Published on November 26th, 2014 | by Staff1
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4: One Year Later
An entire year has passed since the launch of the “next-generation of gaming”. Our staff has had hands on with both of the systems over the course of the year and have some thoughts on the highs and lows of the last year.
This first year of the new console cycle has been a mostly negative experience for me, filled with hardware frustrations and games that underwhelm rather than push the boundaries of what’s possible. On both Xbox One and PS4, I haven’t played a single game that I felt wasn’t possible on older hardware. In fact, nearly every game available on these systems has a last gen counterpart that does everything the supposed superior version does and looks almost as pretty. I’ve yet to play Shadow of Mordor, but it’s the only example I can think of where something (specifically, the nemesis system) gets lost in translation. The only reason I can recommend upgrading to Xbox One and PS4 is to play the games that publishers decide for whatever reason to only release on those systems, such as Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. And if you want to play COD with your gamer buddies, well, they’re probably playing on the shiny new systems.
There are few other reasons to upgrade. And for all its sales, PS4 in particular has little to show for content that isn’t available elsewhere.
And don’t get me started on the flimsy hardware. It’s almost as if these systems are trying to do so much that they forget their basic, core function as gaming machines. With all their horsepower and my decades of experience with console gaming, I should not have as much trouble as I’ve had just trying to get games to play on the damn things. For most of the year, every time I bought a new Xbox One game, it got caught in an endless installation loop where once it finished installing it started all over again, never allowing me to play the installed game until I did a complete power cycle on the system. Eventually, I figured out that I have to go offline before installing a game, because Xbox One looks for software updates at the same time as it’s installing the game, and everything goes screwy. The first time I played a game on PS4, it decided to randomly eject the disc and never accept a disc again. I had to Google the problem, open the system in safe mode, and do some sort of reboot just to get the system to accept discs, which again, should be a core function of the system that should always work no matter what. It’s to the point where I long for the days of, well, PS3 and Xbox 360, when if you put games in the system, they generally played. Sure, there may have been an update or two, but you didn’t need to be expert to get them working. On top of it, Sony still can’t seem to release a console whose Wifi performs consistently. With a hardwired connection, their network works better than before, but as soon as you go wireless, things tend to fall apart.
In past generations, it was easy to see a visual upgrade at the very least with the arrival of new consoles. What are these new systems doing different or better than the last generation? In some ways, it almost feels like a step back.
The Xbox One and the PS4 have both hit their one year anniversaries and like many people, I have had my fair share of frustrating experiences. I feel that Microsoft deceived early adopters with the Kinect which was supposed to be a major piece of Microsoft’s plan. They even boldly decided to package that in with all the Xbox One’s at first. Yet, after seeing their sales dipping, it seems like Microsoft has all but abandoned it. The Kinect can be useful at times but it can also be very frustrating when it isn’t working properly. On top of that, I have had many issues with the hardware itself and find myself hard resetting the system on a weekly basis because it does like to freeze on me quite a lot. The party system also seems to have taken a step back and it’s not as smooth as it used to be. While I have been hard on the console, it’s only because the 360 was one of my favorite consoles ever. and the one thing Microsoft has always been great at is updating the console and listening to the fan base. The Xbox 360’s UI is almost unrecognizable from launch date to today but that’s a good thing.
My experience with the PS4 has been limited. I bought it when the Last of Us remastered edition came out and I’ve pretty much only played that and Diablo 3 since then. I will say this though, the PS4 is rapidly catching up to Microsoft as far as the multiplayer goes. The PS3 was abysmal in that department but the new party system is great and it’s super easy to cross chat with your friends as well. Sony has also decided to redesign the controller and it feels fantastic in my hands now. While the Xbox One is still my multiplayer console of choice, there’s a chance that I might switch over to the PS4 eventually. Time will tell.
It probably has not been the year that either company wanted but I think that 2015 will be a big year for both and they will right the ship.
I bought my Xbox One with no illusions. I was buying into a process, not an end product. This was a purchase of an idea of what I thought the console could one day become. I loved my 360, and the Xbox One seemed to have the focus I wanted- a media center, with things like Netflix pushed to the forefront. Gaming on my console was second to the other stuff. I also really wanted to see what the Kinect could do (having never had a Kinect for my 360).
Everyday when I get home from work, I turn on my console and watch the flavor of the week on Netflix while I make dinner. I do this, now, without having to ever touch a controller. The voice control of the Kinect is a fantastic and well-developed technology. I adore it. It doesn’t really have much use as a gaming device, and it seems that Microsoft has abandoned it in that regard. But for media control, the Kinect is absolutely worth it.The absence of HBO Go for most of 2014 was telling (especially as it was promised in the “launch window”) but we have it now. I need my Game of Thrones.
