Next Generation Console Hitlist
Next generation ‘No-Nos’ for Xbox Durango and PlayStation Orbis.
Imagine, if you will, that this generation of console hardware has been one giant advent calendar. Behind most doors we’ve had our expectations met with delicious metaphorical chocolates and nice pictures of snowmen. We’ve even had a few pleasant surprises that have exceeded our expectations! But behind more than seems reasonable we’ve found our promised chocolates have been removed, or even worse, replaced with something that is equally brown but slightly less savoury. And I’m not just talking about the Gears of War games…
So, now that we’ve taken a few tepid steps into 2013, with more promises of the new next generation to be made and perhaps even revealed, it seems like a good time to look back on the past few years of console gaming and tut haughtily about some of the things that have annoyed myself and some of the other VoxelArcade contributors. We’ve tried to cover all bases but some must have slipped through the cracks, so if we’ve missed one of Kaz Hirai’s lies cheery exaggerations, or failed to acknowledge the failure of a gaming peripheral that was supposed to change the way we interact with the world at large then please let us know in the comments section.
Installs and day one patches
This could quite fall under a tatty and weathered banner bearing the legend: ‘Quality Control’. With publishers chasing release dates like a dog chasing its tail it seems quality control is the first thing out of the window, or second, if you believe in something called ‘common sense’. Gamers who make their purchases on day one are not only rewarded with premium prices, they can also enjoy lengthy installs and day-one patches. Because, let’s face it, nothing fuels the anticipation for a new game like watching a digital recreation of hollow rectangle being filled with a long white bar.
To appease the disgruntled day-one purchaser this generation has seen retailers pick over the bones of whatever’s left out of the game to try to encourage purchasers to buy from them. Unfortunately, this has mainly se
en the little independent shop excluded whilst the big boys fight it out to decide who’s going to offer a new pair of virtual socks for Batman. Of course the upshot is that missing out on some different underwear for your Batman is only going to upset the most anally retentive of fans, but still, it’s a worrying trend. Imagine if in the next-gen Metal Gear you had to purchase your camouflage with real money? Egads!
Game of the Year editions
Now all a game needs to make such a claim is: A: Be a game and B: Be released in a year. So last year we had the decidedly lukewarm Dead Island: GOTY and a handful more packaged with exclusive underwear for the lead character and extraneous levels that didn’t really offer anything that wasn’t in the vanilla release. Handily for alienated gamers / virtual hoarders these editions normally contain all the DLC (regardless of quality) so all you need to do is hold out for 12 months and wait as the game is patched into a playable state and the price drops.
When the Playstation 3 was launched, Sony told you that it was powerful enough to render two separate full HD images at the same time. They also told you that the high mortality rate in feudal Japan was due to giant aggressive crabs. But perhaps the biggest truth-stretching nugget from the launch of the PS3 was that you didn’t want vibration feedback from your controller, instead you wanted motion controls. So we got to go virtual-bowling with our Nan on Christmas day and befriend Milo, Peter Molyneux’s creepy virtual eight year old who was unceremoniously booted out on his pixellated arse when it was revealed he wasn’t fit for purpose. Despite widespread apathy the casual game market will probably be courted in the next generation, so expect a now voice-broken Milo to storm off to his virtual room after you ask him why he goes through so many pairs of socks.
This is something of a personal bugbear of mine. For years gaming has been afflicted with an immersion breaking need to offer collectibles to the player to prolong the experience. I’ve spent more time than is probably healthy scouring generic digital recreations of warehouses for crudely drawn sketches of Wolverine in alternate underpants. To make the concept of collecting blend more with the narrative in recent years, developers have taken to making collectibles furry and move on four legs with the player having to chase them down and flay them. So no longer do you have to just step over a glowing item, you have to chase it, stab it in the face and take off its skin off. And while this was fairly innovative in Red Dead Redemption et al it’s already outstaying its welcome.
While gaming is both a uniquely solitary experience and also a great unifier, I think it’s safe to say that in recent times the scales have tipped slightly in favour of the online component. With limited resources this has seen truncated, or just plain dreadful, single player experiences trundled out in front of the weathered gaze of gamers. Basically, this ‘catch-all’ approach to game development has often led to great games being let down by their crappy online experiences or creatively bankrupt single player campaigns that take the best part of an hour to complete. Although, to be fair, this has made genuinely great single player games stand out from the crowd. But can even Batman’s fabled resolve hold out against the lure of micro-transactions and increased attachment rates from his user-base? Tune in next generation, Batfans…
Timed / Exclusive DLC
In lieu of investing in innovation many of this generation’s premium releases have descended in to a bun-fight, with SONY and Microsoft outbidding each other to obtain the rights to exclusive downloadable content. In many cases this has seen the exclusive rights last for just one week before the proles on the other system can obtain them, or worse, has seen the audience who nurtured and supported a game get shafted as a new and improved iteration jumps ship to the other system, before they can exclusively reveal that, yes it is coming out on their system after all. It’s a cynical strategy that doesn’t do anyone any favours. Please make it stop!
OK, I think that‘s enough. My spleen now feels suitably vented, but please share your most unwelcome additions to the current generation below.
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Lancaster based writer, blogger and digital navel-gazer. Opinions are, sadly, all his own. Favourite games include: Streetfighter II, Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Tenchu, Red Dead Redemption, Deus-Ex and Granny’s Garden.