The VR Optimist
Sony's latest attempt to differentiate its PlayStation 4 console from Microsoft's Xbox One is ambitious, risky, and, frankly, not for everyone. PlayStation VR brings virtual reality to gamers at a fraction of the cost of buying an Oculus Rift and a PC powerful enough to work with that headset. Sony's entry into the burgeoning VR market is still essentially a pilot program, with a small number of units — which include a PlayStation Camera and a headset, which work with the existing PS4 console — sold to customers and distributed to media outlets. So far, this setup is incredibly fun and wildly promising. But until Sony releases some of the roughly 50 planned VR titles, no one should consider picking up PlayStation VR, either as a bundle (the console plus VR-enabling gear) or as add-on components. But that also doesn't mean you should hold off on buying a PS4 right now. For anyone curious about VR, or already sold on the technology by a demo, the current PS4 should be seen as an investment in the near-future of virtual reality, which really, truly, honestly is coming, any day, month, or year now.
PlayStation 4 Pro ($400)
What You Lose
The only downside of picking up a PlayStation 4 is missing out on Xbox-exclusive titles, such as the latest installments of Halo and Gears of War. On the plus side, however, PS4 has its share of excellent exclusive titles, including the compelling (and legitimately tear-jerking) The Last of Us, the long-anticipated upcoming game The Last Guardian, and a slew of games that don't feature “Last” in their titles.
What's In It For Parents
In general, PlayStation-exclusive games are more likely to skew mature than Xbox-only titles. We don't mean mature as in adult content, but more emotional, and often more experimental. Downloadable games like Journey and Flower set the bar for meditative indie narratives, while the upcoming Detroit: Become Human looks to be in the same compelling league as The Last of Us. The PS4 is the console you're most likely to play when the kids are asleep. If nothing else, you'll want to check out the VR (once it's ready for primetime). The PS4 is also a great streaming device — not quite as intuitive in its interface or as versatile as the Xbox One, but still capable enough to become your main hub for all things Netflix, Vudu, etc.
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