After months of leaks, rumors and YouTube unboxing videos of consoles that hadn’t even been announced yet, Sony finally made us privy to the future of PlayStation this week. On November 10, the PS4 Pro will come out, sporting enhanced graphical capabilities and support for 4K and HDR-enabled TVs.
But the past week hasn’t been entirely positive for PlayStation. For the first time since the PS4 launched in 2013, it’s starting to really seem like the resurgent Xbox One might soon be the better option for would-be console owners. Here’s why:
PS4 Pro seems, quite frankly, underwhelming
- Electronic Arts/Sony
While the game demos that Sony showed during the PS4 Pro reveal event certainly looked nice, it isn’t immediately clear how it’s worth the $100 price hike over the standard PS4.
Unreleased games like “Horizon: Zero Dawn” and existing games like “Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor” looked only a bit better than they’ve always looked. It’s certainly not the jump you see when you go from a console to a powerful gaming PC.
To be completely fair, much of the appeal of this console is going to be support for 4K and HDR on newer TVs. Neither of those features show very well in an internet stream.
Still, the PS4 Pro feels a bit half-baked right now. For instance, the major selling point is 4K support, but it won’t play 4K Blu-Ray discs, opting instead to exclusively support 4K streaming. The cheapest model of the Xbox One can play those discs.
That might seem insignificant, but the name of the console is PS4 Pro. It’s for people who are willing to pay a premium for all the bells and whistles. For it to lack features supported by the cheaper competition is disappointing.
It looks like the new Xbox One could be much more powerful than PS4 Pro
Technical specs for consoles that aren’t out yet can be a bit shaky. Things change over time and it’s tough to directly compare two systems until they’re both in our hands.
Still, based on industry scuttlebutt, it seems like Project Scorpio (the upgraded Xbox One) will have a decent power advantage over PS4 Pro when it comes out next year. If someone has held off on buying a console for this long, why should they buy the PS4 Pro now when they can get something more powerful in a year?
At the very least, it’s difficult to recommend that someone buy a PS4 Pro until we at least know more about Project Scorpio. Heck, maybe the PS4 Pro 2.0 will come out next year and blow Project Scorpio out of the water.
Regardless of how the two compare, this is a bad direction for consoles to go in
But let’s say there is a more powerful PS4 revision again in a year or two. Is that really how we want console gaming to work?
Aside from price, the main appeal of playing games on a console instead of a gaming PC is uniformity. Until now, anyone with a console would have the same experience with games as everyone else with that console.
You buy a console and it’s guaranteed to play every game that comes out for it until the next one comes out.
All PS4 games will still work with all PS4 consoles, and the same is true of the Xbox One. But if a game looks and runs significantly worse on the base console while being fine on the enhanced machines, that’s a bit of a raw deal.
On the other hand, if the differences aren’t especially noticeable between versions, it’s tough to understand why this exists at all. It’s a precarious balance.
Unrelated to new consoles, the PS4 will no longer get a cool feature the Xbox One has
After it’s been promised for more than a year that PS4 players would get mod support in “Fallout 4” and the upcoming remastered version of “Skyrim,” the dream appears to be dead. Bethesda, the company that makes those mega-hit games, directly blamed Sony for not allowing it to happen.
This feature, of course, came to the Xbox One version of “Fallout 4” earlier this year and seems to work just fine over there. Mods are a major selling point for some players of these games (myself included), and I might not be inclined to go back to “Skyrim” later this year if I can’t mess around with goofy fan-made creations.
Right now, this only affects two games, but what does this mean for the future? Will the Xbox continue to allow mods in future games while the PS4 doesn’t? Until Sony offers a reasonable explanation, this is just a bummer.