How have they done? (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
The next gen consoles are both about to hit their third Christmas, so for this week’s Hot Topic we wanted to know what you think of them in terms of the hardware and the current software line-up.
Opinions were mixed, with many feeling that, even given the complications brought on by the pandemic, the generation has been slow to get going, with many criticising Sony for their lack of meaningful announcement over the last year.
I’m lucky enough to have both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, not quite from launch but not long after. I can say this is the least I’ve played of any console generation and I’ve played them all since the NES and Master System. A lot of this is probably down to my age and lifestyle in my late 40s, but I play my Switch more than both of them.
They are not bad consoles but the upgrade each generation gets more iterative. The early buzz was all around 4K, 60fps, and ray-tracing; none of which has really been delivered on consistently. I also don’t really care that much about them, and the only game changer has been SSD, which plenty of titles don’t even seem to have utilised to its potential.
The games have been…fine, I suppose. I’m much more interested in Switch 2 than whatever Sony does with live service or Microsoft with Play Anywhere. Pretty disappointed to be honest.
Three happy years
I’ve had an Xbox Series S since launch and it’s absolutely delivered. Quick resume and much faster loading in general, in my opinion, is what this generations upgrade is all about, and it was long overdue.
Consoles have to be about the games though and on that front I’ve got no complaints. From a campaign perspective Halo Infinite is the best Halo there’s been and by combining a decent campaign story with an open world sandbox section, where you can enjoy Halo’s classic game loop for as long as you like it managed to change the formula while staying true to its roots. Forza Horizon 5 was great, as is Starfield and Deathloop.
As well as the first party games there’s also been decent third party stuff, a lot of which I probably wouldn’t have got unless they were on super cheap offers. Some standouts for me have been Life Is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine are so much better than Dontnod at these games), Plagues Tale: Requiem, 12 Minutes, Planet Of Lana, Citizen Sleeper, and Drake Hollow.
However, the two that really hooked me were Tunic, which I think has one of the best world exploration designs I’ve seen, and Planet Coaster (which was also the game that convinced me to get an Xbox Series S in the first place).
Cross at the gen
I must admit to getting a bit caught up in all the excitement of a new console release and buying the PlayStation 5 straight off the bat. Since then, however, it’s probably been the most disappointing console I’ve ever owned. The DualSense has been good, and it was fun to tinker with it in Asto’s Playroom, but it’s the lack of exclusive games that appeal to me which has been the worst thing about this console.
I don’t think it’ll be until February, when Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth comes out, that I’ll have got a game that can only be played on PlayStation 5 on account of most of the games I already bought and played having being available on the PlayStation 4.
For the cost of the console and the fairly light lack of support in terms of releases I can’t remember another console ever seeming as inessential as this.
The Nintendo Switch, and hopefully its successor, are the absolute opposite though, with so many unique, essential games being released by Nintendo that just aren’t available elsewhere.
Here’s hoping Sony lift the curtain soon on some of the games they’ve been beavering away on and make the purchase of the PlayStation 5 some three years ago feel worth it.
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This generation has been a bit of a s***show and while not all of it is the fault of Sony and Microsoft (Covid supply issues, etc.) they really haven’t helped themselves.
Sony have decided to shut down their PR department for some reason and refuse to announce anything until there’s a month left of the game’s release. Speaking of which, where are all the PlayStation 5 exclusive first party games? Spider-Man 2 is the first PlayStation 5 exclusive system seller – three years in. This is the first generation in my gaming life (started on the NES) that I haven’t bought a new console within the first two years of launch.
Spider-Man 2 has me tempted, but I actually think it’s going to be GTA 6 that finally makes me commit. Until then, my PlayStation 4 is perfectly fine. Sony just seem to be focused on bringing out expensive hardware that no one asked for or can afford.
Then there’s Microsoft. At least Sony has some decent first party games, even if there’s not many. Halo was a disaster, Starfield has been a disaster. The Forza games have reviewed well but not really sold enough to make any kind of impact. What else do they have? Even Game Pass seems to have been shunned by the masses, while at the same time massively dented the actual sales of the individual games.
Nintendo are the only shining beacon in this generation – but then the Switch has been out for six years so you would expect quality stuff at this stage.
