Sony and Microsoft’s current-gen consoles are clearly reaching the end of their life cycles, with both the PS4 and Xbox One likely set to receive successors within the next couple of years. While the companies may be wrapping up production on the systems in the relatively near future, 2018 has still seen some strong reasons to buy both systems. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch hoped to one-up its stellar launch year with some more magic. But how successful was it in doing so?
We’ve assessed the past year of games, hardware updates, new features, software support, and announcements in order to assess which console had the best 2018. It’s the PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: which console came out looking better than its competitors this year?
A console is nothing without its games.
PS4 Games in 2018
The PS4 had an impressive year for software, with God of War being one of the greatest console exclusives ever and topping GameRevolution’s Game of the Year list. Though 2017 had more consistent multi-platform efforts, most of which were primarily played on the PS4, the likes of Spider-Man really tipped the balance in Sony’s favor this year. This was also a big year for the Yakuza series, with both Yakuza 6 and Yakuza Kiwami 2 finding substantial audiences in the west, and both releasing exclusively on Sony’s console.
Nintendo Switch Games in 2018
The Nintendo Switch’s 2017 was phenomenal, and it was always going to be difficult to compete with a launch year that boasted Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild. Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee was a tad disappointing, though proved to be a big hit in terms of its sales, though Super Smash Bros Ultimate was the definitive Smash game. Octopath Traveler gave traditional JRPG fans something to shout about, while Mario Tennis Aces was a unique sports title that brightened up the summer.
Xbox One Games in 2018
As always seems to be the case, the Xbox One had a rocky year in terms of new releases. Forza Horizon 4 was expectedly fantastic, though Sea of Thieves failed to live up to both the hype and Rare’s illustrious history, despite garnering itself a small but dedicated player base. PUBG also released out of the Game Preview program in September, though by this point Fortnite had completely overtaken the former battle royale leader. The Xbox One X ensured that multi-platform games looked and performed better on Xbox, but the lack of exclusives really harmed the console this year.
Though the Switch had some great games this year, God of War is a bonafide classic and bolsters the PS4’s already heaving line-up of exclusives.
Hardware upgrades, new accessories, and controllers give players new ways to experience their games.
PS4 Hardware in 2018
The PS4 Pro continues to be a reasonable step-up for PlayStation owners, but it’s still overshadowed by the decidedly more impressive Xbox One X. While the Pro certainly makes your PS4 games look prettier, it’s not as big of a leap as the “true 4K” X, and the outdated hardware of the original PS4 is only really noticeable in poorly optimized games such as Fallout 76. Sony quietly tweaked the Pro with the release of the PS4 Pro CUH-7200, a quieter version of the system, though it wasn’t a dramatic improvement.
The PSVR has had a surprising amount of support considering Sony’s penchant for giving up on peripherals, with Astro Bet Rescue Mission providing the virtual reality headset with its first critically acclaimed release. VR still isn’t as big as many thought it would be, but it’s good to see the PSVR still receiving some love.
Nintendo Switch Hardware in 2018
The Nintendo Switch is only in its second year, so no drastic upgrades came this year (that’s apparently happening in 2019). Instead, it’s the same fantastic handheld/home console hybrid it was at launch, with a GameCube controller adapter being introduced for the die-hard Smash Bros players. We still love playing all of our favorite games on the go, and there really is nothing else quite like it in the market right now.
Xbox One Hardware in 2018
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a wonderful piece of kit that makes playing video games more accessible than ever before, and the Xbox team should be commended for their advancements in this often overlooked area. Designed for people with disabilities, the Adaptive Controller simplifies user inputs, allowing everyone to enjoy games on the console. The Xbox One X also continued to impress, with the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 looking much more impressive on Microsoft’s console.
Winner: Nintendo Switch
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a forward-thinking invention that was the only real game-changer in terms of console hardware this year. However, the Nintendo Switch continues to impress with its portability, and throughout 2018 we were given even more games that we could take with us on the go. Being able to duke it out in Smash Bros Ultimate while commuting feels like the future.
Software updates, patches, new apps, and features help a console keep up with the times.
