very well.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Interface
Here's a quick look at what the interfaces of the Xbox One and PS4 look like in use:
The look of the Xbox One software is heavily inspired by elements of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft clearly wanted to reach a certain level of parity between its platforms.
It has a modern look, but many people have criticised the software for its glitchiness and bouts of odd behaviour. At present it doesn't quite feel right - it's something that Microsoft is likely to address in time, but is something to consider if you want to do more than just play disc-based games on your console.
The PS4 has a simpler, somewhat less ambitious user interface. As it leaves you scrolling in just one direction most of the time, we find it a more intuitive experience than the Xbox One's software.
There is room for improvement, though. For example at present you can't bring out the Netflix app to the top 'recently used' layer of the UI, even though it's a PS4 favourite for many people.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Which is more powerful?If you're a hardcore gamer, there's a good chance you care about how your games look. And that's all down to the power a console has on tap.
Which of the new consoles is more powerful? The simple answer is the PS4. We'll look deeper into the technical reasons why in a minute.
What this means in practice right now is that some cross-platform games, such as Battlefield 4, run at a lower resolution on the Xbox One than they do on the PS4. This may equalise over the life of the consoles as developers learn more about each consoles, but the PS4 definitely has a slight edge at launch.
See also: Steam Machine Specs and Prices
Xbox One vs PS4 – CPUXbox One – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
PS4 - AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
The Xbox One and PS4 use extremely similar CPUs made by AMD. Both use an APU setup, which links together both CPU and GPU into one package.
The CPUs are 8–core chips using ‘Jaguar’ cores – a term picked by their maker AMD to denote their chipset generation. The Xbox One runs at 1.75GHz, which was bumped-up from their original spec of 1.6GHz. Sony's runs slightly cooler at 1.6GHz, which may make some of you think the Xbox One is more powerful. This is not the case. The power of the GPU is much more important here.
SEE ALSO: Steam OS Guide: Steam OS and Steam Machines Explained
Xbox One - Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 32MB eSRAM
PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAM
PS4 - Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB GDDR5 RAM
The PS4 and Xbox One both use an AMD GPU.
At first glance it seems like their GPUs may be identical, but they are not. On paper the PS4 graphics processor is 50 per cent more powerful, with 1,152 shader processors against the Xbox One’s 768.
Realising that this sounded pretty bad, Microsoft worked on upping the One's power a bit and on 2 August announced that its GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. It's a nice tweak for the tech heads, but doesn't see the Xbox One match up to the PS4.
Having extra processing power will let the PS4 perform more tasks simultaneously – which should in theory allow for more impressive visual effects.
A more impressive GPU is matched with more impressive-sounding RAM. The PS4 uses GDDR5 RAM, while the Xbox One has more conventional DDR3 memory – and both have 8GB of the stuff.
GDDR5 has much higher bandwidth than DDR3, designed for intensive applications such as in graphics cards, while DDR3 is ‘bog standard’ system memory.
If DDR3 was all the Xbox One had, it’d be in serious trouble. But it also has an eSRAM buffer that should help to bridge the 100GB/sec bandwidth gap between the two RAM types. It has a 32MB chunk of eSRAM that will function as a frame buffer.
The news that the Sony PS4 is (almost) categorically more powerful than the Xbox One is one of the reasons why the PS4 pre-order sold out before the Xbox One's.
Read our full strip-down of the Xbox One and PS4 graphics hardware
With a more powerful GPU and, seemingly, faster memory, the PS4 is clearly out in front on graphical specs.
But how do they pan out compared to PC graphics cards? The Xbox One is said to be on-par with a Radeon 7790, the PS4 a Radeon 7870. Unless you're a PC gamer, that's really not going to mean much.
Let's reduce it to cold hard cash. That the Radeon 7790 costs around £100 and the Radeon 7870 £150 tells you all you need to know.
However, EA’s chief technology officer Rajat Teneja claims that the consoles are a whole generation ahead of the top-end PCs on the market. To some that’ll seem like a ridiculous statement when top-end gaming PCs cost thousands of pounds, and these consoles will cost a few hundred.
