These Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 write-ups are exhausting, so nice we've reached an easy topic like next-gen launch games today. Yes, it's Day 4 of our pre-launch coverage and while launch games is a rather simple topic to cover, no complicated technology or marketing half-speak, it may be our most controversial. After all, we're talking video games here. Every individual has their own preferences with respect to genre, so it 's a good thing there's only one person writing today's article. Me! (Cue evil laugh)
In all seriousness we'll try and look at both console's launch line-ups in a few different ways, focusing on genre gaps and, erm, game quality. Ultimately the decision will be based on overall experience value. "Experience value?" What does that even mean? Is it what a standard gamer would experience if they walked home with the console and one or two games? Or if someone purchased every single game available? How about all of the above will be taken into consideration?
What's important isn't which group of launch games is ultimately decided the victor here, it's what set of launch games appeals the most to you. Or perhaps neither appeal to you, in which case it may be best to avoid jumping to next-gen just yet. Remember, we're talking about video games here, not shutting down the government or anything. And by don't take this seriously I mean find someone you disagree with and slap them across the face. The is the console wars and we don't take any prisoners.
Day 4: Launch Games
Part 1: Multi-Platform Launch Games
Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? Both consoles will getting their fair share of mult-platform games from the big publishers: EA, Ubisoft, Activision, 2K and I think there's a WB game in there. For the most part these games will be treated equally, though there are certainly some points we'll have to bring up later.
The value to be found in these games is two-fold. One, they fill genre gaps that first-party titles may otherwise not fill and thus creating a foundation on the platform that ensures as many gamers, each with their own tastes, are pleased overall. Second, and this doesn't really translate into part of evaluation, but publishers will use these initial games to decide which platform to lead on in the future.
Technically, since the PlayStation 4 launches on November 15 and the Xbox One on November 22, Sony will get all of these games a week earlier than Microsoft gamers. Should we give extra points for that?
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- Battlefield 4
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- FIFA 14
- Just Dance 2014
- Lego Marvel: Super Heroes
- Madden NFL 25
- NFL 2K14
- NBA Live 14
- Need for Speed Rivals
- Skylanders: SWAP Force
That's eleven games total, with two first person shooters, four sports games, one racing game, one mature action game, and a few kids games. That's two games from Activision, two games from Ubisoft, one each from 2K and WB, and a whopping five games from EA. All of them will be available in time for each console's launch. Clearly not the best spectrum of experiences, but if you're a sports fan then at least that's covered.
Now we have to mention the elephant in the room. It's the fact that many developers, at least for the time being, have not been able to create the same graphical experiene on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Since there's no base of comparison for exclusives, we have to talk about this now.
Part 2: Multi-Platform Launch Game Differences
Two games in particular have been officially detailed as having resoluion differenced between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4, arguable the two most graphically intensive multi-platform games on each platform, are running at a higher resolution on the PS4 than the Xbox One, though the reasons for the difference have not been clarified in specificity.
Nevertheless, it's best that we detail the specific differences and then go over what has been officially said regarding them:
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Xbox One @ 720p and 60fps
- PlayStation 4 @ 1080p and 60fps
- Battlefield 4
- Xbox One @ 720p and 60fps
- PlayStation 4 @ 900p and 60fps
On paper there's only one way to describe this: these games look better on PlayStation 4 than they do on Xbox One. Why? Mark Rubin of Infinity Ward pointed a finger towards Microsoft's constantly shifting implementation of voice chat, though said that was only a portion of the issue. Other tech-minded folk have pointed to the Kinect, which is said to reserve not great but notable portion of the CPU at all times (up to 10%), which makes 1080p at 60fps quite difficult.
Whether these issues have cropped up on other games is yet to be determined. NBA 2K14 is confirmed to natively run at 1080p on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, for instance. Most of the games shouldn't be as graphically intensive as, well, the ones with explosions. Another good test will be Need for Speed Rivals, which debuts on the next-gen platforms.
Wrapping this section up, let's clarify a few things. Is this a big deal to the average gamer? No. Not at all. In no way whatsoever. Gamers will buy a single copy of a game and think it looks twenty times better than last-gen. All that really matters here is that Sony absolutely has the lead here, even if in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter to the end-user.
Part 3: Exclusive Retail Launch Games
Here's where things start to get really interesting. In terms of retail exclusives, if we're going by quantity, the Xbox One just blows the PlayStation 4 out of the water. Surprisingly the difference doesn't really come in first-party releases, it comes in third-party support, with both Capcom, Ubisoft and Majesco stepping up and getting something ready for launch day. Overall, Microsoft has six releases to Sony's two. Math.
