Gaming consoles are still the preferred way to play games for most gamers.
There’s no denying that consoles offer exclusives that you can’t get on a PC. It’s hard to imagine a world without PlayStation’s The Last of Us or The Legend of Zelda from Nintendo. It’s the games that make or break a gaming system.
PC gaming has its place in competitive gaming, but for the average consumer, the plug-and-play nature of consoles is a lot more inviting and easier to enter. Not everyone has the patience to build a PC, install drivers, and go through time-consuming game installations. Also, the quality offered by system exclusives from Nintendo and Sony is, simply put, unrivaled.
Things are finally settling down after a new generation of consoles, PS5 and Xbox Series, came out in 2020. Despite poor availability and scalping, they are selling at a record pace.
The PS5 had sold 17.3 million units by December 31, 2021, and if the demand is anything to go by, Sony has reportedly sold more than 22 million units as of March 2022.
The narrative-driven single-player experience is best experienced on consoles. In 2022, gaming companies are putting their best foot forward to keep producing AAA bangers.
Five most enjoyable gaming consoles
1) Nintendo Switch OLED
The world wasn’t ready in 2017 when Nintendo launched a handheld-home console hybrid in the form of the Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t have the graphical prowess of a PS5 or even a PS4, but the gameplay innovation is second to none.
The console features two detachable JoyCons, acting as individual controllers when playing in docked or table-top mode.
Nintendo’s pulling power lies in the library they’ve built over the years. With thousands of games to choose from, there is a title for everyone. From party hits like Mario Kart to an open-world masterpiece in the form of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the legendary company’s library of offerings has never looked better.
More titles like Pokemon: Scarlet and Violet, the unnamed successor to Breath of the Wild, and Xenoblade Chronicles: 3 are still to come. The momentum the Nintendo Switch has isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
2) PlayStation 5 Disc Version
With Sony still drenched in success coming from the greatest modern-day console generation in the form of the PS4, the expectations were sky-high for the next mainline iteration, the PS5. And oh boy, Sony has changed the game yet again.
It has a range of features like the industry’s first DualSense controller, which gets adaptive triggers to simulate resistance and haptic feedback that provides a new sensation for every in-game action or surface.
The PS5 features a custom AMD Zen 2 chip with an RDNA 2 GPU touted to have 10.3 tflops. The design is polarizing, to say the least, but it makes a statement.
However, just like Nintendo, the true strength of the PlayStation brand lies in the powerful library. With games like Returnal, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, and Horizon Forbidden West already out, the library will only get better.
3) Valve Steam Deck
Steam is undoubtedly the biggest marketplace on PC. Almost everything launching on PC makes its way onto the platform. Now, imagine it being present on a powerful handheld device that resembles the Switch form factor.
That's the Steam Deck for you. Valve markets it as an "all-in-one portable PC."
The Steam Deck is powered by a custom AMD APU with 4 Zen 2 Cores, eight threads, and RDNA 2 graphics with eight compute units. Also, 16 GB LPDDR5 comes as standard across all variants.
These are insane specs for a handheld. In theory, the Steam Deck can play any modern game like Elden Ring in 720P. Visuals look great on an 8" screen. It retails at $399 for base 64 GB and $649 if you want the 512 GB NVMe SSD.
Overall, the Steam Deck outputs home console-quality visuals at an affordable price as a handheld gaming device. Gamers looking for an on-the-go gaming experience to play the best AAA titles should consider Valve's offering.
4) Xbox Series X
Microsoft might not have the best exclusives, or any exclusives for that matter, because PC and Xbox share first-party launches. Now, why should anyone consider opting for a Series X?
It's pretty simple — the Game Pass. For $500, Xbox Series X can be your Game Pass machine for years to come. Not only do you get access to all first-party titles, but a vast catalog of third-party titles as well.
The value proposition in Microsoft's offering is too good to ignore in 2022. Performance-wise, Series X is no slouch either. In fact, it marginally beats the PS5 in both CPU and GPU performance while having more CUs.
Basics such as the controller follow the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra. The Xbox controller might not have the bells and whistles of PS5's DualSense, but Microsoft has made a comfortable controller that does the basics right.
5) PlayStation 4 Slim
The PS4 will be nine years old in November 2022. With its aging hardware and support nearing its end, you might ask why to get a PS4 now?
Firstly, it is available for dirt cheap now, new or used, and secondly, it enjoys almost the same library of games that the PS5. It might not be possible to achieve that level of fidelity, but none of these things matter for the casual gamer.
Guerilla's graphics showcase, Horizon Forbidden West, runs very well on the PS4 hardware with a stable 30 FPS in1080P. Upcoming PlayStation exclusives like God of War remain multi-platform, too.
With the install base nearing 120 million, it makes complete sense. This is a massive win for gamers who still can't get their hands on a PS5 at MSRP.
For less than $200, it's hard to find a console as successful as the PS4. Plus, with the ever-expanding library of games, it will keep offering value for years to come.
It's about the games you are going to want to play
With a plethora of consoles to choose from, it's harder than ever to pick something that fulfills your needs. But as a general rule of thumb, you should always select a system with the titles you want to play.
Hardware features can be enticing, but what good is bleeding edge hardware that is simply going to collect dust?
Note: This article reflects the author's views.
Poll : Which brand should make a new handheld console?