The lights are on
Last week, I had the chance to play several Xbox One launch titles at a preview event in San Francisco. I had a lot of fun with Dead Rising 3, saw potential in Project Spark, and was impressed by the revival of Killer Instinct, but few things I saw on the software side of things screamed “next gen” to me. When new consoles release this month, I hope that gamers aren’t expecting the full potential of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to be present on day one. New consoles are always exciting, but we need to remember to stay patient while we wait for them to hit their stride.
A few things I saw did seem like they benefitted from the advanced tech. The amount of zombies onscreen in Dead Rising 3 is ridiculous, the cars in Forza 5 are stunningly realistic, and Ryse is visually impressive (although it certainly isn’t without other problems). That said, I felt that Crimson Dragon, Killer Instinct, and Project Spark could be replicated on the current generation of consoles. Considering the launches of most consoles in the past, I don’t see this as any reason for concern.
Look back at the launch of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the situation is similar. While full online multiplayer at day one felt new, there wasn’t much of the software side that made a huge impact. Microsoft had the usual collection of EA sports games, the mediocre Kameo, the disappointing Perfect Dark: Zero, and what amounted to HD reskins of previous-gen games like GUN and Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. Call of Duty 2 was the star of that launch, and its visuals were a clear upgrade over the original Xbox. On the Sony front, gamers could pick between EA sports games (surprise), the unremarkable Genji: Days of the Blade, and several other titles that were far from killer apps. The one standout they had was Resistance: Fall of Man.
While most systems have one or two solid games at launch (COD2 and Resistance for 360 and PS3, respectively), they almost never showcase the potential of the console. Visuals may have a little extra polish on them, but it always takes time for things to feel properly next gen. Recent titles like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V are worlds ahead of early-generation titles, in terms of both visuals and design.
The next generation of consoles should be a great ride for gamers. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have a ton of power behind them, and they’re each equipped with unique hardware that will allow for new gameplay experiences. You might not be planning on taking several titles home at launch, but that’s not indicative at all of what’s coming down the pipeline. We already have great-looking titles like Titanfall and Infamous: Second Son announced for early next year, and that’s just a few months after the console launches. If you find yourself underwhelmed with the games you take home on day one, just keep in mind that these promising consoles have many years and many great experiences ahead of them.