What’s less contentious is that the Xbox One and PS4 are around 8-10 times as powerful as the previous-gen Xbox 360 and PS3. However, let’s not forget that an increase in graphical fidelity requires an exponential increase in power – so we won’t be looking at games that look 8-10 times as good.
Xbox One vs PS4 – GraphicsOne of the main reason core gamers have chosen to favour the PS4 over the Xbox One is its categorically better graphics hardware. But does it translate to better graphics in games?
In quite a few cases it does. It’s not necessarily a case of missing effects, less complicated shadows and other such obvious cut-backs, but output resolution. With many games, the PS4 renders at a slightly higher resolution than the Xbox One.
Here are some of the examples we know about so far:
If you have a good 1080p TV, you will be able to see the difference if you get up close and personal. However, in the current wave of games there is not really a gigantic difference between the two.
Here are a few grabs from some of the many graphics comparisons that have been made online:
Here it looks as though there's more detail in the Xbox One shot, however, the PS4 details are actually obscured by an environmental dust effect. The PS4 footage is also a lot higher-contrast, which is seen consistently in graphics comparisons.
Once again, there's higher contrast in the PS4 footage, and there appears to be a bit more texture information in the road surface.
Digital Foundry performed a very interesting test to see the difference between the hardware available to the two consoles. It specced-out PCs with roughly the same GPU hardware as the Xbox One and PS4, and found that the PS4 performed roughly 24 per cent better in benchmarks.
via Digital Foundry
We’re already seeing the PS4 perform better in current games, and this is only likely to continue as more ‘new-gen’ titles are released.
SEE ALSO: Uncharted 4 release date, news and rumours
Xbox One vs PS4 - AppsIf
you want functionality other than what comes pre-installed with an PS4
or Xbox One, you need apps. These give you access to streaming services
like YouTube, Netflix and so on.
The Xbox One currently has a slightly stronger apps line-up. It has access to services like 4oD that aren't currently available on PS4. It's all slowly equalling out, but the Xbox One is still the more dominent entertainment console.
What's also important to remember, if you're interested, is that the Xbox One now has a dedicated Plex app for Plex Pass users. That means anyone with a Plex Pass membership can stream all their media from their PC/Mac to their Xbox One. Official DNLA support is coming with a later update, but for those who are already Plex members, it's a quick and easy way to get your videos, photos and other content on your Xbox One.
Aside from Plex, here is what's available on both consoles so far:
If you want the game console to work as your primary entertainment station, the Xbox One is clearly superior at the moment.
Xbox One vs PS4 – Best Current and Future Games
The most important factor with any game console is games. Forget graphical fidelity and looks, above all else, you should go with the console that has the games you want to play.
Many of this generation’s games will be available on both consoles which makes choosing between them that much trickier. This was true with the last generation too, but the Xbox One and PS4 make it easier than ever for developers to produce games cross-platform.
Let’s have a look at the top games that are already available, and those that are coming out for each console.
Best Future Xbox One Exclusives
Halo 5: GuardiansWhat is it? Halo, naturally
Release date: 2015
At the moment we know very little about Halo 5: Guardians, aside from the name and that it's coming to Xbox One next year. It'll serve as the sequel to Halo 4, and be one of the leading Xbox One games for 2015.
The story is largely a mystery, but you can expect to see the same sort of fast first-person action seen in all the previous core Halo games. Are we excited? Yes. Do we need to know more about Halo 5? Definitely. We'll be back with more details soon.
Halo: The Master Chief CollectionWhat is it? Old Halo, made new
Release date: November 11 2014
As a way to bridge the gap between now and the release of Halo 5, we have Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It’s a pack of the four previous ‘core’ Halo games, all revved up for the Xbox One with 1080p, 60fps visuals.
The multiplayer has been reinstated too, including absolutely reams of maps from all four games. As part of the collection, you’ll get beta access to Halo 5: Guardians too.
Read the Halo: Master Chief Collection preview
Sunset OverdriveWhat is it? An OTT action game
Release date: October 31 2014
People have been turned into mutants, thanks to an evil energy drink. The city is in chaos. And you are the hero who has to sort it all about.
