2017 has been an astronomically successful year for gaming, arguably one of the best in recent years. With two new console launches and a massive line-up of extremely well received game titles already released and even more on the horizon, there could not be a better time to jump into the gaming community!
The problem is: where do you start?
This guide will help you decide which of the currently available gaming systems is for you, or your child.
Sony PlayStation 4
Also written as PS4. The Sony PlayStation 4 is currently dominating this generation of gaming, and with good reason. It has a massive catalogue of PlayStation exclusive titles, with many more highly anticipated titles coming out over the next few years.
Playstation 4 is currently the only console that has a dedicated Virtual Reality (VR) and a large catalogue of exclusive VR games available.
PlayStation 4 Slim
Retails from: 4,499
This has become the standard model, replacing the early model of the PS4 with a considerably sleeker, more compact version. This version offers the standard Sony PlayStation 4 Experience. Perfect for those who are not heavily concerned with the best graphics and performance possible and are on a tighter budget, but still want in on the gaming action. Also great for parents buying a new console for young kids.
PlayStation 4 Pro
Retails from: R6,999
This version is larger than the Slim and has better hardware. It is specifically created to upscale images to 4K and HDR for a crystal clear and smooth gaming experience, but also noticeably boosts performance on non-4K screens. Many titles are optimised to run especially well on the PS4 Pro. VR games also run better on the Pro system.
Unless you own a 4K TV or insist on having a better gaming experience, I would not recommend spending the extra money for the Pro. Only the most adept gamer eyes will really notice the difference in image quality and performance improvement.
If you already own a standard PS4, it would be a waste to upgrade to the PlayStation Pro for the slight improvements. Rather save until the next generation of consoles, or consider getting a complementary system like the Nintendo Switch or a VR headset.
Microsoft Xbox One
The top competitor of the PS4 is targets a much broader audience and has less exclusive titles. The Xbox One originally sold with the Kinect motion sensor system and a constant the internet connection was required to run the console. Microsoft later changed the internet requirement and removed the kinnect due to major consumer backlash.
A massive advantage of this system is a feature called “cross-play”, which allows playing seamlessly between a Windows 10 PC and the Xbox One. Buying a “Play Anywhere” title means you can play the same game on either a PC or the Xbox, with no additional charge.
Xbox also recently released a large back catalogue of all their old titles and made the Xbox One backwards compatible with old games. So if nostalgia is what you are looking for, this might be perfect for you!
Xbox One S
Retails from: R4,499
A slimmer version of the original Xbox One (40% smaller), this is now the standard version. Like the PS4 Slim, it offers a standard gaming experience and is an ideal option for gamers on a budget or parents looking to buy a console for their kids.
Xbox One X
Retails from: R8,999
This is the newest system released on this list and currently the most powerful gaming console on the market, filled to the brim with the most cutting-edge technology. This system is targeted to serious gamers who are only satisfied with the best of the best. Capable of rendering in True 4K and HDR. Unfortunately, it is also currently the most expensive console available on the market.
Retails from: R5,299
With its completely new design and concept dubbed a “hybrid console”, this Nintendo system is not really a direct competitor to the PS4 or the Xbox One, because it offers a completely different experience. Think of it more like a complementary system. The Switch is not nearly as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4, hardware wise. Instead, it offers unique features and benefits that the other two systems do not.
It is called hybrid because you can either connect it to a TV to play on a big screen or use it as a portable gaming device. The choice is yours!
Like the Sony, Nintendo has a massive catalogue of beloved exclusive titles that have been around since the dawn of gaming, such as: Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, etc.
It is also worth noting that Nintendo titles are more geared towards childrens’ and family friendly games. Many are much less violent and less complex than games on the other systems. This does not mean that these are only targeted to kids. Many serious gamers still enjoy these titles. Like most things in life, it comes down to personal preference.
Things to consider before buying a console:
- What games do you want to play?
This is by far the most important thing to consider; after all, the games are why you are buying a console. It is worth your while to read up on what games are available or coming out on specific systems so you can make sure you will be able to play the games you are interested in.
Note for parents: Make sure you get the exact names of the games and consoles your kids want. There are many games with similar sounding names and it is very easy to pick up the wrong thing.
- How important are graphics and performance to you?
This may only be an issue for serious gamers, but still an important question to ask. If you want the best visual experience, then the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro should be your go-to choices. If you are more interested in experiencing certain games by any means possible, then the cheaper options are better.
- What is your budget?
All gamers would love to experience games with the best possible graphics and performance, but not everyone has room in their budget to get the top of the range gear. Luckily, there are cheaper options available. You will not miss much if you buy these. Both Microsoft and Sony has guaranteed that any title that runs on the advanced models will be playable on the more basic models.
- What console are your friends using?
This is very important if you are interested in playing with your friends online. Most games restrict multiplayer mode to players with the same consoles. Find out what consoles your friends play on if you wish to join in the fun with them.
- Do you want mobility while gaming?
Are you willing to setup a dedicated space in your house for gaming? Then the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is for you. Do you wish to be able to move around at will with no hassles? If so, then the Nintendo Switch is the best option for you.
There is no such thing as the best console. It all comes down to personal preference and the games themselves. I would suggest focusing on what games you want to play; from there, you can consider which console will be the best choice for you.
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