Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Warframe - More info, more gameplay

So, as you know, I have been looking into Warframe, lately, and the more I play, the more I enjoy it.

And yet, the more I play, the more I learn, the more I want to share.

As I previously stated, Loki is not my first choice for a starter frame, nor is it my opinion that it's necessarily a bad frame. It's actually quite good, especially when playing with a diverse team, and, once you progress farther into the game Loki can become quite essential - or at least very helpful. Thus it was assured to me by the Warframe Community, and their arguments do have merit.

As you've previously seen some Gameplay with Loki, and since I actually did want to try another frame, I bought a bit of platinum, and got me a Volt. Now, Volt, is a different animal. Volt is offensive and not in the least bit stealthy like Loki. And at least during the first 20 missions, he is quite deadly.

This is some gameplay from an Alert Mission, which is a special randomly occurring event mission, only available for a short time (mostly for 30 or 45 minutes):

WARFRAME PS4 - Alert Mission Mobile Defense

Now, as you can see, Volt can keep his own in this fight, featuring good crowd control and decent defensive abilities. And it is and plays completely different to Loki. Volt is slower, and has no deception or stealth abilities at all. But it is quite fun to play, as you can probably understand. Granted, Volt is especially effective against the synthetic and shielded Corpus enemies, but there's also a Mag Frame in there, that does quite well, too.

Which is something that makes Warframe pretty attractive. Every Frame is almost a completely new game. Mag and Excalibur are two of the more offensive and more immediately gratifying choices for starters, but they are also much easier to come by through the game than Loki. So, ultimately, your choice of initial frame greatly depends on whether or not you plan to spend any money on Warframe. As a US PS-Plus member, you actually get more options, since US PS-Plus nets you a Starter Package with some Mods, an XP and Credit Bonus for three days, 50.000 in game credits (enough to buy two decent weapons, like the Braton AR) and, most importantly, 100 Platinum - enough to buy a second Warframe (either Loki, Excalibur or Volt are available for 75 Plat).

Another thing to think about, is the number of equipment slots you have available. When you start, it's only two Warframe slots and 8 weapon slots. And slots you can only get through Platinum. But there are two ways: Either buy slots separately through your Arsenal-Inventory screen, or buy a weapon or Warframe with Platinum.
Because if you buy with Platinum, you not only get the instant access, but it also comes with a Slot for it, and the weapon or Warframe is "supercharged". Meaning that you have twice the Mod energy available than usual. Mods can only be equipped if you have enough energy, and you get energy by leveling up your weapon or frame. With a "Supercharge" through the Orokin Power Source included in every Platinum purchase (it's already installed, too), you get double the Mod Energy for your level: so a level 10 Frame gets 20 instead of just 10 Mod Energy.
Yes, all of the frames and weapons (even the slightly different Prime Frames and Prime Weapons, although that will require some work) can be gotten through playing the game, and no matter which region you are, you will get some Free Platinum to buy slots, but comparing what you get for the Platinum Purchase (not to mention the free game you get to play), investing a bit might actually be worth it.

Finally, here's some more gameplay, this one sadly with a few bugs showing up, something you will still encounter every once in a while. It's the full first Boss Mission, in a four-man-team, me playing with Volt, so... SPOILER ALERT.

WARFRAME PS4 - Captain Vor Assassination

NEW Videos:

Now we take a look at a little bit of Defense, a Horde-Style, "Survive the Waves and Protect the Thing!" Mission Type.

WARFRAME PS4 - Defense vs. Grineer

Here's some Mobile Defense Gameplay against "The Infested", monster from the deep, spacey beyond... (or maybe they're Mutants. They could be mutants...)

WARFRAME PS4 -Mobile Defense vs. Infested

Finally, some more Mobile Defense against the humanoid Grineer, two parts, one whole Mission, lots of hectic crazy:

WARFRAME PS4 - Mobile Defense Special Alert Mission vs. Grinner

There might be more to come...

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Warframe - A Christmas Present...

It's Christmas! So, merry, merry, and all that.

Seriously, though. Merry Christmas to all that celebrate, and Happy Holidays to all, like me, that simply enjoy a few free days. I'm trying to be nice here, don't spoil it...

Anyway, since it's Christmas, I thought I'd bring you a little present. Thus, let me introduce you to...


Fine, okay, I didn't make it. But it's free, so it counts as a present. Because I said so.