Sunset Overdrive is a bit like Infamous, but with a sense of humour and a proper colour palette. This game could be bags of fun, especially if you’re after a game whose focus is pure fun, but that isn’t just aimed at kids.
Read the Sunset Overdrive preview
What is it? A hybrid live-action/third-person-shooter
Release date: 2015
Quantum Break is rather an odd duck. It blends a live-action TV series with a third-person-shooter where your protagonist can manipulate time.
It's all rather confusing, but it could be one of the defining games of the Xbox One because it is just that unique. We'll have to wait until next year though.
Read the Quantum Break preview
Ori and the Blind Forest
What is it? A mystical cartoonish adventure
Release date: Autumn 2014
Ori and the Blind Forest is an Xbox One exclusive that comes to you from the team behind the likes of Rayman Legends and Valiant Hearts. It's a beautifully animated adventure that will appeal to children and adults alike.
Don't dismiss this as a colourful platformer, it's difficult and so stunning you'll be replaying it over and over.
Read the Ori and the Blind Forest preview
Rise of the Tomb Raider
What is it? Lara Croft's next adventures
Release date: 2015
There was quite an uproar when Microsoft announced the follow-on to the successful 2013 Tomb Raider reboot would be an Xbox One exclusive (at least temporarily).
You'll be following Lara's adventures as she gets a little older and has managed to get off the island she was originally trapped on, only to find herself in yet another predicament. We don't know much more than that yet.
Best Future PS4 Exclusives
Little Big Planet 3What is it? A platformer and game creation tool
Release Date: November 18
Little Big Planet has become one of the defining series of the modern PlayStation era. And while it no longer attracts as much attention as something like Uncharted, it attracts kids and adults like almost nothing else.
It’s a cutesy platformer, but also a full game creation tool. You can really let your creativity rip with this Little Big Planet 3, and make games with no real knowledge of coding. To an extent it’s more of the same, and LBP3 is compatible with levels already in the LBP universe.
Read the LittleBigPlanet 3 preview
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s EndWhat is it? The PS4’s lead adventure title
Release Date: 2015
A Thief’s End is the first Uncharted game to come to PS4, and once again it’s a Nathan Drake Adventure. The Uncharted series offers some of the most cinematic experiences in gaming, and Uncharted 4 is no different.
It’s a “globe-trotting” adventure in which you’re looking to uncover a “historical conspiracy”. We don’t know a great deal about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Yet. But we expect great things. Sony says it’ll have more to tell us in the coming months.
What is it? A game from the makers of Dark Souls
Release Date: 2015
We don’t know much about Bloodborne yet, but there’s a reason to be excited already – it comes from the man behind the Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games – Hidetaka Miyazaki.
Bloodborne is not a barrel of laughs. It’s about a virus transmitted through the blood, something that turns people and creatures into horrific things. And it is horror, rather than fantasy, that is the theme this time around. For many, this will be one of the most exciting games of the next 12 months.
Read the Bloodborne preview
The Order 1886What is it? Action-adventure set in London
Release Date: 20 February 2015
It’s not often we get to see games set in London that aren’t racing titles. The Order 1886 is set here, and it’s an action adventure where you play a knight who is part of an order tasked with taking down a horrible breed of werewolf-like creatures.
Expect bad English accents, lots of moody, foggy environments and loads of shooty action. It’s getting pretty positive previews at present, although as a new IP we’ll have to wait to see if this is the real deal.
Read The Order: 1886 preview
No Man's Sky
What is it? The ultimate exploration game
Release date: 2015
Imagine being able to explore space and its infinite planets. Well in No Man's Sky you can. Developer Hello Games claims everyone will have an entirely different experience, with the game creating itself as you play. You may not even see another player - ever.
It could just be you, your ship and myriad planets just begging to be explored.
Read the No Man's Sky preview
Best Current Xbox One games
Forza Horizon 2
The Forza series has split into two halves. There are the core Forza Motorsport titles and the rather less serious Horizon games, which have a strong free-roaming element.
Forza Horizon 2 takes place in Southern Europe, letting you roam in the area around a music festival, taking part in the usual dazzling array of races. This proved to be a good visual showcase of what racers should look like on Xbox One, more so than the early Forza Motorsport 5.
