For first time buyers, choosing a console can seem like a daunting, if not stressful, decision. Consoles are, for many, a great way to get into video games, and also a great way for parents to have fun with their kids. This guide is for anyone who is confused or overwhelmed about console gaming, or who just needs a quick summary of the pros and cons of each available system. Consoles are a pretty big financial investment and it is important that you know what you are getting into with a purchase. Most consoles will last for several years after purchase (even if the manufacturers keep inventing new ways for us to spend our money). Other advantages include ease of use, better game support, and a lower cost than buying a gaming PC (an all-around win for anyone looking to get into gaming).
Price: 300$ or 400$
VR Support: Yes
HTP Rating: 9/10
Of all of the possible console options, the PS4 easily has the most peripherals and variations available which ensures that it is more confusing to purchase than other systems, but also the most liberating to use. Of the base PS4 options, there is the PS4 Pro and the regular PS4 (which is also now known as the “Slim” because of its’ new smaller shape). The PS4 Pro costs 100$ more than the original PS4, but the Pro is also substantially more powerful. The Pro, then, is really aimed at users looking to get into VR (Virtual Reality) and play games at a higher resolution, while the regular PS4 is aimed at people that just want to play games and don’t really care about extra features. Make no mistake, however, the regular PS4 is still guaranteed to handle PSVR – it might just not do it as well as the Pro. The intended audience for the Pro, however, is people who own a television with a resolution higher than 1080P (and plan on using it for gaming), such as a 4K TV. As for games, each system in this guide has games that are exclusive to that system, but PS4 is the only one that currently has VR, which is definitely a major advantage if you are interested in trying that out.
Another thing to take into consideration is that each system has its own controllers, and comfort with a controller plays a large role in how much you enjoy using that system. The PS4’s controller was modified in a big way from the last generation with improvements coming in the way of better joysticks, more ergonomic feel, better triggers, and the new “light bar” on the back. The PS4’s controller really is the best to ever come to a Sony system, and is by far the most comfortable to use. Overall the PS4 has everything that a gamer is looking for in a game console. It has tons of great games, an amazing controller, VR support, and easy to use, clutter-free software that makes everything very simple. The only problem that we at HTP have ever encountered is that storage space can be limiting as the original PS4 only comes with a 500GB hard drive. While this has been amended with the new PS4 Pro which has a 1TB drive, those with several games will end up managing available storage space by deleting old game data. This is annoying, but not a deal breaker.
VR Support: Maybe in the future
HTP Rating: 5/10
Cluttered by horrible software UI, ridiculous download requirements, and awful ease of use, the Xbox One received by far the lowest score in our list of consoles. From day 1 the Xbox One has never worked the way that it should have. It was 500$ at launch, never fully integrated the Kinect in a meaningful way, and didn’t have enough quality exclusive games. It has come a long way since then, but it has never fully caught up to the PS4. Recently Microsoft released the Xbox One S, which is more powerful, adds support for playing games at 4K and is substantially smaller than the original Xbox One. That does not, however, fix some of the bigger problems that the system still has, such as the horrible OS (operating system) and the difficulties in actual use. In order to use the system, a gamer must jump through far too many hoops. Every time you want to use the system you will have to 1) Sign-in to your Xbox Live account 2) Do any system updates 3) Do any game updates 4) finally get to start playing games… as long as nothing goes wrong with any one of those first 3 steps. The sole redeeming feature of the Xbox One is that it actually has a great controller.
Very similar to the previous generations’ Xbox 360 controller, the Xbox One controller improves upon that old design in a subtle yet effective way. One of the improvements made was that the egregiously large battery pack on the back was removed which not only reduced the overall mass of the controller but also made it much nicer to hold. As for the rest of the controller, the thumb grips on the joysticks were improved and the feel of the triggers was made to be more responsive, but pretty much everything else was left alone.
Unlike the PS4, the Xbox One does not have any sort of VR compatibility or VR devices to use with it, but Microsoft has said that they are open to the idea. Earlier this year they even announced that they would be releasing a follow-up to the Xbox One S that is codenamed the Project Scorpio. All that is known about the Scorpio is that it is incredibly powerful and should be able to handle VR with ease, even though no VR options currently exist or have been announced for the Xbox. At the moment a release date for the Scorpio is unknown, but it is expected that Microsoft will release it within the first half of next year.
VR Support: No
HTP Rating: 8/10
More so than either console mentioned above, the Wii U is really a family-focused console with games that are great for the whole family. Throughout the company’s history, Nintendo has been known for its incredibly popular franchises such as Pokemon, Mario Kart, Super Mario, Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and that definitely doesn’t change with the Wii U. Marked by its unique touchscreen controller and small form-factor, the Wii U is instantly recognizable as a Nintendo system. Despite the fact that the Wii U hasn’t been as popular as the original Wii (now out of production) or the 3DS, we at HTP admire its ease of use and the classic Nintendo games available for the system. Something that Nintendo always does is stay true to its heritage, and that is no different with the Wii U. Games likes Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros are favorites in our household. The PS4 and Xbox One may have the “hardcore” games that experienced gamers are looking for, but the Wii U has games that are fun no matter how old you are, who you are playing with, and how much gaming experience you have. This is a huge plus for families who are looking for a first console.
VR Support: ?
HTP Rating: ? (but we are pretty excited about it)
Despite the fact that not much is known about the Switch, we do have an incredibly promising trailer that shows off many of the capabilities of Nintendo’s newest system. One of the interesting things about it includes the new controller system that allows you to use the controllers in a few different configurations, and also the systems emphasis on portability. As a whole, the system is made up of the controllers, tablet that houses all of the power behind the system, and the dock that allows you to connect it to the TV. In addition to this Nintendo has already scheduled an announcement for January 12th so that they can announce the release date of the Switch, as well as the price of the system. The only unfortunate thing about this is that the system won’t be released in time for the holidays this year, and any purchases of a Nintendo console will end up being the Wii U. At this point, not much else is known about the system, but we will keep releasing more posts and information about it as we find out more.
Here At HTP, our official recommendation has to go to either the PS4 or the Wii U. Since the cost of the systems is exactly the same it really comes down to what you are looking for in a console. If you are looking for more intense games and VR we recommend the PS4. On the other hand, if you are looking for a game console that is more family-friendly we definitely recommend the Wii U. You really can’t beat its classic franchises, and even if you aren’t looking for a family-friendly experience, necessarily, you will still definitely enjoy these games. As a gamer you can’t go wrong with either the PS4 or the Wii U. Unless you are really set on playing a game that is exclusive to the Xbox One, we don’t recommend buying one. Even though it has gotten a little bit better since it first launched, both the PS4 and Wii U are still far better systems.