By: Cody Kelly
I’m going to be honest: I had no intention of ever buying either of these consoles. From the moment they were first announced, I was pretty underwhelmed. I’ve been a console gamer since the days of the Atari 2600. I’ve watched each successive generation get more powerful and more exotic (from an architecture perspective). I was impressed by both the 360 and the PS3 and remember well my enthusiasm for both when they launched.
My lack of desire for either the Xbox One or PS4 stems from the perception that I had that both were low to mid-range PCs. Nothing fancy, nothing interesting. So, I held off. In the meantime, I purchased both a Wii U and a Switch. I’ve had a lot of fun with both consoles and I’m looking forward to what Nintendo has in store for us with the future of the Switch.
Last weekend, however, I came across a steal of a deal on both the Xbox One and PS4 at a pawn shop. Curiosity got the best of me. I took the plunge. I took them home, cleaned them up and factory reset them. What follows is my impression of the end user experience upon firing these up for the first time in 2017.
This is not a comparison of the hardware. I may get into that at some point, but this is primarily about the software, as that’s what I’ll be interacting with on a day to day basis. I also want to point out that I’m not a “fan boy”. I owned both the PS3 and Xbox 360 and loved them both for different reasons. I’m signed up for both PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold, so YMMV with either of these consoles if you’re not.
Without further ado…
Upon powering on each console, they both asked me to setup my WiFi to proceed. I don’t know that it was a requirement on either, but I went ahead and did it anyway. And this led me to my first point of frustration.
On the PS4, I entered my WiFi credentials and performed the rest of the initial setup, including signing in to PS Plus, eventually getting dropped at the Home screen. Shortly thereafter, I was informed that a system update was being downloaded. While it was downloading, I familiarized myself with the menus and layout.
On the Xbox One, I also entered my WiFi credentials and was immediately prompted that a system update was available. My options were to take the update…or TURN OFF THE CONSOLE. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. So, here I sat waiting for the system update to finish before I could login.
It may be minor, but it was irritating.
After both consoles were done with their updates, I decided to pick a random game (I bought a few for each) and see what the experience was when I popped in the disc.
On the PS4, the game I chose was Mad Max. I’ve never played this game before, but I’d heard good things about it. I popped in the disc and it started the game shortly thereafter. After the splash screen came up, I got a popup window stating that there was an update available for the game. The popup notified me that I could continue playing the game, but if I didn’t download the patch, the network functionality may be impacted. Since I was only intending on playing offline for this first run, that didn’t phase me. I said no and the game loaded up to its menu.
On the Xbox One, I chose Halo 5. The last Halo game I’d played was 3. I’m not a huge fan of the series, but my brothers are and I figured I’d give this one a shot. I popped in the disc and it began to install to the hard drive. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t get an option to prevent that, but that’s okay. After 3-4 seconds, I got a popup stating that an update was available and that I would be unable to play the game without it. For a 46GB install, the update was 52GB. Nope. Let’s try another game.
So, I popped in Metro Redux. Another game, another mandatory update. The last game I had to try was Dark Souls III. Another mandatory update. Essentially, I couldn’t play any of these games without updating first.
I’ll concede, I don’t know if this is the case across the board. Those are the only games I had to test with on Xbox One. But, for the sake of fairness, I popped in a couple more PS4 games to see if they forced an update. None of them did. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some that do, but I couldn’t get it to occur.
I didn’t expect to actually have to document this one. I mean, it’s 2017. This one should be pretty basic. Both of these consoles have the ability to play Blu-rays as well as DVDs. I expected to pop one in and watch.
I started with the Xbox One. I popped in a DVD…and was thereafter greeted with a screen asking me to download the Blu-Ray player from the store. While it was free, I really felt like this was kind of a pain in the neck. Why can’t this functionality be built-in? Perhaps it’s a sick sort of nostalgia…I couldn’t play a DVD in the original Xbox until I bought the $30 dongle.
On the PS4, I popped in the disc…and it actually started playing. Imagine that.
Round 1 results: Solid win for PS4
It was a rough start for the Xbox. I’m beginning to understand why the PS4 is running away with this generation. More to follow!