I am the Dragonborn, what am I supposed to do without my PS3?
June 1, 2015 5:45 PM   Subscribe

My much beloved PS3 has just given up the ghost. Now, my husband and I aren't sure what to do. All we really want is something that can stream TV (via Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon) and will let us play Skyrim. But what should we buy, to replace our PS3?

Here are our main issues:
--We absolutely love Skyrim and Oblivion. Love them. Every once in a while, we come across a game that piques our fancy, but extremely few actually appeal to us for more than a couple of hours. Skyrim and Oblivion are the exceptions. The idea of a Skyrimless world leaves us sad and confused. So, imagine my shock when I learned that Skyrim isn't available for the PS4 or Xbox One!

--We use our PS3 every day to watch Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and we want to be able to do that with our next console. From what I can tell, those apps seem to be pretty standard on consoles, these days? I'm not really sure if this limits what we should be looking at.

--We really don't want to buy something that's on the verge of becoming obsolete. In buying a new console, we want something that we will be happy with for many more years. We don't want to spend a bunch of money on a new PS3, just to end up feeling like we got tied to a dead system. I mean, if we have to spend money anyway, why not upgrade? (Sure, I say we only like Skyrim, but... We also don't want to end up cut off from all new games that are released over the next several years.)

So, this is where I am. I've been doing some research through Google, but I've gotten overwhelmed with just how much information is out there, and how much of it seems to be rumor. I'm assuming that some of you good Mefites probably understand the current gaming landscape way better than I do and, given my specific concerns, will be able to help direct me.

Here are some specific questions: Should I anticipate Skyrim becoming available on the PS4 or the XBox anytime soon? Should I expect Tamriel Online to take the place of Skyrim in our hearts? Should I avoid buying a new PS3, out of fears of it being obsolete? As someone who is especially fond of a very specific sort of game, does either the PS4 or the Xbox One provide a better range of options? As someone with a fair number of old PS2 and PS3 games, is there good reason for me to prefer a PS4 over an Xbox One? Does any console work better / best for streaming Netflix, etc?

Here is the overarching question: given the current gaming landscape and how it will likely look in the next few years, what is the best choice for me, given my particular needs and wants?
posted by meese to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So you don't address whether a living room PC would work for you? Skyrim is coolest on a PC where you can play with the many neat mods that are available. Plus you have access to Steam and it's one quadzillion games.

To answer some of your other questions: Any console will play Netflix/Hulu fine. Skyrim is not out on PS4/XBone. Unlikely but not impossible they would do a remaster. Elder Scrolls Online is not a good replacement for Skyrim, it's more of a (somewhat lame) MMO. None of the consoles are backwards compatible.

Unfortunately there aren't a ton of open-world RPGs available on PS4/Xbone. There's Witcher 3, and then Bethesda will certainly put their next games on these consoles... looks like Fallout 4 is up next, then probably a new Elder Scrolls game.
posted by selfnoise at 6:06 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have a PS4 and all the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu apps work fine on it. Skyrim isn't too likely to be remastered for it, since the game is four years old. Never say never, though. I'm happy with it even though it's early in its lifetime, so there aren't a ton of games for it yet. I enjoy Dragon Age, Shadow of Mordor, The Last of Us, Bloodborne... Hopefully Fallout 4 will come along soon.

You can play some PS3 games with a PS4 if you have the PSNow service, but I don't think Bethesda games are on it yet.
posted by lovecrafty at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2015

I think a PC that would play Skyrim on max settings wouldn't be all that expensive. As a control scheme, a mouse and keyboard is generally far superior to a controller for anything played from a first person perspective and is usually better for third person, over-the-shoulder perspectives.

You could run XBMC (now called Kodi) is great to play DVDs and Bluray (it can usually skip the menus/trailers go straight to the main menu) and works well for anything movies or TV shows that you might download. We also find it handy to be able to have a full PC working HTPC duty so that we can whip out the wireless keyboard and watch funny Youtube videos or something.

Having some distance between the PC and where you sit to play the games will be the weak link in the chain so you'll want to do some research to make sure you've got plenty of extra range so that it'll still be responsive enough at the distance you're working from. We've got one of these from about 15ft with the receiver in a home theater cabinet and there is a bit of input lag, especially with the mouse.

