For the casual onlookers not familiar with the specifics of minecraft development, hearing that minecraft is coming to the PS4 sounds like a great deal for console owners. This is especially true for those who are familiar with the PS3 version of the game, which was very limited because of its fairly outdated hardware, which meant the game was limited in world size, features and multiplayer when compared to the original PC, Mac and Linux Versions.
So, with the PS4 version of minecraft just being released, and the PS4 being a consistent platform with specs far above the minimum required for the PC version of the game; it seems like a happy way to cater to people who want all of the benefits of the PC version, but want to play with a controller, and perhaps play with their PlayStation friends. However, the truth isn’t exactly this.
To briefly explain why we need to explain the development process a little more. The PC, Mac, Linux and mobile versions of the game are developed in house by Mojang, but the console versions are outsourced to 4J Studios, who have created the game from scratch to run on the consoles. This console version therefore provides some features to make it much friendlier, such as a tutorial and a drop in drop out server.
The downside of creating for the last generation consoles is that all versions of the game run on the same base version and underlying code. This means a lot of the restrictions of the last generation console have been changed, but a lot more have to remain, which is the reason that a lot of strange restrictions and slower updates are placed on the current generation consoles as a result.
So, to start with the first part of head to head comparisons, which game looks better? The PS4 version of the game is equivalent to the PC game running at 1080p, with maximum default settings. This means that they’re largely equal here, with the power of your PC potentially taking you down a notch or if you have 4k monitors or mod the game on PC, you could be a few steps ahead that way. All in all, they score around equally for graphics, with more variance on PC.
Next up, gameplay. The most important part of any game is how it plays, and if you separate out the single player of the two versions and compare them, the PC objectively has more features, being around a year or two of updates ahead of the PS4 version right now.
While we’re on the subject; updates. So the PC version has been receiving updates for more than 5 years now, and has been promised to have updates for at least the next 10. The console versions on the other hand usually receive a couple of updates a year, with no such guarantee for the future. So although the next few years of updates are almost guaranteed, slower updates with less potential for the future means the PC version comes out slightly ahead.
So, multiplayer is a point we mentioned earlier, and it’s one of the areas the PS4 starts to realise its point. On PC to play with friends you either need to host your own server, pay Mojang for “realms” or pay a third party to host the server. On PS4, you simply invite them to the game, and it’ll automatically make your game a server and allow you to play together instantly. This is a definite win for ease of use on the PS4, but a win for PC with what you can do with the multiplayer servers.
Finally, community and modding. A games developers are not the only people that make a game, and minecraft is one of the shining examples of this on PC. On the PS4, there is no way to play with people who are not already your friends, and being a console makes modding the game slightly out of the question. This is a very significant win on the PC side of things, as there is an absolutely an incredible amount of new content to the game, for anything you can imagine.
So, to summarise minecraft is a different game on each platform and definitely requires an evaluation of what you want from the game. However, if you own both a reasonably recent PC and a PS4, the PC version will do you better in many ways, including the updates, community support and ability to do what you want with your servers.