Xbox One vs PlayStation 4: Next-gen showdown

We stack up the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PS4. Let battle commence...

Trying to decide which next gen console to buy? Is choosing between the PS4 vs Xbox One making your head hurt? Which console is best? In these tough gaming times you need a friend to guide you to buying the right console for you, and we're that helping hand. We've pitched the new Xbox up against the latest PlayStation in the ultimate buyer's guide.

Microsoft and Sony have finally shown their hands and revealed the next generation games consoles within. As the dust begins to settle, and these two tech heavyweights go head-to-head in the run up to Christmas, we take a look at who's winning the battles, and who might win the war.

Check out T3 gaming gurus Nick Cowen and Matt Hill in our Xbox One vs. PS4 video.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Games

Sony PlayStation 4

Sony has managed to position its console as the gamer's choice, thanks largely to its stance on second hand games but also a significant software line-up. You can check out our list of the best PS4 games.

Forza rival DriveClub, steampunk shooter The Order 1886 and cutesy action-adventure Knack all look extremely promising. Final Fantasy XV will also arrive on PS4 exclusively, along with a raft of multi-platform titles and additions to both the inFamous and Killzone franchises, with the latter in particular looking superb.

The PS4 will be home to a raft of great indie arcade-style titles too, including Resogun, Supergiant Games' new titles Transistor, and more.

Pre-order Sony Playstation 4 games from: Amazon | Zavvi | Tesco | GAME

Microsoft Xbox One

After an initial Xbox One unveiling that was disappointingly low on games content - Microsoft's E3 presentation was packed to the gunnels with next-gen games, with much of it being exclusive to Xbox One. Check out our guide to the best Xbox One games.

More information on Forza Motorsport 5 and Remedy Entertainment's Quantum Break was but an opening salvo... before Microsoft fired a full broadside of new content. A new Halo game is on the way (albeit in the distant future), as are Dead Rising 3, Metal Gear Solid V, Ryse: Son of Rome and a long-awaited reboot of Killer Instinct.

There were yet more new IPs, including cell-shaded thriller D4, barmy parkour-shooter Sunset Overdrive, Crimson Dragon (which looked reminiscent of Lylat Wars) and a quirky, indie-looking dungeon-crawler called Below. And more, that you should check out here: Xbox One Games

Ubisoft and Bungie respectively reveleaed that Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Watch Dogs and Destiny will all be arriving on Xbox One as well as PS4, but Xbox One users will get first dibs on Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC content, with PS4 gamers having to wait their turn.

The parting shot was perhaps the most exciting of all, as Respawn Entertainment unveiled Titanfall - a gorgeous-looking FPS where jetpack-equipped soldiers and mechs do bloody battle, complete with some parkour mechanics and all the polish you'd expect from the former Call of Duty devs.

Pre-order Microsoft Xbox One games from: Amazon | Zavvi | Tesco | GAME

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Features

Sony PlayStation 4: 4K Support

The PlayStation 3 was one of the devices which brought Blu-Ray to prominence and its successor could again be the pioneer, this time being the first console to offer 4K resolution capabilities. 4K refers to the resolution of 3840 × 2160, a massive step up from the current console which outputs at 1920 × 1080. While 4K TV’s are rare (Probably because of their outstanding price tags) inclusion in the PS4 could definitely bring it into the public eye.

Microsoft Xbox One: 4K Support

As previously mentioned, the Xbox One will support 4K upscaling for Blu-Ray, but it’s unclear if it will also support games and other media at that resolution.

Sony PlayStation 4: Camera

The PlayStation Camera is a bit of a micro-Kinect, following in the best tradition of EyeToy. Like Move, it reads the light bars on the rear of the DualShock 4s so that you can manipulate items on screen with it, but also reads your flailing arms to interact, too.

The resolution is decent if nothing too scary – it doesn't track your expression or engagement, but it can tell if you've covered your eyes (the crowd of AI bots on the demo hushed, before we pulled our hands away and they all cried in a really quite charming game of Peek-a-boo). It will also set your head on fire – virtually, at least – in that AR style that Reality Fighters and its Vita brethren did.

Microsoft Xbox One: Camera & Kinect

First off, the new Kinect sensor can support up to six players at once, which is a vast improvement on the two- player limit its predecessor could handle.

Rather than reading the player as wiry stick figure with boxes for hands, feet and a head, the new Kinect module can pick up muscle texture, the shape of the player's head and register the difference between their thumbs and the tips of their fingers.

It can even pick up strain on the player's body parts, demonstrated to us when we stood one leg and saw our body part slowly turn red on the screen in front of us. Voice activated commands are still part of the package too.

Kinect can now monitor facial expressions, see if the player’s face begins to flush and even read the player’s heart rate. Not only will all of this be useful in the creation of Kinect software – fitness games, for example, will be far more advanced – but it also allows Kinect to gauge the player’s level of engagement with any form of entertainment they happen to be watching through the Xbox One.