Whether you build/buy a PC for your living room or not, I would hop on Craigslist or Ebay and buy a used PS3. There are a TON of really excellent games on that system and you don't have time to play all of them. Odds are good that you still haven't played all of the ones you've enjoyed. One of the few advantages to being an grown-up who plays video games is that, since you don't have time to play all the games, you end up only playing the very best ones and it takes long enough to get through them that you can buy them cheap when you get to them. Play your cards right and by the time this PS3 (and maybe one more after that) a PS4 will get really cheap.
posted by VTX at 6:30 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would just get a used PS3 rather than a whole new system. There aren't really a ton of great games for PS4 yet anyway, obnoxiously enough.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:41 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get a PC!
posted by kbanas at 9:05 PM on June 1, 2015

I'd vote for used PS3 as well. It's likely the cheapest option that meets your needs, it has the lowest learning curve and you know you like it. Think about that PS4 after there's a Skyrim sequel you can't live without.
posted by putzface_dickman at 2:28 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

If your heart is set on Skyrim and you want non-obsolete hardware, you need a PC. But then you have a UI problem; keyboard/mouse don't work great on a couch. A native port to PS4 is very unlikely. It's possible it will show up on PSNow, Sony's streaming game service where the PS3 game runs on some cloud server and displays on your PS4. I'm a bit surprised it hasn't been done. But no counting on that.

To answer your other question, I doubt Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will replace your love for Skyrim / Oblivion. It's a theme park MMO much like World of Warcraft, and not a very good one at that. It lacks all the wonderful open world detail that makes Skyrim, etc so great.
posted by Nelson at 6:43 AM on June 2, 2015

But then you have a UI problem; keyboard/mouse don't work great on a couch.

Skyrim PC works fine with a controller. You only need a keyboard+mouse to get through the initial splash screen, and even that can be avoided with mods.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:57 AM on June 2, 2015

I have a PS3 and a PC and I ended up buying a dongle off Amazon to use the PS3 controller wirelessly on the PC. There are several ways to repurpose the controllers but I found the dongle (from Mayflash) to be the only one that worked the same way every time without complaint.

(I know some people hate the PS3 controller but I actually think it's pretty good, and controllers are so expensive that you can save a lot of money this way).
posted by selfnoise at 7:52 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing getting a used PS3...I would look on Craigslist as oppsed to gamestop (as much as I recommend them for used games) as you're likelier to get a better deal from someone upgrading to the ps4 (as i did this xmas for my friend's kids $150 also included 2nd controller and like a dozen games)
As an aside, I also suggest that you check out Diablo 3...very similar to skyrim in a lot (but not all) ways and you can play together on the same screen which is super fun.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:01 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: Should I anticipate Skyrim becoming available on the PS4 or the XBox anytime soon?
Probably not. It's *possible* that Bethesda would release a "Super HD Game of the Century Edition" of the game for this generation of consoles, but it's pretty unlikely.

Should I expect Tamriel Online to take the place of Skyrim in our hearts?
That's hard to say, but I wouldn't bet on it. Do you have any experience with any other MMOs? Unless the thought of being able to play together (requiring another console and television, by the way) really brightens your eyes, MMOs fundamentally have a different "feel" from single and small-group games, no matter what their source material might be.

Should I avoid buying a new PS3, out of fears of it being obsolete?
Not necessarily. Like you said, you like Skyrim-- if you want to play Skyrim, you're going to have to buy an XBox 360, PS3, or a PC. Those are your options. Do you like the games you have right now enough to want to spend money on a new PS3? If not, you need a current generation video game system. Either way, you are going to end up having to buy a current generation video game system eventually, if you want to play new games in the style of Oblivion and Skyrim (i.e. open-world sandbox games in the fantasy medieval style) because those games are almost always titles that are made to push computer graphics pretty hard. As an example of the writing on the wall, The Witcher 3, which is a game that just came out and may very well be of high interest to you, isn't coming out on the PS3 or the XBox 360 because those systems are no longer capable of handling the sort of experiences that developers of these sorts of titles want to provide their players.

As someone who is especially fond of a very specific sort of game, does either the PS4 or the Xbox One provide a better range of options?
I wouldn't say so. I'm probably missing one or two examples, but the kinds of games you're talking about are usually pretty well represented across both consoles. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a game in that style that is exclusive to a system. But again, I may be missing something. But to my mind there's no reason specifically to think that one of those consoles is generally more likely than the other to carry what you're looking for as time goes on.

As someone with a fair number of old PS2 and PS3 games, is there good reason for me to prefer a PS4 over an Xbox One?

Does any console work better / best for streaming Netflix, etc?
The Xbox One is thought to do a better job with it's networking and internet related features, though Sony is putting in work to catch up. Microsoft's services involve a subscription where Sony's do not (there is a longer, more nuanced answer here, for those who might be objecting, but I think it's probably a fair statement given where OP seems to be coming from), so you'll be paying for that improved quality.

