The original PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released three years ago this November. They’ve just had their mid-cycle refresh. The PlayStation Slim and Xbox One S are thinner versions of the original consoles while the PlayStation Pro and the forthcoming Xbox One “Project Scorpio” have souped up hardware.
Consoles are popular for a good reason, but if you’ve been holding off on buying one, right now is the best time to do it. Let’s look at why.
1. Consoles Are the Simplest Way to Game
Consoles are, by far, the simplest way to play video games. I’d go so far as to say they’re the best way to play games, but I fear what PC gamers would say in the comments!
For a few hundred dollars, you can get a console system that’s capable of playing all the latest games. They are way cheaper than an equivalent PC, have a far less finicky control system, and plug straight into your TV with no hassle. Even Rachel Kaser, our Gaming editor and PC-lover, has realized that games consoles have a place.
The other big advantage is that publishers design and optimize their games for consoles. Game developers know what resources they’ve got on the PS4 and Xbox One and work with them. This does two things. First, they make games that consoles can handle; you can be rocking the most ridiculous custom PC rig, but, for the most part, you’re just playing console games with a slightly shinier lick of paint. Second, they’re good at getting every last CPU cycle out of the console — a game on a console looks way better than on a PC with similar specs.
But that all just explains why you should buy a console. Let’s consider why now is the perfect time.
2. There’s a Great Back Catalog
When a new console system drops, there’s always a year or two where there’s only a small supply of good games. One or two of the launch titles will be great, and the first Christmas will bring some major third-party games, but there isn’t much depth there. Now, three years into this generation, there are more great games than you’ll ever get to.
For me, the landmark game was Uncharted 4: Thief’s End [CA]. That was the first game that I had to play and couldn’t do it on anything other than a PS4. Since then, games like Hitman [CA] and Dishonored 2 [CA] have also been released. Have a look through the back catalog, and you’re guaranteed to find enough games to satisfy all your needs.
3. With More Awesome Games on the Horizon
It takes a few years for developers to get a handle on each console generation. The best games always come towards the end of its life cycle. Just look at the difference between The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion released for the PS3 and Xbox in 2006 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released for the same consoles in 2011.
Skyrim has much better graphics and AI on the same hardware. In the five years between the two games releases, the developers learnt how to get so much more from the systems.
Now, three years into this generation, we’re starting to see developers get to grip with the hardware they’ve got to play with. Over the next year or two, we’ll start to see the really awesome games get released — the classics that everyone remembers defining the generation. My pick for the first of them? Red Dead Redemption 2, which is out next fall.
4. 4K Is Here
Until this year, 4K TVs were pretty much a waste of money. There just wasn’t enough content available to justify the extra expense. Now, there’s more 4K stuff to watch and the cost has come down. You can pick up a good 4K TV for less than $500.
Even if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, the cost is only going to continue to drop. In a few more years, they’ll be as cheap as regular HDTVs are now. It makes sense to buy a console that’s going to stay relevant for the next few years.
5. And VR Is on the Way
4K isn’t the only big advance in gaming visuals. Virtual reality is almost here. Of the consoles, the PlayStation 4, with the $400 PlayStation VR headset, has the best VR support so far. It’s not as good as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift running on a powerful PC, but it shows a lot of promise. It’s pretty safe to assume that part of the Xbox One “Project Scorpio” will be a heavy bet on VR as well.
Although VR gaming isn’t quite here yet, it is definitely coming soon. This generation of consoles is the first to support it properly. If you want to get into VR on the ground floor, now is the time to buy.
The Wii U Is Dead, Long Live… the Nintendo Switch?
Nintendo fans will have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Wii U, or upcoming Nintendo Switch. Put simply, although Nintendo has released some great games there’s been almost no support from third-party developers. It was kind of dead on arrival. Unless you really want to play Legend of Zelda and Mario games, the Wii U isn’t worth picking up.
The Nintendo Switch, which is due out next year, looks more interesting but I’m still skeptical. It doesn’t support 4K, isn’t likely to support VR, and Nintendo will need to do a lot to bring third-party developers back. We’ll cover it in detail when we know more.
If you’ve been considering buying a games console, right now is the time to do it. The updated PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S are awesome and support 4K. The PS4 supports VR and the Xbox One will probably support it properly by next year. There’s a great back catalog and even more awesome games on the horizon.
Even better, with the holidays coming up, you can get great deals on games and consoles. So what are you waiting for?
Have you bought a console recently? What made you buy it now? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credits: Indypendenz/Shutterstock