Knowing how to take your first-step into gaming, or indeed buy for a gamer, can be an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. We want to help, here are four steps to that end:
We humans sometimes shy away from what we don’t know – too daunting – we wholly understand that. The world of Gaming, for those that perhaps aren’t the most technologically versed, is one of these intimidating leisure activities that we just can’t seem to wrap our heads around. Where do we start? A lot of money and stress rides might lie on an easily made wrong decision. Well, 41% of the global population are classed as gamers, maybe you’ve been one of them in the past, but today with controllers that look like chess boards, consoles with weird names – Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation - and several thousand games to choose from, there’s a lot to consider.
That's why we are here, to boil the process of buying and playing down for you, explaining the industry jargon so you can flaunt impressive terms to your friends and family when the time comes. Here goes! Before we commence with our four steps, here are some key terms you should know:
Console – the box or device itself that hosts and enables all activity.
Generation – relates to the time a product, namely a console, was launched.
Controller – a remote of sorts used to interact with the console to produce outcome.
Monitor – or a TV screen, whatever device you will use to generate an image.
Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation – the trio of popular gaming brands.
Games – a physical disc or a digital online download used to play a specific title
Step 1: Choose your Budget –
A modern gaming set up can present an expensive habit, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Below we give a quick peep at each generation of different consoles and the price tag attached to each.
Opting for a Sony PlayStation 5 vs a Microsoft Xbox One for example, two different companies and feel of consoles, have two very different price tags; the two consoles belong to separate generations, a reference to the year it was released. The PlayStation 5 (PS5) and the Xbox Series X|S were released in 2020, deeming them both ninth-generation consoles. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles came out in 2013, making them the eighth generation of devices, whereas the Xbox 360 and PS3, two now very dated consoles, came out in 2005/6 respectively, these are seventh generation consoles. Whether you are buying for yourself or a friend/family member, you’ll likely want to stay fairly recent in your purchase. Like an iPhone, technology has moved at a lightning pace – so we recommend opting at minimum with eighth gen. Of course, the older you go (until you enter collectors’ item territory), the cheaper they are – but oldest (10+ years) in the gaming world is more often than not inferior.
You can purchase an eighth generation PlayStation 4 or a ninth generation Xbox Series S (Xbox One consoles are old enough to be discontinued) with a controller for just over £250. Tag a few games on to that, you might be looking at near enough £325. Of course, you’ll need a monitor or a TV screen with a HDMI input to get playing – be sure to check the back of any TV you plan to use.
Step 2: Choose your Console:
As with any market with varied products, automotive, smartphone, even property, different consoles have their intended uses, pros and cons. Although many consoles are in short-supply due to the paucity of components, let’s explore the ranges for a bit.
The Nintendo Switch follows on from the celebrated Nintendo Wii, a well-loved family console. The standard Switch model can be linked to a TV, or played wirelessly held in the hand or placed on a table. The Nintendo Switch excels because of its transportability – you can play the Switch anywhere; car, bus, work - and sociability, the controllers used to play games and interact with console, called Joycons, are detachable, motion-control remote (like on the Wii) used for sport, co-op, and party games with friends, not something you can as easily do on the Xbox or PlayStation. Nintendo offers the pricier OLED Switch Model which performs at a higher quality and looks better on the screen, or the cheaper Lite model which can only be played in handheld mode at the exclusion of docking/connecting to a TV where general performance is better. Nintendo Switches have a charm about them, don't they? Learn more about the console here or the OLED Model here.
The Microsoft Xbox series, the rival to the PlayStation, has numerous consoles. The previous eighth generation, named the Xbox One, has two extra iterations, the S and X. That said, the real focus is on the Xbox Series X|S, two consoles part of the ninth-generation. The Xbox Series S (which is newer than the Xbox One S) is a neat little white console, the Xbox Series X is a larger, black oblong of sorts. The Series S is cheaper than the X for many reasons; the X has a higher frame rate (meaning games play smoothly without lagging), higher quality graphics (the game looks better), a better Solid State Drive (SSD) (meaning it loads games and whatnot quicker) and double the storage, 1 Terabyte (1000GB) vs 512GB – most games are between 40-90GB. IMPORTANT: The Xbox Series S doesn’t have a disc drive thus you must download the games from the Xbox store, whereas the Xbox Series X accepts both digital downloads and physical discs.