10/10 - Read the Forza Horizon 2 review
Project Spark is an intriguing game creation tool that will let you make full games, by the looks of it. Think of it as Xbox One’s alternative to Little Big Planet 3 and you won’t be too far off the mark.
It lets you make 3D adventures, 2D platformers, racers and puzzle games. But will it give you real scope? Will it be too difficult and time-consuming? Either way, we’re looking forward to finding out. While an Xbox One console exclusive, Project Spark will also be available on Windows 8.1.
Read the Project Spark preview
The most exciting early Xbox One console exclusive is Titanfall. It is a sci-fi shooter, and it’s not afraid to be grim and serious, with a darker tone than the cross-platform Destiny.
Unusually, there’s no single-player mode in Titanfall, but there will be single player-style story elements weaved into the action to give play more meaning than the average multiplayer blast-fest. It sold 700,000 copies in its first week, but some have criticised it saying it looks like a last-gen game.
9/10 - Read our Titanfall review
Dead Rising 3
Like the previous Dead Rising games, Dead Rising 3 is a third-person action game set around a zombie invasion. Its world is much larger than that of the last two games, though, based in a city rather than a specific location within a city.
It’s not the best showcase for next-gen graphics and it doesn’t have quite the spark of inventiveness seen in the former games. But it’s a launch line-up highlight, and something a little different.
7/10 - Read the full Dead Rising 3 review
Forza Motorsport 5
The game that marks the Xbox One as the racer’s favourite at present, Forza Motorsport 5 is a semi-serious racing game that looks and feels great. Match it with something like the Mad Catz Pro Racing wheel and you’ll be in heaven.
However, it’s not the ultimate racing game, lacking some of the structural brilliance of the last game in the series, Forza 4. Still, for now it’s the best next-gen racer if you don’t want a pure arcade experience.
8/10 - Read the full Forza 5 review
SEE ALSO: Best Xbox One Games
Best current PS4 games
The single notable ‘gamer’s game’ that the PS4 had over the Xbox One at launch was Killzone: Shadowfall. It’s a grim first-person shooter set in the future, and a pretty good way to see what your shiny new console is capable of, compared to the PS3.
It’s not a shooter you’re likely to have fond memories of for years to come, but it’s a good job the PS4 had it to rely on given how many of the console’s other games were pushed back into 2014.
7/10 - Read our full Killzone: Shadow Fall review
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous is a superhero game that’s not tied to a superhero license, and that’s a good thing in this case. You’re not tied to a famous character’s intentions, letting you play the good guy, or the bad guy. And your actions dictate the sort of powers you develop.
In style, it’s similar to the previous Infamous games, giving you an ‘open world’ city in which you can wreak havoc. This is the first major 2014 PS4 exclusive, and it has us a good deal more excited than Killzone: Shadow Fall.
9/10 - Read our full InFamous: Second Son review
The Last of Us: Remastered
If you haven't played the original version of The Last of Us on the PS3, the full 1080p HD PS4 Remastered version is an absolute must have. It has stunning graphics, the same captivating storyline and lots and lots of zombies.
It was and still is one of the best game available on consoles. Even if you've played it already, it comes with the Left Behind DLC in full HD too, which is certainly worth a play.
9/10 - Read our full The Last of Us: Remastered review
SEE ALSO: Best PS4 Games
Best cross-platform games
Call of Duty: Ghosts
One of the most-anticipated recent games is Call of Duty: Ghosts. It’s a first-person shooter, just like the other games in the series.
If you don’t like the genre, or have been unimpressed with the previous CoD games, it’s unlikely you’ll get on with this one. However, for fans of the series it’s a treat. It’s just not a particularly inventive or dynamic entry in the Call of Duty line. The ‘ghosts’ of the title are a special band of US forces who have to combat a group of terrorists trying to use a galactic superweapon to try and take down the US. It’s also the first Call of Duty game to feature a dog as part of your squad.
7/10 - Read the full Call of Duty: Ghosts review
Need for Speed: Rivals
The Need for Speed series has some serious ups and downs, but we’re happy – and surprised – to report that Need for Speed: Rivals is a highlight. As with the other games in the series, it’s an arcade racer rather than one that tries to be in any way realistic.
