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If you’re trying to decide which game console to buy, get the one with more of the games you want to play, and if you’re interested in multiplayer, get the one your friends have. Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One S provide similar game performance and have most of the same games, but the PS4’s game library and VR support make it the console we would recommend for most people. (We also like the Nintendo Switch and a few Nintendo 2DS models. A PS4 Pro or Xbox One X is worth the investment only if you want to game in 4K.)

Best game console for most people: Sony PlayStation 4

Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

our pick

Sony PlayStation 4

Sony PlayStation 4

The best game console for most people

The huge library of exclusive games, such as 'Horizon Zero Dawn', 'Uncharted 4' and 'God of War', make the PS4 a fantastic option no matter what kinds of games you like to play.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 36,490

The PlayStation 4 has a large library of games you can’t play anywhere else, and it’s the only game console that supports a virtual reality headset. It also comes with our favourite gaming controller, an easy-to-use interface, and support for both internal and external hard-drive upgrades. The PlayStation Plus subscription service
provides online multiplayer and two free games a month, equivalent to what you get from the Xbox Live Gold service. Most people should get the standard PS4 model, not the PS4 Pro, unless you have a 4K TV or plan to buy one very soon.

The PS4 and Xbox One are similar enough that they get most of the same games, including titles in popular franchises like Call of Duty, Destiny and Madden. However, each system has its own set of exclusive titles that aren’t available on any other console.

The PS4 has more top-rated exclusive titles than the Xbox One, including God of War, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, Horizon Zero Dawn, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian. Most of them are available only on the PS4, unlike the Xbox One’s exclusives, which are often available on the PC too. That makes the PS4 a better option than the Xbox One even if you already have a gaming PC. You can find Sony’s exclusive game library here.

If you plan on playing online games, get the console your friends have, because Sony usually doesn’t support cross-platform multiplayer with the Xbox One or the Nintendo Switch. Both Xbox and PlayStation require a subscription to access even basic online functions. On the PS4, this subscription is called PlayStation Plus, on the Xbox, it’s Xbox Live Gold.

Like Xbox Live Gold, PS Plus gives you two free games a month (of varying quality) and special discounts on some titles during sales. You keep the free games as long as you have a PS Plus subscription, but you lose access to them if you cancel your subscription, even if you already downloaded them. With PS Plus, you also get automatic game and operating system updates, and cloud storage for saves. You do not have to pay for PS Plus to use streaming video services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Unlike with Xbox Live Gold, you don’t need PS Plus to use the PS4’s Party Chat system to voice-chat with friends. However, the PlayStation Network service has struggled with reliability, suffering from slow downloads and downtime issues. Xbox Live is usually more stable than PSN, which is important if you play a lot of games online.

Unlike the Xbox One, the PS4 lets you experiment with virtual reality. PlayStation VR is one of our favourite VR systems, and it plays VR versions of games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Resident Evil 7 and Doom (you can find a full list of compatible VR games here). If VR is the feature you’re most interested in, you may want to consider the PS4 Pro, because the Pro console can improve VR game performance, which we detail in a section below.

The PS4 doesn’t have backward compatibility with older generations of games, in contrast to the Xbox One, which can play most Xbox 360 discs. You can stream select PS3 and PS4 games with the PlayStation Now subscription service. It’s packed with PS3 classics like Uncharted 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, but the PS4 game selection is weak, so it’s worthwhile only if you want to play older games.

Unlike the Xbox One S, the PS4 doesn’t support 4K video (the PS4 Pro does – more on that later) but does have a respectable number of media streaming apps. However, we don’t recommend buying a game console for its streaming capabilities – you can find cheaper, less power-hungry media streaming devices, like the Roku Streaming Stick+, that do the job better. If you have a 4K TV and want to make the most of it, the Xbox One S or PS4 Pro is a better option. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One S can output HDR if you have a TV that supports it, but not all games support it.