A lot to take in, eh? The Xbox Series X is a phenomenal machine, but even the Xbox Series S blows the previous generation, the Xbox One, out of the water in all areas. You can check out extra comparisons here. It’s worth noting that most Xbox One games can be played on Xbox Series S|X and vice versa due to a system called Smart Delivery. You can read more of the Xbox consoles here.
The Sony PlayStation 4 is an eighth-generation console, the PlayStation 5 is analogous in power to the Xbox Series X. Most PS4 games can be played on the PS5, but PS5 games cannot be played on the PS4, yet Sony make up for this by making some fantastic PS5-only games. PS5 is yet another super powerful console again with Disc and Digital editions, like the Xbox Series S and X. The term ‘digital’ means to only suggest that users cannot use discs with the console, instead games are purchasable on the PlayStation store. There's quite a bit to say about the PlayStation range - here's an article on that.
We’ve touched on what considerations are important when buying a console; storage; speed; graphics, but we neglected to mention games yet! Remember that some games are only available on specific consoles, Xbox, Nintendo, or PlayStation consoles – more on that in a minute, but first: accessories.
Step 3: Choose Your Accessories –
Not everyone needs accessories, but some will want to enhance their gaming experience. The Nintendo switch, for example, has several accessories, which you can read about here, available to the public whereas Sony have a selection of proprietary, in-house products - Xbox has but a few. Most accessories relate to either controllers or headsets; how you play, how you listen.
Gaming controllers, like phones and laptops, have a finite battery life, but it can be strengthened and made more convenient to the gamer. The PlayStation DualSense controller, the PS5 controller (not a DualShock – that’s the PS4 controller – not compatible with one another) charges off the console as you play, though you can get a Charging Station to fuel two at once should you fancy a gaming marathon. On the other hand, Xbox controllers require batteries, but you can buy rechargeable batteries attachable to the controller. The Nintendo Switch controllers (which are detachable), known as Joy-Cons, receive juice when attached to the Switch console itself, although you can invest in a charging grip or battery pack should you wish to. It is handy to have an extra controller lying about; you can then play with friends and family or use it as a spare in the situation anything goes wrong with your primary controller. When buying a console, please note that you should always receive one standard controller in the package. Some companies offer ‘Pro’ controllers for the adroit, nimble-fingered gamer (the Pro), yet with more buttons and paddles, opting for a Pro controller as your first encounter will likely convolute the learning process further.
Some players like to buy a Headset, seeking to augment their gaming experienced with crisper sound quality as opposed to the standard audio from our TV. Sony offer a proprietary (built by company) headset named Pulse 3D for the PlayStation; you can also get your hands on the Xbox Wireless Headset for (you got it) the Xbox consoles. For Xbox and PlayStation consoles, headsets can be wired (connects to controller or console) or wireless (uses Bluetooth tech) – yet it is worth noting that for now the Nintendo Switch lacks an audio jack and therefore works solely with Bluetooth headphones.
Step 4: Choose your Games:
This is a non-negotiable – you can’t have a console without any games! That’s like having a bike without any wheels, a car without petrol. We have digital and disc games as discussed, along with many genres of gaming. While Xbox and PlayStation tend to have slightly more adult-leaning content, Nintendo not so much - this is an important consideration when choosing which console to opt for. Some games are exclusive to a console, for example you can’t play Ghost of Tsushima on Nintendo or Xbox consoles because it is a Sony PlayStation Exclusive. Skyrim on the other hand is only available on Nintendo and Xbox, whereas Zelda titles are only playable on the Nintendo Switch. A touch tiresome, isn't it? Some diligent gamers purchase several consoles simply to allow them access to all games, removing any barriers to the full gaming experience.
Like films, different games shine in different areas, therefore necessitating genre categories, with most games encompassing several genres. It always bears considering that the older the game is, the more dated it tends to be; games built in 2010 vs 2020 possess a stark, stark difference that, though you may not immediately appreciate, like a seasoned wine taster you will come to notice and it will grate on you. Technology moves extraordinarily fast! Anyhow, back to genres! Below we briefly describe the accepted nomenclature used in the gaming world:
Role-playing Games – players take on a primary protagonist, usually a fantasy character with exceptional abilities, upgrade them, learn their story, and put themselves in their shoes as they negotiate the game’s plot arc. You can have Action-RPG meaning the game revolves around combat etc, and Japanese-RPG, games oriented towards Japanese culture and Anime. RPG games are among the most successful and popular games out there.
