Next-gen gaming is already here!
Game season is well and truly here with each week leading up to ‘the big C’ bringing with it a handful of video games for us to consume. The weather outside is frightful and the list of games delightful so it truly is the most wonderful time of the year (to be a gamer). But once this year closes its eyes and the dawn of a new one takes its place, the list of games begins to peter out. February will serve its final hoorah with the release of both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II (finally!) but the gaming landscape over February’s horizon is looking decidedly “low-yield”. What does it all mean? I’d drop out now if you want an answer to that question.
We’re at this weird juncture in gaming where the next generation of games are already beginning to surface. We’ve seen it with CONTROL — an incredible game which, dare I say, will be a contender for many 2019 GOTY of the year awards, but it drastically underperforms on base-level hardware. And this is a concern of mine going into next year as I’ve got a feeling that this is likely to become a common trend. But who’s to blame? Mid-gen console upgrades, that’s who!
For the first time in console gaming history, there’s a bridge between current and next-generation hardware and this bridge has allowed developers to put out higher-quality games without being held back by aged technology. This is a win for gamers who have opted for the 4k console iterations but it poses a question for base owners. Is it worth the upgrade? If I’d asked this question a few years back, when the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X had just released, the answer will have been favourable – yes. But the answer is a little more complex now.
Both Sony and Xbox have pretty much announced their next-gen consoles in all but price and release date. We’ve seen little to no first-party games announced after February 2020 (other than Halo Infinite, which has already been announced as a launch title for Scarlett) which indicates that these consoles are very close to being released. Why? It wouldn’t make sense to highlight games for the current generation of consoles if a new one was around the corner, therefore, their absence is quite telling. All of this means that, in theory, we could have our hands on the next-generation of consoles within 12-14 months. So the answer to the question – Is it worth the upgrade? – is another question – how important is the quality of the game to your experience?
Going back to Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II a second. These both look incredible but be under no illusion that they’ll look this good on your base console. These are essentially next-gen games. If you want to experience them as they have been showcased, you’ll need a 4k console (or a PC (for Cyberpunk)). But these aren’t cheap. The PS4 Pro is still sitting at £320 with the Xbox One X at £390 and that’s a sizeable amount of cash to part with on a piece of hardware which may well be redundant this time next year.
Both Sony and Xbox have already said that their new consoles will be backwards compatible so it’s incredibly likely that all PS4 and Xbox One games will run on their next-gen counterparts or the latest games at the very least. And, as we know from the Xbox One (X), newer hardware plays older games better. Obviously. It’s not far-thrown to say that these current next-gen games will play at their best on the next generation of consoles. With all that considered, it seems to me that the money otherwise spent on a 4k console would be put to better use in buying a yet-to-be-officially-announced next-gen one.
But can you bear the wait and avoid the spoilers? Final question(s), I promise. The problem with internet culture is that it’s incredibly easy to voice your opinion, for better or, mostly, worse, and this is amplified when a new thing has been released. FOMO will be had and avoiding spoilers will be akin to CD Projekt trying to navigate Twitter without offending someone. Holding out for these new consoles will potentially open you up to a world of pain. Imagine stumbling onto social media one morning to see that Ellie is in fact dead?!! Is it worth the risk?
Console owners are now faced with a decision that they’ve never had to consider in the past and fucked if I know what the correct answer is.
- Are you going to play these games as-is, knowing it won’t be the best technical experience?
- Are you going to hold off for a next-gen console to get the best experience at the cost of potential spoilers and serious FOMO?
- Are you going to punt for a 4k console and fly in the face of everything I’ve written above?
All it really boils down to is what you consider the best experience – a technical one or being a part of the post-release hype – something that I’d mentioned 400 words ago and could well have ended this post way before it outstayed its welcome.