The new generation of consoles is almost here, and it looks to promise big changes. The last generation brought legitimate online gaming to the home console sphere, but what that means can be difficult to determine. There are three major competitors once again – Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony – and a few new names seem to be entering the arena.
The Wii U
The Wii U really is a “next gen” console, even if is using this generation’s technology. The big difference between the Wii and Wii U is the new console’s gamepad, which features a larger touchscreen display. This allows gamers not only the chance to interface with games in a new way, but also allows them to take some games from the big screen to the small screen. Nintendo has done little to innovate beyond that step, relying mostly on tried-and-true franchises to build a base.
The XBox One is probably the most divisive console in production, and it is not even slated for release until November 2013. The console itself looks to be a huge step above the current generation of consoles, incorporating an improved Kinect sensor and sleek new browsing technology that makes entering and playing games smoother than ever. Unfortunately, a few announcements have made the system a bit less consumer friendly than its predecessor. The console must go online at least once every twenty-four hours, or it will be unplayable. The Kinect sensor is also required to be plugged in for play – a move that has upset some core gamers. Finally, it has been announced that used and traded games can only be used with publisher consent, possibly ending a long history of trading in older games for new games.
The Playstation 4 is widely considered to be the likely front-runner of the next console generation, if only because of a seemingly higher level of consumer friendliness. The console features new iterations of some of Sony’s most famous series as well as a few new IPs, giving gamers a great chance to play new and improved games. Sony’s biggest change this generation is in the controller – the bigger Dualshock 4 now features a touchpad and a “share” button, incorporating the now-expected technology iteration along with a great emphasis on content sharing. The console itself features no online-connectivity requirements or any announced issues with used or borrowed games, though it has been recently announced the users will be required to use the paid Playstation+ service to play online – a price that loses a bit less of its sting when one considers that a few downloadable games are included for free each month.
Newcomers and Beyond
It is also important to note that there are a few new devices that are vying for supremacy this generation, though they are virtual unknowns. There is the Ouya, a ninety-nine dollar gaming device that essentially ports Android games to your television. There is also the (very much unreleased) series of devices known colloquially as “Steamboxes”, stripped down gaming PCs meant to interface with a television and offer computer games through Valve’s popular Steam service. It is difficult to say if either will gain any traction against the established giants, though people were probably wondering the same thing about Sony and Microsoft a few console generations back.
As always, the best console for you depends on your own preferences. Some will prefer Sony’s relatively consumer-friendly console, while others might prefer the sheer technological might of Microsoft’s console. Veteran Nintendo players might yet prefer the WiiU, but only one thing is for certain – it is an exciting time to be a gamer.
Angel Boyce has worked as a video game commentator and professional gamer for the past 3 years. To find top-notch gaming gear check out madcatz.com