On the PS4 you can stream any game to a Windows or Mac computer with your PS4 controller attached to it using Remote Play. This feature works best on your home network, but you can access it remotely as well, though we’d recommend that only for slow-paced games because remote streaming can be laggy. The Xbox One S has a similar feature, but it works only with Windows 10 and only on the same network as your Xbox One.

Also great, with 4K video: Microsoft Xbox One S

Photo credit: Adam Burakowski.


Microsoft Xbox One S

Microsoft Xbox One S

For 4K video and a solid library of games

The Xbox One S is a solid machine for streaming 4K video, and it can play games from the Xbox 360 and the original Xbox.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 27,150

If you want a console that can stream 4K video and play 4K Blu-rays, if you’re invested in Microsoft-exclusive game franchises like Halo or Gears of War, or if you have a library of Xbox 360 or original-Xbox games, buy the Xbox One S. (You should consider the Xbox One X if you want to play games in 4K too, but at a little over one-and-a-half-times the price of the XBox One S, it’s a tough sell.)

The Xbox One doesn’t have as many critically acclaimed exclusive games as the PS4 does, but it still has a solid library of games you can’t get on PlayStation, including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Cuphead, Ori and the Blind Forest, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5. However, as we mention above, almost all of them are also available for the PC, so if you already have a gaming PC, the PS4 will give you more options.

The Xbox One S requires an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play multiplayer games online. As with PlayStation Plus, an Xbox Live Gold subscription includes two free games a month that you lose if you stop paying for the service, as well as discounts on downloadable games. You need to pay for Xbox Live Gold to access a party-chat system where you can team up with a group of friends to voice-chat, play games and move between games easily. Even without an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can still enable automatic updates and have access to cloud storage for save files – PlayStation 4 owners can’t do that without paying for PS Plus.

The Xbox One S can play a large number of Xbox 360 and original-Xbox titles. If you have a compatible original-Xbox or 360 game disc, you can download those games to your Xbox One S. If you downloaded Xbox 360 games from Xbox Live in the past, you can redownload them to the Xbox One from your My Games page. The PS4 can’t do any of this. The Xbox One S also has a subscription service called Game Pass, where you can access a library of current and previous-generation games, just like with PlayStation Now. Neither Game Pass nor PlayStation Now includes just-released games, but Game Pass offers a much better selection of current-generation games, such as Gears of War 4 and Halo 5.

Unlike the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One S supports 4K video streaming and 4K UHD Blu-rays. It has a solid library of streaming video apps, including the home theatre software Kodi.

You can stream games from your Xbox One S to your PC with the game streaming feature, but it works only with Windows 10 on your home network. Microsoft also has a service called Play Anywhere, through which you can buy games on your Xbox One and also download and play them on PC. It doesn’t include many compatible games, but it’s nice to have.

Xbox One S PlayStation 4
Price Rs 27,100 Rs 34,990
Multiplayer cost
Rs 699 per month or Rs 3,999 per year Rs 599 per month or Rs 4,439 per year
Video output 4K HDR 1080p, HDR support for some titles
Optical drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Blu-ray
4K Blu-ray Yes No
4K streaming Yes No
Base-model HDD 1 TB 1 TB
VR No PlayStation VR
Backward compatibility Yes, with compatible Xbox 360and Xbox games No
Remote play Windows only Mac/Windows
Storage expansion External (USB) Internal or external (USB)

Most flexible console: Nintendo Switch

Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

Also great

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

For people who like to play games everywhere

If you want a console you can disconnect from the TV and take with you, or if you just prefer Nintendo’s games, the Switch is for you.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 25,490

The NintendoSwitch is both a home console like the PS4 and a portable one like the New 2DS XL. It’s a small tablet with controllers attached, and you can use it as a handheld or connect it to your TV with a dock – the games look and play the same either way. The Switch is not as powerful as the PS4 or Xbox One S, it can’t do anything in 4K and it will give you graphics quality somewhere between that of a PS3 and a PS4, but the portability and Nintendo’s first-party games make it amazing, and unlike any other console you can get.

