PS4 or Xbox One: Which is the best games console in 2018?
PS4 vs Xbox One: Controllers
The PlayStation 4 features the biggest change to Sony’s iconic DualShock controller since the original PlayStation. All the key components such as the analog sticks and L1, L2, R1, R2 triggers are back, but the whole package is wrapped up in a far more ergonomic design. Sony has fixed the problems present in its PS3’s DualShock 3, most notably its awful triggers and horrific thumbstick deadzone. Seasoned PlayStation owners will also notice that all of the DualShock 4’s face buttons are now digital, as opposed to the spongy analogue ones used since the PS2.
As you’d expect from a next-gen controller, Sony has also added a slew of new features. There’s now a clickable touchpad located where the PS3’s PlayStation Home button was previously, with a front-facing speaker and the relocated PlayStation button located below.
Each PS4 controller includes a coloured light at the front for use with PlayStation Camera to identify which player is holding which controller. While some games use it to indicate player health, it’s also used for PlayStation VR to work out where a player’s hands are when using Sony’s virtual reality headset.
The Xbox 360 controller was, quite rightly, seen as one of the best controllers on the market during the last generation. Button placement felt perfect, its triggers were springy and responsive and it felt good in the hand. For Microsoft to have changed too much about its controller design with the Xbox One would have been foolish, and thankfully this time around there are only improvements on the unit’s design.
The D-Pad has been improved, making it more responsive than before, and its thumbsticks have been made more responsive too. The biggest addition to Microsoft’s pad comes in the form of Xbox One’s feedback triggers. While this may sound like a gimmick, it’s used rather intelligently in some games to indicate weapon fire and recoil and is especially good for reading the road when playing a racing game.
Like so many things, controller design is a tricky one to pin down. It’s all really based on preference. It’s clear Sony’s pad has more features crammed into it, but they’re also used far less than Microsoft’s simple tweaks. Does that make one pad better than the other? Hard to say, as both pads are comfortable for long play sessions – even if Sony’s does require charging more often than Microsoft’s replaceable battery approach. For now, we’re calling this one a draw.
PS4 vs Xbox One: Online
Priced at around the same mark of £40-50 for a 12-month membership, both services offer up a range of additional benefits beyond simply paying to play online. Every month Sony gives away six PlayStation games across PS4, PS3 and Vita. At least two of those will be PlayStation 4 games, but the number can rise up to four titles if Sony puts cross-platform games up for grabs.
Similarly, Microsoft also puts up two free Xbox One games a month in its Games with Gold package. However, since enabling backwards compatibility, Microsoft now gives away two Xbox One-compatible Xbox 360 games each month as well. Unlike Sony, which offers up all PlayStation Plus games in one go, Microsoft splits its giveaway into two-week chunks, meaning you have to check back more often to pick up your new titles.
Both subscriptions also offer heavy discounts on sale titles, and exclusive discounts on new releases and pre-orders.
Sony’s service also comes with a nice little extra: Share Play. Share Play allows you to share your game with friends online who don’t own a copy of the game. It means you and a friend can fire up a co-op game of Far Cry 4 and play together even if they don’t have PlayStation Plus or a copy of the game. You can also do pass-the-pad play this way too, bringing a couch-co-op experience to online gaming.
One thing to bear in mind is how often Sony’s service goes down for maintenance compared to Microsoft’s. While it’s not really an inconvenience, it’s just worth considering if you can’t stomach the thought of occasionally not being able to play online for a day.