The console wars that raged between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft in past decades have calmed down in recent history. Tablets and mobile devices have become a massive part of modern gaming, and with consumers upgrading those mobile devices every year or two, the stationary PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U consoles have been at a relative standstill. With life spans of five-plus years, developers have been upgrading aspects of them every year or two to stay competitive without truly revolutionizing much of anything.
For some people, there was never any reason to upgrade to those consoles in the first place. Sony’s PlayStation 3 (released in 2006), Microsoft’s Xbox 360 (2005), and the Nintendo Wii (2006) still work perfectly as entertainment centers today. Those seventh-generation consoles aren’t as advanced for gaming and don’t have the same pool of new titles to choose from, but they are now capable of streaming service for apps such as Netflix and Amazon.
Whether you have an old console or one of the more recent ones, it’s time to consider upgrading, as 2017 sees the release of three new consoles to go with your high-tech television. MERRY JANE breaks down the new offerings from the gaming giants to help you decide if you should start saving up or just save yourself the expense.
Anticipation is high for the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid console that allows you to game wherever you go. The Switch can be placed into a docking station for use on a home television, or on a tabletop (or kickstand) for use by one or multiple players, but it can also be used as a mobile handheld device with a 6.2-inch LCD screen.
With the versatile Switch, Nintendo is completely moving on from the Wii U, which succeeded the Wii in 2012. The company announced that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be both the final game on the Wii U and a launch title for the Switch. (The latter version will have slightly better resolution and graphics.) But, while the Switch is an upgraded system with mobile capability, the Wii U still packs backwards compatibility with Wii titles, giving it a much heftier game library that may convince you to hold off until the new console has a more robust stable of games. First-party titles such as a rumored Metroid and the highly-anticipated Super Mario Odyssey add significant appeal to the Switch, but most users can wait to scoop a Switch until at least Christmas 2017, when there will be dozens more games released for the console.
PlayStation 4 Pro
In early 2016, Sony announced a newer version of the PlayStation 4 called the “Neo.” Since renamed the “Pro,” it’s a beefier, upgraded PS4 that utilizes 4K resolution and Sony’s PlayStation VR. With resolution the company’s focus on its latest upgrade, it also boosted the system’s hardware, which will have slightly better graphics and high frame rate than a regular PS4.
Unlike the Xbox One S, the Pro does not have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, so those who’ve upgraded to a 4K Ultra HD TV will have to buy an additional 4K HD Ultra Blu-ray player, which can cost upwards of $250. On the bright side, all PS4 games will be compatible with the Pro, and out of all the systems, Sony’s has arguably the best developer support, which has helped Sony beat Microsoft almost 2:1 in console sales in the last few years.
Visuals will be slightly enhanced with the Pro but ultimately your decision to buy it comes down to if you’re rocking a 4K Ultra HD TV along with PlayStation VR. If you are, the upgrade may be worth it for the PS4 Pro, which retails for $399.
Xbox Project Scorpio
Microsoft launched the $299 Xbox One S, which allows for 4K resolutions and includes a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, over the holidays. The company made the new Xbox One S half the size of the original Xbox One model released in 2013 while also eliminating the power supply with one built in. This is a major plus for a modern-day entertainment system that had VCR-like size.
Microsoft also announced “Project Scorpio,” an upgrade to the Xbox One that could display true 4K gameplay, virtual reality, and PC-like graphics with similar frame rates. Scheduled for released in late 2017, Project Scorpio will be the most powerful console on the market with 6 Teraflops of graphical processing power, along with a high-end graphics card that rivals most top-of-the-line gaming PCs. This allows the console to have true 4K gameplay—something the other two systems will not have at the time.
No price point has been set for Project Scorpio but with the hefty upgrades it will likely take a serious bite out of your savings if you plan to upgrade. While support for virtual reality hasn’t been announced yet, industry rumors are that Microsoft will pair with a company such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift or HTC’s Vive. If you’re not yet convinced you need VR gaming and 4K, the original Xbox One can be had for around $150 and the Xbox One S has dropped to $249.