The Switch is the newest of the bunch, launching in March 2017, so the library is smaller than that of any of the other consoles we looked at. But it still has a handful of great exclusive games, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2. The Switch has also become popular for a growing number of independent games like Celeste, Stardew Valley, Darkest Dungeon and Hollow Knight, as well as ports of older games like Skyrim and Bayonetta. Many of these titles are available on the Xbox One S and PS4 as well, but the Switch’s portability makes it easier to play on a train, on a plane or in bed.

The system’s portability and detachable motion controllers, called Joy-Cons, allow it to do some oddball things. This is best expressed by Nintendo Labo, an upcoming software-cardboard hybrid that allows you to turn the Switch and its controllers into a piano, a fishing rod, RC cars and more. A few of the Switch’s multiplayer games, such as Arms and Snipperclips, also make use of the motion controllers, for fans of Wii-style party games. For action-heavy single-player games, Nintendo also offers the more traditional (and excellent) Switch Pro Controller.

The Switch’s microSD card slot is underneath its kickstand. Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

Don’t buy the Switch for streaming video. It can’t read discs and currently has just one streaming video app: Hulu. The Switch has a few hidden costs too. The Joy-Cons are tiny and hard to hold, even with the included comfort grip, so you may want to purchase a Switch Pro Controller if you plan on playing with the Switch docked to a TV. Unless you’re committed to buying physical game cartridges for every release – and many of the Switch’s best third-party games are available only via download – you will also need a microSD card, because the Switch has only 32 GB of internal storage. A 128 GB card will give you enough space for quite a few games without adding too much to the cost.

Handheld with a great library: New Nintendo 2DS XL

Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

Also great

New Nintendo 2DS XL

New Nintendo 2DS XL

The biggest library of games

The New 2DS XL has a library of more than 3,000 games – enough to keep you busy for a long, long time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 24,999

Unlike the Switch, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is strictly a portable console, but one with a massive library of more than 1,200 games, not counting the thousands of previous-generation DS games it can play. The New 2DS XL is a two-screened portable game system – it’s part of the Nintendo 3DS family without the so-so 3D functionality, and it can play every 3DS game.

The biggest draw of the New 2DS XL is the game library. If you’re a longtime fan of Nintendo consoles, if you want a wide selection of Japanese-style role-playing games to choose from, or if you want to relive some childhood favourites, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is for you. It has a huge list of excellent games such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Super Mario 3D Land. The New 2DS XL can also play any of the more than 1,800 titles from the company’s first dual-screen portable console, the Nintendo DS. In addition, you get access to the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, which includes downloadable classic games from the NES, Game Boy, Sega Game Gear and Game Boy Color. The New systems can also play a handful of SNES games.

The original 3DS came out back in 2011, but the New in New Nintendo 2DS XL refers to a 2014 update that added an extra analogue nub, two extra shoulder buttons on the top of the console, Amiibo support, a more powerful processor and more memory. This means that New consoles load games a little faster, and you get access to a handful of games exclusive to the New line, like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, Minecraft and Fire Emblem Warriors.

The New 2DS XL (left) has larger screens, a hinge and a few extra buttons, but the regular 2DS (right) costs less and plays almost all of the same games. Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

If you plan to download a lot of games, you should also buy a higher-capacity microSD card to replace the cramped 4 GB card included with the system – 3DS games take up less space than Switch games, so 32 GB or 64 GB should be enough to store plenty of games comfortably.

The New Nintendo 3DS XL is the same as the New 2DS XL, but it offers glasses-free 3D and doesn’t come with an AC adapter. We’ve seen reports of screen-quality inconsistencies, but this chart on Reddit can help you track down a model with the screens you want. Buy the New 3DS XL only if you want 3D or you find an excellent deal.