Its world is open, and it blends multiplayer and single player modes into a single environment for a seamless feel. It’s bags of fun, and the game that ensured neither console was without a good racer at launch.
9/10 - Read the full Need for Speed: Rivals review
Destiny is a ‘new IP’, a game not based on an existing series. People are still extremely excited about it, though, because it’s made by Bungie, the development studio behind the first Halo games.
It’s a science fiction shooter that merges multiplayer and single player play styles – something we’re likely to see an awful lot of this year. What’s getting us more excited, though, is that it looks fantastic and offers grand vistas to explore. This game will come to previous-generation consoles as well as the new guard.
8/10 - Read our full Destiny review
If you want to play a truly scary game on your new console, whether that's Xbox One or PS4, you won't find much scarier than Alien Isolation.
It'll immediately appeal to fans of the series, but it's strong storyline, tense atmosphere and excellent pacing will have anyone cowering behind their controller.
There's plenty to do in Alien Isolation too, aside from playing a horrible hide-and-seek game with the vicious and extremely unpredictable Alien himself.
9/10 - Read our full Alien Isolation review
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition
Originally a PC exclusive, Diablo III has finally made the console leap in what is called the Ultimate Evil Edition - and oh boy was it worth the wait.
It has a slick interface, well ported controls and the hack-and-slash gameplay is totally addictive.
The game has superb online and offline co-op to dabble in too, and the game will keep going as long as you want it to.
9/10 - Read the full Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition review
See Also: Red Dead Redemption 2 release date, news and rumours
Xbox One vs PS4 - Controllers
Which is the better gamepad? The DualShock 4 or the Xbox One pad? It's not an easy one to call. First, let's have a look at the pads.
Xbox One controller
Both have the genetic material of their forebears, but the DualShock 4 feels like more of a change. Microsoft has stuck with what worked so well in the Xbox 360 controller with the Xbox One pad, and as such it's more of a tweak than a full ground-up redesign.
There are two main changes. The Xbox One pad has rumble motors built into the triggers to give you feedback when, for example, shooting guns. Microsoft has also made huge improvement to the D-pad. The mushy Xbox 360 D-pad has been switched for one that's much more clicky and responsive. It'll work wonders on Street Fighter-style fighting games.
The DualShock 4's changes are more marked. It's a bit chunkier than the previous DualShock controllers and a lot heavier too, giving a firmer feel than the last-gen Dualshock 3 pad.
Sony has also massively improved the analogue sticks in the DualShock 4. Where the DualShock 3 wasn't really much cop for first-person shooters, the new pad is great for almost all types of console games. There's also a new touch pad on the front, between the sticks and the main buttons, and a Share button to make uploading your gameplay videos easy.
After all that, have we really found a victor? Not as such. If you loved the Xbox 360 pad, you'll probably prefer the Xbox One controller. However, the DualShock 4 has a robust feel that previous PlayStation pads simply haven't had.
Xbox One vs PS4 - Accessories
There aren't all that many official Xbox One and PS4 accessories available yet. Here's which Official Sony-made accessories have been announced:
Things to take note of include that there are currently no first-party steering wheels available for either console, and that Sony does not offer a media remote for the PS4 yet. Sony has, however, announced a rather more exciting product - Project Morpheus.
This is an Oculus Rift-style gaming headset that offers a virtual reality-like gaming experience. We currently have no idea when it'll arrive, though. It probably won't be in 2014.
Want a steering wheel? There are officially sanctioned third-party wheels available for each console. Here's a quick look at each.
For PS4: Thrustmaster T80 DriveClub edition (£69.99)
This is an entry-level wheel with plastic pedals. It also lacks true force feedback, which is a must for any remotely serious racing wheel. It's not really a wheel for the enthusiast. However, we believe that most existing wheels that will work with the PS3 should be able to function with the PS4. Check out the Logitech G27 if you want a real racing wheel.
