With both consoles out now I have realized that this is the first generation that am not being a part of. I had an NES and a Master System, a Genesis, N64, Gamecube, Wii, and eventually a PS3. Each jump really felt significant. 8 bit to 16 bit brought story telling to gaming. Platforming was still big in the 16-bit era but RPGs were catching on in the West which included tons of dialogue, characterization, and story. The jump to PSX and N64 brought 3D worlds and analog controls. While 3D was teased with Mode7, it was nothing compared to a true navigable world.
Vibration features and memory cards were also introduced this generation. The PS2 era brought online play and the inception of an FPS control scheme that actually worked. We can pretty much hand this accomplishment to Bungie with the Halo series. Both Microsoft and Sony used the DVD format which let their respective consoles double as DVD players. The Wii revolutionized how console games were interacted with while the DS did the same for handhelds. The PS3 and 360 unified all gaming activities with the inclusion of a UI while outside of a game. They also introduced an online gaming service that included friend lists, chatting, achievements, web apps, streaming services, and digital games store. This was the advent of consoles doubling as media devices.
What do the PS4 and X1 bring to the table that is actually new? All of the “next gen” features and games are boiled down to fancy words for better graphics. DICE continued to speak of “next gen” gameplay in Battlefield 4 and after playing it, it’s just BF3 with bigger destruction and better graphics. To be honest, as much as I have ragged in the X1 since its announcement, it’s use of Kinect is the best innovation we have this generation, and that is just an upgrade of a failed project from last gen. Unfortunately it still seems to be widely inaccurate but hopefully they can get that all worked out soon. Twitch streaming already existed last generation, though it is nice that it’s integrated into the core experience now. The controllers are pretty much identical save for the touch pad on the dualshock(which isn’t even used in the launch games). The biggest idea that every console is pushing has been dual screen gaming but even that is an old idea that Nintendo did with the Gamecube and GBA. Nothing huge was added to the online aspect either. I will make an exclusion to that statement, PS4 has a feature were someone can remotely play your game, a throwback to the old days of bringing a friend over to help you get past a certain part of a game. Again, though, just an old idea adapted to a new technology. For the first time in gaming history, the next generation feels like current gen part 2. I’m not excited about it, I don’t care about it, and I’m not going to support the idea of “better graphics = better, newer gameplay”.
It’s strange, but this is the first time I’m skipping a console generation and I don’t even feel sad about it.