Microsoft and Sony are showing off their next-generation video game consoles at E3 in Los Angeles. Here's a closer look at the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. (Microsoft / Sony)Link
The PS4 console. (Sony)Link
The Xbox One console. (Microsoft)Link
The PS4 controller. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)Link
The Xbox One controller. (Glen Chapman / AFP / Getty Images)Link
The PS4 set will retail for $399. (Sony)Link
The Xbox One set, which includes a Kinect motion and voice sensor, will retail for $499. (Microsoft)Link
If the console wars between PlayStation and Xbox had been languishing the last few weeks, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) media presentations by Sony and Microsoft launched gamers back into the brawl.
On Monday, Microsoft revealed more details and new games for its upcoming Xbox One console, unveiled last month, and Sony finally gave gamers a glimpse of its next-generation PlayStation 4 console, announced in February. The companies traded barbs during the press presentations, game enthusiasts argued online, and the battle continues as critics and industry professionals converge on the Los Angeles Convention Center this week for E3 — the largest video game trade show in the world.
The war’s outcome will likely be decided at the cash register; both consoles are slated for release in time for the holiday shopping season.
In the meantime, here’s the takeaway from Monday’s announcements, minus the smoke and mirrors. Be sure to take our poll at the end.
1. Price and specs
The PS4 will retail for $399.99. The console is a black box. The machine has a 500 GB hard drive, 8 GB of RAM and an optical drive that will play Blu-ray and DVD discs. The new DualShock 4 controller has a touchpad, a headphone jack and a built-in speaker. PS4′s Eye motion sensor and Move controllers are not included, but sold separately. The console will be compatible with PlayStation’s handheld console, the Vita.
The Xbox One will retail for $499.99. The console is also a black box. The machine has a 500 GB hard drive, 8 GB of RAM and an optical drive that will play Blu-ray and DVD discs. The new controller adds vibration to the triggers. A Kinect motion and voice sensor comes included in every unit. The Kinect could be a positive if you find voice commands convenient and useful or if you enjoy physical games like “Dance Central” and “Nike+ Kinect Training.” The Kinect could be a negative if the idea of a mandatory machine that is “always listening” makes you think of HAL-9000. The console will be compatible with phones and tablets with the SmartGlass app.
(For comparison’s sake, Nintendo’s Wii U Deluxe Set retailed for $349.99.)
2. Gaming online and offline
With the Xbox One, after you’ve downloaded a game or installed it via disc, you (and up to nine more members of your household) can play your game any time, on any Xbox, no disc required. In order to make that sort of cloud storage possible, Microsoft is requiring that the Xbox One be connected to the Internet at least once every 24 hours if it’s your primary console, or at least once per hour if you’re accessing your game library from a friend’s Xbox One. This feature has been criticized by gamers who can’t afford at-home Internet access or live in areas where a reliable connection is unavailable.
The PlayStation 4 allows unlimited offline gaming, no online connectivity required. Sony’s cloud services, which have yet to be detailed, will not be available until 2014.
3. Game sharing and used games
Sony will not restrict the sale of used PlayStation 4 games, nor will it prevent sharing your first-party games. Sony has said it is not enforcing any DRM (digital rights management).
Microsoft will allow you to give an Xbox One game away by transferring its license, but with two restrictions: 1. A game can only be given once, and 2. You can only give to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days. The ability to loan or rent games will not be available at launch. The ability to sell a used game to a retailer like GameStop will be left entirely up to the publisher of the game.
4. Game lineup
The Xbox One lineup will include the next installment in the “Halo” franchise; “Titanfall,” the first game from the “Call of Duty” veterans who head Respawn Entertainment; “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain” — formerly a PlayStation-exclusive franchise; “Sunset Overdrive,” a cartoonish game in which a soda-sipping protagonist gets to wield a gun that fires vinyl records at monsters; a new port for the popular sandbox game “Minecraft”; as well as “Ryse: Son of Rome,” “Quantum Break,” “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield 4,” “Witcher 3,” “Killer Instinct 3,” “Below” and “Crimson Dragon,” among other titles.
The PS4 lineup will include the highly anticipated “Final Fantasy 15″; “Destiny,” a first-person shooter that features some massively multiplayer role-playing elements from “Halo” developer Bungie; “Kingdom Hearts 3,” the long-awaited title from Square Enix; “The Order: 1886,” an original title set in Jack the Ripper-era London, in which the protagonists use elements of time travel and magic to face off against supernatural threats; “Mad Max,” which employs vehicular combat against post-apocalyptic bandits; “Rays of the Dead,” a cartoon zombie puzzle game; as well as “Infamous,” “The Witness,” “Transistor,” “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” “DriveClub” and “Infamous: Second Son,” among other titles.
It’s worth noting that neither console is backward compatible. You won’t be able to play your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 games on the next-gen consoles.
5. Non-gaming entertainment
Sony has noted that the PS4 will have increased media services such as Redbox Instant and Flixster, as well as original programming, but has not gone into detail on the latter. Sony has not disclosed whether the PS4 will feature cable and TV integration.
Microsoft aims to make the Xbox One a one-stop entertainment hub that merges TV, music and gaming. Microsoft says the new console will work with your cable box, will feature its own TV guide and will be able to jump among games, Skype, movies, music, television and the Internet seamlessly, using the Kinect’s voice and motion commands. The console will allow you to game and watch a movie simultaneously, or to Skype with friends while you play. Microsoft is also focusing on original content, such as a television series (to be executive produced by Steven Spielberg) based on the popular “Halo” video game franchise.
Click through the gallery above for a look at both machines, take the poll below, and let us know what you think in the comments.
– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark
Todd Martens contributed to this report.
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