For Xbox One: Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel Ferrari 458 Italia Edition (£249.99)
The Xbox One is far pickier about which wheels it will work with than the PS4. It's good to see that the one wheel recommended on Microsoft's Xbox website is a high-end one. The Thrustmaster TX Ferrari 458 Italia edition has a proper force feedback motor, metal pedals and a detachable steering wheel.
Xbox Live Gold vs PlayStation PlusXbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus are the paid-for premium parts of the Xbox Live and PSN online services. If you don’t look for a bargain deal online, a year’s subscription to each costs you £39.99. Shop around and it’s easy enough to find a deal for £29.99 a year.
There are alternative payment models though. Xbox Live Gold can be subscribed to for £5.99 a month. PS Plus is a £5.49 per month commitment, or you could opt for the £11.99 quarterly payments.
The more important issue – what does that get you? Traditionally, Xbox Live Gold was thought-of as the much stronger service. It has always had a stronger community. But that is starting to change.
While Xbox Live Gold still makes much more of the social side of the service with things like visual avatars, a stronger achievements system and much clearer notifications of when your friends are about, you get better freebies with PlayStation Plus.
At present, PlayStation Plus offers around 10 free games for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. Each month you'll get access to two new titles for each of the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, which you'll have access too, as long as you've added them to your library and continue paying for PS Plus. Unless you’re a hardcore gamer, this free stash may be enough to keep you busy year-round.
Xbox Live Gold has done its best to emulate this, by offering two free games a month. However, the games selection and the number of titles on offer haven’t matched PS Plus’s. More recently, Xbox One got in on the Games with Gold action, with members getting access to a new title by-monthly.
With both new-gen consoles, in order to access the multiplayer portion of games you'll need the relevant PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscription. But at least those memberships offer the instant game collections and discounts on other digital download titles.
PS4 Remote Play
One of the neatest new software/hardware features of the PS4 is how it works with the PS Vita, Sony’s gaming handheld. You’ll be able to play PS4 games on your PS Vita, streaming them over your home broadband connection or using a Wi-Fi Direct connection between the two boxes.
It’s a free feature, and one that makes the Vita handheld suddenly seem a lot more attractive. The PS4 automatically downscales the video to match the Vita’s screen, making it much less data-intensive than a full 1080p stream. The Vita has a 960x544 pixel screen, which is a way below even 720p.
Vita Remote Play in itself is nothing new, however support in the PS3 generation was very poor, making few people even realise it existed. The PS4 also has separate hardware components to handle video conversion and streaming, meaning sacrifices don’t have to be made elsewhere.
There’s just one limitation – you can’t use Remote Play for games that need the PS4 camera. While the Vita has its own cameras, the extra processing that would be required to process the separate input wirelessly makes it completely unfeasible.
Of course, there’s no equivalent for the Xbox One. It offers some Xbox integration through the Windows Phone mobiles, but there’s nothing quite like Remote Play on offer.
Top reasons to pick an Xbox OneLarger size may mean it’s more reliable long-term
The huge console size of the Xbox One gives air more room to circulate, which is likely to ensure the console does not overheat even when under strain for prolonged periods.
Kinect is undeniably cool
Not everyone likes Kinect, but it has serious potential that you don’t get with the PS4 camera. For example, you can use it to control the console, swiping in the air to perform commands.
Wider distribution of Kinect will mean for more interesting motion gaming
Now that the Xbox One will ship without the Kinect in some bundles this might not be as much of a benefit, but the Kinect sensor means that developers will be able to more confidently put Kinect features into their games.
It acts as a hub for your other home entertainment gear
You can plug another piece of hardware into your Xbox One using its HDMI input. This lets you switch between, say, your digibox and the Xbox One, using the Xbox interface. There’s only one input, but if you use a receiver it’s all you’ll need.
Inbound Xbox One exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you haven’t yet played a Halo title, The Master Chief Collection is a great time to get involved. The whole Halo series is being remastered for the Xbox One in HD along with all of the awesome multiplayer maps. Sunset Overdrive’s colourful, manic gameplay is also exclusive to the Xbox One and is certainly worth a punt.
