Next-Gen Hitting The Ground Running

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After viewing the hands of pretty much everyone except Nintendo at E3 2013 so far, I feel a lot more confident going into this console generation than I did going into the last one. To me it feels like it’s going to be a much smoother transition.

I really don’t like giving grades to each conference or saying who won. This year in particular that’s because of the nature of the games shown. Overall, I think all the conferences just did a really good job of selling next-gen in general. Most of the interesting games were multiplatform. The exclusives that were there weren’t the games that would sell me on a console, but that’s just me.

I’m probably not as hyped for the PS4 and Xbox One as I was for previous console launches when I was a kid. I’m not dropping my jaw over magazine screenshots like I used to when I looked at Dreamcast and PS2 games for the first time back in the day, but I feel confident that these consoles will come out of the gate with a strong lineup of games and truly impressive graphics. That’s better than how most console’s launch.

There’s a lot of hype for console launches, but most of them really turn out lackluster when you think about it. They might have one or two killer apps, but most of the games end up being rushed attempts to take advantage of new hardware that developers don’t yet understand. Most early Xbox 360 and PS3 games just threw normal mapping everywhere and called it “next-gen,” with games like Perfect Dark Zero and Genji: Days of the Blade, most of which were graphically unimpressive. I’m not getting that sensation from Xbox One and PS4 games.

Everything I saw at these conferences looked like what I would expect from a next generation leap. More importantly, all of the games looked technically and artistically “complete.” I expected some of them to just throw tessellation and some bokeh depth of field all over the place and call it next-gen. What I see looks like proper use of these technical advances. Furthermore, unlike early current generation games, the Xbox One and PS4 games I see here don’t rely on their tech to sell visuals, but actually seem to try to have interesting art direction.

The Order: 1886 was one trailer I had a hard time believing was in-engine, and is a game that I’d want to play for its interesting setting, not just its insane graphics. Watch_Dogs feels as interesting as Assassin’s Creed did back in 2007 in terms of open-world gameplay. Dead Rising 3 looks like a tangible evolution of its predecessors.

I’m wondering if this is because this console generation has gone on for so long that developers were ready for the new machines. I can’t find it, but I remember one article on GamesIndustry.biz (I think) where developers commented about already mastering the graphics techniques they’d use on next-gen consoles a couple years ago. It came off like they’d already been developing games with next-gen in mind since around 2010.

Another possible reason is how similar the Xbox One and PS4 architectures are to PC, which western developers are very familiar with. Most of them have been developing high-end PC versions of their games for a few years now, and could simply be finally bringing that tech to consoles.

Whatever it is, the PS4 and Xbox One launches look like some of the strongest ever from my perspective. Sure a lot of these games are going to have 360 and PS3 versions, but most of them seem to be targeting the next-gen machines. Assassin’s Creed IV is the only game that looked to me like a current-gen game with slightly prettier graphics. Pretty much out of the gate both machines are going to have Battlefield 4, Call of Duty Ghosts, Watch_Dogs, possibly Metal Gear Solid V, and a lot more. Nearly all the other games shown are coming out in 2014 which already makes for a solid year.

Of course at least half those games are also going to have PC versions which is the ironic part about it all. After all these conferences I wouldn’t feel bad about getting a PS4, but my own priority is still on building a new computer. The only console-exclusive game that I really want to play from the conferences is Metal Gear. There was a lot of stuff however that I would probably play after making the choice to buy a next-gen console.

BULLETS:

  • Forza 5 is definitely looking like the Xbox One’s killer app.
  • Sony pulled a pretty slick move announcing their no DRM strategy and then announcing they’d charge for multiplayer games on PS4 while people will still cheering. I can play most multiplayer games on PC but I don’t know what I’m gonna do when fighting games start coming out on next-gen consoles.
  • Didn’t expect Beyond: Two Souls to turn into some military action hero thing knowing David Cage.
  • In other news, Battleship, Life, Scrabble, and Risk are now on Steam.
  • Ridiculous Fishing just won an Apple Design Award.
  • USGamer.net — the North American division of Eurogamer, just launched.
  • Area5.tv also finally came out with some new content.
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division was the first time at this E3 I said “Wait that’s in-game?!”
  • Ubisoft did go way overboard with the CG trailers though. We have all these next gen graphics going on and we just show CG to show how far real-time graphics still have to go. Same thing to Square Enix with that Final Fantasy XV trailer.
  • Oh, and iOS7 looks sharp.
  • Surprised they didn’t splatter “From the creators of Call of Duty” all over the Titanfall trailer.
  • I like the new BZZZ BZZZ BZZZZZ B BZZ BZZ for Battlefield 4.
  • Baltimore Sun – Editing as a portable skill http://flip.it/hQuJy 
  • Animal Crossing is out and yet again I won’t have the time for it. I haven’t even had the time for any 2013 retail 3DS games to be honest. Between eShop games and Virtual Console games I’m playing for the first time, the 3DS has enough digital content alone to occupy my gaming time.
  • Looks like another Playism-type company. http://flip.it/9V95e 
  • Surprisingly good Tales of Xillia trailer. http://flip.it/0PHT0 
  • I’ve watched this Luther Season 3 trailer probably 50 times by now. http://t.co/Xun3jTY6Md
  • My custom box art for The Last of Us: http://t.co/1ZMjzqSFIB
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