When it comes to new gamers, or even veteran gamers choosing a platform to play on can be intimidating. You can be faced with a variety of choices, even as a parent choosing one for their child. This guide can come in handy by helping you narrow down your choice without feeling overwhelmed or pressured by irrelevant parties that tend to be a bit biased with their opinions. I mean let’s be honest, gamers can be the worst fanboys and their views might not be aligned with your best interests. In light of this I am going to break it down by covering each current generation system along with their advantages and disadvantages. These systems will be the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, PC, and I will also touch upon the Classic editions of retro consoles.
The Nintendo Switch was released on March 3rd of 2017, and made a huge comeback for the company since the Wii U console that was largely unsuccessful due to it’s limitations. Part of what made the console so successful is the fact that it was immediately open to 3rd party titles and support, and also has a unique design for home console and as well as portable, and the exclusive titles that were strong candidates for 2017 Game of the Year.
However, why should anyone choose this console over the others? Firstly this console is well suited to those whom are mostly on the go. Any full time employee that has limited time for gaming can easily take this console with them to work. The Nintendo Switch is a handheld console that has the a docking station that enables it to be play on a TV making it also viable as a home console, and has a platform that allows coordinating game play with other remote players. This capability is very well suited for those who often travel as well as the homebody. This console is an excellent choice for families, as Nintendo is mostly known for popular family oriented games like Super Mario Brothers, Pokemon, and even goofy games like Arms. Gamers with a budget can also benefit from picking the Switch since it only costs 299.99 instead of spending 499.99 like the other console choices.
For gamers that do not care for playing on the big screen, the Switch Lite version is available at 199.99. Though additional accessories can be expensive, you still get everything you need just buying the console by itself. The other big plus is you’ll have access to Nintendo exclusive games that will not be available on any other platform, such as Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The Switch also now features live services to play online games with others such as Splatoon 2 and Overwatch, and the subscription is much cheaper than other services starting at 3.99 a month.
That being said there are some downsides to going down this route. A lot of accessories are sold separately, such as a protective case and screen protector. The screen for the Switch is plastic and easily scratched up. Some of the accessories, like additional joy cons for family events are expensive, as a pair of joy cons costs 69.99 USD and you will need to get a separate docking station. Another factor to consider is that the joy cons are extremely small, so for those with bigger hands will probably end up dropping another 59.99 on the Pro Controller. Additionally, you will also probably end up buying an SD card since the console only offers 32 GB of storage. Going along with the storage dilemma, it must be said that not all games will auto save to Cloud storage. Lastly, if you want to play in full 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, this is not your console. Nintendo has never been about being the latest and greatest, they hold value in their games and are more invested in their consumers instead of performance.
The Playstation 5 is Sony’s newest console which released on November 12th of 2020, and made remarkable improvements from their Playstation 4. It is the best selling new generation console so far with 4.5 million units sold and 47.4 million subscribers. This system is sold at your local stores for 499.99 for the disc edition, and 399.99 for the digital edition making it a pretty hefty purchase. Which is why I am narrowing down the pros and cons to help you decide if this is the best choice for you.
First and foremost, I always say base your console choice on what your friends play on if you play online often. It can be pretty lonely for those who base their choice off of internet or local peer pressure, and we all have ran into elitists at your local Best Buy or GameStop that have their own opinions that may differ from yours. However if you genuinely don’t care about playing with your friends, there are still a number of great reasons that the PS5 can be well suited for you. First and foremost we all love Sony exclusives such as Bloodborne, Spiderman, Ghost of Tsushima, and God of War. While these exclusives are making their way to PC, not everyone has that budget, and you may have to wait years until new releases launch on that platform, IF they ever do.
This console is also more geared toward single player gamers with Japanese Style and Action Adventure RPGs respectively. You also get powerful performance from the PS5, with the ability to play new titles in 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, add their 3D audio support and controller that uses haptic feedback.
Nevertheless there are some downsides to this platform. Chiefly the storage size for their SSD, which is only 825GB, and the system is just not as powerful as the Xbox Series X. So for those who want the most powerful console, you might want to look at other options. Another downside is that while their backwards compatible list is impressive, it does pale in comparison to the available Xbox selection that goes as far back as the original Xbox’s titles. The overall design for the console is also extremely huge compared to other consoles, which might prove inconvenient for those with limited space. That being said, the console is a great pick for the gamer more geared towards single player RPGs, or those who absolutely love Sony’s exclusive titles that are almost always Game of Year candidates.
