It may seem strange for someone who writes for a site called PC Gaming Enthusiast, but I’ve never had any strong loyalties to any one gaming system. For the last few generations, I’ve owned every major gaming platform. With only a handful of exceptions (mostly of the Sega variety), my gaming collection includes just about every home console released since the Nintendo Entertainment System. So the console wars tend to sound like a lot of white noise to me.
While I don’t have strong loyalties, I typically prefer gaming on PC. When a multi-platform game comes out, I will almost always get it on PC given the option. The PCs virtues are many. Graphics are typically better, yes, but more importantly, I have access to a mouse and keyboard if I want them (and I often do), or I can just plug in a game pad. It’s easier to fix glitchy games on a PC (here’s looking at you Fallout 4), and the mod community can take a good game and make it exceptional (here’s looking at you again Fallout 4). And of course, no other platform can ever rival the PC library, where backwards compatibility isn’t a relevant term, and where Steam makes this hobby both endlessly exciting and, during its sales, absurdly cheap.
PC gamers therefore don’t often have cause to think about buying a console. After all, most huge releases hit PC, and there’s only a handful of true exclusives for each of the major consoles. Nintendo consoles like the Wii U are the exception, of course, because Nintendo’s core line-up is always exclusive. But Nintendo’s brand of family-friendly fun isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, and their major franchises see releases very infrequently. I tend to dust off my Wii U only occasionally, and more often than not for a few games of Super Smash Bros Wii U.
I’ve spent so much time in front of my PC working, gaming, and relaxing that I’ve come to see home as wherever my desktop is. But everyone once in a while, a library of exclusives builds up that makes even the staunchest PC Master Racers ask themselves: is it worth it to buy a console?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at some of the biggest true console exclusives for the various platforms to see if 2016 is the year should make that leap. This is all, of course, my opinion.
The Xbox One has the smallest list of true console exclusives amongst the eighth-generation consoles, so if it’s going to win you over, it’ll have to be on quality rather than quantity. Xbox’s exclusive strength has always come from the die-hard fanbase for a few core games.
The Forza series is one such core series, and Forza 6 makes a strong case if you like excellently-designed and gorgeous racing games. Then again, Project Cars may well be it’s equal, and it’s cross platform and available on PC, possibly undermining this as a reason to pick up an Xbox One.
Naturally, for Halo fans, Halo 5 is a must-play, if you haven’t had enough Halo by now. But if you don’t already own an Xbox One for Halo, this probably isn’t going to sway you.
Rare Replay is also a pretty big release, letting you play 30 of Rare’s old games. Unfortunately, it lacks Rare’s best games (GoldenEye 007, and any of the Donkey Kong Country games), but it still has some solid games in Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark. And Battletoads. Because you’re actually going to beat Battletoads this time.
Probably the single biggest exclusive going forward that might sway people on the fence is Quantum Break. Coming from the same people who made the fantastic Alan Wake, Quantum Break will be a third-person action game in which the main character can play with time to affect combat situations and solve puzzles. There will also be a live-action digital show with the game, which will focus on the villains, and will somehow interact with your choices in game. It sounds interesting, but there’s a lot to know before we can call this a slam-dunk.
There’s also ReCore, a game we know very little about, other than that its from Keiji Inafune’s (of Mega Man fame) new team, along with some of the people who worked on Metroid Prime. It’s too early to tell, but we might expect that ReCore will play similarly. It looks to feature a girl who wanders a desolate future desert landscape with some robot pals. Dangerous robots also abound.
The Xbox One also has the advantage when it comes to dancing games. I’m serious here. If you like dancing games, playing on a Kinect is really the only way to do it. Not a lot of good games make use of the Kinect’s power, but between Just Dance and Dance Central, it has the market cornered on dancing. You could play Just Dance on PS4 with the Move, but that’s just silly.
Verdict: The Xbox One line-up is pretty light on exclusives. If Rise of the Tomb Raider was a true exclusive, rather than a timed one, it would go a long way to making the case for picking up an Xbox One. But since it looks like it’ll be coming to PC in early 2016, it’s hard to make that case. However, I’m playing it now though on Xbox One, and it’s fantastic. If Quantum Break and ReCore both turn out to be stellar, then it may be worthwhile, but both are hardly sure things. This is a case of wait and see. So why do I own an Xbox One? Because my girlfriend likes Kinect dancing games.
PlayStation 4 has a pretty strong line-up of existing console exclusives, and a killer app in the form of Bloodborne that makes a strong case on its own for a PS4 if you enjoy games like the Souls series. Dark Souls III will be cross-platform and coming to PC in March of 2016, so that could scratch the itch in Bloodborne‘s stead if you can hold out.
Until Dawn made a quite a splash in the horror genre, requiring multiple-playthroughs to see the game’s content, and featuring a system where choices radiate out to multiple different endings with any number of the eight main characters possibly dying during the game. I don’t care for horror games, but if you do, this game looks to make a strong argument for picking up a PS4.
