2014’s approach to “next gen”

The new consoles may have come out at the end of 2013, but really 2014 is the year that counts. The previous console generation lasted an astonishingly long time, especially considering how the generation proceeding it (PS2, Xbox, GameCube) fizzled out after around four years. For me having spent four years at university it was very advantageous not having to upgrade during this time. What’s more, by the end of the previous generation it wasn’t as if game releases were drying up, quite the opposite in fact with some of the best games of the whole generation coming out.

However with the protracted previous generation, one that still hasn’t ended as new games are still being released, it has taken the new current gen even longer to get going. Regardless of your viewpoint I consider the WiiU a part of the current gen and in the year that I have had it I’ve found myself experiencing more “next gen” features than during my few months with the PS4. The PS4 is a great console, but so far the only memorable experience that made me go ‘wow now that’s next gen’ was when I was able to get a kill in Destiny because I knew an enemy was around the corner because I noticed the ripple effects in the water.

Details like that are not something that could have existed on the previous consoles, and whilst it isn’t a box cover worthy statement, it is little details like this that really add to the experience. Aside from the extra details the online features such as downloading games and updates whilst the console is “off” and the ability to share your screen with someone many miles away are really cool features. But the thing is it has taken almost a year for these features to either be patched in or fully realised.

Whilst the WiiU has gone through its fair share of updates since its release in terms of gameplay I’ve found the integration of the GamePad and Miiverse have resulted in more instances that just weren’t possible before. Sure new consoles are meant to do things better than its predecessor, but also there should be an attempt to do something new. To be fair all three consoles have tried in their own way to do so, but the extent of success has varied.

I’ve held the viewpoint for some time now that it is pointless to buy a new console (excluding iterative versions) at launch. I didn’t always hold this view, as I got my 360 as soon as I could (and despite the Red Ring of Death got four years out of that particular 360) and my Wii at launch. Yet with the 3DS, WiiU, and PS4 I waited for quite some time before getting them. In part this was down to waiting for the right software to become available, but also because the consoles just weren’t finished.

The problem the medium is currently facing is that because of the increased uptake of broadband (and even fibre optic) console manufacturers can release a console when it makes financially to do so, even though many promised features are still some time off as these can now be patched in at an undisclosed later date.

The same is more prevalent with the games themselves. At least with the consoles they do actually work, they’re just not complete, a work in progress. Games on the other hand are increasingly being released to meet an intended release date even though there are numerous problems with the game. Whereas before if a game was not working as intended, unless there really was no choice, it would have to be delayed as releasing a broken game would forever be broken. Now however they can be fixed after launch, via numerous patches.

This situation did occur during the previous generation, but with all of the big releases over the past couple of months it has become the norm. Whilst I have been fortunate that with the games I have been playing none have required substantial patching, they have still had notable updates, including day one updates. Yes it is good that if some bugs had somehow slipped through the net that they can be fixed, but some developers are using this as an excuse to allow them to rush out an inferior game with the intention of doing actual testing and fixing at a later date; after they have people’s money.

Whilst it is great that after a year into the current gen that all of the consoles now have a comprehensive game library, it would be good to now see movement forward to properly utilise these new consoles, rather than provide the better version of a game that is also coming to previous gen consoles. For those that are trying to utilise the new consoles, if it’s not ready, wait, this generation has plenty of time left.

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