Xbox 720 vs PS4: Launch Title Rumors Give Sony An Early Edge In Console Wars


By Mo Mozuch on May 1, 2013 7:24 PM EDT 0

PS4 controller
Sony looks to have the advantage when it comes to launch titles. (Photo: Sony)

The Xbox 720 vs. PS4 debate rages on as we approach Microsoft's May 21 reveal date. Remember Sony's PS4 event back in February? It was cute, right? Lots of nervous devs talking about launch titles and, while we didn't actually get to SEE the PS4, we learned it was a real thing and that Sony wants to launch it during the 2013 holiday season.

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The Xbox 720? Not so much. In the months since that announcement, the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 debate has only intensified, and recent reports give Sony an edge on RAM. Based on what we know so far, Sony looks to have the edge when it comes to launch titles, too.

Xbox 720 vs PS4: Shared AAA Titles Look Incredible

Before we talk about how the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 are different from each other, let's look at the ways they're the same. Specifically, the launch titles we can expect to be available for both systems by year's end. The first title, and my pick for most exciting launch title in the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 debate, is the techno thriller Watch Dogs.

Sony fans will be happy to know that when it comes to the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 Watch Dogs content, the PS4 emerges the winner. Ubisoft recently confirmed that the PS4 and PS3 versions of the game will receive 60 minutes of exclusive content.

"We can confirm that customers who will purchase Watch Dogs on PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 will be able to download 60 minutes of additional gameplay via the PlayStation Network after the game's launch," a Ubisoft spokesperson told Eurogamer. "As of now, we have no more details to share."

Watch Dogs isn't the only Ubisoft title getting hype as an Xbox 720/PS4 launch title. Next gen console owners can get ready to hit the seven seas in the upcoming Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag.

It's nice to see two AAA titles that provide contrasting experiences. Watch Dogs looks like a slower-paced, thoughtful thriller that depends on interactive environments and player's observational skills to deliver a tight, tense experience. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag looks like ... not that. A game full of furious naval battles and swashbuckling swordfights that looks chock full o' action, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag will likely be the top-selling action title across both platforms if previous sales figures for the franchise are any indication of its incredible popularity.

The other shared launch title in the Xbox 720 vs PS4 wars is the recently confirmed Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Call of Duty: Ghosts will launch on PS4 and Xbox 720 and, according to Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg, feature "an all-new story, all-new characters, an all-new Call of Duty world, all powered by a next generation Call of Duty engine, which is a leap forward for the franchise."

A new COD game rounds out this shared list of AAA launch titles quite nicely. The undisputed king of the FPS genre should deliver a pretty decent next-gen version of a game that will also launch on current gen consoles. Will it make use of every bit of hardware power contained in the new systems? Probably not, but it will deliver better graphics and, hopefully, faster multiplayer online.

But the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 debate isn't about shared titles, even though I'm sure we'll all be comparing versions of these games once they hit our living rooms. No, the real debate comes down to the exclusive titles for each system and this is where I think the PS4 has the edge over the Xbox 720.

Xbox 720 vs. PS4: Microsoft Getting Exclusives, But Not for Launch

The biggest story in the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 debate this week came when Kotaku reported that Respawn Entertainment, the company formed by former Activision employees and COD creators Vince Zampella and Jason West, would be releasing their first title (allegedly called Titan) exclusively for Xbox 720 and Xbox 360. Titan is an always-online multiplayer FPS centered around team-based tactics as squads of heavily-armed foot soldiers maneuver to battle mech warriors called Titans.

The game sounds cool enough, and no one can knock the pedigree of the brains behind it. However, Kotaku also reported that Titans won't be available until next year. In fact, Kotaku is also quoting sources that claim Microsoft is six months behind schedule for launch title content. The company simply doesn't have the same number of in-house development studios that Sony does, which is why we see so much exclusivity on Microsoft's part when it comes to third-party content. And while Microsoft's desire to get exclusives from third-party devs could spell trouble for Sony in the long run, when it comes to the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 release date launch titles, Sony has the edge right now.

Right now, there are only two named Xbox 720 exclusive launch titles out there: Ryse and Forza. There are also talks of a next-gen zombie game and family-friendly title coming to the system as well, but without titles or hard details it's tough to count those as wins for Microsoft right now.

Confession time, I'm a loyal xbox fanboy in my non-professional life. I'm really rooting for the 720 to be a great system and I want to believe in the launch titles. But Ryse looks like a hot pile of garbage.

I know that Kinect 2.0 is supposed to be much better than the current Kinect, but I just don't see the appeal in playing a game that requires you to execute every punch and kick and block while standing in your living room. It's hard for me to visualize the system having nuanced timing and being able to communicate enemy attacks in such a way that doesn't just devolve into a player flailing around like mad trying to score hits. Also, the game has been sitting in development for a long time; it had a debut trailer at E3 in 2011 and then kind of disappeared. It sounds too much like a title plagued with problems that is banking on a gimmicky control system that most gamers don't want anyway.

Forza is just another racing title. Racing games of the last ten years, by and large, are just about great graphics and realistic looking cars. For my money, the best racing title of the last generation is Need for Speed: Most Wanted (the first one). So while Forza has its following, I don't think it's enough to wow average consumers when Sony is launching with its own hyper-real looking racer Drive Club.

Sony, on the other hand, is boasting a slightly more impressive line-up of launch title exclusives. Killzone: Shadow Fall looks to be a cookie-cutter FPS, but the great graphics should be enough to satisfy fans on launch day. inFamous: Second Son is a follow-up to the incredibly popular inFamous 2 and launches with a pretty secure built-in fanbase.

Those are just the exclusives we know of so far. Sony has been making noise recently about having a launch title lineup that is "stronger than any prior PlayStation hardware." The lead architect for the system, Mark Cerny, gave a lengthy interview to Gamasutra where he discussed how Sony learned from their past mistakes with the PS3, mainly that the PS3 was too hard to develop content for. Now the focus, according to Cerny, is on making a system that is so easy to develop games for, titles can be ported from PC to PS4 in "weeks not months."

If history is any indication, we can expect Microsoft to aggressively pursue third-party exclusivity as a buffer against the in-house talent at Sony. Whether or not this translates into a superior game library remains to be seen.

Furthermore, most of the AAA titles will be available on both systems anyway, meaning that deciding between Xbox 720 vs. PS4 will still come down to personal preference. However, if you're looking to scoop up a next-gen system at launch and don't want to wait around for their libraries to expand, it looks like Sony is going to have the edge on launch day.

When it comes to launch titles it looks like Sony is winning the battle (for now), but the console war is far from over.

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