Warframe is a Free-to-Play, Sci-Fi Co-Op Heavy 3rd-Person Shooter, and it's available on PS4 to EVERYONE. Yes, no PS-Plus needed. Interested? You should be. Read on and watch the vids to get set with all of the info you need to start out. Because, while Warframe is quite a good game, it sadly does almost nothing to explain how things work. I will try to change that, but, as I've been told, I am not always right. I'm sure that violates a law of nature somewhere, but it is the truth. There's also still stuff I don't know or haven`t seen yet, but since this article is mainly to provide people with a place to put their feet and not be swept away, it should suffice. If you want, head over to the Warframe Wiki, but be warned, the Wiki is mostly for the PC version, which is usually a bit ahead of the PS4 when it comes to fixes, events, balancing and stats. Finally, this is my personal impression and my personal opinion. Nothing more. Maybe, arguably, significantly less, but it is what it is.

What's it about?
I'm not quite sure. You play as a Tenno, which I guess means "Space Ninja" in a language yet to be made. Your goal is to fight back against Evil. Space Evil. Ninja-Style. It all happens in our familiar solar system, but presumably far, far into the future. You shoot and kill baddies. What more do you need to know? Also, there's an in-game codex with lots of answers, if you really want to know...
The Tenno-You wears a Warframe, an exoskeleton. It looks pretty sleek. It also has powers.

There are many different Warframes with many different abilities (four to each) available, but you only get one of three for free. You can choose which at the end of the tutorial mission, so choose wisely. Actually, choose either Excalibur or Mag. Probably Mag. Loki might sound cool, but where almost every other Warframe has a devastating Area of Effect Attack, killing lots of enemies, Loki's "Ultimate" makes all the guns in his vicinity jam. Yeah.
Don't get me wrong. As I have been told by more experienced members of the Warframe Community, Loki is amazing, especially when complementing a steady crew, and even more so in the later, harder missions, but I did choose him, and I mostly felt like that guy that always comes late to the party. So, I'd advise you to choose either Mag - because it is the most expensive to buy if you don't choose it for free - or Excalibur, which is apparently the hardest of the three to get through the game without paying. Of course, all of this becomes moot, if you don't mind spending a few bucks, and in that regard, Loki, Excalibur and Volt are the three cheapest to get.
The Three Choices - well, actually, Volt has been Replaced by Mag, so...

How does it play?
Well. It's a 3rd-Person Shooter. It comes with a primary weapon (mostly a Rifle), a secondary weapon (mostly a pistol) and a melee weapon (you start with a sword). You can aim-down-the-sights, you can jump, dodge, crouch, sprint, slide, grab ledges, wall run and do some nice combo moves. You can use your Warframe powers.
Every Planet of the System has missions, and missions range from Killing all Enemies in a certain level, to assassinating a Boss.
It's best to be played with up to three friends, since the missions, even early on, can get pretty hard. If you want to see some Solo Gameplay, scroll down to the last three videos for a taste of gameplay with horrible commentary. By me.

What's the Premium/Paying Aspect?
It`s not that bad, actually. You can buy Platinum with real money, and use that Platinum to buy new weapons, Warframes, a Robo-Buddy called a Sentinel, new Skins and Resources. You can speed up the building time for stuff that you will eventually build with resources. You can do a lot. And I won't lie to you, it's not cheap. Then again, there are people that threw hundreds of dollars into that Simpsons Build-a-City F2P mobile game, so the audience is there I guess. When you start you get a small amount of Platinum for free (more if you're a US PS+ member), but, sadly, not enough to really buy something good. It's a free taste, and it's useful especially early on for some small stuff, like weapon slots.
BUT, you can get pretty much all of the stuff you can buy by simply playing the game. It will take a while, though. To build stuff, you need blueprints and resources and credits. All of those can be earned and bought without ever spending a dime. But it will take some time to get them. Well, quite a lot of time. Yes, it's a grind, quite literally, but if you have a few friends to play with, it's a FUN-grind. No, I'm serious. This is not a pay-to-win game, but the incentives to buy with Platinum (a free equipment slot and a supercharge to your purchase) are there - and for such a fun game, the devs do deserve something, right?

