[Disclaimer: The Friday Night Rant is just that, a rant. It contains extemporaneous remarks which are not to be confused with this site’s journalism or editorial opinions. It is meant to be an entertaining take on the industry and may be divisive in nature.]
People keep saying how great the launch lineup for the next console generation is. I have to tell you I’m not all that impressed, and since most of the big name titles are cross-gen games I think the new consoles will make a less than impressive splash.
While Killzone: Shadow Fall and RYSE: Son of Rome may have the chops to give us a peek at what the new gaming systems may be capable of I think most gamers are firmly focused on picking up games like Call of Duty: Ghosts, Watch Dogs, and Battlefield 4 as their first next-gen experiences.
So, what’s that going to look like? Not so great as far as I’m concerned. Call of Duty hasn’t had enough engine upgrades to bring it even close to the visual fidelity of late gen games of the current generation. Sure it has kept a wonderfully smooth 60 frames per second but unless you’re watching an uncompressed clip of it running on a top shelf PC the game just keeps looking more and more dated. That game needs a new engine and pronto, you’d think all those billions of dollars would be enough to fund one but it would seem there’s no incentive to make it any better.
We recently got confirmation from Ubisoft that the much anticipated open world hacking title Watch Dogs will be locked in at 30 frames per second. Not only that but they can’t confirm the visual fidelity, which tells me that even on the most powerful console hardware available it will likely top out at 720p. So hey, remind me again why we pay for new consoles? Perhaps there’s some hanky panky going on here. Maybe they don’t want to make any version better than any other not to discourage sales on current gen hardware. Maybe the new hardware just isn’t as good as we had hoped. Maybe it’s too much to hope that open world or sandbox games will actually improve at all. Bottom line: I don’t think these developers are really trying to capitalize on the power of the consoles anywhere near as much as they keep saying in the media.
Battlefield 4 is looking to amp things up to 60fps but again sitting at an ancient 720p resolution. Didn’t DICE always make it clear that their game was the best looking military shooter? Sure the Frostbite 2 engine looks a lot better than what’s happening in Call of Duty but we’re all looking for a substantial leap here. Does any of this inspire confidence in people? Maybe it doesn’t matter because, after all, we can probably expect games that aren’t cross-gen to do a lot better as they come in later but I think the fewer impressive differences we see at launch the longer it might be for the generation to get off to a good start. With pre-orders very high going into the launch season the last thing we need is people seeing very little difference between the generations as they soak up their internet media and watch early adopters play their games.
Lemme tell ya, if you want to make a splash on the new consoles you have to make sure the people who spend an extra $400-$500 are getting the better experience they deserve because these are the people who are going to, or not going to, buy the sequels to these games. Multiplats may never have the same quality that exclusives do but if you can’t even get your big budget big sellers running at 1080p and 60fps from the get go then what is it exactly that makes these games next gen?
For how long these consoles have been in the making I think one could reasonably expect both a better performing class of cross-gen games and a bigger selection of actual exclusives (not obvious timed ones that are really multiplats waiting to happen).