Here is the overarching question: given the current gaming landscape and how it will likely look in the next few years, what is the best choice for me, given my particular needs and wants?
Well, there's a pretty important component involved in answering your question that you don't mention in your post. How comfortable are you messing around with computers?

VTX mentioned that you can save money by buying a used PS3 and then picking up a PS4 when a game you actually care about comes out. That will end up saving you money and not leave you having to choose between Elder Scrolls now or Elder Scrolls later. It's a solid plan. The simple answer to your question: buy a used PS3 now and revisit the question of which console to get when a game you care about comes out as the price/support/etc landscape may have changed by then.

Having said that, let me indulge myself. A PC is honestly the best solution for your problem, **provided that you are comfortable monkeying around with computer software**. To a point, a PC can be upgraded gradually (your motherboard will be unable to accommodate cool new hardware eventually), meaning it takes a much longer time to become obsolete. It can play the old games you love and the new games you're going to love in the future, and there won't be some arbitrary Sword of Damocles hanging over your system, waiting for an executive somewhere to decide that its time for everyone to buy new stuff.

BUT! In order to play a PC the way you currently play your PS3, you'll probably end up wanting to install Kodi or Steam and then fooling around with settings and such until you can operate your PC with a controller (which will involve plugging a Bluetooth dongle into your computer and pairing the controller of your choice with it) without resorting to a keyboard and mouse. It isn't impossible, and of the two Steam is by far the easier choice, but it isn't quite as simple as plugging in power and an HDMI cord and taking the train to Dragontown, USA like you can with a console. If you aren't into doing that yourself though, you may have a tech-savvy friend who'd be interested in setting it up for you! There's no shame in utilizing the resources, as well as the *resourceful*, that are available to you if you can.

Plus with mods (another whole thing, to be fair) those games look flipping insane. You won't be able to believe it, I'm telling you.
posted by Poppa Bear at 11:58 AM on June 2, 2015

Your TV streaming problem can be solved with a $35 Chromecast or something slightly pricier from Roku which has an actual remote.
posted by w0mbat at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2015

Get a used PS3 for a fraction of the cost of a current-gen system, and upgrade when the next Elder Scrolls (or equivalent must-have for you) comes out in a couple of years.

Right now on Gamestop's website, pre-owned PS4s can be had starting at $359. Pre-owned PS3s start at $119.

Should the current-gen be PS4 or XB1? Honestly, the differences are minimal. They both will let you stream, most games will be released for both, and neither are backwards-compatible. This decision tends to be answered by the following two questions:
1) if you play online with friends, which system do your friends use?
2) is there a must-have game for you that is exclusive to one system or another?

I have an XB1 and I still use my 360 and PS3 to play favorite games on those consoles. (Mass Effect, game of my heart!) They may be "obsolete" in that not much new stuff is being made for them, but they still WORK and the games I play on them are still GOOD. And, bonus, they are now MUCH cheaper than when they were new!

Another potentially useful point: I AM comfortable messing around with computers, and I game on computers (mostly strategy/sim stuff), but for a lot of genres I just like consoles better. It's a perfectly legit preference to have. You CAN replace your PS3 with a PC, but you don't HAVE to if you don't want to.

We own two XBox 360s, two PS3s, and an XB1. (And a Nintendo DS, and a Wii, and a PS Vita.) We're big gamers. ALL of our consoles were purchased used/refurbished (Microcenter is a good source if you have one near you, also Gamestop often has sales on previous-gen used consoles.) Only one of the refurbs eventually died, and it was a 360 that had been very, very, very, very heavily used. It EARNED its eternal rest. We replaced it with another refurb.
posted by oblique red at 3:27 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey, thanks everyone! I really appreciate the info, and I'm sorry it took me so long to follow up. (I got violently ill almost immediately after asking this question! YAY.)

So, the plan now is: we're going to get a cheapo used PS3 for the short term, and then, in the long term, we're going to look into setting up a gaming / entertainment center PC. I hadn't even thought of a PC as a good option because, the last time I saw a PC hooked up to a TV, it was.... not really an optimal set up. But that was several years ago, and it looks like things have improved quite a bit. It still seems like it will take a fair amount of work and optimization to make sure we can use it as we want, which is why we're not running out immediately to get one set up.

It's been a long time since I've looked into PC games, and I got to say... It really does look like there are some good choices for someone like me! I'm excited.
posted by meese at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2015

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