Monday, May 27, 2013

Xbox One Vs. Playstion 4: Battle of the Cloud


Now that the two giants of the gaming world have had press conferences announcing and describing some of the features of their 8th generation systems, it is time to start deciding which console is right for you. To do this, you have to take a few things into consideration. Are you looking for an all in one media system, or a pure and simple gaming powerhouse? Do you have any system exclusive franchises that you want to stay loyal to? When it really comes down to it, the decision comes down to your own personal preferences. I'll try to break a few different aspects down of each system to hopefully make your decision more cut and dry and less of a shot in the dark.

Hardware




Let me just say that first off, this is not the category that you should make your decision on. If you remember the 7th generation consoles, the PS3 had a major performance advantage, however, the games being released now, nearing the end of their generation are pretty close, if not equal in quality.

The hardware between the Xbox One and PS4 are almost identical.  The CPU is based off of a 1.6 GHz, 8 core, x86 64-bit AMD Jaguar. Two of the cores on the Xbox One will be dedicated to apps, while the PS4 is not, which could give the PS4 a dramatic boost over the Xbox One, but that remains to be seen.

Each system has 8 GB of ram, but the PS4 will be using GDDR5 (48 GB/s), while the Xbox One will use DDR3 (24 GB/s).

 The hard drive size for the PS4 has not officially been released, but Sony described it as being "very large." Microsoft divulged that the Xbox One will have 500 GB hard drive, but I'm sure that it will come in varying sizes eventually.

The PS4 will reboot their "Eye" camera for the PS4 and use the new Dualshock 4 controller for motion sensing technology. Microsoft is bringing the Kinect 2.0, a more robust version of the original. Let's delve into the motion sensing and controller aspects of the systems a bit more.

Controllers

Sony and Microsoft had two of the best controllers in console history during the 7th generation, and honestly I didn't see how they could get that much better. However, each company has done it again and refined their controllers further to create the optimal experience.  Let's start with the new Xbox One controller.


The few issues that the Xbox 360 controller had seemed to have been fixed.  The imprecise D-Pad had been changed to a new cross shaped version, which should be a huge improvement.  The clunky battery pack has been changed to an internal one, which should keep batteries from coming loose and add a little extra room to grip on the back of the controller.  The thumbsticks have a heavily textured rubber to allow for more precise control. The guide button has been moved up higher on the controller to prevent accidentally going to the guide screen while trying to simply pause the game or during intense gameplay. The biggest enhancement that was announced is the new impulse triggers. Basically, this new feature adds in a rumble feedback in the triggers of the controller. It should add a lot more developer possibilities. The controller is basically about to have "surround feel." I'm sure we will hear a lot more of the changes at E3 when it seems Microsoft is planning to unload a lot of information.
Sony is pretty conservative with its controllers, and we don't see too many tweaks between generations. The new Dualshock 4 is the biggest design change we have seen thus far from Sony. The controller still has the major button layout we have all grown used to in the same places, with the exception of the "start" and "select" buttons which have been changed to "options" and "share" respectively.  There are two major differences in this controller that should be noted. Sony has added a touch pad to the front of the controller. How this feature will be used remains to be seen, but it could be similar to that of the PS Vita. The Dualshock 4 also sports a light bar at the top of the controller, to allow it to be easily tracked by the Eye camera. The one downside I see from this controller is that it still rests on the bottom shoulder buttons, which could make it easier to break if stepped on, or cause accidental button presses.

The Cloud

Each of the new systems will use the cloud, but in very different ways. Microsoft, with the backing of the Azure cloud platform, will allow developers to unload some of the game computation into the cloud, freeing up internal resources for more immediate calculations. The cloud will be used for things such as physics modeling, fluid dynamics, cloth motion, and other non latency-sensitive computations. Microsoft said that, "A rule of thumb we like to use is that [for] every Xbox One available in your living room we'll have three of those devices in the cloud available." This is very promising and could lead to some exceptional graphics in the future once the developers get the hang of the timing and flow of cloud computing. Don't worry though, all single player games should be able to be played without an internet connection, but it seems like they may run a bit slower or at lower quality.

The PS4 features cloud-based backwards compatibility.  Sony will stream older titles through Gaikai. Perhaps in the future they will do something similar to what the Xbox One is attempting, but for the moment it seems that Sony will only use the cloud for older titles. The reason for streaming the games instead of downloading them straight to the hard drive is probably due to Sony's change to the AMD x86, which won't work well with the architecture from previous consoles, so streaming will help them to get around this problem.  How they will price these games, and the exact way in which it will all work has not been released yet, but I'm sure we will hear more during E3.

Media Integration

This is really where your decision will be made.  Through the last console generation we saw PS3 take the route of being for the hardcore gamer while Microsoft emphasized other media options for their console. It doesn't seem like things are going to change in the 8th generation.  The Microsoft conference was chock-full of different media options and the seamless changes between them all via the Kinect software. They have also promised exclusive TV series such as HALO produced by Steven Spielberg.  Sony may have more in store for us at E3 on media integration, but at their conference, they revealed game after game, showing that they are here to stay as the console for gamers, and that everything else will only be a secondary concern for them.  So if you are looking for a more family concentric console, the Xbox One is the system for you. It will allow everyone in the family to use the console, even if they aren't gamers.  If you are happy with your current media set up though, and are just looking for a powerhouse gaming console, the PS4 is your go to system.  


Confirmed Games

Sony Playstation 4


GameDeveloper
Assassin's Creed 4: Black FlagUbisoft
Battlefield 4EA Dice
Blacklight: RetributionZombie Studios
Call of Duty: GhostsInfinity Ward
Deep DownCapcom
DestinyBungie
Diablo IIIBlizzard Entertainment
DriveClubEvolution Studios
Dying LightTechland
EA Sports UFCEA Dice
FIFA Soccer 14EA Dice
Final FantasySquare Enix
Infamous: Second SonSucker Punch
Killzone: Shadow FallGuerilla Games
KnackStudios Japan
Madden 25EA
NBA Live 14EA
Need for Speed RivalsEA
Sniper Elite 3505 Games
ThiefEidos Studios Montreal
War ThunderGaijin Entertainment
Watch DogsUbiSoft Montreal
The Witcher 3: Wild HuntCD Projekt RED
The WitnessThekla, Inc

Xbox One

GameDeveloper
Assassin's Creed 4Ubisoft Montreal
Battlefield 4DICE
Call of Duty: GhostsInfinity Ward
DestinyBungie
Dying LightTechland
EA Sports UFCEA
Fifa Soccer 14EA
Forza Motorsport 5Turn 10
Madden 25EA
NBA Live 14EA
Need for Speed RivalsEA
Quantum BreakRemedy Entertainment
RyseCrytek
ThiefEidos Studios Montreal
Watch DogsUbisoft

As you can see, Sony has confirmed many more games, but this is most likely due to the different marketing strategies of the two companies. Microsoft wanted to show off it's Kinect capabilities and the consoles ability to be the all-in-one media device, while Sony focused in on their game reveals. 

For me, I'm leaning towards the Playstation 4 at the moment, but only slightly. Sony seems to have hit the mark at the first conference unveiling their system, and Microsoft should have followed suit and revealed more of their games and opted to debut their Kinect technology at E3. I will however, hold my final judgement on this until after E3. 

I hope this has helped you make your initial conclusions on which system is right for you.  I'll be writing again after E3 to breakdown all of the new information. Let me know if there is anything you'd like to hear more about in the next post or any questions you might have about the systems in the comment section below and I'll do my best to answer them. 
 
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