How do you get to kill stuff?
Anxious, are we? Alright. First, you download Warframe, then go through the update process. As with many F2P games, content is constantly added, so there are mandatory updates.
Then you play the tutorial, choose your Warframe (don't choose Loki unless you're planning on running with a crew, did your Warframe research far beyond what this article provides, plan on playing Warframe for quite some time and really like being stealthy with a rather steeper and less immediately rewarding learning curve), and then you can go on missions. There's only one mission on one Planet available at the start, so once you enter the Main Menu and select "Play", you choose Mercury, Mission 1 and you can start.

There are a few things to be looked at before, though:

First, default setup is to automatically look online for people to play with. You can change that in the lobby by pressing "Triangle" and selecting options from open matchmaking to playing solo. Enemy Strength scales with player numbers, so if you have friends to play with, set your Online Connectability to Private or Invite Only. Having buddies is not only good for fun, buddies can also revive you if you die. If there`s people with you, once your health reaches zero, you bleed out. During bleed-out, your buddies can revive you, while you can still use your pistol to keep the baddies of their backs.
If they don't make it, well, you can revive yourself. You get 4 free revives a day, reset at 0:00 GMT, but if you run out, you can spend a small amount of Platinum to recharge. Since you have a bit of free Platinum already, it's not that big of a deal at first. But it's good to know, especially since if you die and forfeit the mission, you ONLY get experience. Resources, Weapon and Warframe Mods, anything else you picked up will be gone.

Second, there are a few options you might want to look at: Specifically the control options, for inverted y-axis for camera movement (if you're so inclined), and something very, very useful for pulling off advanced wall-running maneuvers. The Video later on will show this more clearly, but in short, if you like to be able to aim while wall running, you need to set "Hold Jump/X to wall run" to OFF.
One more option of interest is the Maximum Ping for open matchmaking. We all hate laggers, and setting this option to a lower value than the default 300ms will alleviate that somewhat. But it will also limit your matchmaking pool, so be aware.
And lastly, the way to activate your powers: either via the touchpad - which requires a certain dexterity if you want to keep moving and aiming while swiping in a direction; or via the D-Pad and then activate it with L1. Both have disadvantages, but you'll have to try them for a bit to really see what they are. Okay, fine, the touchpad can sometimes choose the wrong power to go off, and it's kinda hard to swipe with your index fingers, while the D-Pad and L1 option makes it really hard to slide and adjust your aim. But that's just me.

What now?

Now that you've been through a mission or two, it's time to look a bit more closely at what this game and its features have to offer. But don't worry, enough with the reading, here come my personal intro videos, with horrible commentary. By Me.

First off, is a look into the menus, the Arsenal where you choose your loadouts and the markets:


Second, here's a look at the Play Screen, the Mission Selection, Mission Types and the different Resources of different Planets:

WARFRAME - MORE THINGS TO KNOW - Missions and Resources

Finally, here's a how-to on doing some of the more Advanced Moves in Warframe. This is especially useful, since the game does nothing to explain all those. This is also where the option change concerning wall-running comes into play.


A few Tips:

Of course, this is not all, and there's still so much I don't know about. Like Clan stuff, the Clan Dojo (where you can apparently spar against other clan members, and even do some research for new weapons). Or the freshly introduced Conclave system, allowing you to fight 1v1 or 2v2 PVP. Mod Fusion and Mod Transmutation. Maximization, special builds for special missions. And more.
Still, I know more than SOMEone, so let me leave you with a few tips:

If you like Warframe, log in every single day. EVERY single day, even if all you do is log-in. Why? Because every day you log in, you enter the log-in-lottery. And the more consecutive days you log in, the better the prices get. I once got a Weapon Blueprint for logging in the fourth consecutive day. It's free stuff for a log in. Just do it.

Buy the Blueprints for Team Heal and Team Ammo, and if you can, build a few and carry them around with you on missions. You equip stuff like that in your Arsenal/Gear by selecting an empty slot and choosing the item you want. You use it by holding "down" on the D-Pad, selecting it with the Right Stick and pressing X.

Buy a Codex Scanner from the Market/Gear and scan enemies for some free XP and info on their abilities, resistances, and possible drops, to be perused in the Codex. You need to equip the scanner in the Arsenal, then use it as you use all gear, and scan enemies during missions (for all the info you need to scan the same enemy type multiple times). When used, the scanner is held instead of a weapon, so you aim with L2 and scan with R2 - but you also need to press "Triangle" to change back to a weapon that can actually shoot. The Scanner not only scans, but it also shows you un-scanned enemies and un-scanned storage containers through walls!

