Announced at E3 2016, the Xbox One S showed off a new iteration of a current console that wasn’t quite “next-gen,” but still a considerable upgrade for first-time buyers and Xbox One owners alike.
It seemed strange at first, this sort of half-step into the next generation of consoles. But the more gamers wrapped their heads around the idea of a system that would be able to upscale past games to 4K, play Ultra HD Blu-rays and render games in HDR, the more they warmed up to this supposed Xbox One-and-a-Half.
It isn’t just Microsoft who has incremental hardware updates on its mind, however. Both Sony and Nintendo have brand-new hardware in the works as well – inadvertently creating another console war mid-way through the original bout started with the Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U.
Is now the time to jump on board a new console? Just what are each promising to do differently to warrant walking to the store to buy another $399/£349 console?
We take a look at each of the new machines headed our way in the coming months so you’ll know what to expect, starting with the first one to formally debut:
Xbox One S
For starters, the Xbox One S is 40% smaller than its hunk of a predecessor – making it much more friendly on a crowded entertainment center.
The power brick is also built into the console, an extra sigh of relief for those who like clean, clutter-free cable management. It can also stand up vertically – something even a daredevil wouldn’t try with their original Xbox One.
In addition to improved GPU, processors, and storage (2TB is far more comfortable for the download-happy gamer) the S can also beef up the visuals of your Blu-ray collection, Netflix queue, and Amazon Instant Video library thanks to 4K High-Dynamic Range support.
The trade-off? The slimmed-down One no longer natively supports Kinect, Microsoft’s once-mandatory but oft-ignored motion controller. For original Xbox One owners, Microsoft is still willing to send a USB adapter for free, should they want to bring the camera peripheral back from the dead. For everyone else, that compatibility will come at the cost of $40/£30.
When’s it coming out?
The 2TB Xbox One S hits stores on August 2, for the price of US$399 (AU$549/£349).
The smaller 1TB and 500GB versions will release at a later date and cost US$349/£299 and US$299/£249, respectively. Availability of the 1TB/500GB Xbox One S in Australia has not yet been announced.
PlayStation 4.5 (Neo)
While not formally announced – though confirmed in development under the codename Neo – the upgraded PS4 is betting big on Ultra High Definition, earning it the nickname, “PS4K.”
The machine is reportedly aiming to bring full-on 4K gaming to the masses – something high-end PC rigs strive for, leave alone current gaming consoles.
That said, Sony executive Andrew House assures that the new console won’t bisect the market, clarifying that all future PS4 titles will support both platforms.
The Neo’s boosted hardware is more than just for good looks. Virtual reality hogs a ton of horsepower, making the PS4.5 a superior match with Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR headset than its three-year-old console.
When’s it coming out?
No release date has been announced yet, but being a perfect fit for VR gaming, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the souped-up ‘Station to come out sometime around October 13, when PlayStation VR launches.
The real mystery machine due out in the coming months is the Nintendo NX – Nintendo’s next card to play, and one kept especially close to its chest.
What we know for sure is that Nintendo intends the device to be about games over raw computing power, a philosophy practiced by the company’s consoles since the Nintendo 64 – for better or for worse.
What we do know is one of the first titles heading to Nintendo’s upgraded machine – none other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which could very well just be all the NX needs to sell. It is a new Zelda, after all!
When’s it coming out?
Nintendo plans to release the NX March 2017, but such a release date seems awful close given how little has been revealed about the machine – to include even an official name.
Also, the mega-success that is Pokémon Go added literal billions to the Nintendo’s value, according to The Guardian. That alone could change the entire direction the company previously had for its upcoming console. Fingers crossed that we’ll see more of the NX soon – perhaps at Tokyo Game Show in September?
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