Of course, the question of quality is another matter entirely. What can we expect from Fighter Within, Zoo Tycoon, and Zumba Fitness: World Party? Some folk will certainly pay $60 for each of them, but will they be the same quality of product as a Killzone or Forza? Some are also questioning Ryse, but to that I say, "How dare you." Just one look at that game and you can tell where the development money has gone. It may be the best looking game available at launch.
Enough rambling! Here are the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platform exclusives coming to retail:
- Killzone: Shadow Fall
- Dead Rising 3
- Fighter Within
- Forza Motorsport 5
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Zoo Tycoon
- Zumba Fitness: World Party
I wish there was more to say on this matter, but how is it remotely possible to compare Sony's Killzone and Knack to Microsoft's Dead Rising 3, Ryse and Forza? They're all completely incomparable. All that's really apparent is owners of both consoles have an awesome selection of games to pick and choose from this holiday season.
I almost started pointing out the glaring holes in genre coverage that each platform has, but really they're mostly covered by the multi-platform titles above. First-person multiplayer game? Sony has Killzone, where Xbox One owners can make up for it with Call of Duty or Battlefield (and most certainly will). Microsoft has Dead Rising 3 and Forza, but Sony can make up for it with Need for Speed and Assassin's Creed.
Gah, I can't even try to make a case here for Sony. Microsoft has three awesome triple-A games in Dead Rising 3, Ryse and Forza, as well as supporting exclusives. Sony has two awesome triple-A games. It's the Xbox One with the advantage in this area.
Update: Whoops! I forgot to add Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition to the PlayStation 4's exclusive retail launch line-up. Certainly an asset, but overall not particularly significant to the discussion as it's a non-updated rerelease.
Part 4: Exclusive Digital Launch Games
Time to get a little messy. See, the issue with digital releases isn't that they aren't great games worthy of consideration in our head-to-head match today, it's that most of them aren't actually new releases -- they're rereleases. That is to say, most of Sony's digital releases are simply rereleases. Some of them, only some, will have updated graphics. It's certainly outstanding to have as many games offered on the platform as possible, but do they really add too much value to the product as a whole?
Let's just get straight to the games and then we can go through them and decide how significant each is overall.
- Blacklight Revolution (free-to-play)
- DC Universe Online (free-to-play)
- Sound Shapes
- Super Motherload
- Trine 2: The Complete Story
- Warframe (free-to-play)
- Crimson Dragon
- Killer Instinct (free-to-play)
- Powerstar Golf
Okay, so lets go down Sony's list of releases. Blacklight: Retribution is a rerelease of a PC game from 2012, DC Universe Online is a F2P MMO with updates assets, Flower is a PSN rerelease with updated assets, Sound Shapes is a non-updated rerelease, Trine 2: The Complete Story is a non-updated PC rerelease, Warframe is a PC rerelease. That means only Contrast, Resogun and Super Motherload are true, original platform exclusives. Meanwhile, all of the Xbox One's digital releases are too.
Again, I don't want to dismiss the value of having these games ported to the PlayStation 4. I mean, the Xbox One doesn't have them, right? But still, there's a lot to be said about having exclusive, new games for your console's launch day vs. updated and downscaled PC ports, or updated PSN ports. I'm 100% more excited to play any of the exclusives on each platform than I am to retry any of the rereleases.
That means, yes, I'm just as, if not more so, excited for the Xbox One's four digital releases as I am the PlayStation 4's nine, three among them new. Not only is that one more exclusive new game, but both Crimson Dragon and Killer Instinct could quite seriously be full retail releases if Microsoft wanted them to be. No disrespect to Sony, because their aggressive work with indie devs will have them buried in awesome new games in just a matter of months. Just not day one, apparently.
Conclusion: Xbox One Wins
This really isn't even a complicated argument. I'm not going to directly compare any of Sony or Microsoft's launch day releases, though I will say I think Sony's Killzone and Knack look like the best two next-gen releases of the year. Even then, however, there's simply no matching the fact that Microsoft's Xbox One has more exclusives that are consistently high quality. On launch day, that's really all that matters.
So yes, when you say multi-platform titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield 4 look better on PlayStation 4, you've got a great point. That's a huge issue for Microsoft in the long run and hopefully all games, multiplatform or not, are running at 1080p and 60fps sooner rather than later. When you say Sony has a bright future in terms of PC ports and indie development, I say bring it on.
Day one, however, it's Microsoft with the exclusives. They've got Ryse, Dead Rising, Forza Motorsport 5, Crimson Dragon, Killer Instinct, and you can bet your but I'll be trying out Fighter Within on Kinect too. Well, maybe after a few rounds of Killzone: Shadow Fall.