Don't play a Rescue Mission Solo unless it's really far below your current level, or you really, really know what you're doing. Also, don't try a Capture Mission Solo with a slow Warframe. Just trust me on this.

Invest some Money in Platinum. Support the people who made this. I'm not talking about hundreds of dollars, but you get a great game to play with friends. And it's Christmas. Let's show some love.

WARFRAME GAMEPLAY - with horrible commentary. By Me.

This is a three-parter of me playing a Solo Capture Mission. It should give you an idea of what to expect. Of course, this is just me playing an early mission Solo. Things get exponentially crazier the more you progress and the more people are involved.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Enjoy! And for more info and more gameplay of Warframe, visit: Warframe - More info, more Gameplay - Yeah. Subtle, I know.

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tom Clancy's "The Division" shows off Snowdrop Engine

It's been a while since E3, yet most gamers will still remember their first, and unanimously amazing, impression of Ubisoft Massive's Tom Clancy's The Division. Set in a not so distant future, this 3rd-Person Urban Warfare Online RPG invites you to explore a desolate New York City, ravaged by a deadly virus. And from what we've seen so far, it does look amazing.

If you haven't had a chance to see the official game-play reveal from E3, or just want to see it again and start pining for its release in "late 2014", here it is:

The game-play looked great, the second-screen application revolutionary, the graphics stunning - and yet, it was the closing of a car door - at 3:35 min - that was heard around the world. It showed an attention to detail as real as any game I ever hoped to play.

And most if not all of that, is possible through the newly developed, "tru-next-gen" Snowdrop Engine. Yesterday, Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment showcased the beautiful Snowdrop Engine and its applications in this video featurette:

It still looks amazing. Lighting, Particle Effects, Dynamic Textures, detailed environmental reactions to, well, bullets, this is what most of us expected from the next-gen. And hopefully, it will only get better from here on out.

Personally, I am very, very excited for The Division, maybe even more than for Bungie's Destiny.

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Call of the Battlefield... 4 - with Gameplay Vids

Battlefield - especially Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 - has become such a huge event-franchise, that some people - me included - have had a hard time lately remembering why we left Call of Duty in the first place. There's no denying that back in the days of Bad Company and Bad Company 2, Battlefield was a completely different animal.

From the charismatic and enjoyable single-player campaign (where Bad Company 1's many open sandbox levels clearly outshone BC2's more linear approach), to the almost legendary multiplayer maps (where it was the BC2 maps that undoubtedly had found the perfect balance between open, vehicle-dominated spaces, and tight, sub-urban infantry warfare). To this day, the amount of environmental destructibility in BC2 multiplayer, and all the different tactical approaches it offered, has never been matched. Oh, and did I mention that new maps came for free back then?

Thinking back to those days, it does seem weird, how Battlefield 3 could have turned out so horrible. As a good friend of mine once said, "It plays like CoD, but it looks like Shit!" Maps like Seine Crossing, Operation Metro or Grand Bazaar seemed taken straight out of Modern Warfare 3 - albeit with a less intricate map design and hugely inferior graphics. Battlefield Premium introduced a "Pay-for-Maps" approach - that I detest, but understand - and the beginnings of a class-divide between regular and premium players through early map access and exclusive servers . Funny thing in BF3, the much-maligned "Close Quarters"-Expansion was almost enough to balance the scales, as most BF veterans were scratching their heads as to why exactly they paid, in advance, for something nobody wanted: the most blithe and obvious attempt to lure Call of Duty Players onto another Battlefield.

Now, BF4 is here, and I'm afraid it's once more a lot more like BF3 than Bad Company 2. There are a few great, open maps, with destructible environments reminiscent of Arica Harbor, or Heavy Metal, but there`s also... well, it's called "Operation Locker", but it's really "Operation Metro" in some kind of high-up in the mountains detention facility. And playing it with 64 people on Conquest Large is just a sad, sad, joke. And the real "Operation Metro" will actually make an appearance as part of the (timed Xbox One Exclusive) Expansion "Second Assault", a map pack consisting of BF3 remakes, along with "Gulf of Oman", "Operation Firestorm" and "Caspian Border". Apparently, those were all "fan favorites" - but there is hope that the new "Levolution" and increased destructibility might bring some fresh air into those subway tunnels, but looking at the almost non-existent environmental destruction of "Operation Locker", hopes are not that high.