If all of this sounds a bit Orwellian, don’t worry. Contrary to some of the rumours flying about the Internet, you don’t have to have Kinect active at all times in order for the Xbox One to work – you can deactivate it entirely. Not only does this mean you can still play games in the nude, should you desire, but you don’t have to allow it collect any data from your viewing or playing habits – although if you do, Kinect and the Xbox One will start to build a more bespoke entertainment experience just for you.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Build

Sony PlayStation 4

We do at least know now what the PS4 looks like now, and the answer is... a black box. Much like the PS3 in fact. And the PS2.

The new box is aesthetically divided into sections - similar to the Xbox One - but has an italic slant to it. If the PS4 is a Beckham-esque swept-back top, the Xbox One is an angular Guile flat-top.

Ports-wise, you've got HDMI, Optical audio, ethernet, auxiliary and a power cable. There's also a whole load of vents to help keep the PS4 cool. At the front you've got USB ports too.

Click here to check out our full Sony PS4 hands-on, or take a look at our PS4 unboxing to see Sony's new wonderbox in the flesh.

Pre-order the Sony Playstation 4 from: Amazon | Zavvi | Tesco | GAME

Microsoft Xbox One

Xbox One weighs around 3.18kgs – roughly the same weight as the original 360 - but it is around 10% larger size-wise. Like the original Xbox, this one is unapologetically boxy and the heft of the new console will be divisive.

The Xbox 360 successor looks thoroughly 2013, from its ‘80’s styled vents and boxy edges to its Samsung-esque glossy black fascia. Out go teen-friendly lights and aggressive curves, in comes a more restrained look that won’t scare off parents.

But be warned - the Xbox One will not stand up vertically. This machine is designed to nestle underneath your telly, rather than scooch up alongside it. So if you're planning a new living room set-up for Christmas, take heed.

On the back you've got HDMI out and HDMI in, power cable, optical audio, two USB ports, an ethernet, an Infra-red out and your Kinect port too.

Click here to check out our full Xbox One hands-on, or take a look at our Xbox One unboxing.

Pre-order the Microsoft Xbox One from: Amazon | Zavvi | Tesco | GAME

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Specs

Sony PlayStation 4

Power-wise, the PS4 packs an eight-core CPU custom-made by AMD and aggressively named "Jaguar" and it’s been paired with a next-generation AMD Radeon GPU and 8GB of GDDR5 memory.

Early tests suggest that the PS4 is pumping out about 1.84 teraFLOPS of power (a FLOP being a standard measurement of computer power).

The on-board hard-drive is 500GB - big enough to house plenty of digital downloads, and the optical drive reads Blu-Rays and DVDs.

Microsoft Xbox One

Another eight-core AMD chip powers the Xbox One, and provides eight times the power of the Xbox 360, whilst being ably supported by 8GB of system memory. The Xbox One hits a peak of about 1.23 teraFLOPS - significantly less than the PS4. But it's not just how many FLOPS you've got, it's how you use them - this number is just a small part of the power equation, we doubt that the two will be that far apart in terms of power. That said, early impressions have games looking marginally better on PS4.

There’s also a 500GB hard-drive, Blu-ray drive that supports 4K output, gigabit ethernet and GameDVR, which records your play constantly so you can share video highlights whenever you like.

The Xbox One runs three different partitioned operating systems to avoid bogging down developers and their available resources. A Host OS runs the show, while two sub-OS's run apps, TV and system services separately from games, which get the bulk of the power. The console switches GPU and CPU requirements dynamically meaning no time-wasting reboots and quick-smart multi-tasking.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Controller

Sony PlayStation 4

The controller itself is sturdy and definitely weightier than the DualShock 3. It's not bulky though, and its sleekness is married to an almost textured coating on both the base and dual sticks that helps grip.

The dual sticks feel stiffer compared to the PS3's, and while this initially jars, we found with more exposure to them we actually preferred it for accuracy, though it takes some getting used to.

The triggers are now really very trigger-like indeed (although Killzone, rather bizarrely, still doesn't assign them as aim and fire) and their close placement to the shoulder buttons is a good design move that aids quick changes.

The main addition to the controller is the ‘Share’ button, which lets you record, edit and upload gaming footage and share it online with their friends.

‘Second screen’ is a term getting banded about gaming types a lot at the moment. The PS4’s answer: The PS Vita will double as an extra interface for the console, as will your iOS or Android-powered smartphone.

Microsoft Xbox One

Microsoft has taken the same approach as Sony to their new controller, choosing to tweak the Xbox 360 controller rather than overhauling it completely. However, where Sony has added extra weight to their DualShock, Microsoft's Xbox One controller is noticeably slimmer.

The grips are smoother and more spacious, with the old chunky battery pack now integrated into the controller itself (although the demo team was cagey about battery life). The thumbstick apparently now takes 25% less force to operate.