All the talk of mass redundancies, live service games, Microsoft buying up half the industry, and the high cost of hardware and software leads me to think that a crash is definitely coming. I doubt that would be in the next couple of years considering we have GTA 6 and Switch 2 coming, both will be huge.
But make no mistake, the cost and length of time needed to make games is now crippling the industry so maybe a crash is something the industry needs right now, almost like a reset button.
Rangersingh (PSN ID)
I suppose the topic can be split between the questions of quality and of taking advantage of powerful tech, but the former is more important to me and, at any rate, the waters get increasingly muddied in terms of what can still be achieved with old tech (just look at Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom).
In terms of good games, I think a lot of the criticism around how this gen has started has merit, but I also think some people have short memories when it comes to the first couple of years of a console generation.
One big difference this time round is the prolonged prominence of cross-generation titles (especially high profile exclusives like Forza Horizon 5 and God Of War Ragnarök) but if those games were able to run well on last gen tech then I think it’s completely disingenuous to suggest avoiding a last gen release would make them, or the new generation, genuinely better.
There’s the argument that they should’ve been developed from the ground up with next gen in mind and I’m on board with that to an extent, but the obvious counter to it is we would’ve almost definitely had to wait much longer for their release.
So your options are to have good cross-gen games in the first couple of years or to have the usual rushed, insubstantial early new gen exclusive titles that are barely more than tech demos. There’s the argument that if Nintendo can get new gen-only killer apps out early then nobody else has an excuse but I can also see the Switch 2 potentially leaning a bit in this direction too, with the really mainstream games looking for exposure to the biggest possible market as long as it’s technically feasible for them to have a last gen release.
I do hope we’ll get at least get one new gen-only killer app in that launch window but it could be argued if you sift out all the cheat titles in the Switch’s first couple of years, there was only really Super Mario Odyssey to really stand out. And I’d bet good money that when development started on that, it wasn’t even intended as an exclusive Switch game (otherwise it only somehow took Nintendo a couple of years, max, to make it from scratch).
Back to the newer consoles, if you insist on not counting cross-gen games and you reject all the new gen-only titles we’ve had to date, I agree that it definitely didn’t take other gens three years to really get moving. But the elephant in the room is the pandemic. I’d say if you make a concession of maybe 12 to 18 months worth of impact (irrespective of when that impact hit, as it’s clearly been pretty different between all the platform holders) then things have been pretty decent so far.
And now we’re three years in, I think it would take a special kind of grumpy to argue that the generation still hasn’t really taken off. Unless, as I say, you’re really hung up on the tech delivering some nebulous new content that isn’t really just more dependent on great talent.
Christmas comes but once a year
I though this generation was doing great, right up until the point where Sony became a weird antisocial hobo, who refuses to release or talk about new games, is obsessed with getting people to buy ultra expensive hardware they don’t need, and seems to be having some sort of secret war behind the scenes over live service games.
Seriously, remember when Sony used to make great single-player games and that was the reason you bought a PlayStation 5? Now we’re down to one every Christmas and none in sight for next year.
More to come
I have been playing both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 and whilst both are great and amazing, the games really are the winners due to really being great on both. The slick PlayStation 5 is amazing to watch when turning on and I personally prefer the PlayStation 5 style over the Xbox starting screen and display.
The PlayStation 5 is my main chosen console, as most of my best games are for this, but the Xbox exclusives like Starfield I borrowed the Xbox Series X from a colleague to play. The PlayStation 5 is my preferred go-to console for now though.
I feel both console’s lifetime expectancy is a long time yet and quite frankly we’ll probably see two releases of The Elder Scrolls 6, the original release and game of the year later on, and possibly other versions, before a new Microsoft and Sony console is announced. Maybe!
Either way, there is no rush for me, for another next generation console, anytime soon and as always there is technically more for developers to squeeze out of the current consoles and definitely no need to even hint at any new consoles.
Just keep on working on great games and make 2024 better (if possible) than 2023! Though I feel this year is unbeatable for now. So Switch 2 is next and then the consoles will all be on the same generation at last, and possibly for quite a long while yet.
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As the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S turn three years old readers rate their performance so far and the generation as a whole.