This Gen is the new Next Gen!

The next gen of Unreal Engine. Does it excite you? Me neither.

With all the talk and hype for the Wii-U, the PS4 and the Next X-Box (aka Durango), something is happening that feels strange. Rather than be excited for new tech, I’m more exited now than ever before for the current generation and the games coming out in the next year. Am I alone in feeling this way?

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I love the look of the Wii-U, and love that its got room to grow.

I also love the talk of the PS4 and NXB-Durango, and feel the passion from many gamers that this coming generation will be a huge game changer for many genres and titles. I can’t really argue against that, I’m sure they are all totally correct. But I cannot find myself agreeing with them. Because everything that excites me as a gamer is coming out on the PS3 and X-Box 360 in the next year to 18 months, and I’ve seen nothing yet of this supposed next-gen that comes close to giving me the same bubbly fizzing sensation that I’m getting from this generation right now.

It’s because of the games. For me, it’s ALWAYS about the games, and the Wii-U will come with Pikmin 3 – a game series I love very much. But it doesn’t feel like a killer title for the Wii-U, and everything else is nothing but ports and super-charged versions of current games. And very few of the games that are really exciting me are destined for the Wii-U, or the next-gen consoles. Not yet, at least.

I am going to rattle on here about the games I’m looking forward to.

For a start, you have BioShock Infinite, a game that looks and sounds too good to be true. A dynamic, artistic experience with a real sense of vertigo and a strong, capable narrative edge that cuts very deep through somewhat traditional gaming mechanics, to create the look of a game that feels fresh and exciting whilst still being, ostensibly, BioShock. It’s been delayed for more spit and polish but that’s the thing – it’s gilding the lily in my eyes. BioShock Infinite is a game I want, need, crave to play. A game that I want in my life more than any other right now.

Resident Evil 6 - pretty!

Resident Evil 6 – will it be bad? Maybe. Will it be pretty? Hell yes!

Resident Evil 6, for all the talk against it, I want to play. It’s achingly pretty and huge – it’s a massive slice of game, with talk of 30+ hours of gaming on your first play with all characters (including Ada). For an action horror, this could be outstaying its welcome but it’s more than that for me – Resident Evil 6 feels like the end. It feels like a conclusion, something in which the series can be tied up before taking a new direction. A farewell, if you will, to names we know and love. And that makes me want it, to say goodbye to those who have enthralled me for the past 16 years.

Then you have The Last Guardian from Team Ico, a narrative with that lovely looking gryphon thing. Remember Me from Capcom, a game that smacks a little of Assassin’s Creed and its soft sci-fi edge, but one that feels somehow inherently more enthralling because of its future setting. You have Beyond: Two Souls, a game which will look very realistic and even the characters are being modeled on real people, with Ellen Page the star of the piece. What is not to love about a ghost story where the spook is protecting a young girl/woman from the dangers she is facing? You have Assassin’s Creed 3. Tomb Raider. Crysis 3. Dishonored. Aliens: Colonial Marines. Deadpool. South Park: The Stick of Truth. I could go on, but I won’t.

Every game right now that excites me and is due out by the end of 2013 is THIS generation (not hard considering next-gen hasn’t been officially unveiled aside Wii-U, which is partly what I’m basing my opinions off of right now). And a lot of it is brand new IP, new ideas, new concepts, new engines. Rather than the end of a generation, it feels like this generation has only just gotten started; that finally there is experimentation, a real sense of exploration and trying fresh new things. Nothing yet on the Wii-U, and no talk of next-gen PS4 and NXB, has given me quite the same thrill as I am getting waiting for these games. I want them. I need them. They must be mine, and they must be completed.

It’s because of the influx of new games coming that I’m actually not that concerned about new consoles or tech. Looking at what we have coming, it is hard to see how a next-gen machine will do anything that much better – and it is telling that for all these games, there’s nothing yet concrete about the PS4/NXB games coming. I’m more excited about my PS3 and 360 now than I have ever been. I’m seeing a wave of new, inspired ideas and games on the horizon (and the occasional doozie as well) . And the next-gen talk feels like a distraction from what is actually a really good view right now. It’s not the correct argument for this moment in time.

