Indulging Myself: Which Gaming Upgrade?

With my Patreon backing having stabilised at just under US$100 a month (Oscar Mike Golf!!!!!!!!) after shifting to fortnightly episodes of Paid to Play, I’m in the situation where I have some decent disposable income coming in for the first time in a bit. While I’m mindful of investing in things like a portable recorder for quicker/easier chats for Paid to Play, I’m finding myself tempted by the idea of saving up for some decent electronic gaming capacity back again.

I’ve been a PC gamer for a good chunk of my live, having only got a console for the first time in 2002/2003 (an Xbox). The last time I upgraded my PC was around 2014, when I replaced my defunct home-built kit with an HP Pavilion 500-U1A. It’s a solid enough rig that does what I need podcast-wise (and has 16GB RAM) but one thing it doesn’t do is gaming graphics (motherboard-based graphics card only); it’s always struggled running Alien: Isolation at low resolution and detail settings and even Heroes of the Storm chugs at times.

While I kept up with the Xbox 360 generation a year after the console came out, my third 360 (first one new, second and third ones used) went red-dot around a year ago and going up to an Xbox One has been out of the question until, well, now.

But if I go ahead and splurge in a couple of months’ time, where should I put my money?

Upgrading My PC

As I said, I think my HP Pavilion 500-U1A and Smsung SyncMaster P2250 monitor make a pretty good base to build from (I’m willing to accept more educated opinions on that, though). A new graphics card and attendant power supply would be the extent of the upgrade, so the budget would likely run to around $300.00.

How would a PC upgrade bring the awesome?

  • As a longtime PC gamer, giving my rig a bit more oomph would mean smoother framerates, true high-def resolution (no higher; my monitor tops out at 1920×1080 – but hey, 60FPS HD would make me a happy camper) and extra textural/shadow/effects prettiness for:
  • A lot of the games I loved on Xbox are available via Steam and other platforms, and I can use one of my Xbox 360 controllers to play them! The list of games I want back includes:
    • Bayonetta (yes, Bayonetta is on PC. I hope they bring the Wii-exclusive sequel out on PC too!)
    • Burnout Paradise (I miss my Jansen P12 88 Special. And you know what? I kinda miss Paradise City, too.)
    • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
  • Having more graphical grunt will open things up for live streaming options, whether I’m doing an RPG session or playing a game.
  • Having converted to the dual monitor experience at work, I’d love to go that way at home!
  • And of course, there’s the siren song of… New Games!
    • Overwatch on PC (which would let me hang out with the 6T4 Bites crew)!
    • XCOM 2! … maybe.

Why is upgrading the PC not such a good idea?

  • Up here in the tropical North, overheating has cost me two graphics cards already, in a PC case that I thought had plenty of cooling. I’ll likely need my case modified to make sure the extra heat goes elsewhere.
  • On that note, my interest in manually upgrading has gone through the floor. If I do this, I’ll likely pay one of my local PC shops to do the work, which means a boost to the budget.
  • Getting the PC versions of Bayonetta, Burnout: Paradise and Space Marine will cost an extra US$64.00 in total (unless I happen to catch them on Steam Sale).
  • If there’s one problem with multiplayer shooters like Overwatch on PC, it’s that they’re the zone of mouse and keyboard cyborgs. My desire to compete might be long behind me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be effective on a side.

A New Console

While you can get used Xbox 360s pretty cheap nowadays, I reckon that if I’m going to splurge, it’ll be on an Xbox One. While I’m console agnostic enough to consider a PS4, I have enough 360 games that I’d like to still be able to play every now and again. I can grab a new Xbox One S for around $300.

Why is an Xbox One an awesome idea?

