As gamers we all have a different point of entry into the wonderful world of video games. For myself, as a card carrying ‘old bastard’ it happened so many years ago that if I stop and think about it for a moment I’ll descend into an abyss of grey haired depression. But that’s just me.
Needless to say, the fact that I’m still involved over three decades later speaks volumes about the impact gaming has had on my own, and so many other lives. For me it stretches beyond the realms of a hobby and more into something of a lifestyle. When used in moderation gaming is a drug that can elevate existence and make the world a little richer.
Yet despite my love of the medium I’ve become increasingly concerned that the industry has hit a brick wall.
Last generation’s Xbox 360’s and Playstation 3’s were ground breaking consoles. The games graphical power delivered a swift right hand to the jaw of the player before new levels of depth and immersion landed the knock out. It was a golden age that not only saw games take huge leaps from the prior generation but also saw the explosion of Xbox LIVE and PSN.
Later this year the Xbox One and PS4 turn three. Three years that, in my opinion, have yet to land a telling shot on the gaming public. Three years of treading water, churned out remasters and little innovation. Where is this gen’s Gears of War, where is this gen’s Uncharted? Other than the fourth instalment of each of those titles of course.
I thought Destiny felt empty, The Division trod old ground in new boots and deceived with an open world that, much like Destiny, felt like a lonely place to actually play in. Halo 5 did nothing fresh, emerging into the light of Fallout 4 felt nowhere near as grand as emerging in Fallout 3, Battlefront got old quick and Call of Duty seemed to have moved from feeling like a wargame to adopting something of a paintball match set-up with zero oomph!
It’s only a handful, and I’m sure some of you will hold a few of the games above dear to your heart. Actually I love Fallout 4 despite it lacking the impact of number three. But I can’t help feel concerned about the future of gaming when it appears more thought and imagination goes into the dashboard than go into the games that even warrant the machine sitting in the living room in the first place.
But I’m curious as to your own experience this gen? For me it hasn’t come anywhere near reaching the heights of any generation previous and I’m trying to figure out why that is.
I wonder if the minimal jump in graphics has played its part. Despite some gamers belief that looks don’t matter in games, I’d suggest that’s not the case, and when it comes to unleashing the next step in powerful console gaming, I’d suggest it matters quite a lot. When setting foot into the future of video games, as a player I want to be knocked off my feet and left open mouthed at the stunning worlds before me. Sure, over time I can accept such beauty as the norm of the generation but initially I want to be overwhelmed not massively underwhelmed. I still treasure that first look at Gears of War or the many magnificent Uncharted memories, and they are among many, many more such moments. Moments that this gen has so far failed to deliver.
Have we reached a plateau with graphics? There must be a limit to what can be produced before we are viewing images indistinguishable from reality I’d imagine. And if so have we already seen the last of the big graphical leaps? But equally, has the innovation also reached a plateau? One of the things I’ll always remember this generation for is remasters. I know it’s relatively early days but damn we’ve had some remasters thrown our way.
“You played and loved this game on PS3, now why not try it on PS4 with marginally better graphics?”*
*Graphical enhancement can only be seen when viewing the games side by side on YouTube.
Honestly, I’m only moaning because I want this generation to be so much more. We all invest our time and money into the industry, and generally I’m more than happy to do so. I’ve had some of the greatest times and met some great people via games, but over the past two and a bit years I’ve just been left with the constantly niggling doubt about the future of the industry and my own part in it. I feel we deserve more from our consoles than another way to watch TV, another way to stream music or another way to share gameplay. I believe we should be witnessing the constant pushing of boundaries in our games rather than living in the apparent safety of the comfort zone offered by yet another by the numbers shooter or dreary, sparse open world romp.
How about you?