2013. Next year. That’s when the latest rumours for the next generation of consoles are marking the calendar. Think about that for a second – if the stories are correct, we could be getting our hands on the PS4 and Xbox Next (or whatever they’re called) any time from between eight months to about twenty, with many still thinking that E3 this year will see some kind of unveiling from both Sony and Microsoft, even if it’s just a taster.
It doesn’t really matter what they end up being called – marketing and branding aside – what matters is what they’ll do, and what they’re capable of. In terms of visuals, it’s clear that this current generation can’t really handle full HD, let alone 3D, without plenty of sacrifices, so hopefully whatever the manufacturers are working on will mean 1080p at 60fps before they start worrying about any other fancy technology.
But it’s not the boost in graphics that I’m most desperate for. I’m a keen believer that Halo is the best first person shooter ever made because of one thing: the AI. Running around blasting dumb enemies means nothing to me, but with Halo I always admired what Bungie had done with the squad intelligence and pack mentality, and the Elites – on the harder levels – felt like equals rather than bullet sponges.
If the next-gen can up the immersion this way – making things smarter rather than simply just prettier, I’ll be happy.
But there’s more to consider here – the latest on both new machines suggest that pre-owned games will be considerably crippled and, in the case of Orbis (the current codename for PS4) it sounds like backwards compatibility will also be out of the window, meaning that all your PS3 games (both on disk and digital download) won’t work going forward. You’ll have to keep hold of your current console, basically, and that won’t please many.
Of course, all this is just rumour at this stage, regardless of the sources. Even if elements are true, nobody knows for sure about what’s going to change right up until the machines are formally announced – but whilst the contents of the technical specs seem to differ from story to story, one thing seems to remain fairly constant: the date. I’d be hugely surprised if we don’t get our hands on them both next year.
But is that too soon?