It’s always an exciting time when a new console generation comes around, and the buzz is certainly a welcome distraction in 2020. As we get closer to the launch, we’ve started to see some early impressions from the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S and have a glimpse of what to expect from these consoles. Here are some predictions and thoughts on what we’re excited about for the next-gen!
A New Generation
Shaun: Console launches are always special, and this cycle is no exception. The fact we’re getting these systems now, that these companies were able to follow through and execute on their plans during a global pandemic, really is remarkable. That millions of gamers will have a chance to get in on the ground floor of the next generation during a time they really might want to escape the real world more than ever before is wonderful.
That said, we’re also seeing something unique here – we’re not seeing the huge jump in graphics and other visual markers that traditionally accompany new hardware, not yet anyway. Instead we’re seeing foundational work laid toward the future: we’re seeing Microsoft completely change the approach to consoles with access to software via backwards compatibility and Game Pass, while also giving people the option to buy an incredibly powerful console or something cheaper that’ll still play their favorite new games. We’re seeing Sony launch with just a few key titles and a powerful box that’s also full of potential down the road, arguably more so than what’s visible at launch, and by all accounts includes a very ‘game changing’ controller in the DualSense. And that’s great!
Our industry needs to evolve and grow, and I think we’re poised to see some really cool innovations in the years to come, and I think all of this gives more people than ever before the chance to play some amazing games. I think first party titles on PlayStation will continue to be industry-defining experiences and I think Microsoft will make up a lot of ground with their subscription service tied to the choice consumers now have with Xbox Series S vs Series X, though I wouldn’t sleep on their studio offerings; they have a lot of games in development, many of which we haven’t even seen yet (and they just bought Bethesda!). I think they’re poised to surprise a lot of people and capture a whole new generation of fans. It’s going to be exciting all around, that’s for sure, and I can’t wait to play these games and also work with some of the amazing teams developing them.
Tim: I think this may be the most diffusely felt console generation in recent memory, and it’s why I’m reluctant to even call it a new generation. I think people are going to be experiencing console gaming in a lot of different ways, not least of all because of the pressures of a global pandemic, which we are also experiencing in different ways! So while the gaming industry in general has been lucky enough to adapt to remote work, we know that an incredible number of lives and jobs have fared far worse, and this schism in how we are impacted by world events and political choices (which, of course, existed before the pandemic, too) will continue, especially in the U.S.
But it also feels from my own personal experience like we launched a new generation four years ago with the PS4 Pro/Xbox One X. Beyond 4K, HDR, etc., this mid-gen injection of drastically more powerful machines created a weird playing field for console owners. From the opening impressions/reviews, it seems like you can safely hold off on buying a new machine for some time if you got those mid-gen upgrades. But as someone who didn’t buy a PS4 Pro and still has a base PS4 at the end of 2020, I feel like I have to buy in to keep up. There are a lot of games in the past two years especially that I could technically play, but really made me feel like I was getting a different, worse product. So I’m definitely making a generational leap this month, but maybe you aren’t. And then where is the dividing line? If four years ago you half-leaped a generation ahead of me, and now I’m half-leaping ahead of you…
So I think it will be some time until we actually get a sense of what this new generation of consoles is. We know that even a year (or more?) out from now, the original PS4/Xbox One systems will still be getting flagship releases. Who knows how well they run on those systems. Eventually they’ll be phased out, but will PS4 Pro/Xbox One X continue to be supported on new releases? I would think so. For how long? I’m looking at a new generation and not sure when the unique experiences it’s promising will arrive, nor when we’ll all experience them together.
We’re excited about…
Rob: With the library of great games that I still have not got to play the past few years, I am very much looking forward to the backwards compatibility on the systems. It was music to my ears to hear how simple they’ve made the game transfers when it comes to syncing your current library. It will also go over well with the wife because I won’t have to keep multiple systems in our upstairs entertainment unit now (though it is still tbd on how well they will fit into our current setup but I am hopeful). The save/continue state for switching between games will also be a boon. It’s crazy to think that 35 years ago I was thrilled when my computer would boot up a cassette game in 5 mins, and now I don’t even want to wait 30 seconds. I need to learn to be more patient. I will be happy waiting for devs to turn our their masterpieces while I play some of the awesome stuff that’s already out there.
Pat: Despite the many things to look forward to with this new generation of consoles, I am sitting here most excited for a controller. Not since the greatest technological achievement in gaming, aka Nintendo’s Rumble Pak, has an input device left me as excited for the future as PS5’s DualSense has. Everything I’ve read about the haptic feedback & adaptive triggers sounds incredible and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how developers implement these features into their projects going forward.
Val: I’m most excited about how developers will push the envelope with graphics and storytelling on these new consoles, not only in franchises I love (God of War down the line! The Elder Scrolls!) but in ones I haven’t had a chance to play yet.
DJ: Graphics aren’t the most important thing to me, it’s actually the gameplay itself. What I’m excited about most is seeing how games will come to push the envelope as they find new ways to tell amazing stories and give us fresh and engaging gameplay on these new platforms.
Tony: A new generation means news games – and that is what I am most excited about. I am currently looking forward to FF16 – mostly because a new FF game is always a joy.
Dan: There’s a lot that excites me about these next-gen consoles, many of them technical improvements such as faster load times. Coming from the Xbox One to the PS5, I’m excited to play all the PS4 games I’ve missed out on. Rumors that many backwards-compatible games will look/run better on the PS5 is a nice bonus!
Corey: Remember 7 or 8 years ago when there was real concern that consoles were dying and the PS4 and Xbox One wouldn’t sell? And that all games would soon be free-to-play? Well, none of that has come true and there is legitimate excitement for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. (obviously the Nintendo Switch has been absolutely crushing for a while now). My feeling with these new systems is that people are just buying them because there is no question that fantastic titles are coming soon, and the more game-changing qualities aren’t even known yet. People are still choosing systems based on what console-exclusives they’re most excited about, but long-term they will differentiate themselves with social features. If there is one thing behavior under COVID has proven, it’s that games are behaving as new social tools.
Kim: I predict I won’t be able to buy a PS5 until Q4 2021.
Clara: We will eventually see more simultaneous face pores up close than the average human eye can process and become koalas.
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