Insert Coin and Press Start on the Holiday Season

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Insert Coin and Press Start on the Holiday Season

Ethan Prosser, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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It’s the holiday season, sales on amazon and car commercials galore. You notice your child, little brother, yourself, etc. playing on the old console and not being able to pick up the new games that are released to the systems only. You log onto your amazon account and browse through the options. Just one problem, all the options! The main three consoles, Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro, and the Xbox One X. What’s the difference? What’s the best pick? Well folks that’s what I’m here for.

 

The Console Wars. Originally started back in the late 80’s with the rivalry between SEGA and Nintendo and the 16-bit consoles of the generation, the debate over console superiority was high stakes on the advertising front. Many characters and games were brought about to prove their respective system, Nintendo’s Super Nintendo Entertainment System [SNES] and SEGA’s Sega Genesis [Genesis for short], including Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Starfox. Sega fought back hard with it’s ad campaign “Genesis does what Nintendon’t!”

 

The console wars of the 16-bit era ended with the introduction of the new console maker, SONY. Over 20 years later the console wars continue to rage on, but now with a third contender Microsoft. The Xbox One, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch currently represent their companies in the mass market war. But what do the consoles bring that the others don’t? The answer is not as simple as it was with the days of Genesis and Super Nintendo.

 

Microsoft’s Xbox One has gone through three different transitions. The Xbox One, Xbox One S [a cheaper and smaller model which supports 4k upscaling], and the Xbox One X [a more expensive upgrade which promises true 4k and has the highest power found in any system today]. For sake of ease I will be focusing only on the Xbox One S and the X models. Both of which present their own advantages, which I will get into later.

 

Sony’s contenders are currently the PS4, PS4 Slim [a smaller and cheaper model of the PS4, and the current mass market model], and the PS4 Pro [the current newest model which supports 4k upscaling and semi 4k through a method called checkerboxing]. For sake of ease I will be focusing on the PS4 Pro and the Slim as those go in line with the Xbox counterparts.

 

Nintendo’s contender is a little more complicated than the others. The Switch is a hybrid console, meaning you can take it out as a portable system or slide it into the dock as its called which brings up the console’s screen to the big screen and upscales the graphics and power capabilities. This I will be comparing to all of the options rather than just the slim or upgraded versions.

If you are looking for a media system rather than just a console, then the Switch is immediately off the table. Currently the Switch only has the capability to use Hulu, providing HBO, Spotlight, and Live TV, but the omission of Netflix is a harsh stain on its reputation. The PS4 and Xbox One models both support blu-ray disc formats along with regular dvds and Netflix. However, in the focus of Live TV the differences begin to appear. The Playstation has the ability to use Youtube TV, Hulu,  Playstation Vue, SONY’s own live tv subscription based platform, and the Sony store where you can buy or rent movies and tv shows directly through Sony. Microsoft on the other hand allows for the usage of Kodi [a multiple format digital hub], Youtube TV, Sling TV [subscription based alacarte tv], Hulu, and its own microsoft store which similarly to Sony allows for the purchase and renting of movies and tv shows. In terms of music, both are equal as Pandora, Spotify, and Youtube are available on all of the platforms. For the overall better experience as a media platform I’d recommend the Xbox, particularly the Xbox One S for it’s cheaper format and 4k support.

 

Now this brings me into the hottest debate topic, at the moment, graphics! For a fair comparison I shall be comparing the slim models to each other and the upgraded models to one another in this department. The PS4 Slim and the Xbox One S are very different in terms of their graphics capabilities even though the two are similarly priced. The Xbox One S provides an upscaled 4k experience while the PS4 slim only supports 1080i resolution. This makes the Xbox One S the best choice for a slim model of graphics. Now between the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X the differences begin to appear more. The PS4 Pro runs on a system called checkerboarding which creates an overlay of higher quality graphics over the already existing textures. While the upscaling is very nice, checkerboarding [as the method is called] is not true 4k and only a handful of games truly support this method. However, the Xbox One X runs at true 4k and the difference shows in gameplay. The textures pop to life and in modern day First Person Shooters, where graphics are very important. In terms of graphics once again Microsoft wins this time with the Xbox One X.

 

Now I didn’t mention the Switch in that comparison for one major reason, it’s hybrid nature. When in portable/tabletop mode the console runs games at a steady 720i and 30 frames per second [fps] for most games. However, when placed into the dock, the console’s graphics are upscaled to 1080i and all games run at a steady 60fps. Due to the console’s nature graphics are often not the focus of the Switch and instead it sells itself on it’s handheld nature. The console wins in terms of pure portability just because of its nature.

 

Now the most important category for most gamers, the games. Particularly the exclusives! Starting us off, Sony has the critically acclaimed games God of War, Spiderman, Shadow of the Colossus, and Persona 5. Xbox has the Halo series, Gears of War series, Cuphead, and Sea of Thieves. Nintendo breaks right out of the gate in this department, Super Smash Bros., Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, Arms, and the unique Nintendo Labo. many of the games that are exclusive to Xbox and Playstation are very similar, but due to variety and sheer numbers Nintendo wins this category.

 

Finally the most important category for consumers, the price. Nintendo’s Switch comes in at a base price of $300 including the dock and console. The Playstation 4 slim arrives with a $300 price tag and a bluetooth controller bundled in. The Xbox One S base model is currently priced at $250 also coming with a bluetooth controller. These make them great options for those trying to get into the console market. However, their pro versions pack a punch to the wallet for all their upgrades. The Xbox One X is currently priced at $450-500 for the base model which comes with its bluetooth controller. The PS4 Pro is a bit more reasonable at a $400 base price tag coming with its bluetooth dualshock 4 controller. For the slim versions, Xbox One S is the winner. The Switch wins on its own regard. Plus the PS4 Pro wins for its upgraded section.

 

Time for the bonus categories!! Microsoft and Sony have monthly subscription services which allow the streaming or downloading of games for lower prices. Microsoft has Xbox Game Pass for $10/month. Sony has PSN Now for $20/month but the price constantly fluctuates. In terms of stability Microsoft wins this category.

 

However, Sony immediately wins this next category, Virtual Reality. With the Playstation VR headset, any of the PS4 models can be turned into a VR gaming rig with the purchase of the $200 headset. Sony is the only console producer to offer this at the time of this writing thus it wins by default.

 

Depending on what it is you are looking for there is no definitive answer on which console is the best, but if you are going in blindly then the Switch and the Xbox One S/X are the best choices for any consumer.

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Insert Coin and Press Start on the Holiday Season