Is it worth buying a PS4 in 2021? Sony's old flagship console was replaced at the end of 2020 by the new PlayStation 5, but the company stressed that the PlayStation 4 will remain a central part of its plan moving forward. This means that it is committed to providing ongoing software support, firmware updates, etc. But with the PS5 offering full backward compatibility and a relatively affordable price, should you consider buying a PS4 in 2021? In this Guide PS4, we'll look at every aspect of the latest-gen console, from its hardware and services to its software availability, and determine if it's worth buying one this year.
PS4: What does the gaming experience look like in 2021?
The PS4 is one of the most successful consoles ever made, and for good reason: its software library is huge and packed with high-quality experiences. Despite releasing the PS5 in November 2020, the PS4 still feels relevant in 2021 – extraordinarily. Many next-gen titles like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War are also playable on the PS4, and while they obviously don't look or perform to the same level as on the next-gen system, they're basically the same games.
In fact, the best games of 2020 were both designed and developed for the PS4: The Last of Us: Part II Presentation, in many areas, far exceeds what you'll find on a PS5 right now, which testifies to the maturity of the development tools and the talent of the team involved. It won't stay forever, of course, but for now the PS4 is still a very capable machine, and with upcoming PlayStation exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West still set to hit the system, that's unlikely to change in the future. 2021.
It could also be argued that the PS4, in the later stages of its lifecycle, is more complete than its contemporary. Although the PS5 brings new ideas, like game support and activities, it also lacks basic features; folders, for example, allow for much better organization on the latest-gen console. There's no doubt that the system software will eventually be refined on the PS5, but at this early stage of the next-gen, the PS4 benefits from several years of iteration.
As the PS4 is still being made and sold, all of its key features are still very well supported. In fact, Sony has completely integrated the console into its ecosystem, which means you can create parties with PS5 gamers and vice versa. More importantly, many games are cross-platform, meaning you can play multiplayer titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on a PS4 with friends on a PS5. And some titles even offer free upgrades from ps4 to ps5, which means your software investments will pass with you if you decide to upgrade.
Despite the release of the PS5, it's important to keep in mind that the popularity of the PS4 means that most games will continue to be developed and designed with the next-gen console in mind. This means you can expect popular multi-format properties such as Call of Duty, FIFA, and Assassin's Creed continue to post to the system for the foreseeable future. Even PlayStation exclusives, like Horizon Forbidden West, will also be available on PS4. In most of the cases, free upgrades from ps4 to ps5 are available with these titles, so you can take your software with you and enjoy it later.
Of course, PS4 games generally run at a lower resolution and frame rate than their PS5 versions. In titles like Watch Dogs Legion, for example, ray tracing is removed; Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales can run up to 60fps on PS5, while it's 30fps on PS4. Load times are also much slower, and unless you're playing on a PS4 Pro you'll be limited to 1080p, but those title differences aside, the gameplay and story are identical, so you don't miss out. actively nothing.
The PS4's library is absolutely massive, and if you've never owned one before, there's an embarrassment of riches for you to experience scaling the two smaller indie titles to blockbusters. gigantic. Because the PS5 is also backward compatible, you can also expect a long tail of continued software support over the next few years; EA, for example, recently announced that its Mass Effect Legendary Collection remaster is in development for the PS4, while we suspect many smaller Japanese developers will be focusing on the format for a few more years.
There are many years of life left in the PS4, and therefore its PS Store remains online and fully functional. In fact, there's an argument to be made that, at the time of input, the PS4's showcase is superior to the next-gen; Although it's a bit slower to access, it has more tabs and sorting options, allowing you to find the type of content you're looking for with greater ease.
Downloads may be slower on the PS4, due to older Wi-Fi technology and slower hard drive write speeds, but everything still works as expected and the experience still feels fast and smooth in 2021 despite the age of the material. As the PS3 limped towards the end of its lifespan, the experience slowed down considerably due to Sony's ambition to overtake the hardware, but that's not really the case with the PS4.
It should also be noted that services like PS Plus et PS now remain available on PS4; in fact, subscribers will continue to receive two PS4 games every month for the foreseeable future, which is a good reason to keep your subscription. You'll be able to play these games on your PS5 if you decide to upgrade, as they will remain in your library and be available through backward compatibility.
As mentioned above, despite ongoing improvements, the PS4 UI remains fully functional in 2020 with no real compromises. While loading and installing games isn't as fast as on the PS5, it's no slouch and fully functional in 2021. It's also fully integrated into the next-gen console: you can see at what friends play, send messages and organize parties.
