Future Perfect: Why a Console’s First Year Shouldn’t Be Its Benchmark

Let’s be honest, those with new generation consoles in 2014 were a bit disappointed by the games you could get on them. Sure, there was a raft of unique indie titles, but many of the best multiplatform games – such as our GotY runner-up Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Dragon Age: Inquisition – were available on PS3 and Xbox 360 too, and the ones which weren’t – we’re looking at you, Assassin’s Creed Unity – were quite disappointing.

Although open world exclusives such as inFamous Second Son and Sunset Overdrive were very successful and highly rated, we just didn’t see enough new, with other hotly anticipated exclusives such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Driveclub being broken upon launch, and many anticipated titles coming in the form of HD remasters. 2014 wasn’t a great year then for these consoles, but the first year never is.

mkpreview

Take the Wii U for example. Mario Kart 8, if you didn’t already know, is TSA’s game of the year 2014. Along with Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros., Hyrule Warriors and more, there were loads of exquisite exclusives on that console last year. Yet look back to 2013, to the system’s first year and you’ll find fewer acclaimed titles.

Bloodborne, Dying Light, Evolve, The Order: 1886. Those are coming within the next couple of months, and despite 2015 only just kicking off, it already feels as though we’re getting the big titles that we missed out on last year. These will be experiences you can only get on new consoles, and there’s a high chance at least one of them will be quite good (it’s probably not going to be The Order, though).

So to write off these consoles – this fledgling generation – now would be quite silly indeed; but it’s a cycle that repeats viciously with every new release. Of the consoles with “no games” in their first year, the only one to truly fail is the Dreamcast. Sure, the PS Vita didn’t quite manage to become the “console in your pocket” that Sony advertised, but it’s become a great machine for playing gems such as The Binding of Isaac, or even for using Remote Play when you can’t get to the TV. Hey, that’s a PS4 in your pocket!

RemotePlayVita-IL3

Nintendo’s 3DS has become one of the most popular and packed handheld systems there is, despite it at first having few good titles, the 3D being a “bad idea” (and yes, Nintendo did reverse on that one with the 2DS), and claims of the mobile market taking over handheld consoles. They were proved wrong, just as the naysayers of home consoles were when the PS4 sold over 13 million consoles in its first year. Sure, they might’ve been right about the lack of major games but that’ll change as time moves on.

So, I say: ignore the first year. Don’t forget about all of the broken games and service outages so easily, but don’t let it reflect on the years to come: soon we’ll have this generation’s Uncharted 2 moment, and not long after the PS4 and Xbox One will get their Portal 2. We don’t know what that’s going to be yet – we can take a guess by looking at the release schedule for this year, but it’s 2016 or 2017 that you really want to be looking forward to.

When the developers know their hardware, when the publishers are (hopefully) not pushing out broken titles, and when the list of games begins to grow, we’ll really begin to see just how amazing these pieces of technology are. We’ll see huge leaps as we’ve seen before with God of War 2 to 3 – or Mario Kart Wii to 8, even – and not only in terms of visuals, but in terms of how expansive these games are.

uc4pic2

There’s no reason to be alarmed: the PS4’s and Xbox One’s defining moments aren’t here just yet, and if they were then we’d have a very boring wait until the next generation. If previous generations are anything to go by – and they definitely are – then it’s likely that we’ll see intermittent moments of perfection and ingenuity over the next several years, right until the consoles are on their last legs.

And then, in the year after that – the first year of the next generation – we’ll see all of those brilliant tail-end titles remastered for a new generation, as we take to the internet to complain about the PS5 having no games.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –

14 Comments

  1. Great read although I personally think that current gen has been more mediocre and handicapped simply due to expectation. When last gen released the concept of online play was introduced to the masses which totally overshadowed the volume of AAA’s released and was an instant hit even with a mere 3 or so games that allowed you to mix with friends or mental randomers for the first time online…..crazy times :P

  2. Fully agree, also with regard to The Order, although I still hope it’ll be as great as everyone wants it to be.

    This time around, expectations were a bit tricky, I think. Although everybody realistically knew the jump wouldn’t be as big as last time, quite irrationally, we all still expected to go ‘Wow..!’ and have ‘mind-blowing’ experiences. Simply because we would’ve wanted to.
    But, an added share button and a touchpad just can’t achieve that.

  3. nice read!
    but isn’t the ps4 as near as damn it a gaming pc under the hood,shouldn’t development of games be more or less ports from pc?with a few bits of tinkering here and there?
    its not the old days when the ps3 was a developers nightmare.
    it took years to squeeze all the juice out of the ps3 and it proved it could piss all over the Xbox with titles like the last of us.
    i hope we don’t have to wait that long before we see the full potential of ps4.