Also, some people liked Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture. I don’t know. I didn’t go.
Looking forward, if you’ve played the Uncharted series, you pretty much have to get Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Because it’s the last one. Does Nathan Drake die? You’ll have to play to find out. Or watch a Let’s Play. It will probably be pretty good. The Last of Us good? No. But good.
The Last Guardian is actually, really, finally, actually a thing that allegedly will be coming out in 2016. The little bit of gameplay we’ve seen looked…OK. But if it lives up to its pedigree of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, it could be great. Or it could be Duke Nukem Forever. No, not really. It can’t be that bad. But people have been waiting for this for a while, and hopefully it lives up to expectations. It might make a pretty good case on its own for a PS4.
Do you like cute, super long JRPGs with animation done by a legendary animation house? What’s that, you ask? Well, there was this game called Ni no Kuni, with art from Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro) and a sequel is coming out. It will probably be good if you like those sorts of games, but its relatively niche appeal in the West means it probably won’t be a huge draw for many.
On the JRPG note, Persona 5 is also exclusive to PlayStation, and the past Persona games have all been pretty great. If you’re looking for a JRPG about high school students who summon bits of their personalities to do battle, this might be for you. Really, the PS4 has the obvious monopoly on JRPGs, so if that’s your thing, the PS4 probably makes a lot of sense.
The lineup of exclusive, smaller games is also a lot larger on the PS4. From games like Ace Combat 7 to Gran Turismo 7 to King of Fighters XIV to Horizon Zero Dawn, the PS4 has a wealth of sort of mid-range exclusives, and lots of smaller games. You never know when a game like Journey will come again, and while the Xbox has some indie exclusives, the PS4 has a better track record of bringing them into their fold.
Verdict: Buying a PS4 probably makes more sense than an Xbox One from the perspective of exclusives. Uncharted is basically PlayStation’s flagship series in the same way Halo is Xbox’s, so if you’re fans of either of those series, you probably already own the relevant console. Bloodborne and The Last Guardian, are, for my money the big names here, but Persona 5 and Ni no Kuni add a lot of support. I’m sure I’ll grab a PS4 within the next couple of years, especially as its line-up of exclusives grows.
As I’ve mentioned above, buying a Wii U isn’t a matter of exclusives, it’s a matter of liking Nintendo games and Nintendo releasing enough of their core franchises. I still have trouble going to my Wii U for anything other than Super Smash Bros Wii U and the occasional Mario Kart 8 match. Lots of people love Splatoon, and I can see why, but it never held my interest. Maybe it’ll hold yours.
Nintendo’s clear game of the year is Super Mario Maker, which is one of those brilliant ideas you wonder why they didn’t do before. Anyway, if you like the earlier Mario games (and you do) this is a strong incentive for a Wii U. Letting you make your own levels, share them, and enjoy the brilliant works of the community, it’s hard to go wrong here.
Looking forward, StarFox Zero is coming soon in March of next year. As many critics have noted, however, it doesn’t look great. I spent a bit of time with it at E3 this year, and I can’t help but feel nothing has really been added since StarFox 64, and it looks dated even for a Wii U game. I’m not expecting great things, but here’s hoping Nintendo delivers on a once-great franchise.
The next Zelda game is also coming out at some point in 2016, but we don’t know when. There’s also a chance that it will also be a launch game for Nintendo’s next console, the NX, being released on the Wii U simultaneously. I’m a big fan of the series, so I’ll almost certainly grab it, even if not all Zelda games have been exceptional lately.
Verdict: Getting a Wii U is a matter of liking Nintendo games. I’ve bought both a Wii and a Wii U almost entirely on my love of Smash Bros, and you might find something in Nintendo’s lineup that draws you as strongly as brawling Nintendo characters does for me. However, with the NX definitely in the works, we can be pretty certain the Wii U probably doesn’t have too much life left in it. Whether it’s worthwhile to wait is going to depend on your need for your inner child to be sated. Nintendo tends to be pretty good at that.
Overall verdict: The PS4 probably has the most going for it with exclusives, and probably will for some time. If your choice is between that and an Xbox One, a PS4 is the logical choice unless there’s a specific exclusive on the One you love too much to pass up. The Wii U is probably entering its final stretch, but it has some dynamite competitive games in Splatoon, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros that could make the decision for you. Super Mario Maker and the forthcoming Star Fox and Zelda games might also do the same.
But really, if you’re a PC gamer, the other resource you have to consider is time. And there is a boatload of great PC games already out to play through and a tonne coming next year. So should you buy a console in 2016? If you want, but as a PC gamer, you’ll never need to.
Why doesn’t this article address the non-gaming or tangential services offered by each platform? Well, because we care about gaming here, and only the console exclusive games themselves should warrant picking up a console. And because even your phone plays Netflix.