Why would DICE include these maps? Well, on one hand, of course, it's about preserving the player base from BF3, many of which hailed from Call of Duty and do expect tight-spaced, twitch-based infantry game-play. Then there's always the attempt to convert even more of the CoD crowd with small, simple, linear maps. Personally, I think their strategy is even bigger than that, as the only way to NOT have to suffer through the occasional CoD-like maps is to rent your own server and choose your own maps, as the official servers all have the same playlists. Basically, they make you hate something so much that you'll pay extra to get around it. It works, too. After only two matches on Operation Locker I was willing to pay anything (reasonable) to never have to play it again.

Sadly, those are not the only problems, as the game's launch has been plagued by an almost ridiculous amount of bugs, from constant crashes to one bullet doing twice the damage. And launching a game on five different platforms is only a partial excuse. At least DICE has now halted development on all their other titles and BF4 expansions until the bugs are gone. Which might take a while.

Still, it has its moments, and on the good maps, when it works it's fun. As such, I have included here some game play taken via the PS4's share function. The Clips don't look as good as the real thing - and I don't play as well as I'd like to - but it's a lot better than BF3. So don't judge. But you may laugh...

Also, I will keep adding more gameplay vids here, so visit back to laugh some more!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Long Road to... my Next Generation Console

The Road so Far:
Sammy, we need a new console.

"Carry on my Wayward Son! There'll be peace when you are done."
"You know: Wasting time, playing games: the family business!"
And so on and so forth...

I came a long way. From my Coleco Vision and Zaxxxon 3D, to an NES, a Gameboy, a Playstation, a PS2, PSP up to the Xbox 360 - with a few bouts of PC gaming in between, it's been a long road to this next generation of consoles for our hero (that's me).

And it ended, for now, not as I expected on the Xbox One, but on the Playstation 4. Yes. After almost 7 years of Xbox 360, I made the jump. My reasons are many and mysterious, and yet, I actually was set on the Xbox One until about four days before the release date. I had both pre-ordered since they were available, so I did have the choice, but damn me, if that choice wasn't hard.

For a long, long time, long before the Xbox One and PS4 reveals, Xbox was my first choice, simply out of convenience. I've been there, done that, know my way around, and have found lots of friends. Some of those I actually like.

On the other hand, I've had my problems with Xbox and Xbox Live, most specifically because of their many regional restrictions. As a humble, and thoroughly annoyed citizen of the Kingdom of Censorship (that's Germany), not only do games often get, you guessed it, censored (or not released at all), but more horrible is without a doubt, that a lot of games (Digital Game on Demand Downloads and Disc Versions) and DLCs, are NOT in English.

Seriously, you'd think in this age of the global village, the dominant gaming language (outside of Asian RPGs) would be a mandatory feature. Germany doesn't think so. Companies like Bethesda and Square Enix are infamous for only featuring German, French and maybe Spanish on German retailer sold discs. When it comes to digital downloads of games or DLC on Xbox Live, those same companies, in collusion with Microsoft, very often restrict users of German Xbox Live accounts to German versions said content. Famous examples of great games totally ruined by Bad German Dubbing: Halo 3/ODST/Reach/4, Crysis 2, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Skyrim, Dishonored, Tomb Raider (Reboot), Sleeping Dogs, Fable 3, and the list goes on.

Why is that horrible? Well, if you've ever heard the abysmal German voice "acting", or had to suffer through "translations" that didn't even make sense, whether content-wise or grammatically, you'd know.
Crysis 2: While the left is perfectly fine, the right is a word-by-word translation of "Most Lethal" that does NOT make any sense in German.
So, while the English versions of games can often boast famous actors performing scripts by experienced writers, the Germans have to make do with third string voice "actors" going off translations that make Google Translate look like... well, the Translator. It's why I constantly have to import my games from the UK - which means I mostly get them after the weekend on which it was supposed to be released.

But I digress. As I said, I was set on the next-gen Xbox, right until that big reveal to introduce the Multi-Media Device called Xbox One. It wasn`t just a video game console, it was supposed to be the "One Box to Rule them All" in your living room. TV, Skype, Internet... And I couldn't care less. I don't watch much TV, and if I watch movies, the English original has become mandatory, something German TV doesn't do. And I already have my PC hooked up to my living room TV. I wanted to play games. But, as good old (and since encouraged to leave) Xbox CEO Don Mattrick said back then, E3 will be where the games are at, and there would be amazing games, in full HD, as behooves a next-gen console.