The One Guide makes for seamlessly integrated cable TV
You can plug your cable TV boxes straight into your Xbox One via HDMI and watch TV with the Xbox One UI overlaid. The feature allows you to access your live TV guide directly through your Xbox One, making it the entertainment system Microsoft has been pushing from launch. If you’ve got a Kinect you can also use voice commands to jump from channel to channel. Basically, it saves the faff of switching inputs and once you’ve tried the One Guide, you won’t want to change back.
It’s not all about cable integration
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to TV services like Sky or Virgin Media, from October you can purchase the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner accessory for £24.99. This will let you feed Freeview and other free-to-air TV platforms into the Xbox One too.
EA Access is only available on Xbox One
EA’s new subscription gaming service is exclusive to Xbox One. So if you’re a particular fan of EA titles you can pay £3.99 for free unlimited access to a select collection of games via the EA Access Vault. There’s a few other perks too, but read our EA Access Guide to find out more.
3D Blu-ray support is finally here
After a lengthy wait, you can finally watch your 3D Blu-ray titles on your Xbox One – if that’s your bag.
You can plug in an external hard drive for additional storage
One of the most requested features was external hard drive support for the Xbox One. Well, now you can use up to two external hard drives at once. Each one has to be 256GB or larger, but once it has been formatted, it can be used to store games, apps, DLC and other content if your Xbox One is getting full.
The media player will add tunes to your entertainment system
Although the media player hadn’t arrived at the time of writing, Microsoft promises a future update will let you play media files on your Xbox One via a USB device. You will also be able to stream your media files over a Wi-Fi network using DLNA, just as you could on the Xbox 360. There will also be more file support, including animated gifs, mkv and mpeg 2 TS.
Xbox One finally has Games with Gold perks
As you do with the Xbox 360, you now get two free games a month for the Xbox One with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You also get access to Deals with Gold too, giving you significant savings within the Xbox One Games Store.
See also: Destiny release date, news, gameplay and trailers round-up
Top reasons to pick a PS4
It’s much smaller than an Xbox One
If you have a cramped lounge/bedroom, the smaller size of the PS4 will come in handy. It is much, much smaller than the Xbox One.
It doesn’t have a separate power brick
Also important, the PS4 incorporates its own power supply while the Xbox One has a separate power brick. This is a big win if you want to take the console around a friend’s house as it’s a good deal lighter.
The PS4 is more powerful
The PS4 has a significantly more powerful GPU – graphics processing unit – than the Xbox One. It’s about 50 per cent more powerful.
Remote Play for Vita is awesome
This one only matter for PS Vita owners, but the PS4’s Remote Play is pretty neat. It lets you play full PS4 games on your Vita over your Wi-Fi connection.
Playstation TV will let you play your PS4 elsewhere in the house
The Playstation TV announced at E3 2014 will let you stream and play games on any TV in your house. There's a bit of lag and the graphics lack some detail but it's super-useful if your main TV is often taken up by couch potatoes watching soaps. The Playstation TV will retail for $99 when it goes on sale.
PS Plus’s free games plan is great
The PS Plus service costs about £40 a year, but it gets you free games every month. And at present it’s better than the freebie games offering you get with an Xbox One through Live Gold.
The PS4 controller is better
We think the PS4 controller is better than the Xbox One’s. This one will divide opinions, but we’re not fans of the clicky triggers on the Xbox One pad.
PS4 gets 3D Blu-ray support too
Just like the Xbox One, the PS4 also now has 3D Blu-ray support. However, there’s no word on media support for the PS4 anytime soon.
PS4 Share Play is going to be a huge new feature
Arriving with the autumn PS4 system update, Share Play is a brand new feature that will create what Sony is calling a “virtual couch”. It creates a local co-op experience but all online, meaning you can invite your friend to play with you, even if they don’t actually own the game. Each session has an hour time limit, but there’s apparently no limit as to the number of sessions you can have.
See also: PS4 Share Play – How Sony is changing multiplayer in a big way
no particular 'wrong choice' to be made between the two consoles at
present. However, the PS4 seems to be the gamer's choice. Its
PlayStation Plus service is great, it's significantly more powerful and
we think the controller is a bit better. If you want to save some money,
though, you can get far better deals for the Xbox One at this point.
Next, read more about PS4 backwards compatibility