Gaming-wise, you had to know that 2014 was going to be slow. And slow it was. But, the number of games doesn’t matter if you can find one to be obsessed with. For me, that game was Titanfall. There wasn’t much before Titanfall, and the wait was long until the fall, when the library righted itself. And now, with Dragon Age: Inquisition, Middleearth: Shadow of Mordor, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Sunset Overdrive, there’s a real library of great games to play. There were also some tremendous disappointments. I still haven’t played the Halo Master Chief Collection, which I bought mostly for the competitive multiplayer, because the match making is still utterly broken. Destiny was a sad, over-hyped mess of a game.But even without those games, I finally feel like I have enough to play.
The system itself has improved significantly since launch. The party system was utterly broken, and the tricks my friends and I had to pull to get a party to stay together during the Titanfall beta were absurd. Them seem to have finally gotten the party system to work as intended, and it’s been a long time since my chat has stopped working or I’ve been dropped from a party. I will say things still do stop working from time to time, requiring a hard system reset. That’s a little worrisome- I hope my system lives a long life. This hints at the possibility it would not.
Year one of Xbox One has largely been what I expected. Sure, there have been issues, but the system has steadily gotten better and more fully featured as the year has gone along. And now that I have games to play, I feel great about it, and look forward to the promise of 2015.
I was there in line at midnight on launch day for both the PS4 and the Xbox One. I knew that, in both regards, what I was buying was a work in progress. My purchase was for the benefit of being able to play with the technology then, in its infancy, and to watch it grow over time. Sure if I waited, I would have saved a few dollars but that just isn’t the type of person I am.
The Playstation 4 was sleek and sexy right out of the box. The glowing blue light that dissects it when it when the system is active makes it look like something out of Tron. This aesthetic makes it feel futuristic. The Xbox One was the antithesis of this. It’s a big black box with a little white light. It doesn’t look futuristic in any way shape or form.
But out of the two systems, it is the one that doesn’t look like a piece of a light bike that actually is the most futuristic. And it is all because of a device nobody wanted. When Microsoft said the Kinnect was integral to the system they weren’t lying. Voice commands bring the differing ideologies of the Xbox brand together. I tell my Xbox to turn on, to watch AMC, to go to Netflix, or play a game. I tell it to snap the Dolphins game into the corner while I get mowed down by competitors in Call of Duty, Halo, or Titanfall. And I tell it to record that awesome moment that just happened in my game. Sure, all of these features are accessible via controller input but the voice command does it so much faster. I understand why Microsoft took it out of the box but I know that having used it, I wouldn’t want to go back to a time without it.
Something else I don’t want to go back to is the Dualshock 3. The Dualshock 4 controller is a marked improvement over its predecessor and it is easily the best controller Sony has ever released. That said, my hands still cramp up with it during extended play sessions and the battery life is atrocious. But, it’s not like I’m not constantly swapping batteries on my Xbox One controllers either. And both devices have their fair share of drawbacks.
The biggest of which, long install times, has been somewhat alleviated in the last few months. If using a disc, both systems force a mandatory install of the data from the disc to the drive. In effect, the disc is just a physical delivery mechanism for a digital game. Because of this I have chosen to go nearly 100% digital this generation. However while disc based installs are long, downloading a game and then having it install takes even longer. Thankfully both Sony and Microsoft have made this transition easier recently by allowing users to pre-load their games. Being able to get up on the day of release and just play the game without hassle is possibly the coolest thing going for this gen outside of talking to my television.
I know many people have had issues with the new consoles, I fortunately haven’t been hit by many of these bugs and glitches. Instead I’ve been able to play with them and watch them grow. Not having any major problems like the Red Ring of Death has been quite nice actually. And aside from my still not having the promised DriveClub PS+ edition or being able to play multiplayer Halo with any consistency, I have to say I’m mostly pretty happy with my systems a year in. They’ll continue to grow, both in library and on a system level, and I’ll continue to get my money out of them. I can’t ask for much more than that.
Six months passed before I made the plunge. In the first six months after the PS4 and Xbox One launched, I didn’t have any other reason to buy a console other than “I’m a tech nerd who needs new gadgets.” Neither console really had anything to sway me one way or the other until Titanfall came out. Lucky for me, that was right before my birthday, and I made it apparent to my wife which console I wanted. Forza 5 came bundled with my Xbox, and I was still within the time frame to get a Kinect with it. I was skeptical how that little contraption was going to work, But it did everything I wanted it to, including helped me work out briefly with Xbox Fitness. My favorite part is controlling Netflix when my controller turns off and recording game clips. “Xbox record that” has become a regular saying now.
For being a year old, the Xbox One is doing fine in my book. It has lacked a stellar library, but the same can be said with the Playstation 4. Exclusives are thin on both consoles, and the cross-platform library is not the greatest this year, but both are new systems. The old systems are slowly being phased out, and we should see more of that happening this coming year. That will be when things get kicked into full gear and the systems start to see more of their potential. Until then, I’ll just keep gladly enjoying my current-gen console.
Those are our thoughts on the first year of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, what are yours?