It's funny to think that just a few years ago, I imagined a game like Batman: Arkham City to be sitting in the realm of impossibility, and that same imagination couldn't even come close to touching the idea of games like Borderlands 2. This generation of gaming has brought forth titles that could only exist in the minds of longing fanboys, and incredibly wishful thinkers, as an open world title has become a cliche, and graphics have become the best eye-melter since fire made it's appearance a few thousand years ago.

Taking these things into consideration, I find myself thinking constantly about the next generation of gaming like most of you. I think about where our graphics and processing power will go, almost as much as I think about the storytelling we haven't really explored yet. The thing that stands out the most in my mind, is what the progression of these elements will allow.

There was a time when games like Mass Effect were just wishful thinking. Believe it or not, developers have been listening. They've given us worlds ripe for exploration, and stories ranging from flashy space opera's, to barbaric hack and slash epics like God of War 3. With this new generation, comes a whole new set of opportunities, and more walls waiting to be broken. Will invisible barriers become a thing of the past? Will we finally get the Superman game we've been begging for? Will we finally blur the line between graphics, and realism? Maybe. If we don't achieve those things, I say we'll take the next big step towards them at least. Here are a few things that I've caught myself - as well as other gamers - asking for this generation, and my hopes for where these things will take our favorite franchises, as well our the franchises that haven't even been conceived yet. Maybe we'll see them in the quickly approaching, next generation.


Drop The Invisible Walls, And Ditch The Star Map

"We can travel at light speed, but can't find one Panda Express on the outer rim..."

Some of you already know of a game that technically doesn't have any restraints, by the name of Minecraft. In the PC version of the cult classic, if you ever find yourself growing weary of the location you're in, in your playthrough, you can walk off in any direction and start life anew. When doing this, you won't find yourself walking into any of those pesky invisible barriers that are set up because the developer just didn't have the resources, or time to set up a limitless world. You were able to find entirely new areas, and discover radically new settings. Yes, while there is in fact an "end" to that virtual space, it takes about four days worth of gaming to reach it form what I hear. Until you hit that technical wasteland, you'll find yourself exploring randomly generated settings, that just beg you to set up shop.

It's my hope that this becomes the next "standard" in our open worlds. Imagine an Elder Scrolls game where all of Tamriel, and beyond is open to our adventurous hearts. Want to get from one side of the map to the other? Better find a Dragon to speed up your travel, or stock up on supplies for the long journey ahead. You car just broke down forty miles outside of Liberty City? Enjoy the walk back, or hijack a ride. 

I feel like we're way past the point of barriers in our games. They've been dubbed essential due to technical limitations, but with the currently in development engines gearing up for launch, and consoles waiting around the corner in a dark alley so that they can financially mug us, I don't think it's so crazy to think that we're closer to this future. Imagine a game based in a zombie apocalypse, where a limitless world is laid open before you. Have your defenses fallen, and your survival team dwindled down to a handful of survivors? Leave your current set up and search the world for a new temporary home. 

In fact, why don't we open up the universe? In games like Mass Effect, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you're limited to star maps, and menus that list off locations you can visit. How about we totally forget about those things, and claim the control over the ship itself to explore the universe, with randomly generated planets, and inhabitants on those planets. The mission system could work the same way. You're traveling at light-speed from Earth to a different star system, when you receive a distress signal. Find out where it's coming from, fly over to it, and find out what exactly is going on. 

While playing these games that are based in space, I can never truly grasp the scope of it all. A limitless, never ending expanse would instill that feeling in me. Imagine getting lost in it all. You went looking for the distress signal, but journeyed off in the wrong direction. Now you have use the stars around you to figure out where you are, while dealing with the stresses and challenges that come with being hopelessly lost in a sea of nothing.

Basically, I want this generation to focus on a loss of limitations. Developers are always talking about immersing a player into an experience, but nothing is more jarring than hitting an invisible wall, and being told that the journey ends there. Sure, this wish could be beyond even this next generation, but who's to say that baby steps can't be taken?


Make Big Team Battles Even Bigger

We all know what ensues after ownage of this ferocity...

Those of you who have played any recent shooter with a multiplayer mode knows what I'm talking about. Particularly the Halo games, which taut a "Big Team Battle" mode. The idea is that you expand your normal multiplayer match from the usual eight to ten players, to about sixteen to twenty, resulting in an enormous battle. 

What I've got in mind is more along the lines of a war zone. It's been done before with a game supporting up to sixty-four players online for consoles. I'd like to see a vast battle field, littered with bunkers, and sniping points, and in the middle of it all a rolling battle field. For example, you could have between fifty and a hundred players battling it out for supremacy, with thousands of rounds of ammo being spent between teams during each match. A normal match would take quite a bit of time to complete of course, but it'd be an optional mode, alongside your normal eight to ten player matches. 

It's just that in every game I play multiplayer in, tries to convey this feeling of a being in a hectic war zone. I want to see an actual hectic war zone. You'd have multiple squads on each team accomplishing different tasks in sync with the rest of their faction. One squad could be in a confrontation with another over possession of a point that could turn the tide of battle in their favor, while another is perched in a tower clearing a path for that squad. 

Throw in some tanks, and other vehicles, and you'd have the equivalent of an actual major battle. 

Taking the multiple teams, and vehicles required to finish tasks, the game would become less of a mindless shooter and blur that line between strategy title, and first person shooter, as your entire team would have to coordinate as one unit to achieve victory. Communication between squads could be handled like it would be in an actual battle. You have one guy with a communications device who would call in for support from other teams, as well as relaying tactics to other players in their squad.

While this direction for multiplayer might not be possible due to the lone wolves you often find in multiplayer matches, I'd be overjoyed to be in the heat of battle with a well coordinated, and functional team piecing together a victory. Once again, console limitations have held back this particular dream, but it's not secret that the industry has it in mind, with past attempts being help up as an example.


Then Combine The Two...

How come the dark side keeps getting all of the cool stuff?

Okay, who doesn't want to catch a distress signal while speeding through the vast emptiness that is space, only to discover that the distress signal was coming from another player, and you're now in the middle of an ambush? Maybe, you're traveling from the Black Marshes to Skyrim, when you're attacked by a group of bandits, played by a bunch of dudes sitting around eating Doritos? How awesome would it be to be in the middle of surviving through the Zombie apocalypse, and then having to fend off a raid featuring a rag tag group of other survivors who need your supplies because theirs are running low?

We see something close to this every day in the form of MMORPG's like World Of Warcraft, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Players are banding together in groups and exploring worlds, and conquering quests. I dream of a game that takes the elements of a limitless world, and combines it with the ability to play alongside hundreds of other players. 

To be clear, this is all just wishful thinking, but so was the thought of an open world right? So was the thought of gliding over Gotham fighting bad guys, and the thought of cooperative gaming with a friend when neither of you were in the same room, let alone the same house. 

You could call it wishful thinking, sure. I call it the next step. This generation has taken a massive leap since the last, and it's kind of odd to think that it was just a couple generations ago that we were awestruck by the concept of of 3D modeling, or were writing it off as a gimmick. Now that I think about it, maybe we're not so far away from this madness after all.

I guess we'll find out next generation.