Hands-on with the Xbox One and PS4

One of the big attractions of the Eurogamer Expo for me this year was the chance to play on the next generation consoles, a chance I snapped up as soon as I could.

Getting hands on with the PS4 and Xbox One was top of my list for priorities and whilst it is near impossible to pass judgement on the overall console from the short amount of play time on the two consoles I would like to share my, albeit quick, experience with the two consoles.

First was the Xbox One at the Battlefield 4 stand. It did not start well for Xbox as one of the consoles stopped working needed attention from some staff, which annoyingly bought the queue to a stand still for about ten minutes, after we started moving again the screen housing the broken Xbox was still blank.

When I finally got on the console the first thing that stood out to me was the controller. It was such a massive improvement on the 360’s controller, which I already preferred over Sony’s offering, which personally I find a bit too small.

The Xbox One controller fits a lot more snug in the hand than the 360, mainly because of the clunky protrusion of the battery pack has been removed, the battery pack is now housed within the controller. The nice feel of the Xbox controller resulted in a more natural gaming experience.

Microsoft have also upgraded the thumbsticks, which feel a lot more responsive and are a lot more comfortable to use, as they are slightly thicker and have coated edges, which is a nice touch. The triggers also felt more comfortable and were a joy to use.

Microsoft have clearly put a lot of work into the controller, apparently they are boasting 40 individual changes to controller for their next gen console. If I’m honest I would be hard pushed to list even half of these, however features like additional rumble motors in the triggers were disabled, which was disappointing.

The whole feel of the controller is more sleek and elegant, Microsoft have rid the image of their controllers being big ogreish clunks of plastic, this is certainly a peripheral that is set for the next generation of gaming.

You may be wondering why I started with the controller instead of the juicy details you were probably hunting for when you clicked on this article, such as graphics and gameplay. The reason I’ve stalled on these aspects is because if I’m honest they were somewhat uninspiring.

Okay so I know you’re all going to absolutely slaughter me in the comments section but if I’m really being truthful when I was playing the Xbox One it did not feel like I was experiencing games on a next gen console.

Sure the graphics were slightly better than the Xbox 360 but they were nothing to write home about, yes the gameplay was smooth, but I’ve never really thought gameplay on the 360 is not smooth so again that was not an area that particularly stood out to me.

As I’ve said with all of “hands-on” reviews from Eurogamer this should be taken with a pinch of salt of course. By no means am I saying that everyone should steer clear of the Xbox One, I’m just stating that my experience with the console was somewhat underwhelming, I did not really feel like I was playing a next gen console.

Now onto the PS4, I know a certain writer who hails from the North of England will be pleased to hear that I had the pleasure of playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on Sony’s entry into the next gen war.

Immediately I felt the polar opposite of when I was playing the Xbox One, it was obvious from the first moment that this was something new, this was truly a next gen console.

The reason I got this impression with the PS4 and not for the Xbox One was purely down to the graphics, they were so much sharper on the PS4, colours were more vibrant and everything was in a lot more detail.

Note: I’m not just directly comparing graphics for BF4 with Assassin’s Creed, I also experienced Dying Light on Xbox One, which was better looking the Battlefield but still was no where near as impressive as the graphics on the PS4.

As I talked in such great lengths about the Xbox One’s controller it would be unfair not to mention the PS4 controller, which really did surprise me.

I am one of the few gamers in my friendship group to stay true to my Xbox 360 and not trade in for a PS3, which results in me playing the PS3 round other people’s houses often.

Hands-on with the Xbox One and PS4

I often find myself frustrated at the sheer lack of build quality of PS3 controllers, to me they are small, scrawny and just are not enjoyable to use.

This is why I found the PS4 controller surprising, as it seemed larger than its predecessor, much like the Xbox One controller it fit a lot better in my hand than any current gen controllers.

Sony have clearly worked on the ergonomics of their controller and whilst some may be disappointed that Sony’s next controller will be the first to venture away from the design template set out by the first Playstation this is a welcome change.

One thing that did put me off was the large button in the middle of the screen that was once occupied by the PS button and the Start and Select buttons. This seemed to be the equivalent of a Start button when I was playing Assassin’s Creed, however it appears to have the other functions of being a touch pad.

I’m sure this is a feature of the controller that I will get used to, however on initial inspection I was slightly confused by the large rectangle in the middle of the Dualshock controller.

The light at the back of the controller supposedly reacts to events on screen, so it can tell you quickly if a character is taking damage, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t notice this, who is going to be looking at their controller if there are events on screen that are affecting your character?

Overall though the PS4 controller is a massive step up from the previous offering, however I feel the shape and size of the Xbox One controller impressed me more than Sony’s offering.

This is of course offset by the fact the graphics on PS4 blew me away, sure the Xbox One impressed me, especially when playing Dying Light, however the Playstation was sharper and more detailed.

I do feel like this was to be expected though, after all since the reveal of both consoles it has looked as though Playstation would be the complete gaming unit, whereas the Xbox One would be more of an entertainment hub, the aspects of which I obviously did not get to explore.

