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It’s November now, which means just one thing: Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season is upon us. I mean, sure, there are other things going on too, like elections, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving, but come on, we all know what’s up. In our capitalist, consumerist society, the reach of Christmas is vast. I think that’s part of why January is so depressing, since so much hype, for almost a quarter of the year, is focused on December 25. Anyway, Christmas is a big deal because of presents and Black Fridays is the biggest day of the year for shopping, you know this. If you’re a video gamer, this year will be especially tricky.

The way I see it, you’ve got four options. The first is the smartest, and the one I would recommend to pretty much everybody: Don’t buy a next generation console, wait for games you really want, maybe pick up a 3DS and Pokemon or something. New consoles are big investments, we’re talking low-end iPad money. The smart thing to do is wait until the demand goes down a bit, and a game you really want is out, before buying one. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to spend your money. So that’s one option.

Another is to go out and upgrade or buy a gaming PC. This is the most expensive option, unless you already have an all right computer and just need to do some upgrades. Titanfall, the most hyped next gen game, will be out on PC, just like most of the big third party games this holiday and probably going forward. Building a gaming PC is simpler than it sounds and being able to buy games on Steam, the Humble Bundle, and countless other online retailers means you’ll be able to save a ton on games going forward. But you will have to worry about things like drivers and in-game settings, plus, if you don’t already have them, a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and various cables. But if you’re in the market for a new computer this year, this is the option I’d recommend.

The third option is to buy a PlayStation 4, which comes out November 15. This is the system with the most goodwill, and at $399, it’s $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it became the fastest selling system in the early days of this generation. It’s also the most powerful next gen console, and already we’re hearing that games like Call of Duty run in a higher resolution on PS4. It’s still not PC, but the PS4 games will look good for a while. At launch they’ll have the new Killzone, which I’m sure will be pretty good, but not really great, as well Mark Cerny’s Knack, which might just be special. Also, that new Infamous game looks awesome and will be out next year.

On November 22, the Xbox One will be released for $500, which is a lot. But the system does come with a upgraded Kinect, which is capable of doing some pretty cool stuff. That means you get the most out of the box with the Xbone, as long as you believe developers will find interesting uses for Kinect going forward. Someone probably will, right? Also, the Xbone launch lineup is a lot stronger, with exclusives like Dead Rising 3, Crimson Dragon, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Forza 5 all looking at least interesting. Plus Titanfall will be out on Xbone next March, and that sounds like it will blow everything else out of the water unless something goes terribly wrong.

Which path is the right one to go down? The immediate gratification of the Xbone, or the popular, smart bet of the PS4? I really think if you want to have the most fun the Christmas, it’s probably on the Xbone, but after Tintanfall, who knows? The PS4 is more powerful, but it’s not necessarily night and day. The Xbone probably has the better controller, but everyone says the DualShock 4 is a massive improvement over Sony’s previous controllers, so you’d probably be happy either way. $100 is $100, but if motion gaming really takes off down the road, you’ll have to pony up for it on PS4.

I didn’t preorder either console, because that’s a crazy thing to do and the people who do that either have plenty of disposable income or are scum-of-the-earth bastards planning on reselling the system on eBay for a profit. So what are my next gen plans? I’m not going to lineup for a console, because I remember lining up for the Wii. I guess I’ll keep my eyes open, and I’ll be sure to read and watch next gen coverage on sites like Giant Bomb and Polygon. I guess if I had to pick right now, I’d probably go buy a PS4 and take my chances on being able to run Tintanfall on my rapidly aging PC. But man, it’s been a fun year for games and it’s going to be exciting right to the finish.

  1. I choose the second option: building a gaming rig. It just makes the most since right now, especially with all of those discounted games

    • Since your gaming laptop was already more powerful than my PC, that’s terrifying.

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