Last week, I got an e-mail from a reader with a simple yet challenging question: Which video game console should they buy?
It’s a question we often discuss but have never quite answered definitively here on Kotaku. As we enter 2016, there are six main gaming machines—four stationary, two portable—that compete for our time and credit cards. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. One console might have the best exclusives but lack third-party games; another might be a delightful piece of hardware whose creators have abandoned it. There is no undisputed “best.”
All six modern options—the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, the Vita, the Wii U, the 3DS, and the PC—are excellent machines in a variety of ways. There’s no perfect recommendation, no catch-all advice that can indiscriminately tell anyone which console to buy. But we can break down all the pros and cons so you, fine Kotaku reader and/or Google stumbler, can decide which is the best fit for you. Enjoy!
When it comes to playing video games, one machine has always had the most to offer: the good old personal computer. Buying a modern gaming computer is a little trickier than getting a console—you’ll have to read up on graphics cards, SSDs, and RAM—but you’ll have access to the biggest, broadest library of games out there. Sure, you’ll miss out on console exclusives like Destiny and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, but if you have the money, space, and patience, a gaming PC is a great investment.
What you’re getting: Depends what you buy. Investing big money into a beefy machine will let you play games like The Witcher 3 at stunning levels of graphical fidelity, especially if you take the time to futz around with mods. But that’ll cost you more than a PS4 or Xbox One. Still, even a cheap laptop with integrated graphics will give you access to a ton of must-play classic games that you just can’t get on a console.
What you’re not getting: A simple, streamlined game machine. Computer gaming is a bit more expensive and a bit more complicated than just buying one of Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo’s consoles, so if you want to join the ranks of PC gamers, prepare for a learning curve. Occasionally we’ll see multiplatform games run like garbage on the PC, which is also a bummer. (For shame, Arkham Knight.)
Key 2015 exclusives: StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, Pillars of Eternity, Undertale