Sandbox Games – often embrace a non-linear approach, meaning there are many ways from the start to the end of game, encouraging players to experiment and embed their own mark onto how they traverse the game. Sandbox games often consist of worlds you can edit and affect somewhat, Minecraft, the best-selling game of all time, is an obvious example.
Co-op Games – gaming alone is fun in its own right, yet gaming together, whether that is Local Play (in the same room) or Online Multiplayer (using a WiFi connection), is too an immensely pleasurable experience. Many games include Multiplayer functionalities, yet the Co-op game through-and-through are slightly rarer – we have an article on these titles, though! Read about it here!
Open-World Games – as it says on the tin, these games don’t restrict you to one area or passage, you can travel around, explore, collect resources, and get to know in-game characters and lore as you please. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, God of War, Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, all games with an immersive and compelling storyline, just so happen to be commonly regarded as the best games of all time, are all Open-World titles.
Action-Adventure – usually featured in open-world games, often revolving around fighting and whatnot as in Far Cry titles, though not always. The Ori games (Will of the Wisps & Blind Forest) are Action-Adventure titles that involve an adorable little spectre who chooses mostly to evade threat as a pacifist rather than battle it.
Real-Time Strategy – these games tend to encourage players to build their own world, such as in Age of Empires, and develop it from the ground up. Real-Time Strategy games (RTS)are not a competition per se, but when you leave your project it stays live, other people can visit and attack it as they please… hence the strategy part. RTS games are notorious for being inordinately time-consuming, looking more like a lifestyle than a mere game.
Shooter Games – as it says on the tin, either First-person (see it through their eyes) or third-person (where camera follows character) – go around with a variety of guns and weapons to take out enemies and save the day, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Sniper Elite, and Halo are widely-played games in the genre.
Roguelike Games – also referred to as a dungeon crawler, usually sport a distinctive isometric camera angle (above and to the side). Roguelike titles are an offshoot of the fantasy role-playing genre, it is mentioned separately due to how it is played. Players move through various settings and areas normally randomly generated, trying to survive against an enemy. When you die, you more often than not restart entirely – that’s the challenge of Roguelikes, a genre that demand a tactical approach. If this sounds like it may appeal to you, Ancient Greece-oriented Hades is a great place to start, it is also available on all three major consoles.
Survival Horror – this one needs no explanation; you and your racing heartbeat try to elude threat, endure scary music and quintessential horror gambits while trying to hang on to an adrenaline surge. Outlast, Resident Evil and Dark Pictures games are typical examples of popular horror series.
Sports Simulation Games: Football, Hockey, American Football, Golf, Rugby, UFC – you name it, there’s a gaming series for it. Play as your favourite teams online or versus friends, build your own players and squads – a must-have for sports fans. FIFA is a good place to start, as is Riders Republic, but your choice should ultimately depend on the sports you like.
Getting to grips with your Set-Up –
By now you have yourself a console, the conduit for gaming, a controller or two, any accessories you consider essential, and a mini selection of games. Where do you go from here? A few steps:
- Plug-in your set-up, making sure all wires are in good health and are plugged in to the right place. A HDMI connection between monitor and console, be sure to ensure the plug for the monitor and the plug for the console are correctly placed.
- Switch on the Console, go through the introductory process, create and sign into your account, purchase any subscriptions to online services necessary to partake in multiplayer games and perhaps take a look at Game Vaults, like Xbox GamePass, Nintendo Online, and PS Plus, that open the door to sundry gaming titles in return for a monthly subscription.
- Download a game, preferably a title targeted at single-player gaming modes and get playing! Take the time to acquaint yourself with the controller – remember these rules:
- On standard controllers, the right index and middle fingers hover over R2/R1 triggers often directing action output; throw this, shoot that. The right thumb controls the four buttons arranged, standardly A,B,X,Y or Circle, Triangle, Cross and Square, in diamond formation on the right side of the controller, whilst the left thumb controls the two analog sticks ordinarily used for movement and view alteration. The left index and middle fingers favours controlling any support actions to the primary action. For example, if you were playing a racing game – your right index finger would influence acceleration and the left index finger would control the brakes. Alternatively, when using a sniper rifle, your left side controls the scope zoom to prepare your right side for pulling the trigger.
And there we are, a guide to entering the rewarding world of gaming. You did it at the right time, 2022 is already looking like a blast. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you - check out our socials or give us a message.