Truth be told, I hadn't even bothered with the PS4 reveal, so set was I on Xbox, and so disappointed was I, when the hoped-for good news at E3 went sour:
Xbox One games cannot be sold used, discs are basically installation vectors, and yet, the games will still be much more expensive than equivalent PC games via services like Steam or Origin, after which that policy of "Usage Licenses for Games" was obviously designed.
Xbox One needs to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours so validate these licenses, and if you cannot do that, it turns into a very nice bookend.

"By the balls, they have us!"
Kinect 2.0 is mandatory and required to even use the console - if it breaks or you unplug that
"High-Tech Surveillance Equipment" (as German politicians have named it), there`s that bookend again.
Giving a game to friend... I don't even want to think about that.

It was as if Xbox One had thought about all the things that'd piss me, personally, off, and then made those things their policy. Sony only needed to show up, then. And show up they did. Who does not fondly remember the "Instructional Videos" Sony did on giving a PS4 game to a friend?
Sony's PS4 came with a lot of power - for gaming, and not much else.
And in the following months, I became a strong PS4 supporter.

The "Xbox One-80 Day" did change that a bit. No more licenses, no more internet checks, used games work like always, and while Kinect was still in the box, you didn`t need it to operate the X1. Don Mattrick left Xbox,  shortly thereafter, and it has been hinted that he was encouraged to do so.
And then there was "The Power of the Cloud", but I admit I was always more intrigued by Microsoft's promise of Dedicated Servers for every single MP game through that cloud. I have seen many a great game die because of bad online connections and lag - Crysis 2, Crysis 3, Ghost Recon Future Soldier and, lately, Splinter Cell: Blacklist come to mind - so the availability of those 300.000 Azure servers being used to get rid of transatlantic lobbies with Australians, Americans and Europeans and a Brazlian with a dial-up connection as the host was very intriguing.

And, looking at the game presentations from E3, especially Titanfall and Ryse, the 10% processing power that the X1 always keeps away from games for their Multi-Media Features, did not seem to matter much. Both games were shown in full 1080p and 60FPs, and they did look beautiful.

When I then heard about the pseudo-dedicated servers Killzone Shadowfall would get (namely none - the game logic will still be host/client Peer-2-Peer, just like pretty much all current-gen games do it already), and that despite Sony's promise of all First-Party titles getting Dedicated Servers, I slowly began drifting again.
I like killing people. Online. In games. And there`s nothing more frustrating, than seeing bad connections or shoddy netcoding not live up to any game's promise of allowing you to do that killing.

So, I thought, the games look great, and they'll all have dedicated servers, even the small niche games that I seem to find so appealing, and I already have an Xbox Live account paid up until next year, do I really want to make that jump into the unknown?
I've heard a few scary stories about the Playstation Network, and Sony's apparent lack of concern when it comes to keeping it functioning. Xbox Live has been very dependable for quite a long time, and they surely have the experience when it comes to providing good online features, while the PSN, especially as a now paid-for subscription, seems to be still in its baby shoes.
Should I go with what I know, and know that it will (mostly) work, or go with what I tend to think of as the better console and the better approach to gaming in general? No matter how tempting an offer of unlimited dedicated servers might be, I still had a bad taste in my mouth from what Xbox had tried to force on gamers, their approach to Indie-Developers and their lack of focus on games. Actually, their 180 turnaround left me respecting them even less. If they really believed that their vision was the future, they should've stuck to their guns and ride out the storm... or something.

Once more, I was undecided, and the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit, that I don't know much at all about the PSN. I had heard that there's no regional IP filtering, that all games and DLC are region free, and making an account that was not afflicted by Germany isn't a big problem, but that was the PS3. There was no telling if that would still apply to the PS4. And I am notoriously lazy. The thought of having to get familiar with all the intricacies of a new platform, a new service were daunting. More and more I was swinging back to the Xbox One, and the bigger price tag, useless features and the Spy-Toy be damned.