2DS New 2DS XL New 3DS XL
Price Rs 19,812  Rs 24,999 Rs 27,999
3D No No Yes
Display size (top) 3.52 inches 4.88 inches 4.88 inches
Display size (bottom) 3 inches 3 inches 3 inches
Camera One front-facing, two out-facing One front-facing, two out-facing One front-facing, two out-facing
Storage 4 GB SD card (included), expandable to 128 GB 4 GB microSD card (included), expandable to 256 GB 4 GB microSD card (included), expandable to 256 GB
Battery life 3.5 to 5.5 hours 3.5 to 7 hours 3.5 to 7 hours
Game compatibility 3DS, DS New 3DS, 3DS, DS New 3DS, 3DS, DS
Virtual Console compatibility Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, NES Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, NES, SNES Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, NES, SNES
Amiibo support No Yes Yes

A budget handheld for kids: Nintendo 2DS

Photo credit: Andrew Cunningham.

budget pick

Nintendo 2DS

Nintendo 2DS

The cheapest way to play games

Offers almost the same massive library as the New 2DS XL, plus a more durable case and at a lesser price.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 19,812

The Nintendo 2DS ditches the book-like hinge of every other DS model in favour of a wedge shape and a slightly cheaper price tag. You can find a few different bundles that include preinstalled games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 7, New Super Mario Bros. 2. The wedge 2DS is a good, cheap option if you’re buying a handheld for a young child because there’s no hinge to break.

Like its bigger sibling, the 2DS can’t do glasses-free 3D, but it can play the majority of the 1,200 games in the 3DS library, everything in the DS catalogue of games and most of the classic Virtual Console titles from Nintendo’s eShop. It won’t play SNES Virtual Console titles or any of the New 3DS games, but other than Minecraft, you won’t find many of those that are likely to appeal to a younger audience. The 2DS also can’t scan Amiibos and has worse speakers than the New 2DS XL.

As with the New 2DS XL, you should buy a 32 GB or 64 GB SD card to replace the included 4 GB card if you intend to download most of your games instead of buying physical copies. The wedge-shaped 2DS uses full-size SD cards, though you can still use microSD cards with an adapter (most microSD cards still come with one).

Should you get the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X?

upgrade pick

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

If you want 4K

The PS4 Pro is a worthwhile upgrade if you have a 4K TV or you spend a lot of time with PSVR.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 39,990

Upgrade Pick

Microsoft Xbox One X

Microsoft Xbox One X

For 4K games

If you want to play games in 4K, the Xbox One X looks fantastic on a quality 4K screen.

*At the time of publishing, the price was Rs 40,490

Both Sony and Microsoft have high-end versions of their consoles: the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, respectively. Most people do not need these more expensive, upgraded models. If you don’t have a 4K TV and don’t plan on buying one within the next year, you have no reason to buy either the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. If you do own a 4K TV, they’re worth considering, but it’s not an automatic recommendation over the regular versions of these consoles.

The PS4 Pro is worth consideration only if you own a 4K TV (or plan to buy one within the next year) or you’re invested in PlayStation VR. The PS4 Pro is the only PS4 model that outputs in 4K, and only if games have been updated to support it. Games on the PS4 Pro can also benefit from higher frame rates, improved texture quality, and new lighting effects even if you don’t have a 4K TV. IGN has a list of titles updated to support the PS4 Pro, either with 4K-resolution support or other enhancements. These improvements are nice to have, but they’re not worth the extra money for most people. The PS4 Pro provides a crisper image for PSVR because the PS4 Pro can render at a higher resolution than the standard PS4 and use improved anti-aliasing, which helps get rid of the jagged edges on objects in games.

Since the Xbox One S can already output 4K for video but not for games, you should consider the Xbox One X only if you want to play games in 4K and you don’t mind spending almost twice as much money to do so. Xbox One games need an update to output in 4K, and only some games support it. Updated games might also get other incremental improvements, such as improved frame rates, more detailed textures, or faster load times, but none of those minor improvements are worth the high price of the Xbox One X on their own. If you must game in 4K, the Xbox One X is worth considering, but that’s the only reason.