Though we only have one new console on the horizon — the just announced Xbox One S, due out this August — there are more consoles coming our way soon. Sony has confirmed it will be releasing an updated version of the PlayStation 4 that, like the new Xbox, will support 4K resolution. Next year, there will be even more of a shake-up in the console industry, with the Nintendo NX coming in March and Microsoft's Project Scorpio due out for the holidays.
So, is now the time to buy a new console, or should you hold out for the next generation of hardware?
Not a great upgrade
If you don't have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and have been thinking about getting one, the new consoles are a good jumping-on point. However, if you already have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, it's hard to justify the upgrade. Both will have 4K and the upgraded graphics necessary to support that resolution, but it's a minor upgrade — and one you won't really benefit from unless you've already invested in a 4K TV.
The Xbox One S is also significantly smaller than the Xbox One and no longer has a giant power brick (it's now built in to the box), but if you already have an Xbox One in your entertainment system, well, you already have the space for it. But for Kinect fans, it's an active downgrade, as Kinect is no longer bundled — and you'll need an adapter to even plug it in to the One S. The updated PlayStation may also have a smaller footprint, but we won't know for sure until Sony makes an official announcement.
The high price of a mid-gen upgrade
In addition to fairly minor hardware upgrades, there's the price tag. The Xbox One S starts at $299, a significant drop over the console's launch day price of $499 but no less than what you can buy an Xbox One for right now. The new PS4 also won't cost any less than the current PS4, which is currently priced at $350 — though, we could see a price cut for both when the latest generation is released.
These are great prices for the latest hardware if you don't already own one of these consoles — but it's a pretty big cost for a minor upgrade. My take is don't do it.
Why you might pick up one of these new consoles
If you're a console gamer, chances are you picked up either a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One about the time when they were released — but probably not both. Maybe you've been regretting your decision. Or maybe you've been looking at an exclusive game you really wish you could play. If so, now's a decent time to jump on board your new console of choice. To help you decide if it's time to buy, here are the upcoming exclusives for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Upcoming Xbox One exclusives:
Dead Rising 4 (Note: The game will be out this holiday season for Xbox owners only, and while it will be out in 2017 for everyone else, you really want to play this Christmas-themed zombie game on Christmas, don't you?)
- Forza Horizon 3
- Gears of War 4
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo Wars 2
- Sea of Thieves
State of Decay 2
Upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusives:
- Crash Bandicoot Remastered
- Detroit: Become Human
- Days Gone
- God of War
- Gran Turismo 7
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- The Last Guardian
- No Man's Sky
- Persona 5
- Shemue 3
I have to admit, I'm strongly considering picking up a new Xbox One S to play ReCore and Quantum Break... but if I already owned an Xbox One, I'd save my cash.
What about Nintendo?
The case for buying a Nintendo console today is pretty slim. While the Wii U is the only way to play Nintendo franchises like Mario and Zelda, I'd guess that if you were interested in those titles, you'd already own a Wii U — and without any exciting exclusives on the horizon, there's little reason to spend $299 on a Wii U today.
The next Zelda title, Breath of the Wild, is due out in 2017 — likely coming after or alongside the new Nintendo NX console. While the title will be Wii U compatible, games that span console generations typically look far less impressive on older consoles. Sure, this might be different for Breath of the Wild, but the safe bet is on planning to pick up a new console to go with the new game.
The NX is also promised to be an all-new gaming experience. Though we don't yet know the details, Nintendo has said that it's not just a new version of the Wii or Wii U but something unique. While the Wii U was something of a disappointment, the Wii brought us fresh new styles of gameplay — and if Nintendo has something equally exciting on the way, we'll all want to wait for it. So right now, skip the Wii U and hold out for the NX.
If cash is burning a hole in your pocket and you just have to give it to Nintendo, pick up a 3DS instead. The 3DS has always been a great mobile gaming platform, and it still offers enough to make it a compelling buy even when we have a world of smartphone games at our fingertips. And if you hadn't heard, there's a new Pokemon due out in November. (Cue excited shrieking.)
Should I wait for Microsoft's Project Scorpio?
Due out holiday 2017, the next console in the Xbox lineup is going to be a real powerhorse — Microsoft says it's the most powerful console ever. For current Xbox One owners, this is the console you should wait for. Unlike the relatively minor upgrade to 4K that the One S offers, Scorpio boasts big upgrades to processing power and graphics capability. While Microsoft's done little more than announce that Scorpio exists, games running on the new platform promise to impress.
However, if you don't yet own an Xbox One, you may be questioning whether to buy the new One S or wait for Scorpio — and that really depends on how eager you are to play current Xbox One exclusives. Microsoft has promised that Scorpio will be backward compatible with current One titles, so, if you can wait until the end of 2017, you can play ReCore and Halo Wars 2 on the latest hardware. But if you can't wait that long... well, the One S is a pretty good buy.
Can you sum all that up?
Okay, let's break things down into an easy to understand bulleted list:
- Xbox One S: A good buy if you don't already own an Xbox One and want to get in on the current generation of games. However, patient gamers who can hold off until the end of 2017 could pick up Scorpio instead.
- Updated PlayStation 4: Though we have yet to get a confirmed price or feature-set from Sony, it's likely to be a good buy for anyone who doesn't own a PlayStation 4 but wants to get in on the current generation of games. Sony's lineup of PlayStation VR titles, due out this fall, are an especially compelling reason to make the leap. (Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in VR may either be a selling point or a reason to stay away — either is totally reasonable.)
- Nintendo Wii U: If you wanted to play Wii U games, you already own one. And if you don't, there's absolutely no reason to buy a Wii U now.
- Nintendo NX: This is likely to be a must-buy for Nintendo fans, no matter what. But, as for everyone else, we'll have to wait and see what the NX actually is.
- Microsoft Project Scorpio: Without anything solid on what Sony and Nintendo plan for their next-gen consoles, it's impossible to say if Scorpio will be the winner of the next console wars. However, if you're a current Xbox One owner, Scoprio is probably the upgrade you're waiting for.