And it stayed that way, until Resolution Gate arrived. Only a few weeks before the launch, some very worrisome news broke about the Xbox One: most launch games would not run in 1080p. Or at 60FPS. Some will even run in only 720p at 30 frames per second. Assassin`s Creed 4? 720p at 30FPS. COD Ghosts? 720p at 60FPS. Ryse? 900p at 30FPS. Battlefield 4? 720p at 60FPS. Only Forza 5 would run in 1080p and 60FPS, but as a racing game, the computational demands to the hardware are a lot lower than shooters, for example. It was not at all what next-gen gamers were expecting, especially since Sony had no issues confirming that all of those games (not the Xbox exclusive Ryse, of course) except BF4 would run in 1080p. It also stood in stark contrast to the full HD E3 presentations. Which then, of course, were called into question, and, as it turned out, rightfully so. Apparently, most if not all of those presentations had not been running on Xbox One Software Developer Kits - but on High-End Windows 7 PCs.

The reason for this discrepancy is the apparently quite complicated structure of the Xbox One, most likely the memory configuration, that for now has developers a bit stumped when it comes to optimization. While most developers talked about how easy and straightforward it was to design and program for the PS4, more and more were now saying that it was quite the opposite wit the Xbox One. And again it seems like Sony and Microsoft have switched places with this next-gen, as the PS3 had very similar issues with its complicated structure, especially when it comes to cross-platform games.

On the other hand, maybe those things were to be expected for a console still in its infancy. Developers soon learned to use the PS3 pretty well, after all, and rumors had it, that the Xbox SDKs were pretty late in getting to the developers - about six months later than Sony's did. Launch games might not be up to snuff, but surely the second wave would bring us full HD gaming as expected.

Yet, when Infinity Ward Executive Producer Mark Rubin was asked about why "Call of Duty Ghosts" did not run in 1080p on Xbox One, and talked a bit about the complications developers are facing with the unfamiliar and convoluted console architecture, he inadvertently mentioned that other developers have made a similar decision: Lower the Graphics and Keep the High Frame Rate. He even mentioned that Xbox One exclusive and, arguably, the winner of E3, Titanfall, is set to be released in 720p as well. And Titanfall is not due to be release until Spring 2014, a definitive second wave release, by which time late SDKs won't count as an excuse anymore. And a little more research found me an article, that eagerly expected Bungie game Destiny shows significantly less graphical quality in its Alpha Version on Xbox One than PS4.

Best. Game. Ever.
Shadows loomed over my gaming future, and for a few days I thought about just forgetting about the next generation, get a PS3 and play all those exclusives I missed out on. God of War, Uncharted, inFamous - not to mention the HD Remake of my personal "Best Game Ever", Shadow of the Colossus. Since it was clear by now, that neither console would feature backwards compatibility, that option became increasingly attractive. But damn it, I wanted that next gen to start right now. I didn't want to be left out, and I had already looked too much into the next-gen games to let go of it, now.

And now, PS4 looked pretty sexy again. Still, the promise of dedicated servers held sway. But... Well. But. What about that promise? Was it still valid? It wasn't like MS had never before pulled back on promises. So I went ahead and did some research, and... it wasn't good. From "Dedicated Servers for every single game" it went to "Free Dedicated Servers are available for every developer who chooses to use them" to "Easily affordable Dedicated Servers" - although that last might not be accurate anymore. And then a good friend working in the business told me, that not every developer will even make use of those "free" dedicated servers - and that he fully expects that most next-gen games on all platforms will get dedicated servers anyway, once the next-gen comes fully into its stride.

More and more confusion. And no more guaranteed dedicated servers for Xbox One. And the big upcoming games I'm most looking forward to might not even be affected. Destiny will have a combination of dedicated servers and Peer-2-Peer on both platforms. The Division will have dedicated servers on every platform. Thief won't need dedicated servers for what I fully expect to be a single player-focused game. What was left was to look at the Exclusives, and truth be told, none of the Xbox exclusives made me want to stick with what I now conceived to be the weaker gaming console.
I don't like racing games in general, and naming a revolutionary online component "Drivatar" actually made me hate Forza 5 for no reason.
Dead Rising 3 might look like fun, but apparently it's mostly fun if you don't play the story.
Ryse is forever locked in my head as a failed Quick-Time-Event, and Crytek have long lost my appreciation as a studio.
Finally, Titanfall. It did look pretty crazy in the presentations. But the finished game apparently won`t even look as good, and with an online-only title, what happens if you don't like the online game play? No matter how great it might look, these are the people that committed Modern Warfare 2, including Marathon-Lightweight-Commando. And I'm not one for the COD-twitch play style - I'm old, and lonely. I don't need 10year-olds to go crazy on me with their dreadfully good reflexes.

