Which Console Should I Buy?

Holiday 2015 Edition

by the Video Game Critic

Sept 17, 2015

Xbox One PS4 Wii U

The other day my friend Kyle from work asked me what video game console I would recommend. He was leaning toward buying an Xbox One but concerned his two young girls might not enjoy it. When I told him about the Wii U, he wasn't sure if he would enjoy it. As I started discussing the various pros and cons of each system, he suggested I write an article about it. Hey, why didn't I think of that?

Those in the market for a current-generation console have three basic options: Sony Playstation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii U. The Playstation 4 and the Xbox One are very comparable systems. Their graphics, controllers, and game library are extremely similar. They tend to feature more adult-oriented titles than the Wii U which tends to serve up more lighthearted family-oriented fare.

In terms of sales, the Playstation 4 is the current system of choice, outselling the others by a considerable margin. The PS4 is very compact and its controllers are charged via a cable you connect to the system. As a gamer who prefers playing offline, I like how the PS4 offers a hassle-free offline experience. Although most games do have online capabilities, the system will not give you a hard time if you choose not to connect (although there is a connection requirement when you initially set up the system). Since the PS4 is so popular it tends to attract the most developers and therefore has the most rapidly-growing game library.

The Xbox One is a bigger, bulkier system (looks like an old VCR) than the PS4 but delivers a comparable experience. The controllers feel a bit more comfortable than the PS4 but require a pair of AA batteries. Fortunately the battery life tends to be pretty long (months). My biggest gripe with my Xbox One is that it doesn't behave well offline. Although you can technically get by offline, a lot of games prompt you to update regularly, and some exhibit weird behavior as if they we never properly tested offline (Rory McIlroy Golf for example). There are times when I connected it just to avoid the aggravation. Then again, if you prefer the connected experience, the Xbox One provides extensive multimedia capabilities, including the ability to run apps (like Fantasy Football) while viewing television programs. I've heard from several people who love this feature. The Xbox One was initially packaged with a Kinect camera, but this has fallen out of favor and is not widely supported.

Most PS4 and Xbox One games require installation to their hard drive before they can be played. Don't be too anxious to dive into a new game, because you might be required to wait and hour or more before the game is installed (bogus). If you think that's annoying, wait until you have about ten games and begin to see messages instructing you to clear out space on your hard drive. That happens to me all the time, and it really defeats the purpose of console gaming. If you have the option for a larger hard drive (like 1TB), it's probably worth the investment.

Both the PS4 and Xbox One are geared toward the online experience, and many games require you to log in to experience the full game and tap into numerous extras (often for an additional charge). Although big-name titles tend to come on a disc, there are hundreds of budget titles readily available for download, usually for just a few dollars each. Of course, while some of these are gems, a large percentage of these prove the adage "you get what you pay for".

The Wii U is a different beast altogether. Although it does play online, it's mainly geared to the old fashioned style of multiplayer, as in sitting on your couch and playing with people in the same room. The games do not require installation so they tend to start right up. The Wii U comes with a single control pad that looks like a large controller with a touch screen. For certain games this serves as an extra screen to display a map or manage your inventory. For many games you can actually play the entire game on this controller as if it was a portable system. This is one neat feature that isn't highly publicized. It really comes in handy if someone else wants to use the TV. The control pad comes with a charging cradle. For multiplayer games, the system supports the Wiimote controllers introduced by the original Wii system (sold separately). The graphic capabilities of the Wii U are not quite up to the others, but frankly it's hard to tell because all three generate high definition 1080p quality video. And all three connect to the TV via HDMI cable.

Pound for pound the Wii U probably has the best library of games, but its top sellers tend to be star Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and other Nintendo icons. There is not much third-party support for the Wii U, but there are some mature games available. If you're a diehard Madden or Call of Duty fan who practically lives online, the Wii U is not the system for you. If you have kids however the Wii U is an ideal system for family-oriented entertainment. Since many games support split-screen action (like Mario Kart), everybody can get in on the fun.

Of course, the games are what matter most, so if you're in the market you should first check out the games available for each system. The type of games you prefer will go a long way in deciding which system is right for you. There's really no wrong answer as all three systems provide a satisfying selection of quality titles. Here is a sample of available games for each system:

Playstation 4
Star Wars Battlefront
Shovel Knight
Batman Arkham Knight
Alien Isolation
Madden 16
Mortal Kombat X
Until Dawn
MLB 15 The Show
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Xbox One
Tomb Raider Rising
Star Wars Battlefront
Batman Arkham Knight
Alien Isolation
Madden 16
Mortal Kombat X
Forza 6
Killer Instinct
Rare Replay
Dead Rising 3
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Wii U
Mario Tennis Ultra Smash
Shovel Knight
Super Mario 3D World
Mario Maker
Bayonetta 2
Mario Kart 8
Donkey Kong Country: Deep Freeze
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Zombie U
Duck Tales Remastered
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Mario Party 10

Purchase Playstation 4 from eBay, Amazon

Purchase Xbox One from eBay, Amazon

Purchase Wii U from eBay, Amazon