Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Looking Forward To Next-Gen
Having had the pleasure of closing off regular columns for 2012, I now have the pleasure of opening them up for 2013. What a mixed bag this year has been, so far. It’s telling enough on its own when I am still surprised that only seven days have passed. Whether it’s cancelled plans, family dramas or unwanted arguments, the year so far has kicked off in a very forgettable manner for myself and those closest to me. At least there’s been plenty of opportunities for gaming…
On that note, if you find yourself on the other end of 2012 without a clue as to the ‘must-play’ titles of the previous year, allow me to help you: Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Dishonored and The Walking Dead. You’re welcome.
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Now, moving onto the so-called ‘new year’ which many are still wishing me for even though a week has passed since the first day of 2013, it’s almost impossible to look forward to the gaming year ahead without taking a moment to stop and drool over some of the games releasing in the coming months. We have such titles as DmC: Devil May Cry, Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3 kicking things off before we are greeted by BioShock: Infinite and Tomb Raider, two titles delayed from last year, and then more with Command and Conquer: Generals 2, The Last Of Us, Metro: Last Light and Grand Theft Auto V.
But of the games announced for later in the year, why are there so few? We might argue that publishers are saving their later titles for E3 2013, and that might be a solid argument, but ask yourselves why. Why, when Assassin’s Creed III and Black Ops II were announced so early in their production cycles?
This column might get a little conspiracy theorist here and there, but roll with me on this, I promise my conclusions are sound. Or close enough as makes no matter.
Consider if you will that we have no real release date for Watch Dogs, pictured in the header image for this column. Do you remember the first time we were witness to Watch Dogs gameplay? How blown away were you by all of it? You might be a little harder to impress than that, sure, but you cannot say your eyes didn’t pop even a little. And again when you saw Star Wars 1313, a game which it was said was running on a high-end PC during the gameplay demonstration at E3 2012. Keep in mind that neither of these games have a solid release date, other than either late 2013 or early 2014.
Moving on from this, I might once again point reference to the fact that after May 2013, the game release dates become a blur of “2013” with no actual solid release dates offered. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Beyond: Two Souls are two more games that have been announced without solid release dates however given what has been shown so far, I feel that only MGS: Ground Zeroes might fall into the category of what I am aiming to prove, here.
So that’s Watch Dogs, Star Wars 1313 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, three games with no release dates that look way too good to be possible on the current generation of consoles.
What if that’s exactly correct?
See, I find it a little telling when the fiscal years for most publishers ends around May 2013, and most games announced for this year seem to be releasing by May 2013. What of everything thereafter? E3 2013 is only in June 2013, which is fine since most of the time no big games release around then anyway. The big games kick up around August, once again, but even there we have no release dates announced just yet.
Could this then mean that E3 2013 will be the official unveiling of some next-generation technology, with Watch Dogs, Star Wars 1313 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes being offered up as the first for the next generation of consoles?
I think we can all agree that the current generation of consoles is well past its use-by date. Unborn babies in the wombs of their coat-hanger-wielding mothers could agree with that notion. However that might work in both ways, one of which I will come back to in a bit. But is it possible that at least, the manufacturers of our dearest console offerings might be awaiting E3 2013 to unveil to the world their next great gaming platforms? Further, is it possible that these consoles will release by year-end, in time for such games as Watch Dogs, Star Wars 1313 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes?
I have to say I am hopeful, but I know that being hopeful about something won’t will it to happen. And that’s alright with me. The question is, do you all agree with my conspiracy theories or do you all think I need to get myself checked just in case I flip my lid and shoot up a school, or something… too soon?
Truth be told, I don’t mind either way because as much as I would welcome the next generation of consoles, I know that we have nothing to worry about right now. Look no further than games such as Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III for games with graphical prowess, and look no further than games such as The Walking Dead, Spec-Ops: The Line and Mass Effect 3 for games with the storytelling ability to throw graphics clean out of the performance and get away with it. Although to their credit, none of these games are ugly to look at.
If anything, the lack of pure processing power of the current generation of consoles right now, a solid nine generations behind the PC equivalent of today’s technology, is a reason to look to other avenues to produce a solid gaming experience, and developers have been doing just that. With games such as the above-mentioned as well as Game of Thrones RPG and Lollipop Chainsaw, we are seeing unparalleled levels of creativity and experimentation not just with storytelling and narrative but with gameplay, as well. Seriously, there is just so much of risk-taking these days because developers are comfortable with the platforms they are programming on, having had so much of time to get used to it, as well as the fact that they cannot rely on shiny visuals and audio to get them by, the way such games as WET and Bayonetta once did. Although no hate for the latter, it was actually a really fun game if it clicked for you.
So on the one side we have the fact that technology is lagging far, far behind on consoles. Most games are suddenly looking worlds better on PC, the same way they did towards the twilight years of the PS2 and original Xbox. But on the other side, this forces developers to be creative and try new things with their games. Further, it also means that console manufacturers have a longer console cycle to benefit from, meaning they make more money now which they hopefully don’t take as pure profits and instead throw into R&D for future console iterations, or improving current technology such as the iffy-at-times Kinect motion-sensing technology that Xbox 360 is known for.
“Well, there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove and I’ll be dancing with myself. Dancing with myself.” Looking forward to next-generation consoles, I can say that I am looking forward to next-generation consoles (do you get it now?) and to seeing what the console manufacturers have hidden up their sleeves, but I’m in no rush either. If they go ahead and announce the next generation of consoles at E3 2013 then I will happily say that I called it and go back to my Xbox 360 and unlock more achievements as usual. If not, and I, dare I say, am wrong, then so be it. Still going back to my Xbox 360 to unlock more achievements as usual. Either way doesn’t really matter, as long as I have more achievements to unlock. On that note, I have wondered aloud whether the next generation of consoles will have some persistence for Gamertags and the like. I imagine Microsoft would have pitchfork-wielding mobs if the NextBox didn’t carry over one’s GamerScore at the very least. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I have achievements to unlock…