We're in the next generation of gaming, right? At least that's what we're told, but I don't feel like we're in the next generation to be honest with you. New hardware doesn't just offer prettier graphics, smoother performance, and new innovations, but more content, and we have not really seen any of those things come to fruition so far.
That isn't to say the major games released thus far are bad, but they aren't exactly mind blowing or revolutionary either. Now, you may be content with this and say, "It's not a big deal. I don't mind" which is fine, it's your prerogative, but I do care. If I drop over $400 on new hardware, not including new games and subscription based services that are pretty much mandatory, I expect new experiences. If this is the "next generation" of gaming, it should feel like nothing we've ever seen before. That's what it's been like every other console generation, but I honestly don't feel that way anymore. My optimism for this generation has faded with disappointment after disappointment and, to be honest with you, I have some buyers' remorse and I imagine some of you do too.
Before you read this article, it's important you understand that I love video games with a passion. It's my favourite pastime and I'm never going to stop playing video games, despite the current state of this console generation. It's also important to understand that I'm making no exceptions. I'm disappointed by the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U, so this isn't criticism of a specific company or console, but all of them.
The hardware is not the leap we expected and for the most part is dated. These new consoles are kind of anaemic, and with all the developers trying to output the most intensive graphics they can get for marketing purposes, instead of prioritising gameplay and performance, we're seeing games with awful performance left and right that even fail to reach a stable 30 frames let alone the all-important 60 frames per second. Killzone: Shadow Fall is a great example. It has an unlocked frame rate which can reach 60, but it usually drops below 30, which for a next gen console is pretty disappointing.
It's ironic then that the even more anaemic Wii U has more 60 FPS games because Nintendo typically prioritise smooth gameplay. This is a trend that really took over in the previous generation. A lot of PS2, Gamecube and Xbox titles ran at 60 FPS because they prioritised smooth gameplay and didn't want to hinder the player's reaction times just to put a few more polygons on screen, but now it seems people don't care about framerate as long as the game has pretty graphics, which blows my mind.
Powerful hardware isn't just important for outputting better graphics and smoother framerates, but also allowing developers to try new things with the less restricted horsepower, such as creating larger worlds or developing smarter AI. This is something a lot of people seem to ignore when discussing new hardware. It's always about the graphics. I on the other hand get excited when I see the new mechanics or experiences that new consoles can offer. Now tell me, how many next gen games are out right now that couldn't be achieved on older consoles with slightly worse graphics? Killzone? Forza 5? Even Infamous: Second Son and Titanfall don't feel worthy of a whole new gen. Second Son is a PS3 quality game that just has slightly better graphics and particle effects. Titanfall meanwhile is releasing on Xbox 360 too, so the idea that it's a 'next gen' product is out of the question.
Which brings me to another point - it's a sad state of affairs when many, if not most, of the next gen games releasing are also releasing on older consoles. I don't remember seeing Metal Gear Solid 2 releasing simultaneously on the PS2 and the PS1.
With the exception of Dark Souls II, which is ironically on dated hardware, I have yet to come across one game that has released so far this year with a campaign or story mode I consider high quality and full length. It's pretty much common knowledge, for example, that Ground Zeroes is a cash grab and a glorified demo. Titanfall has 3 hour campaign that isn't particular noteworthy. Infamous Second Son, an open world game, can be completed in just a few hours (I completed it in 7 hours and achieved 100 percent completion in 10 hours). Forza 5 has fewer cars and tracks than the original Forza - a title that released on the original Xbox.
Despite my highly cynical and pessimistic outlook, I haven't lost faith in this generation entirely. Some upcoming games seem like they are trying to push the envelope more and create new experiences (such as Destiny or The Division). However, given the way things are heading right now, with games being released so far which were hyped to an excessive degree, I'm not holding my breath; I've been disappointed before. I've been disappointed with this new generation to the point where I'm not hyped for that many games (with a few exceptions) because, really, there isn't that much to be excited about moving forwards if the last few months of disappointing next gen releases are anything to go by.