The next generation of gaming is upon us

It’s that special time again! It’s been a while since the console wars had been flamed up, and I fondly remember the middle school days when I would argue with my friends that yes, the Wii could totally hold its own against the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Now with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or “E3” for short) over with, the call of war has been sounded once again. So which side should we be on?

Microsoft’s entry is the Xbox One, which claims to be the one device people will need accompanying their televisions (hence the confusing “One” moniker). It can act as a game console, Blu-ray player, cable box and social media hub. It’s received a lot of flack, for its restrictions on used games and offline play, always requiring the console to be connected online. However, Microsoft later redacted those requirements and stated that it will allow used games and offline play. However, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t implement those restrictions in the future, so be wary.

Sony, on the other hand, has proudly proclaimed that the PlayStation 4 will allow used games and not require an online connection. But for those with Internet connections, it has a wide array of social features, including a “share” button on the controller allowing players to share screenshots and video footage from their games. It also allows game streaming over the popular Ustream service (it should be noted that the Xbox One has similar sharing features, instead using Twitch for its streaming services).

And lastly, there’s Nintendo, who is still holding on despite middling sales of the Wii U. Their console actually came out last year and uses technology more similar to current consoles rather than real “next-gen” technology. So the Wii U, like the Wii before it, will graphically be a generation behind. However, Nintendo is confident that its first-party titles, like the upcoming “Super Mario 3D World” and “Super Smash Bros,” will push more units.

The three consoles are actually very similar, so the only reason to pick up one over the other is for exclusive titles, and both consoles have many that appeal to a wide array of audiences.

So which one should you get? This would have been an easy answer had Microsoft stuck with its restrictions. But since the One is more open, the answer is more complex. So what I’ll say is this:

If you’re an Xbox fan, the One is the best option. If you’re a PlayStation fan, the PS4 is the best option. If you’re a Nintendo fan (or are on a budget), the Wii U is the best option. Or, alternatively, if you’re a PC gamer, stick to your guns and maybe upgrade down the line.

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Whichever path is chosen, this generation will be an interesting one to see unfold.