So you’re in the mar­ket for one of those con­sole things

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It used to be fairly straight­for­ward to ex­plain the con­sole land­scape to a friend look­ing for some guid­ance on how they should be get­ting into games. In the mid-’90s, Sony’s PlaySta­tion was a cer­tainty to crush Sega’s Saturn from the word go, and it was dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend an N64 to a dab­bler when its car­tridges clocked in at £60 a throw. It was hard to put your shoul­der be­hind Sega’s Dream­cast, too, with PS2 on the hori­zon, poised to steam­roller both Nin­tendo’s rather half-hearted GameCube and Mi­crosoft’s ini­tial stab at this con­sole-mak­ing lark. Then, when Sony fluffed its PS3 launch by mak­ing many of the same mis­takes suf­fered by its com­peti­tors in pre­vi­ous years, it pre­sented Mi­crosoft with an open goal for Xbox 360. Mean­while, Nin­tendo’s Wii didn’t even need rec­om­mend­ing: a quick go on Wii Sports was enough to per­suade mil­lions of peo­ple who didn’t tra­di­tion­ally play games that this cheap and cheer­ful box of fun was some­thing they needed in their homes. And who didn’t see PlaySta­tion 4 smash­ing Xbox One to pieces from the be­gin­ning?

Fol­low­ing E3 2016, though, de­scrib­ing the shape of the con­sole scene is more of a head-scratcher. Mi­crosoft has more or less thrown in the towel with the orig­i­nal Xbox One, with a re­vamped model due soon. Ex­cept that one will be su­per­seded it­self by some­thing even more ca­pa­ble in 2017. The first of the new plat­forms will carry the Xbox name, but the sec­ond one’s of­fi­cial ti­tle hasn’t been re­vealed yet, although we do know its specs. And every Xbox One game will work on all three mod­els of the con­sole – at least ini­tially. Oh, and all of the ti­tles pub­lished by Mi­crosoft will be playable on Win­dows 10 PCs, too. And a more pow­er­ful PlaySta­tion 4 is on its way soon! Why? How? When? Look, we’ll have to get back to you.

In the mid­dle of all this, it is com­fort­ing to fall back into some­thing you can de­pend on: a new Zelda from Nin­tendo, which feels like a favourite old leather arm­chair that’s not go­ing any­where. Our story be­gins on p74. It’s com­ing to NX next year, too, you know. NX? Yeah, about that…

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