On November 10th, 2020 Microsoft released it’s Xbox Series X, the most powerful console of this generation. While the console was remarkably improved from the last entry, the launch did not do well, like previous console launch. That being said, the Series X is still an excellent option for gamers that love multiplayer games, Microsoft exclusives, and the most powerful performance that doesn’t bust the budget, and a great choice for those who love PC gaming, but need a break from traditional PC play. This console is a beast, running up to 8K resolution, the 12 Teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU and runs at 120 fps with 16 GB of RAM. The Series X is also usable as a home theater system to watch movies or stream in general. You can gain access to exclusives (also on PC) such as Halo, Gears of War, and Sea of Thieves, making this console perfect for players that want to make the most of a multiplayer experience.
If higher performance isn’t as important, you can also step down to the Series S. This is just a less powerful and cheaper option for those who care more for the multiplayer aspect and don’t want to fork out 499.99 USD. At 299.99 USD the Series S console still suits online gamers that need to budget but still care about pure performance. There aren’t as many of the more popular its counterparts, but it is cross compatible and cross save with PC, and allows for the use of the Xbox Game Pass, which carries over to PC as an app. With this option you can start playing on an Xbox machine, save, and literally pick up where you left off on your computer. You can also play with PC key and mouse friends who don’t have an Xbox.
Xbox is also know for its backward compatibility, so most of the original Xbox or Xbox 360 titles can be played on various Xbox consoles in upscaled resolution and frames. While the Xbox Series X has amazing perks, there are things to consider. There are a lack of many new titles available because of a poor launch and horrible performance shown for Halo Infinite. Also since Xbox Game Pass is compatible with PC, it might be more expeditious to do PC gaming if you have the budget and are not concerned with having a console, especially one you might find inconvenient or visually unappealing.
Last but not least, classic PC gaming has limitless options, and can prove to be the ultimate and most powerful experience with varying costs. You can buy a prebuilt computer, laptop or make your own build. However, to get the best performance despite what biased opinions might say, you will be spending at least a grand if not more especially with current surge in demand due to the huge influx of online education and employment brought on by Covid.
PC gaming is the best avenue for those who want the most customization for their gaming and performance experience. You can get apps and download games from almost any major gaming company like Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and EA. You also get great platforms like Steam that have excellent bundles and a massive collection of various games dating back to the Stone Age. You’ll also find apps for customizing your accessories and parts, i.e. Razer offers headset, mouse, keyboard, and even mousepad customization; AMD will offer you a performance customization app for your motherboard, GPU, CPU, and more.
A personal computer can be updated as needed and can last a lot longer instead of having to upgrade often with new gaming consoles. These serve as great examples for players looking to maximize their performance and have total control over how they choose to play. However there are downsides for going down the computer route, such as price. You can spend less to play, but those players will find you won’t be playing in 2K nor 4K with limited frames depending on your settings. Even with a smaller budget you will be looking $800 at the bare minimum.
Those looking to build will also find that the market is totally off the charts with GPU and CPU prices. Tt might be far better to buy preowned at this point in time. Portable gaming laptops are great if you are on the go a lot, however they have a tendency to run hot because of the graphics which tends to give them a shorter life span. PC’s also have a learning curve, because unlike consoles you generally have to adjust your game settings to reach the quality you want. Not all games available have an automatic optimization setting for your build. You’ll also end up needing to learn how to use different apps to monitor your performance or adjust your peripherals. Lastly, operating systems can be quite expensive and literally a pain to deal with. Windows 10 nearly always releases bad updates in need of patches which can lead to minor issues such as audio problems all the way to random crashes.
Lastly and briefly I want to touch on the Classic Editions of retro consoles. Gaming companies have been releasing new classic mini versions of retro consoles like the NES Classic, Sega Genesis Mini, and the Playstation Classic. These mini consoles come loaded with old bangers like Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Metal Gear Solid. These are great options for collectors, retro players or for those who just want to buy a quick console for the family for a few hundred dollars. A downside to these consoles is how fragile they are and that you are limited to the preloaded games, but they still are great buys for the price and love of nostalgia.
It can be a struggle for gamers to find the right gaming console or computer that best fits their needs or play style. As a gaming fan that has owned nearly every platform, I hope this article serves as a guide that helps players veteran and new find the platform that best suits them.
Veteran gamer, tech nerd, comic addict, anime lover, and just your average introverted weeb.