Thu, Oct 17, 2013 | 10:36 BST
PS4 vs Xbox One: Sony’s launch line-up is populous but whimsical
PS4 and Xbox One are just a few weeks away; if you haven’t already made up your mind, now’s the time. We kick off a close look at both consoles’ software line-up with Sony’s multitude of exclusives.
PS4: launch line up works with PlayStation’s strengths
Below you’ll find a list of titles known to be available for PlayStation 4 when it launches in North America on November 15 and in Europe on November 29. Over the next few days, we’ll take a look at the Xbox One’s line-up, as well as a hefty group of big-hitters shared by both platforms.
Going purely by numbers, Sony clearly has the advantage, but enough of its line up is composed of indies and ports of existing games that the extra titles may not carry as much weight with the core, early-adopter audience. On the other hand, those after a bit of diversity will be well-rewarded by the PS4, and the Xbox One lacks a really strong first-party exclusive like Halo to remind fans why Microsoft’s box has reigned supreme in North America this generation.
PlayStation has become something of an indie darling over the past year and its launch line-up reflects this. As such, it’s heavy on digital releases and whimsical experiences – but Sony has played it safe and packed in some hefty exclusives, too. This list does not include titles announced for Japanese PS4 launch but as yet unconfirmed for the west such as Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends and Yakuza Ishin.
Basement Crawl – PlayStation favourite Bloober Team – whom we still have a soft spot for, since it’s the remains of Sadness developer Nibris – is back with another digital-only title. Basement Crawl is a maze-based multiplayer action game with a dark childhood aesthetic and gameplay inspired by Spy vs Spy and Bomberman.
Blacklight: Retribution – Zombie Studios is bringing its free-to-play shooter to PS4 after garnering reasonable success on PC. The multiplayer only sequel to Blacklight: Tango Down is looking pretty tasty on the new hardware.
Contrast – An indie also coming to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, Contrast is an action-adventure platformer with bold aesthetic direction. It stars not one but two females, one of whom is a little girl, and its plot concerns a shattered marriage and imaginary friends. It has a stunning swing soundtrack and looks altogether glorious, actually.
Counterspy – One of three Sony-published indies announced before E3 this year, Counterspy is a Cold War-inspired sidescrolling spy action game also coming to PS3 and Vita. The PlayStation Blog had an early look at it but it’s gone fairly quiet since the PS4 reveal.
DC Universe Online – Sony Online Entertainment’s free-to-play licensed superhero MMO is, of course, already available on PC and PS3, but the publisher is keen to further capitalise on its console success. And it has been a success, make no mistake; the PS3 version of DCUO is SOE’s fastest-growing business segment.
Divekick – A bit of an odd one, Divekick is both a parody and distillation of the fighter genre. It has just one move – the titular divekick – so instead of focusing on knowing combos battles boil down to the real skill of head-to-head fighting, namely anticipating and reacting to your opponent’s actions. It’s already out on PS3 and Vita and was recently passed through Steam Greenlight, but if you haven’t checked it out yet it’s really worth a look.
Doki-Doki Universe – The second entry in our indie trilogy, Doki-Doki Universe is a strange beast indeed. From the mind that created Toejam & Earl, and in the works since at least April 2012, it will have a free-to-play component with messaging and personality quizzes, plus premium DLC providing an “RPG/Simulation/Interactive Story” game in a “huge simulated living universe”. It’s also coming to PS3 and Vita, and you should probably check out its trailer, which is packed with adorable robots.
Driveclub – What needs to be said about Sony’s very sensible decision to include a racing game in a hardware launch? The frequently embarrassing Ridge Racer has thankfully gone into hiding, and Sony has instead mustered Evolution Studios for a new kind of racer – massively social and partially free-to-play. Racers do best on new consoles, since they’re mainly sold on graphics, and Driveclub looks incredibly shiny.
Flower – Yes, it’s a re-release, but a PlayStation home console without a single compatible thatgamejourney title should be a crime. Flower was the company’s break-out hit after the under-the-radar success of flOw, and presaged the long, troubled development of its incredible opus Journey. You play the wind. It’s pretty rad, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more lovely the PS4 version looks in comparison to the PS3 release.