If you have also had a whirl on the next gen consoles I’d love to hear your thoughts, let me know in the comments below.

  • Andy Peterson

    Did you play the same game on both systems?… cause if u didn’t then you article is pointless

    • James Read

      Hi Andy, thanks for your comment.

      While I do concede to make a proper comparison of graphics and performance I would have to play the same game on both systems, unfortunately this was not possible at Eurogamer so what I have provided here is my opinion of the experiences I had with both consoles.

      I do feel that Dying Light and Assassin’s Creed were visually similar, as both were bright, free flowing games, these are the games I formed most of my comparative opinion on.

      I did try and put forward my opinion rather tentatively, as full comparisons between the two systems can not be properly conducted until their full release, this was meant to be a short preview of the consoles based on a fast playthrough.

  • Mr Snessbitt

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, certainly one of the better ones I have seen come out of the expo thus far. Great job!

    In regards to graphics I have heard lots of negative news on next gen graphics of Battlefield 4 running on the PS4. This is the first I have heard of the Xbox one version of BF4 because it hasn’t previously playable on this system as far as I’m aware. So maybe it was just AC IV that looked better due to it being a different title. Were the colors more vibrant on PS4 than Xbox One or was it just sharper looking picture?

    Just some thoughts :) Great article!

    • James Read

      Hi, thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment! :).

      In response to your comment about BF4 that is very interesting that there is negativity for the game on PS4 also, if this is the case it may be DICE’s doing that I was underwhelmed, rather than the Xbox One. I also played Dying Light on Xbox One, the graphics of which did impress me more than BF4 on the same console, however even the graphics of this title were surpassed by the PS4 and AC IV. Of course like you say even this may be down to different title, and a full comparison of the two consoles will be better matched after their full release, this was just a quick comparison based on a short preview I experienced of the two consoles.

      Again thank you for reading, it’s always nice to get some praise on my writing haha!

  • Dee

    Dude what a misconception you just put out. You played BF4 and Dying Light two of the most low lighting games you could play. Compared them to the more tropical Assassin Creed 4 and then said PlayStation had better graphics. The same game comparison would be more accurate. If you had played Assassin Creed on Xbox and BF4 on PlayStation the results would have been different because its a different style of game all together.

    • James Read

      Hi Dee, thanks for reading and commenting.

      While I do admit that the lighting of BF4 does put it at a disadvantage when comparing graphics to AC IV (although I don’t feel low lighting is reason enough for how visually underwhelming BF4 was for me) I would disagree with your view on Dying Light. The portion of Dying Light I played was set entirely in the day and the game was just as bright as AC IV. Whilst the graphics of Dying Light did impress me more than BF4 they still were nowhere near as impressive as AC IV on the PS4.

      I do concede that to make a full blown comparison between the two consoles then the same game would have to be played on both systems, unfortunately this was not possible at Eurogamer, and will not be possible until both of the consoles full release. This article was merely a “hands-on” comparison, which is why I tried to be slightly tentative with my opinion. I did not mean for this to be a final, full-blown, comparison of the two, rather this was a short preview based on a quick playthrough and I feel it would be near impossible not to have some form of comparison of the consoles when writing this sort of article.

  • Kyle

    Hey James-

    I’ve got both preordered for next gen. Thinking about canceling one of them to save for Valve’s Steam box for next year instead (three is a bit excessive).I don’t have a lot of time to game which is why I like multiplayer games online. Xbox has always had a more ergonomic controller for FPS games but the textures and polygon counts for the PS4 are really winning me over. It’s beastly hardware and cheaper price point almost have me sold. This past gen I owned both two Xbox 360s and a PS3. Felt bored on my Xbox and then enjoyed tons of good exclusives on PS3.

    Once again, if you had to make an educated guess do you think it the Dualshock 4 would be good for FPS games?

    • James Read

      Hi Kyle,

      To be honest it is difficult to say, I don’t want to say something to sway your opinion only for you to discover that you disagree. Like I mentioned in the article, and subsequent comments, I had a very short preview of both consoles.

      That being said you did ask for an educated guess, my response to this would be that the Dualshock 4 will be better for FPS games than the Dualshock 3, as I mentioned I play a lot of PS3 round friend’s houses and frankly me and the Dualshock 3 didn’t get on at all. This is why I was pleasantly surprised by the Dualshock 4, it seemed larger and fit better in my hand. The ergonomics of the Playstation controller seems to have improved tenfold with the jump from PS3 to PS4, whether this transfers into a better experience with FPS games is yet to be seen but I assume it would.

      It sounds like you’re already leaning towards a PS4, if this is the case why not cancel the Xbox preorder, see how you get on with the Dualshock 4 and if it’s not what you expected reconsider the Xbox One, after all preorder numbers are suggesting the Xbox One won’t be too hard to come by on release, plus it’s not like you have to have both of them on release day right?

      I hope I’ve helped, remember to take things at this stage with a pinch of salt though, especially in regards to a controller, how well a controller fits for particular genres is very much personal preference, so what works for some may feel alien to others. Like I say I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path only for you to be disappointed.