In fact, the PS4 UI has some key advantages over the PS5: Folders allow for better organization, Themes let you customize your console, and there's a web browser you can use to access reviews and to the guides while playing. Over time, we expect these features to be added to the next-gen console as well, but these are the benefits of enjoying an end-of-life device, where the experience has been repeated over a period of many years.
PS4: How much should you pay in 2021?
The only disappointment with the PS4 in 2021 is that, as of this writing, Sony hasn't really adjusted the price of the device. This means that, officially, you're still looking at a price of around £259,99/$299,99 for a brand new unit. Many retailers will be offering software bundles these days, and hard drive space can vary – you'll obviously want to go for the most affordable option with the most storage space available.
PS4 Pro consoles will cost you more – we'll detail the differences below – but these are becoming rarer as Sony reduces the number of units it manufactures; the supercharged system has already been discontinued in Japan, for example. You might be better off going the used route if that's the model you want.
If you're shopping on an auction site like eBay, you should generally be looking to pay between £150 and £250 in the UK and between $200 and $300 in the US for a standard PS4, depending on the condition of the PS4. 'device. and all bundled extras. PS20 Pro consoles cost a bit more, and it's worth remembering that there are special edition models that can command high prices, such as the 2000th Anniversary Edition that costs up to $XNUMX.
The good news is that with an included hard drive, you don't need expensive memory cards. More importantly, software can be purchased both new and used at bargain prices, while the PS Store regularly hosts deep discounted digital promotional events. Many top-selling games on PS4 are now available as part of the PlayStation Achievements online, and that means they can be had for less than £10 or $15 if you shop around.
When it comes to software, the PS4 is arguably the most profitable console out there. Obviously the Xbox line has a subscription service called Game Pass which muddies the discussion, but if you're looking to own your games then the breadth of software available for the PS4 coupled with the generally low prices both physically and digitally, makes it a compelling option for budget-conscious gamers.
As alluded to above, there are two main PS4 models: the PS4 and For PS4. While the standard PS4 was overhauled halfway through its life cycle as a PS4 Slim, there is no difference between these two units apart from their footprint and age. We recommend going for a PS4 Slim if you plan on getting a standard PS4, simply because it's more likely to be newer and therefore in better condition.
The PS4 Pro is an interesting proposition as it was designed as a premium alternative for consumers with 4K TVs. Many of its games run at a higher resolution than a standard PS4, though still lower than a PS5. As such, given the price differences, we'd recommend going for a PS5 if you want a 4K device at this point. And if you're not interested in Ultra High Definition, you better stick with a standard PS4 and save your money.
Obviously, if you see a great deal on a PS4 Pro, getting it is recommended, as even those with 1080p TVs will benefit from the supercharged system. But at this point, with very little difference in price between the PS4 Pro and the PS5, you better cheer yourself on the latter – especially since it's fully backwards compatible with the PS4's library.
PS4: Are there any upcoming games?
In a word: yes. If you've never owned a PS4 before, you'll have access to a treasure trove of essential titles that will keep you busy for years to come, but there's also a big slate of upcoming software on the horizon. This scales everything from smaller-scale indie titles, cross-platform multi-format releases, and even major exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West.
For a full rundown of everything coming out, check out our Release dates for new PS4 games in 2021 to guide. Some highlights, however, include Persona 5 Strikers, NieR Replicant, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Gotham Knights, and Hogwarts Legacy. However, there will almost certainly be many more announcements over the coming year, as we expect successful brands like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed to continue supporting the PS4's large install base. in the foreseeable future.
PS4: Is it worth buying in 2021?
The PS4 may have been digitally replaced by the PS5, but at least for the next few years you can expect Sony's flagship home consoles to stand side by side. As the PS4 enters its eighth year on the market, its gigantic install base and huge software library make it a highly relevant buy in 2021 – and potentially beyond.
The system software is still fully functional, and it's a cost-effective console with super-low priced titles. More importantly, buying now isn't a problem, as the PS5 is fully backwards compatible and many new games offer free upgrades from PS4 to PS5. This means that when you're finally ready to upgrade, you'll be able to take much of your software with you.
Cross-platform play in major franchises like Call of Duty means you won't be isolated and you can even form parties with your friends no matter what console they're playing on. We'll steer you away from the PS4 Pro at this point, as the PS5 is a much better option given the price difference. But if you still game on a 1080p TV and are looking for a profitable games console in 2021, the PS4 is an exceptional option.