Hohokum – The final member of the indie triumvirate hails from Honeyslug, the developer of Frobisher Says currently incubating inside SCE Santa Monica, just as thatgamecompany did. Hohokum is also coming to PS3 and Vita, and gets its colour from a collaboration with artist Richard Hogg. It aims to avoid gaming tropes like missions and failure, but does contain secrets and trophies. We’ve been waiting for this one for a while, as it’s been floating about the festival circuit for ages.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition – Warner Bros. and Sony are clearly having a bit of a mutual lovefest at the moment, as NetherRealm’s DC-licensed fighter is coming to both PS4 and Vita – and not Xbox One. We’re yet to see the next-gen version in action, unfortunately.
Killzone: Shadow Fall – Another stupidly obvious launch inclusion. Although Battlefield and Call of Duty provide plenty of shooty-shoot this November, that Sony managed to get a first-party shooter in time for new hardware but Microsoft didn’t is a puzzle. It’s a win for Guerrilla, though; Killzone: Shadow Fall may not quite have the chops to stand up to Halo 4 or Gears of War 4 but it’s a solid property from a great team, and a heck of a lot better choice than another Resistance.
Knack – The man who led the hardware design of the PS4 has also made a game for it. Mark Cerny has been open about his admiration for games like Crash Bandicoot, which were simple but challenging, and hopes Knack will help address the lack of character action games in recent generations. That said, he wants it to be a launch title for the whole family, and to be easy enough to be someone’s first game, possibly thanks to local co-op.
Minecraft – Mojang’s sandbox finally makes the jump to PlayStation after years of waiting. Detractors may claim that everybody is over Minecraft, but they said the same thing when it came to Xbox 360, where it proceeded to sell gangbusters regardless. Sony’s growing acceptance of frequent updates and developer ownership may end up making the Sony version better. Minecraft is also coming to PS3 and Vita.
N++ – This one almost got lost in the noise of Sony’s sudden explosion of indie announcements. N++ represents the culmination of ten years of effort from developer Metanet Software, which has never quite felt satisfied with its platformer despite repeat iterations.
The Pinball Arcade – This Farsight Studios game is available on or on its way to practically everything except the Xbox One. We don’t know much about The Pinball Arcade, actually, but I’m going out on a limb to suggest it’s probably about Pinball. Gosh.
Planetside 2 – As mentioned above, Sony Online Entertainment is enjoying considerable success with its free-to-play console MMO adventures, and Planetside 2 is a bit of a no-brainer for PS4 since by all accounts it’s pretty splendid. It won’t have cross-play, unfortunately, but there is some possibility of character transfers and the UGC tools will come to the console.
Res0gun – Finnish developer Housemarque revived an Amiga classic for the PS3 with Super Stardust HD and thereby uncovered a lack in our lives we hadn’t even realised was there. Here’s hoping it does it again with Res0gun, a side scrolling shooter and spiritual successor to the Stardust series. It’s going to be free with PlayStation Plus on launch day.
Super Motherload – A procedurally-generated digging game, Super Motherload has been described by press as addictive and rewarding. It’s also coming to PS3, Mac and PC, and recently passed through Steam Greenlight.
War Thunder – Yet another free-to-play offering, War Thunder is a warplanes MMO from Gaijin Entertainment (not to be confused with Gaijin Games of Bit.Trip fame). The PC version is currently in beta with 3 million users, and the PS4 release will have cross-play from the get go. In fact, it’s not coming to Xbox One because Microsoft wouldn’t allow cross-play.
Warframe – The Darkness 2 developer Digital Extremes describes Warframe as a space ninja action game. It’s a free-to-play, third-person co-op shooter with procedurally generated environments, unique classes and lots of different customisations to unlock. It has an interesting sci-fi story and a sleek, organic aesthetic.
Tune in tomorrow and Friday for a look at the competition as well as games headed to both consoles. Launch line up shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing a console, of course; both systems have loads of exclusives and third-party titles coming during their launch windows and beyond.