If you're in need of some last minute persuasion, one way or the other, when it comes to which next generation console you're going to pick up over the coming months, what better place to start than by checking out some of the titles slated for exclusive release on each system? Following Microsoft's decision to about turn on some of their more controversial announcements, the playing field is as close as it's ever been. We already know that both systems are quite evenly matched in terms of hardware and potential performance (memory discrepancies aside), so the only way to make the right decision is to base your purchase on the system that appeals most to you on the gaming front...
However you feel about FPS titles, there's no denying that they've become synonymous with gaming in much the same way that platformers did back in the mid-90s. For many people, the FPS experience is the be all and end all of gaming, and with the kind of sales figures that Call of Duty racks up every year, it's easy to see why so many companies continue to push hard in the space.
The PlayStation 4 launches with the latest instalment in its flagship shooter franchise, Killzone: Shadow Fall. First shown at the console's announcement conference back in February, Shadow Fall is one of the most visually stunning titles we've ever seen. Eschewing the series' penchant for dull greys and browns, and instead liberally applying colour and vibrancy wherever possible, it's definitely a looker. However, concerns have been raised from some quarters that, unless the gameplay receives a significant overhaul from its predecessors, the end product may disappoint. We've not had a chance to play it yet, sadly, so we're as in the dark as the rest of you, but we have faith that Guerrilla Games can deliver the goods.
It's also worth keeping an eye out for Primal Carnage: Genesis, an episodic FPS from Lukewarm Media that bears a suspicious resemblance to Jurassic Park - which isn't a bad thing. That'll be getting a timed exclusive PS4 launch. Those of you tight on funds can look forward to free-to-play shooter Planetside 2 too; the PC version is fantastic so it'll be well worth a download, while Blacklight: Retribution will also be making an appearance as a free-to-play title. And although unconfirmed, there's a strong likelihood that we'll see Day Z making its debut (as a timed exclusive at the very least) on Sony's platform.
On the Xbox One side of things, there's obviously the brand new Halo title that was teased at Microsoft's E3 show back in June. Little is known about it, but it doesn't appear to be Halo 5 (a title that will also be an Xbox One exclusive), which raises questions as to whether it'll be a first person shooter or a fresh twist on the series, ala 2009's Halo Wars.
The biggest coup for Microsoft has been the capture of Respawn Entertainment's EA published Titanfall. As the first release from Respawn, a studio comprised of former Infinity Ward developers, there's obviously a lot of expectation on its shoulders, but it looks like it'll deliver and then some. Although it's not your traditional FPS title, given that it features huge mechs as a major part of gameplay, the development team obviously knows what goes into a decent online multiplayer shooter experience.
Of course, both consoles will feature the likes of Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, as well as any future instalments in each series, so if none of the exclusives tickle your fancy, you'll still be able to get your FPS fill whichever system you decide on. For us though, based on what's been confirmed to date, the Xbox One comes out on top in this round.
Switching perspective from the first to third person, but sticking with shooters, PlayStation 4 owners will be able to get their hands on the excellent Warframe from day one, another splendid free-to-play offering that features cross play between the PC and PS4 versions of the game, which is pretty damn awesome if you ask us!
The real standout third person shooter on PS4 for us, though, is The Order: 1886 from Santa Monica Studio and Ready at Dawn. No actual gameplay footage has been shown to date, but we have been able to check out some footage rendered in real-time using the game's engine which, although not quite the same thing, should prove to be a fair reflection of what we can expect. It's a steampunk themed title set in an alternate London in the late 1800s, and it looks like a hell of a lot of fun. The juxtaposition between the architecture and high tech weaponry is jarring at first, but the premise should lend itself to some interesting twists and turns.
The Xbox One is curiously lacking when it comes to third person shooters at the moment. Aside from the incredibly fun looking, and recently confirmed as multi-platform, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, there's nothing planned for the launch window, and fellow multi-platform Ubisoft title Tom Clancy's The Division (out at some point next year) is pretty much as good as it gets in terms of confirmed titles. However, all is not lost, and it's almost a given that we'll have our first glimpses of a next-gen Gears of War title at some point in the next year, and, although not a straight up third person shooter, Crimson Dragon does look a tasty title. It's an on-the-rails shooter from Grounding Inc. and Land Ho! that's looking every bit the spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon titles of yesteryear. So with a real lack of options on the Xbox One front, we've got to opt for the PS4 in this category.
One area that's not lacking on either system is the action adventure genre. As a rule, we hate this particular label, given that it's not in the slightest bit descriptive due to its broad range, but if we were to individually catalogue everything we'd be here all day!
For us, the standout action adventure title for PS4 is definitely shaping up to be inFAMOUS: Second Son. Set after the events of inFAMOUS 2, it brings us an all-protagonist in the shape of Deslin Rowe, a 24 year old layabout and graffiti artist. Similar to Peter in Heroes (remember that?) Deslin can absorb the abilities of other conduits, which should make him a versatile hero. Already this is looking fantastic, and if Sucker Punch can deliver the same level of immersion as they managed with the first two inFAMOUS titles, this will definitely be worth picking up.
Also exclusively on PS4 is Outlast from developer Red Barrels. It's more a survival horror than your archetypal action adventure, but it's got enough in common with the genre to find itself shoehorned in here. Rather than taking on your enemies with exotic weapons or special abilities, players will need to evade, escape and avoid combat. It might sound dull, but this is shaping up to be a real pant-browner, and definitely not one for the faint hearted!
