by Jeff Bakalar
We’re coming up on an entire year since Sony and Microsoft both released their latest video game consoles, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. That’s a perfect time to reevaluate where each console stands and — more importantly — how their respective game lineups shake out.
When they were first released, we gave the edge to the PS4 over the Xbox One. And at this point in time, the PS4 is still looking good. It continues to improve thanks to regular system firmware updates and a consistent stream of console-exclusive independent games. Exclusive AAA-titles are more infrequent, but the PS4 has some promising titles coming down the pike, including Bloodborne and The Order 1886, both scheduled to arrive in February.
A year ago we recommended holding off on the new-generation gaming systems. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 still present compelling values, but as 2015 progresses, you’ll start to see major titles (such as those listed above) only available on the newest consoles. With that in mind, we now think PS4 and Xbox One are finally ready for your living room.
To be clear: the PS4 and the Xbox One are very closely matched. Both offer a growing library of third-party games — mainstays like the Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Madden series, as well as newer titles like Destiny. And both double as full-service entertainment systems, with built-in Blu-ray players and streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu Plus.
But even with Microsoft’s tempting holiday-only price cut on the Xbox One, we’re still partial to the PlayStation 4. Our reasoning is below — along with a few caveats where we’d like to see the PS4 improve.
Editors’ note (November 7, 2014): We’ve reformatted and updated our review of the PS4 so that we can make updates more often and keep up with the constant evolution of the console. As of this update, we’ve also raised the rating of the PS4 from 3.5 to 4 stars. This review includes firmware version 2.01.
The Good The PlayStation 4 serves up dazzling graphics, runs on a simplified and logical interface and boasts a fantastic controller. It has the upper hand on indie and digital-only games and can stream legacy titles via PlayStation Now, too. The PS4 makes it super-easy to capture and broadcast gameplay online and generally delivers zippier performance than its direct competition. And it doubles as a Blu-ray player and solid streaming box.
The Bad PS3 games aren’t compatible and PlayStation Now streaming isn’t a flawless experience. The Xbox One (and even the older PS3) has a slight edge on nongaming entertainment features such as network media streaming (DLNA), media app support and remote-control compatibility.
The Bottom Line The PlayStation 4’s beautiful graphics, smart interface, blazing performance, near-perfect controller and better indie offerings give it a slight edge over the Xbox One as both consoles enter their second year.