  • For starters, I made a bunch of mates back in my PMS/H2O days that I’d love to catch up with (Franki! Zerk! All the rest of you nuts!) plus the rest of my console-enabled mates (Sim, Scott D, Shane, both Ashes (I think), maybe Podge and Drew H).
  • I don’t need to re-buy Bayonetta, Burnout Paradise or Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine as they’re backwards compatible on an Xbox One.
  • The Xbox 360 App Store has a Twitch app, so I can watch live streaming in the lounge room.
  • If I get a Kinect-enabled model, it opens up web chat and live streaming options (plus, the living room is much nicer than the home office).
  • And, of course, there are New Games!
    • Overwatch on console!
    • Titanfall 2 looks like fun!

The Downsides

  • Sadly, the Kinect flagship game Child of Eden isn’t on the Xbox One’s backward compatibility list. Also, a pre-owned Xbox One Kinect module is another $88.00.
  • A pre-owned copy of of Alien: Isolation is $40.00.
  • Then there’s that $80 per year for Xbox Live Gold so that I can play with friends; plus, Xbox One Live is segregated from Xbox 360 Live which may well cut Scott out.
    • Oddly enough, I started getting a bit over First Person Shooters with Halo 4, so while Halo 5 and Destiny 2 are initially obvious choices I’d be mainly getting them for the multiplayer hangouts.
    • Plus a lot of my online mates love the Call of Dutys which I have zero interest in.
  • Finally, there’s setting up in the lounge room, which presents two problems:
    • I’m pretty sure that my last 360 was done in by inhaling too much dog hair; while our dog who shed the most has passed on, we still have a little girl who releases lots of fine white hairs, which would probably be less than great for an air-cooled console.
    • Then there’s the competition for the lounge room TV, which, when it comes down, isn’t one; Vickie needs her comfort food TV shows more than I need to game.

The Evolving Situation

16 April 2017

It’s been an interesting couple of days. I posted this up on Facebook and had some mates weigh in with opinions. I’ve also done the odd bit of further exploration myself. Here’s a summary of the results:

  • The latest iteration of the Xbox console, currently dubbed “Scorpio”, is due to hit shelves this Christmas. Some have suggested that it’s worth waiting for that to release. I’m not too worried as I’ve always been a late adopter.
    • Pros: Save up and get the newest of the new at launch!
    • Cons:
      • Conflicting comments out of Microsoft is that Scorpio is going to be a premium priced console. With previous versions of the Xbox (Original, 360, One) launching at $6-700, I could be facing a LOT of fun money to keep up with the Joneses.
      • While backwards compatibility is being touted for Xbox One games, there’s much less info on whether titles for the 360 will run – and I want Burnout Paradise back.
  • Speaking of Burnout Paradise, the PC versions of the game don’t include the Big Surf Island expansion, and if I’m paying to get back to Paradise City, I’m greedy enough to want everything I had before. Another point in console’s favour.
  • And here’s another point, or maybe two or three: You can stream your Xbox One’s game content to your Windows 10 PC (which I have) across a home network (and before you ask, my home network is wired Gigabit Ethernet with WiFi icing on the cake). My main con for getting a console was that there’s not much point in a loungeroom setup – but if I can play Xbox games on my PC in full hi-def while Vickie enjoys her comfort food TV, all the better!
  • Finally, I just realised there’s another place I miss: New Mombasa.

“Por que no los dos?”

You mean, upgrade my PC and get an Xbox One? Sounds great! Back The Paid to Play Podcast on Patreon so I can afford them all!

Then again, I could always get the PC upgrade and a used 360 from Cash Converters for the lounge room…

The Shakeout

As of April 16th, 2017, I’d still like to give my PC a bit of a boost, so I might ask a local outfit what it would cost to get my PC running Alien: Isolation, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Heroes of the Storm, Titanfall and XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within at full high definition with 60 frames per second (or at least 30) on Ultra quality and splurge on an Xbox One S with Overwatch.

What’s Your Play?

Which electronic gaming platform do you have the most fun with?

Which one do you have the most struggles with?

Which platform am I so wrong for not even having considered here?

Featured image stolen from the Guru of High Tech website.