The Xbox One, on the other hand, has a far more varied selection here. First up, you've got Dead Rising 3. The first two DR titles sold reasonably well, but we couldn't help feeling they ran out of steam a little around the midway point. Having said that, though, mowing down hordes of zombies with increasingly ridiculous improvised weaponry was always a hoot, and that side of play returns here. The game itself, however, is a much darker affair, with Capcom Vancouver appearing to have carefully straddled that fine line between retaining the series' humour and injecting a more mature aesthetic.
Then there's the gorgeous looking Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games, the studio behind the incredibly fun Ratchet & Clank series, as well as PS3 franchise Resistance. The game's bright and vivid visuals are complemented by a tone that's similar in style to the R&C titles, while the open world combat is focused on player agility, fast reactions and extremely acrobatic navigation - all in the name of dispatching wave after wave of mutant aberrations.
Two more XBO titles that have been grabbing our attention are Ryse: Son of Rome from Crytek, a historical third person combat title that began life as a Kinect-focused game, and Quantum Break, the secretive real-time meets in-game crossover thing. Although Ryse looked a little too QTE heavy at E3, the trailers were quite deceiving, and it's actually a lot more fluid than it seems - and those popups aren't QTEs, they're combo suggestions. Round three: Xbox One!
To slow the pace down a little, it's time to take a look at RPGs - an area where the PS4 has a distinct advantage over the Xbox One, in that it's actually got some. While we're sure the XBO will have some confirmed sooner rather than later, this is quite a one sided round, as the PS4 has Deep Down, Diablo III (although the Xbox 360 has already gotten that) and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn already confirmed. Deep Down is the one we're most looking forward to out of that bunch. It's coming courtesy of Capcom, and will feature the company's brand new Panta Rhei engine - although little is known about it beyond that. PS4 wins this round by default.
To turn the tide back in the XBO's favour, however, it's got the only console exclusive fighting and sports games confirmed to date, with Rare's Killer Instinct making a long awaited return, and Kinect Sports Rivals and Powerstar Golf covering the sports side of things. Killer Instinct is an interesting one, given that the entire game will be made available for a single character, Jago, free of charge on launch. This unique twist on the playable demo will allow players to get a feel for the title before spending their hard-earned cash on unlocking the rest of the content. We can't say we're particularly excited by either of the sports games though, as it's unlikely they'll amount to much more than casual fun in small doses - plus all the sports franchises that matter are multi-platform anyway, so we're going to call that a tie, and award the fighting game round to the Xbox One.
One area we can't separate the two consoles' exclusives is in the racing genre. We're huge racing fans here at Click so the fact that we can look forward to DriveClub on PS4 and Forza Motorsport 5 on XBO has really got us excited. Both feature huge online components, with DriveClub capable of supporting an insane number of players taking part in events simultaneously, and Forza 5 offering its innovative Drivatar functionality, which carefully monitors your driving style whenever you're playing and faithfully recreates it for use in online play while you're away from your console. Both titles look spectacular, and should be hugely successful - but PlayStation Plus subscribers have the added benefit of being able to download a special PS+ version of DriveClub free of charge on launch day! Nevertheless, this one's a tie.
And so onto one of the more controversial sides of both consoles - indie titles. Microsoft has been to-ing and fro-ing very publically on its stance with indie developers since the Xbox One was announced, but they've finally seen some sense, and opened the console up for self-published titles. At the time of writing we hadn't yet seen the knock-on effects of this announcement however (Toronto-based Capybara Games' previously confirmed Below aside), so the PS4 wins here with a clean sweep. With titles like Don't Starve from Canada's own Klei Entertainment, The Witness from Braid developer Johnathan Blow's Number None studio, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Transistor and Secret Ponchos among others, the PS4 is definitely the place to be for indies.
So, with both consoles tied at 3 wins apiece in our highly scientific breakdown, there's only one round to go, the hotly contested 'other' category, that contains everything else we couldn't fit in elsewhere. The PS4 is low on numbers here, really only offering Knack and Hohokum, but both are shaping up to be tasty treats. Knack in particular is a game we're incredibly excited for, given our penchant for brightly coloured platform-cum-action titles, and the involvement of Mark Cerny (who also served as the PS4's chief hardware architect) marks it as one to keep a close eye on.
The Xbox One, on the other hand, has quite a few titles up its sleeve in the form of Kinect-based D4, Fantasia: Music Evolved, Project Spark (Team Dakota's LittleBigPlanet-alike) and strategy title Zoo Tycoon. Project Spark is a particularly interesting title that innovatively uses second screen technology to allow players a much more tactile method of crafting imaginative game worlds to share with their friends. We love Little Big Planet, but the editor has always been a little on the fiddly side, and if Team Dakota can deliver the goods here, it will really open up the genre to a whole new audience. So the deciding round goes to the Xbox One, meaning it pips the PS4 to the post overall.
Ultimately, though, it'll be your own personal preference that dictates what console you go for. The PS4 is cheaper and offers more free-to-play titles, and PlayStation Plus is a must have, offering a wealth of free content for around $5 per month. The system doesn't ship with an out-of-the-box motion control system, however, and the new PlayStation Camera will need to be purchased separately, unlike the Xbox One which ships with Kinect as standard. Whichever console you opt for, you're going to be getting a genuine next-gen powerhouse that will serve you for years to come - plus there will be no shortage of multi-platform third-party titles to get to grips with!