Even though 2017 wasn't a particularly great year for humanity, at least we still have video games, and against all odds they've been pretty darn good this year as each of the big three consoles had their time to shine. But now we're marching full steam ahead into the new year, it's time to take a look back on whether it was the PS4, Nintendo Switch or Xbox One that had the upper hand in 2017.
In the following comparison we have assessed the games, hardware and general outlook of each console for the past year, in order to assess which system had the very best 2017.
PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: Hardware
The Switch was this year's brand new platform, with Nintendo rectifying the mistakes made with the Wii U by providing a handheld display that people actually wanted to use. The Switch is truly a transformative piece of gaming hardware, redefining what players want out of their consoles and providing a brand new hook outside of Microsoft and Sony's continued push to make their games look better and run faster.
Much like the Wii, the Switch truly felt like a complete deviation from its peers' aspirations, blazing its own trail by combining handheld and home console. It says a lot about the Switch's strengths that the sour taste left by the Wii U has been all but eradicated, and all that's left is a library of games that are now being ported to Nintendo's new console.
Microsoft also released new hardware this year, with the Xbox One X being the "first true 4K" console and able to output in native 4K with greater frequency than the PS4 Pro, becoming the most powerful home console ever as a result. The Xbox One X is hugely impressive technology, making the Xbox One's library of games each look better and providing 4K TV owners with the opportunity to take full advantage of their setup.
The PS4 didn't have any new hardware this year, with the company's strangely muted debut of the PS4 Pro late last year rolling into a quiet 2017 for the iterative upgrade, while the PlayStation VR saw quite a few new releases (and, somewhat randomly, a new model) though it still lacking a killer app to really drive sales.
Winner: Nintendo Switch
While the Xbox One X is an impressive upgrade, the Switch was a phenomenon this year, making it the undisputed victor of this category.
PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: Games
One man's new Mario game may be another's Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, so your appreciation of each console's game library this year is going to be dependent upon your personal preference. However, it's not easy to debate against both the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch having a healthier roster of exclusives than the Xbox One this year, with Microsoft's console struggling to compete with its peers in this particular department.
The PS4 had an incredibly strong start to 2017, with Horizon Zero Dawn providing Sony with a strong new IP right out of the gate, Persona 5 being arguably the series' strongest entry to date, and Resident Evil 7 successfully pulling the survival horror franchise out of the doldrums while straying from the action-adventure rut it had got itself into. On top of this there was also the critically acclaimed Nier Automata, a console exclusive to the PS4, the brutally tough Nioh and the eccentric Yakuza 0. While the PS4 exclusives dried up towards the latter half of the year, it still boasted Sony's expansive roster of multi-platform releases, from Wolfenstein 2 to Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WW2, Assassin's Creed Origins and beyond.
The Nintendo Switch had one of the best launch years of any console ever, starting off with arguably the best launch game ever in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, before moving on to the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, ARMs and the phenomenal Super Mario Odyssey.
Though it may not have been as robust as the PS4's library, and certainly saw the release of a few damp squibs such as 1-2 Switch and Super Bomberman R, the Switch provided early adopters with more great new games to play than the vast majority of newly released consoles. On top of this, ports of older games such as Doom, Skyrim, LA Noire and Rocket League were given a whole new twist thanks to the console's portability, offering a new reason to revisit them.
Then there was the Xbox One. Oh, the Xbox One — you didn't really try this year, did you? With Microsoft putting its weight behind the Xbox One X, they unfortunately failed to provide us with any other reason to stick around with their platform, as outside of Forza Motorsport 7 there were no notable new exclusives released on the console. PUBG is coming in December, though, so at least that's something.
Though the Switch had a huge launch year, the PS4 confidently sauntered into this year as an unopposed veteran, boasting a wide variety of excellent games along with key multi-platform releases.
PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: Innovation and Improvements
The key to success for a console is for it to remain ahead of the curve, meaning that continued innovation and improvements to its platform is a must. This year, Nintendo launched one of the most innovative hardware concepts in gaming history, building off the Wii U with a hybrid system that allowed owners to play their games docked to their TV, in handheld mode, or sitting on a table while making use of its portable display.
Over the past few years, all three major console manufacturers have attempted to implement innovations in an effort to change the way people play their games. Microsoft continued to champion the Kinect by trying to force it into the Xbox One ecosystem, Sony was the first to bring virtual reality to console, while Nintendo attempted to first introduce a secondary display with the Wii U, before redefining this design with the Switch.
The latter has proven to be the only change that has made a major impact on the industry, and its portability is something that appeals to both younger gamers as a result of its hi-tech toy design, while being highly useful for adults who can take it with them on their way to work. However, there are still a few Nintendo-specific problems that persist with the console — for one, its online system continues to be awful, requiring the use of a smartphone app to voice chat and invite friends to games. Then there's the continued use of motion control, which while nowhere near as prominent in the Switch's presentation was it was with the Wii and Wii U, is still a pretty unnecessarily inclusion in games such as Super Mario Odyssey.
Elsewhere, Microsoft successfully became the manufacturers of the most powerful console as a result of the debut of its Xbox One X, though old problems also continue to persist with the Xbox One ecosystem. For one, its user interface continues to be an ugly mess despite a key update releasing last October, with it being thoroughly awkward to navigate and all of its most useful features buried beneath a sea of menus. Also, while its Play Anywhere feature is highly useful for PC gamers as it allows cross-play via Windows 10 most modern Xbox One games, it does mean that the reasons to buy an Xbox One have been diminished.
Winner: Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch provided us with new ways to play, and while common Nintendo problems continue to persist with the console, there's no denying that they really pushed the boat out in terms of innovation with their latest console.
PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: Value
If you're looking to buy a new console in 2017, which one provides you with the best bang for your buck?
At $299.99, the Nintendo Switch is a decent price considering that it's a new console, with it only slightly more expensive than the slim, 1TB model of the PS4. The Xbox One S is excellent value for money, with the 500GB console selling for around the $210 mark, though the 1TB model comes in at around $320. The Xbox One X is expensive at $499, and while it does offer more power than the $399 PS4 Pro, many may feel that the more expansive game library of the latter system makes it a more attractive purchase.
Winner: Xbox One
Though all three consoles are reasonably priced, Microsoft's platform offers a relatively cheap option in the form of the Xbox One S (which includes a UHD Blu-ray player) and a more expensive/ impressive Xbox One X for those with a bigger budget. This variety makes the Xbox One the leader of the pack in terms of value.
PS4 vs Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One: What was the Best Console in 2017?
It's difficult to choose between the PS4 and Nintendo Switch the year, with the former boasting a great selection of games while the latter had a tremendous launch that catapulted Nintendo back into relevancy in the process. Though both had their merits, the Switch comes out ahead and shoulders above Sony's console, and a considerable stretch ahead of the underperforming Xbox One. Hopefully the Nintendo Switch's success carries over into 2018 and beyond.