Current console generation growing pains

The original plan for this weeks article was to write about my time with the Evolve alpha, a game which others at Axby are incredibly excited about, whereas I am still somewhat on the fence about. Unfortunately I have not been able to participate, as after the PS4 2.0 update the alpha was delayed, when I tried yesterday the game was unable to connect to any games so I had to give up after multiple attempts. As it is only an alpha I’m not going to hold this against the game, especially as it is quite possible that the problems are outside of Turtle Rock Studios’ control. Yet this is just another instance where a games online functionality has rendered it unplayable.

We’re now almost one whole year into the “current” gen (even though the WiiU came out prior to this) yet neither the Xbox One or PS4 can be considered complete in terms of what they offer, major updates are still coming out, with both consoles receiving notable additions just last month. Whilst it is good that the new features are being added, it is a shame that they are mostly features that existed on the previous consoles. Yet the problem with continually having to update the consoles is that often something can go wrong in the process. The PS4 is suffering from this, where it constantly feels like two steps forward, one step back. In the latest update the PS4 finally received the SharePlay functionality, the ability to change themes, YouTube support, and could now play MP3’s, but this also changed the suspend mode to “rest mode” which for many now no longer functioned as it once had.

At present the only console that feels like it has reached an equilibrium in terms of core features is the WiiU. Yes many will now complain that it can’t do as much as the other consoles, which is correct, but that doesn’t actually make it worse; there is a place for focus. Besides when the WiiU launched it too was missing features or required updates to stabalise the core usability. Even though updates are still coming to the WiiU, such as preloading games (which the other two consoles haven’t had all that long), the console feels largely complete and I don’t feel like I am waiting for a long promised feature to eventually be provided in a forthcoming update. Furthermore when a game launches on the WiiU I know that the majority of the game is going to work straight away.

At present the only big online current gen games that have largely worked the way they were supposed to are Titanfall and Destiny (even that has had a few problems). The only difference is that they have never been game breaking. The same cannot be said for Battlefield 4, DriveClub, or even, for a change, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Recently I have spent most of my time playing on the WiiU going through Bayonetta and am about to start the sequel. The game worked as it should and is not hindered by arbitrary social features or let down by ineffective server (or server code) cover. Last night after again finding myself unable to play Evolve and wanting to play a shooter I found myself playing a traditional first person shooter, the kind you really don’t see anymore. That game was XIII on the GameCube and it was a blast. During the missions I went through they were all varied both in location and objectives. But what also helped the experience was that all I had to do was put in the tiny GameCube disc and a memory card and I was straight into the game.

I think that is what I occasionally find myself disliking about this generation and why I increasingly think even better of the GameCube; because of its simplicity. Yes features like SharePlay are cool, and online functionality can have its benefits, but they do have a cost in terms of their impact on stability. I don’t mean to come off as a luddite, but sometimes I just want to play a videogame without wondering whether that update worked, or whether server maintenance is taking place.

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