In use, the biggest difference is the front triggers. These now vibration motors built in, giving haptic feedback even when you’re not using them.

The noticeably flatter front of the controller is a bit OnLive-esque, and the 'Back' and 'Start' are replaced by 'Play/Pause' and what appears to be an 'Apps' button, while the triggers now have isolated rumble for contextual feedback.

Thankfully the controller is now charged by micro-USB, and Microsoft has also invented its own wireless protocol to reduce latency.

We've managed to get our hands on both the controllers more recently, check them out in our Xbox One vs. PS4 controller video.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Interface

Sony PlayStation 4

The new PS4 interface features a similar blue and layout to the PS3 UI, with the usual smattering of friends lists and profile features, all denoted by horizontal tabs at the top of the screen. If anything, it actually has more in common with the layout you'll find on Sony's latest TVs.

Hitting the PlayStation button in the middle of your controller will automatically pause the game and let you fiddle with any options or settings you want, before jumping back in where you left off. A double tap toggles between active apps and games in a iOS7 sort of fashion/

The process of signing into user accounts and PlayStation Network has all been streamlined and simplified - another welcome change.

Microsoft Xbox One

Since we paid for our nosiness with a mild ticking off, we might as well tell you about what we witnessed. The menu that flashed briefly before our eyes was laid out lengthways in a series of squares, almost like a smaller version of the layout on a Windows Phone 8 handset if you gaze at it sideways.

Importantly, the increased capabilities of Kinect's four-element array mic eliminate ambient sound and recognise more words, making voice interaction not just possible, but genuinely useable and intuitive.

Integrated SmartGlass also means your iOS and Android devices become genuine second-screen resources rather than lightweight extras.

Amongst the Kinect port and USB 3.0s is not just a HDMI out, but a HDMI in. This is for your set-top box - part of Microsoft's aggressive "input one" strategy. Even if a telly service doesn't have bespoke Xbox content, you can still control it through your console and via Kinect.

WATCH: Xbox One Smartphone Concept video

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Online & Cloud

Sony PlayStation 4

Sony wants the PS4 to give you social media through a gaming filter. You’ll be able to jump into a friend’s party and watch their game in progress as well as offering tips. You can even become the ultimate backseat gamer, and take control of the game if you deem them sucky enough.

Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai ties into this nicely, offering an online service that lets you play games and demos via cloud streaming, as well as digital downloads.

This is all very convenient and lovely on paper, or indeed in the Far East where average internet connections are around 8-12Mbps. But how the UK’s internet infrastructure – and indeed, Gaikai’s servers – will cope with this sort of traffic is something we simply don’t know yet.

Microsoft Xbox One

Fear not, you can still own and use an Xbox without an internet connection, but you will be excluded from most of the new functions and features of the new console, as well as most new games.

Now, you can buy a physical copy of a game, and then upload it to the cloud for your friends to access, and vice versa. So, say you want to try out the new Fifa and your mate has a copy – if he uploads his to the cloud, you can access it and play it. Once you sell a title, your version will be removed from your console and the cloud as soon as the new owner boots up that copy. Very clever stuff.

Developers now have the option of using large (and complimentary) external server spaces to outsource some of their game's grunt. While this will mean titles can be improved beyond the capabilities of the machine itself, it puts the requirement of speedy internet in the hands of the games makers on a case-by-case basis.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Backwards Compatibility

Sony PlayStation 4

If you’ve managed to hoard a mountain of PS3 games over the last few years, we’ve got bad news for you – you won’t be able to use any of them with the PS4.
However, lots of old PlayStation titles will be available to download digitally instead. And yes, in all likelihood that means you’ll be paying for them again. Rats.

Microsoft Xbox One

The Xbox One will not be backwards compatible either, unfortunately.

That said, given the considerably online infrastructure that Microsoft already has with Xbox Live, Live Arcade and Marketplace, we fully expect that many Xbox 360 classics will be available as digital downloads.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Release Date

Sony PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 arrives in the US on the 15th of November, and two weeks later in the UK on November 29th.

Microsoft Xbox One

Microsoft unleashes the Xbox One worldwide on November 22nd.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Price

Sony PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 will cost £350 in the UK, - a very reasonable price point given what's on offer. And we hear that pre-orders are already selling out among certain retailers, so you might want to get yours in quick.

Sony has confirmed that the camera will cost £49, with the DualShock 4 costing £54 if you want extras.

Microsoft Xbox One

The Xbox One will cost you £430 in the UK, and $500/€500 if you're elsewhere in the world. Obviously, this is significantly more than the PS4, but prospective buyers should bear in mind that the Xbox One cost includes the mandatory Xbox Kinect unit, whilst the PS4 equivalent comes separately.

That's the spec showdown but who won the battle of the keynotes? Take a look at our battle of the keynotes video below.

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