The lights are on
Sports games will be front and center when the new systems come out, but let’s not get carried away by the hype.
I’ve been bamboozled by my fair share of console launches. In previous console generations I got so caught up in the glitz and the newness of the moment that I lost sight of whether the games were actually any good. I don’t intend to this time around, and I hope you don’t either.
Here’s a list of some of things I would like to see in next-gen sports games – along with a list of things I think will be the smoke and mirrors features that developers will try and sell you on.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Graphics: Good graphics for a new system are a given. I don’t want to hear about how detailed the players are, because if that’s the main selling point, then the game hasn’t done enough to advance the genre forward.
Online: In an age when online services like Xbox Live are evolving platforms that exist regardless of the system, it’s not a huge feat to have your game always connected. Even in this generation, games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted are constantly using your game data in myriad ways.
Peripheral Support: While all the peripherals – whether that’s Kinect, Move, or even the Wii U GamePad – could be more integrated into the gameplay experience better when appropriate, I don’t see any of them being germane to the sports genre in a meaningful way. I think it’s a dead-end and a distraction for developers’ time and resources, not a signal of next-gen gaming.
The Numbers Game: When these next-gen sports games come out, there are going to be a lot of numbers thrown around. How many polygons or animations a title has will be boasted from the rooftops, and while they might be indications of quality, let’s not get caught up in the window dressing.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE
Full Feature Sets: Given that the new systems will certainly be powerful and disc space will be adequate, there’s no excuse to put out a next-gen sports title that lacks features. The debacle that was Madden NFL 06 for the current generation should never be repeated or excused. Getting features transferred over to the new games is a question of time and money, but seeing as how we’ve seen these systems coming from a long ways away, our games’ feature sets shouldn’t be gimped.
Smarter AI: I would love it if the power of the new systems could be dedicated to improve the behavioral artificial intelligence of the non-player-controlled players. Getting AI people in games to act like real humans is a tall order, however, and it's a problem that some developers think won’t be solved any time soon.
Improved Physics: Any increases in processing power should lead to more powerful game engines capable of more accurate detections of collision and the depiction of the results. The current-generation of systems do this to mixed results, so hopefully we’ll see some progress with the new platforms.
Screenshots from Madden NFL 13
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
All great points, but something I would love to see added to sports games is the option for a sort of story mode to go with the Superstar modes.
Fight Night came close with their last installment with a story mode.
However, I think a sports game that allowed you to make choices outside of just the sport wold be awesome. Imagine putting the money you've earned based on your skill to use through wardrobe, crib, lifestyle, etc.
I'm not saying make it an RPG, but give the player the option to play this way and make choices for themselves.
100% agree with this. If Madden 14 comes out for the next Xbox and is like Madden 06 then their will be hell to pay. I don't buy them every year but the team that runs Madden now is much better then years past. Physics are a must in every sports game.
With online they should make it to where all the a.i. players are controlled by humans. So you'd be playing with 10 other people and against 11 people in football and etc with the other sports.
Roster updates for last years game!
Multiple broadcasting teams and different real networks. Better commentary like Fifa 13 has which takes into account whats really at stake in each game, a more tv like presentation, and dynamic weather that can start/stop during a game and/or is tied to actual real time weather conditions in the city where the game is. Just to name a few.
Dunno if this has already been said but was this article really necessary? Why was this not just clustered in an article about What I want and Do Not Want in Next-Gen Console Games? Just saying it would have made more sense...
How about only one version of Madden with roster updates each year instead of entirely "new" games?
agree. I want to see all of that as well.
Kind of curious/worried about the prices of next gen games. If it goes up, I won't be buying many games, that's for sure.
How about DLC updates instead of full fledged releases with few new features or modes.
I am all for the AI thing, but unfortunately it probably won't happen. I want a game that, when I bump the difficulty up, it makes the AI smarter and doesn't just inhibit my ability. I don't want it to be harder for me to make a wide open shot, or complete a pass to a wide open receiver, I just want the AI to be smarter so there aren't as many wide open shots or open receivers.
Please, please, please fix scouting. They have done a poor job of this for years now.
read and react!!!
computer decides before play begins
defenders just sitting there or intercept a ball without turning their head.
its too much ask for football game to have decent AI??
Nice. I totally agree with everything you say. Great article.