Remember Me!

Remember Me – and yes, I will totally respect you in the morning!

I’m sure people are happy thinking about what new stuff the PS4 and NXB will bring. But I don’t have to imagine that yet – we’re only just getting to the good stuff THIS generation, and it feels like the whole industry has woken up from a three year hibernation cycle, and is finally doing something. I’m happy looking at what we have coming for our current machines, and the majority of it looks to be bloody amazing. It’s hard to think of the sensation a good proper next-gen title will bring when you see how gorgeous and great some of what we’re now getting is. It’ll have to be something pretty damned special, that’s for sure. Watch Dogs in particular, no-one believed it was a game for this generations consoles when they showed it at E3, and yet, it is. Does that perhaps suggest that we may not really know the technical limitations of our current hardware, if we’re so shocked and surprised when a game comes and feels like such a dramatic improvement over what has come before?

It is in that that this game in and of itself feels like a generational leap. It’s like the past few years never happened, and suddenly the tech we now have has come on in one humongous technical leap. That everything happening now should have already happened in the last year or two, and we’re just getting around to pushing the consoles we have. It feels like we haven’t yet hit the limits, reached the plateau, and the danger of this next-gen talk is that we may throw away perfectly good, perfectly serviceable and perfectly decent consoles just to please a bunch of graphics whores and industry programmers trying to sell their newest game engine to everyone and rip them off. I’m sure this is perfectly good business sense, but it doesn’t really benefit us as consumers at the end of the day. Gaming should be about the games, not the hardware or the middleware being used to make them. If we’re in a position where we’re seeing the current technology being pushed more than it has ever been pushed before, then that can only benefit us as consumers as games studios and developers find themselves taking more creative risks and freedoms, pushing brand new games and making the best use of what is available right now.

I can’t get excited about a next-gen because I don’t yet see it as a necessity. I don’t want it, not when such good work is being done right now. We need another few years for this generation to mature and develop beyond these current developments, and the push for more and newer tech ignores the point that consoles are not and should not be PCs – they are designed to be games consoles, and if they aren’t yet running at maximum capacity, why push for new machines? Why upset a good thing? What purpose does this serve except effectively robbing us of games and indeed, money that could come if they slowed down a little bit? I have a PC. I spend money on it. But I love my consoles. Why am I feeling like we’re pushing for something that right now feels rather unnecessary in the grand scheme of things?

Next-gen can wait until 2015/2016. Wii-U could be pushed back a year and I wouldn’t miss it. Right now, for the systems I’ve got, there’s plenty of great looking games in the pipeline – if not a flood of them.

Watch Dogs - one of this gens big surprises!

Watch Dogs, a game that no-one believed was for this gen. But it is, and it looks amazing!

This gen has come on in a dramatic leap in the last twelve months. This time last year we were a little bored with only a scant few titles that we really all wanted to get our filthy paws on, and so far this year we’re getting way more than we could ever have hoped for. It feels like we’re only just exploring the limits, rather than pushing them. Like we just arrived at a good place, and now is the time to sit down and have a picnic and admire the view.

So why rush Sony and Microsoft and the industry into another era of expense and uncertainty? Let this generation run a little longer – it’s all about the games. If this is a taster of things to come, I’d say we’ll be in for a treat in the next two or three years, and it is hard to imagine the Wii-U really pushing gaming in the way some games are pushing this old hardware right now. It probably will get ports, but they won’t be pushing the hardware like I assume games will push that hardware in five years time. And they likely won’t be pushing the envelope either. Wii-U looks lovely. But it’s hard to escape a sensation that maybe it’s a little early to be declaring this generation as dead and buried.

From the games we’re seeing, this generation is far from dead. Quite the opposite – it’s alive and flourishing. Let’s not destroy it whilst it is in bloom, eh?

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