Above: The angular design of the PlayStation 4.
Image Credit: Sony
Launch date: November 15, 2013
Launch price: $399
The story: Perhaps learning from the PlayStation 3′s controversial launch, Sony marketed its new PlayStation 4 as an enthusiast-friendly gaming machine rather than a media center. It didn’t hurt that Microsoft had unwittingly turned itself into the “bad guy” with unpopular policies regarding used games, causing many Xbox 360 fans to declare allegiance to Sony. Although Microsoft eventually reversed many of its controversial plans, Sony still came out of the whole fiasco with a lot of goodwill prior to the PlayStation 4′s launch.
Notable launch games:
- Resogun: Surprisingly, the PlayStation 4′s best-reviewed exclusive at launch was a humble, independent shoot-em up available only for download. Resogun’s vibrant, pulsating levels beautifully showed off the power of the PlayStation 4, especially when they blew up in thousands of bits of digital splendor. Resogun has a Metacritic score of 84.
- Killzone: Shadow Fall: Killzone: Shadow Fall was Sony’s most-publicized first party game for the PlaySation 4′s launch. The first-person shooter featured a campaign across sci-fi locales and plenty of multiplayer modes to show off the system’s improved functionality. With a Metacritic of 74, it wasn’t a home run, but it fared better than the action-platformer Knack, Sony’s other big first-party launch game, which only has an average score of 55.
Did you know?
The PlayStation 4 hardware is very similar to a modern PC. Sony designed it that way to make it easier to develop for. The PlayStation 3 was notoriously difficult to make games on.
Above: The large Xbox One is a media hub as well as a gaming system.
Image Credit: Microsoft
Launch date: November 22, 2013
Launch price: $499
The story: Microsoft originally envisioned a new system that would require a constant Internet connection. The Xbox One was also originally going to lock every game disk to the first console its owner installed it on, a move that had huge ramifications on the used-games market and the concept of disk-sharing. Microsoft eventually reversed both policies after public outcry, turning the Xbox One into a more traditional console.
Still, the new system still had plenty of tricks, including the ability to control cable boxes and to snap various applications to the side of the screen, like live TV and Internet Explorer, even while playing a game. Each system also came with an improved Kinect device, a motion-tracking and voice-recognizing camera.
Notable launch games:
- Forza Motorsport 5: At this point, it’s a bit of tradition for Microsoft to include a racing game with a new system launch to show off the improved hardware. This time, the honor fell to Forza Motorsport 5, a title more realistic than the arcade-like (and now dead) Project Gotham Racing series. However, the authenticity of Forza 5 was perfect for showing off just how close to reality the Xbox One could come. Forza Motorsport 5 has a Metacritic score of 81.
- Dead Rising 3: The original Dead Rising was one of the most popular games during the Xbox 360′s first year, so it was appropriate that a sequel was among the Xbox One’s launch lineup. Dead Rising 3 featured an open-world filled with zombies and a large assortment of everyday items, weapons, and cars that players could combine to make devilish undead destroyers. Dead Rising 3 has a Metacritic score of 78.
Did you know?
The Xbox One name is confusing to some, especially since many used to refer to the original Xbox by the name moniker. So what does the “one” in the name mean? It’s supposed to signify the system’s purpose as a multimedia hub, an “all in one” device.