So Amy, is it still all about Playstations, Xboxes and Nintendos?
Yes, they’re still the biggest console brands in the gaming market. PlayStation and Xbox both offer a substantial games library with exclusive titles so it really comes down to personal preference. Nintendo is particularly popular with a younger audience.
What are the particular models to know?
Your options are much greater than they used to be when it was a straight choice between the latest Nintendo and the new Sega. There’s something for everyone. Check out Sony’s PS4 Slim 500GB. It’s got a slimmer design than the original PlayStation 4, HDR to improve the picture quality, wireless controllers and enough storage to play physical copies of your favourite games. Microsoft too has recognised that smaller is better: The Xbox One S 1TB is 40% smaller than its predecessor and also introduces HDR, 4k resolution and spatial audio.
Over at Nintendo, you’ve got a couple of choices depending on your needs. Its flagship console right now is the Nintendo Switch 1.1, which has three play modes: TV, tabletop and handheld. But for the best gaming on the go, I'd recommend the Switch Lite. It is handheld play only, which means it’s compact and lightweight with integrated controllers, and you can still link up to other consoles for multiplayer games.
As a casual player, what else would you need as part of your home setup?
For online play, you'll want a fast and steady internet connection. A 4K TV or monitor isn't a necessity, but I would recommend a 4K console for the best gaming experience. Depending on your living situation and how you'll be playing (e.g. single or multiplayer), gaming headsets, standalone speakers or inbuilt speakers in your TV/monitor are all great sound options. If you’re going to be playing with friends or family, additional controllers are a great way to make sure everyone can get involved.
What’s the best console for playing with friends or family?
If you’re looking for a sociable gaming experience, you should be looking to Nintendo. With its play modes and a variety of games to choose from, the Switch 1.1 is ideal for a younger audience, as well as playing with mates.
Are there new consoles on the way? Is now a good time to be buying?
There are some really exciting new consoles and gaming titles in the pipeline so I'd recommend keeping an eye out for news, especially about the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Microsoft’s next Xbox is due for release on 10th November. There will be a powerful version, the Series X, for £449 and a budget Series S version for £249. Initially, though, there aren’t going to be that many new games to play on it, and you’ll need a subscription to Microsoft’s Game Pass just to be able to play older games.
Casual players might be better leaving the shiny new hardware to hardcore gamers for the rest of this year. Sony’s PlayStation 5 also looks set to be released in November in a couple of different versions – with and without a disc drive – but both are expected to be pricey.
Finally, any other developments to be aware of?
Virtual reality is fast becoming a reality. Over the last few years, the speed of development in this area has made it much more accessible and we expect it to continue evolving. Right now a VR headset could be considered a console in its own right rather than just an add-on to your setup. Oculus is the brand to watch out for – its Oculus Quest is great for VR newbies looking to get involved.