PS4 Support in 2018
Sony finally rolled out cross-platform play in 2018, though it’s still in its beta testing phase and limited to Fortnite. PS Plus offered up some decent free games including Destiny 2, Bloodborne, and Black Ops 3, though nothing that was going to set the world alight. Sony also continues to overlook PS Now, a streaming service that could be useful if it was given any attention.
Nintendo Switch Support in 2018
Nintendo Switch Online was introduced in 2018, and it’s… okay. It’s cheaper than both PS Plus and Xbox Live, though it’s also lacking in features. We don’t like cloud saves being locked behind a paywall, and the NES classics provided as part of the subscription are all games that everyone will be familiar with by now. The lack of headphone and mic support is also irritating, as using a smartphone app (or preferably Discord) in order to speak with friends while playing adds an unnecessary complication.
Xbox One Support in 2018
Games With Gold offered a few great titles this year including For Honor, Battlefield 1, and The Witness, though Xbox Game Pass really knocked it out of the park. Functioning like the video game equivalent of Netflix, so many excellent games launched on Game Pass on day one that it offered incredible value for money. Forza Horizon 4, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and more each made their way to the service on launch day, with the likes of Halo Infinite and Gears 5 set to offer the same when they release. If Microsoft can convince high-profile third-party developers to do the same, Game Pass will be huge.
Winner: Xbox One
Xbox Game Pass is a tremendous service and really offered something valuable to its subscribers. With consoles charging owners for services they can get on their PCs for free, it was interesting to see Microsoft really look to offer a value-for-money service that trounced its competitors’ alternatives.
What is there to look forward to in each console’s future that was revealed this year?
PS4 Announcements in 2018
Sony’s E3 2018 was underwhelming, with the company running through a bunch of trailers for games that we already know are coming, and only providing minimal updates for its most-anticipated upcoming titles. The reveal that the Resident Evil 2 remake would be coming out in January 2019 was nice, though as it’s also launching on the Xbox One, it was hardly the exclusive we were hoping for. The Last of Us 2 still looks great, though we have yet to receive a release date for it, and we still have no clue what Death Stranding is.
While Sony did reveal it would be addressing a number of long-standing issues such as the inability to change PSN names and cross-platform play, there weren’t many new announcements this year. Sony even announced that it wouldn’t be holding its PlayStation Experience event this year due to not having enough games to show. It’s a disappointment, but the PS4 had to wind down at some point.
Nintendo Switch Announcements in 2018
There’s a lot to look forward to in the future for Nintendo Switch owners. Though the company’s E3 2018 largely focused on Super Smash Bros Ultimate, we did get a trailer and release window for Fire Emblem: Three Houses and future Nintendo Direct’s also made a variety of exciting reveals. We now know that an Animal Crossing sequel is coming to the Switch in 2019 along with Luigi’s Mansion, with the Pokemon Switch RPG also set for launch next year.
Xbox One Announcements in 2018
The Xbox One had an impressive showing at E3 2018, with Halo Infinite and Gears 5 both being revealed, along with the announcement that they will be launching on Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has also secured a number of new first-party developers, including Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Compulsion Games, and Undead Labs, along with forming a new studio aptly named The Initiative. All-in-all, though 2018 wasn’t a solid year for the Xbox One, there are a few games in the pipeline and some interesting new acquisitions that set Microsoft up for the Xbox One’s successor.
Winner: Nintendo Switch
Nintendo keeps giving us the games we want to see on the Switch, and this doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. We can’t wait to play Animal Crossing on the Switch, and Fire Emblem is one of the company’s most consistent franchises, so 2019 looks to be a solid year for the console.
PS4 vs Nintendo vs Xbox One: The Winner
And the winner is…
The PS4 had a terrific year thanks to the release of classic exclusives like God of War and Yakuza Kiwami 2, but the Nintendo Switch is just kicking into gear and enjoyed another stellar year. Its sales have surpassed the PS4’s within the same time period, new announcements like Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion 3 keep its future exciting, and it’s still a thrill to be able to take fully fledged console games with you when you’re on the move.
Microsoft is clearly now looking to the future and its next Xbox, and we can’t wait to see what it does with Xbox Game Pass and its plans for streaming games. The PS4 is also winding down, wrapping up its current batch of announced games before moving on to its PS4 successor. This means that the Nintendo Switch is a likely winner, with it still having a lot to give this current console generation, though Nintendo continues to impress with its plans for the system.