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.
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.