  4. I’m not convinced the first year has been that disappointing.

    Big advantage is we’ve got a PS4 at a sensible price compared to the PS3 at launch. And the massive hardware sales can only be a good thing going forward. (Assuming that translates to “Oooh, lots of potential customers, so we’ll put money into developing for that” and not “Shit, a big pile of money waiting to be grabbed, so we’d better churn out something quick to get some”)

    The number of “remasters” is getting a bit silly, but in some cases you can probably excuse that as “very delayed PS4 version”. Just a bit unfortunate some companies are trying to claim it’s a new improved version and not just a simple PS4 version (which would obviously be improved anyway).

    The cross-gen games are a bit trickier. It always happens. And we’ve got a mix of “PS4 version looks a little bit nicer, maybe with a more consistent frame rate” along with “That PS3 version looks quite terrible”. I’m quite happy with the same games just looking nicer and playing better. Or would be if they weren’t then so much more expensive.

    But the current-gen only games have been reasonably impressive for the first year, really. inFamous just did what it always did and made it look nicer. (And there really isn’t anything wrong with taking a successful formula and making it look nicer, apparently. How else is Mario Kart 8 winning lots of awards?)

    Driveclub was a bit broken for the first couple of weeks, but is now an incredibly good looking racer which can get quite addictive and challenging.

    And now AC Unity is fixed, it’s the best AC game since before they started adding all that sailing nonsense. Again, it’s an old successful formula they’ve tarted up a bit and made enough tweaks to the gameplay.

    Overall, the first year of the current generation has been at least as good as previous generations. In some ways it’s been better, and it’s definitely got the potential for the next couple of years to deliver lots of very special things. But it might have been better starting a year later. And for Sony to have spent that extra year making the DS4 not so awful.

    And we got Dragonage Inquisition, which is all you need really. Would anyone really want to play something so massive and stunningly good looking on a PS3?

    Plus we’ll get lots of more obscure things coming to the PS4 over the next year. (When do we get Disgaea 5? Hopefully later this year)

    • Damn you pesky tiny text input box! I didn’t mean for my comment to contain more than half the number of words in the original article I was commenting on!

      In my defence, the box makes it look like I’m typing less. And I type fast and ramble on a bit. I’ll stop it if people want me to.

      • Text was fine (for me at least), but what’s wrong with the DS4? After getting used to the slightly different feel, I prefer it to my DS3 these days.

      • The sticks are too stiff and it’s too fat. And I’ve got large hands. Personal preference, obviously, but I prefer the DS3.

        And the share/options buttons are a bit awkward to press. Possibly because I’ve got large hands.

    • Is Unity actually working properly now then? I might order a copy if so, you can get it for about £25.

      • I’ve read that it’s technically working ok now after several massive patches. Haven’t played it myself.

      • I don’t know what it was like before the patches (4 of them, wasn’t it?), having only got it for christmas. (Fancy edition in a tin, which was the same price as the normal version. Until 3 days later when that dropped to £25!)

        I’ve only seen 1 problem. The frame rate is fine and nobody had their face fall off. But the bloke we were supposed to be chasing in a co-op mission (which are otherwise enormous fun) did get stuck in a box of vegetables once. And wouldn’t move.

        But apart from that single incident, it’s been fine so far. And it’s a proper AC game, not some piratey nonsense with assassins bolted on.

      • Just ordered a copy seeming its only £25 off Amazon.
        It’ll keep me out of the pub for quite a few nights in January so I’m saving money in a way… & my liver too. ;)

    • Very nicely put, fella. I’ve only recently picked one up and it now has plenty of games for me to enjoy. Heck, even if the hardware only means I get to play the same franchises at a better frame-rate, resolution and general fidelity, that’s still a good investment. It’s what my PC does every couple of years anyway!

      It’s up to the devs to push the hardware into new territory and we’re seeing that already. Vast galaxies with luscious skies, spacecraft and worlds to explore – let alone the indie devs who will come up with lovely little ideas that may or may not flesh out into a decent title but will bring a new mechanic to the gaming world which we’ll see integrated into other games down the line.

      For me, it’s been lovely fun so far. Just more refinement to follow.

    • Talking about DriveClub, I finally caved in and bought the season pass as I’m sure I’ll get a hell of a lot of longevity out of it. I am however finding the new Tour modes bloody difficult! They are keeping me occupied but I think they may be a tad too difficult. I need 1 star to get to the final of Elements and just can’t get 1 more on any of the races.

  5. I think the PS4’s first year was quite good, stronger line up than a lot of other consoles are in their first years. Personally though I think I’ve enjoyed my Vita the most in 2014.
    It’s not all about exclusives, playing a particular game in the way you want to play it makes all the difference and having some of favourite indies portable playable any time has been fantastic. I think 2015 for for both PS4 and Vita should be even better and that is exciting.

Comments are now closed for this post.