So, the Xbox exclusives wouldn't win me over, what about the PS4?
Killzone Shadowfall does look nice, and I loved the old Killzone games on PS2. I had also heard great things about the KZ Multiplayer - and yet, the reviews were not really great.
The Order 1886 had werewolves. I don't know if that's a good thing.
inFamous: Second Son looks nice, but as I never played an inFamous game, looks can be deceiving.
And apart from those, there are a few Indie Titles, but that seems to be it. No matter what you want to say about the Xbox One, they do have the more interesting exclusives.

The inability to decide was pretty painful at the time, and the Xbox One release date was coming very, very close, now. So I finally succumbed to taking an in-depth look at the Playstation Network - and Playstation Plus, the paid subscription. I still had an old PSN ID, registered in the UK from back in my PlayStation Portable days, and it seemed to be still active, so at least my usual Gamer Handle would be there for me - and, hopefully, my language concerns wouldn't be an issue. Until I found out, that for paying for stuff, you need a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account registered in your account's country. Thankfully, you can load your PSN wallet with pre-paid cards, get subscriptions through the same kind of vouchers, and both are easy to buy online from wherever you are. It might not be as convenient as entering your credit card info once and never be bothered again, but it was something I had lived with on Xbox Live for a long time, and, as such, definitely doable.
More interesting, though, was PS Plus, now a necessity for playing online multiplayer on PS4. You get discounts, sure. But you also get your Instant Game Collection, which means access to a selection of free games as long as you remain a Plus member, with new games permanently added each month, and different additional games offered for download for a certain time. And not just 5 year old games nobody wanted to buy, or little Indie Titles nobody wanted, period. It leaves the still relatively fresh "Games with Gold" initiative from rival Microsoft pretty far behind - even more so, since the PS Plus Instant Game Collection will include PS4 titles, while "Games with Gold" is not planned to extend from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Additionally, if the master account on a PS4 has PS Plus, all other accounts get the same benefits, including use of the Instant Game Collection and Online Multiplayer. It's something Xbox One does as well, though, but again, they have no free games.

By then, I was pretty sure that I didn't really want the Xbox One, anymore, so I cancelled my pre-order three days before release. It was harder than you might think, and I instantly regretted it. I regretted it even more when I had to watch all of my Xbox Live buddies upgrade on launch day and play their Xbox One and rave about it. But I had decided, and I wanted to be steadfast in my decision. No Xbox One for me. But did I want a PS4? Did I really? My Xbox still had a few good games to happen to it, Dark Souls 2 first and foremost, and the PS3 has some great games I never played for a lot less money. I could get a PS3, PS Plus, and be busy for months if not years with all the free games and exclusive franchises.

In the end, I wanted my next generation now. And I don't regret it. Of course, the beginning was tumultuous, as PSN broke down on the European Launch, and for a few hard hours I wished I had not bought a 400€ bookend. The next day got even worse, when I thought that PSN had swallowed about 40€ of vouchers. But they sorted it out, and one day after launch, at least my experience was fully satisfactory. And I already have two free games for PS Plus.
Not everything is perfect, though. My old Xbox 360 Surround Sound Gaming Headset is not really working with the controller, so I have to use the horrible PS4 ear-bud and mic that came in the box beneath my headset's ear cups to chat and hear chat. The DS4 is a great controller, but after being used to the Xbox 360 controller for so long, I still need to retrain my brain and my hands.

But I am happy. I feel like I made the right decision. I wanted a gaming console, and that`s what the PS4 is. It's fast, the games look great, and - initial problems aside - the PSN seems to work fine. I even managed to share a video online, and it was almost ridiculously easy. Granted, the PS4 shares videos on facebook and not youtube, but since google wants youtube to be the new facebook, I guess it's fair enough.

So, if you're still unsure about what system you might get, maybe this will be helpful to you. If you already have your next-gen system, feel free to laugh at my odyssey. Whatever your decision, I really hope you like it.

Whether it's PS4 or Xbox One, there's really no "right" or "wrong" here - only "right or wrong for you".