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Which Video Game Console Is Right for You? – Vulture

Game console

Photo-Illustration: Vulture, PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox

Perhaps you’ve heard about the new set of video game consoles and your interest has been piqued. Should you spring for a video game console of your own? And which one? If you’ve been sitting out of the gaming world for a little while or you’re a complete newcomer, jumping back in can be daunting, with a lot of information to parse and little explanation of how much of it really matters. If that’s you, great news! This guide is for you.

Now, the bad news: It is currently extremely hard to get a hold of the new wave of consoles. Nabbing one often involves being among the first to leap into a digital queue, and should anything go awry with your connection, your odds are toast. There are, however, benefits to waiting: The longer you wait, the more kinks are worked out in what has been a rocky launch, and it also gives you time to consider whether or not you’ll want to upgrade your home theater to take advantage of the newest consoles. (More on that later, but it’s not necessary by any means.)

But maybe your needs are simpler. Maybe you just want the best all-in-one entertainment center, or the best console you can get on a tight budget. Let’s explore the options together.

Some useful definitions: The current generation of consoles includes the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5. The latter two launched in November and therefore have a lot of overlap with their predecessors, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We call these last-generation consoles, and you can expect them to cycle into obsolescence sometime in the next couple of years. (Nintendo moves at its own pace, preferring to release slightly updated versions of its consoles, much like an iPhone’s incremental upgrades.) Exclusive games are games that are only available on one console, and not the others, making that console more appealing.

Each console has a more affordable version available for purchase, each with its own trade-offs.

Of the available options, the Nintendo Switch Lite wins for being the least compromised and most exciting for the least amount of money. You’ll get to choose from a tremendous and constantly growing library of games big and small, with exclusive titles that won’t appear anywhere else, in an attractive and unobtrusive package.

Should you prefer something that hooks up to your television, the Xbox Series S is hard to top, as it’s bundled with the console’s Netflix-style Game Pass which provides dozens of on-demand games for a monthly fee.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is $199, $100 cheaper than the regular Switch. Unlike that console, it does not have the option to connect to a TV, nor does it have detachable controllers, making it a purely handheld device.

The Xbox Series S retails for $299, a full $200 cheaper than the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 with a disc drive (it is $100 less than the discless PS5.) It’s an all-digital console with no disc drive for movies or games and comes with half the storage space of its more expensive sibling. (For someone who wants to play more than a handful of games, this will soon become a problem with a pricey solution.) It’s also not designed to fully take advantage of Ultra HD televisions, so gaming in 4K is out of the question — but it will still run new-generation games just fine.

The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition lops $100 and a disc drive off the $499 PlayStation 5 — and the trade-offs end there. It’s the most expensive “budget” option but also the most generous.

If you want your console to be an all-in-one entertainment machine, the news is … fine, I suppose.

As more content is spread across more streaming platforms, getting everything you like in one place is harder than ever. That said, the console streaming options are serviceable — basically, you’re choosing between a bigger variety or a better experience. (Or a Nintendo Switch, whose only streaming apps are Hulu and YouTube.)

That said, the Xbox Series X is the best option for an all-around media device, as it has the most streaming apps and therefore the fewest reasons to turn it off and switch to another device.

The Xbox Series X has more apps available but a less slick interface. It’s essentially like opening apps on a Roku device, only all of your games are there too. You can extensively customize your home screen so all of your go-tos are easily accessible, but you’ll still be hopping from app to app.

The PlayStation 5 is curiously lacking in media apps at the moment, mostly focusing on the big names in streaming: Disney +, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, and Apple TV+. It does, however, organize the shows from these services on a single screen, with selections from each app’s library there for your perusal. It’s convenient, to a degree: nicer than the way your cable provider organizes on-demand content, but not as nice as an Apple TV.

This is the trickiest question to answer. The two new top-of-the line consoles are pretty evenly matched in processing power, offering mostly the same experience with only a handful of differentiating factors. Both are also a little unrefined: the Xbox’s slate of exclusive games is almost entirely hypothetical right now but makes up for it with the value of Game Pass. The PlayStation 5 is a bit of an unfinished mess, with users reporting frequent game crashes and bugs (though none that completely tank the system so far), while also being saddled with the worst user interface in some time.

Deciding which is the one for you depends on how you answer a couple of questions. Do you plan to play games with friends? You should probably all get the same console. (Maybe that’s the Nintendo Switch.) Do you like to keep up with the cultural conversation around games? Consider getting the console with the most exclusives. (Right now: the PlayStation 5). Did you miss out on the last few generations of video games? Maybe get the one with the deepest bench of older games (the Xbox Series X).

Want us to make the decision for you? Get a PlayStation 5 with a disc drive. It currently has the advantage in exclusive games, a considerable amount of momentum given the PS4’s success, and a number of fun new features — from its DualSense controller to extensive social features for sharing games with friends — that make the whole package feel worthwhile. It’s not without its share of hiccups, but so far there aren’t any problems that can’t be fixed with an update or two in the coming weeks or months. Or years, if we’re really unlucky.

The Nintendo Switch is a close second, but it’s starting to show its age and is rumored to get an updated version soon. It may be worth waiting to see what that looks like.

The PlayStation 5 is curiously lacking in media apps at the moment, mostly focusing on the big names in streaming: Disney +, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, and Apple TV+. It does, however, organize the shows from these services on a single screen, with selections from each app’s library there for your perusal. It’s convenient, to a degree: nicer than the way your cable provider organizes on-demand content, but not as nice as an Apple TV.

If you get one of the now-current generation consoles, you’ll want to see what it can do. Here are some games to take for a spin.

An outrageous gangster soap opera that absolutely sings on an Xbox Series X/S. Explore a vibrant Japanese city while seeking revenge on the crime syndicate that abandoned you and befriending a team of misfits.

Right now, this is the only game that you absolutely need a PlayStation 5 in order to play — and it’s a weird one. Demon’s Souls is a lavish remake of a cult-favorite PlayStation 3 game. An opaque acquired taste, Demon’s Souls is both rewarding and strange, a game that isn’t for everyone but nonetheless is the best showcase for what the new generation of games can look like.

Since it’s preinstalled on every PlayStation 5, you might be inclined to ignore this game. Don’t. Astro’s Playroom is a delight — an all-ages adventure that doubles as a demo for all the fun things that can be done with the DualSense controller.

Photo: Monstars, Resonair/Enhance Games

It’s not a graphical showcase, but it’s easily one of the best games launching on the Xbox consoles. A revelatory take on one of the most familiar video games ever made, Tetris Effect: Connected is a delight.

Source: https://www.vulture.com/article/best-video-game-console-2020-ps5-xbox-series-x-nintendo-switch.html

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