Video Games and the Multi-Gen of Madness

Anytime we are early into the next generation of consoles there is always the discussion of whether new releases should be cross-gen or strictly next-gen. It’s likely that many of the early releases during a new console generation were developed for the past generation, and are being “scaled up” for the next-gen. Of course, there are always some first-party games that have been in development specifically for the upcoming generation.

I remember back when the Nintendo Switch came out and everyone was playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I had one friend who still hadn’t bought himself a Switch, so he played the game on the Wii U. I thought he was crazy. I owned a Wii U and I was still holding out for my Switch (which I found shortly after that).

This generation (PS5/Xbox Series X|S) is a little different though. In past generations there were large changes in our gaming hardware, but in the last generation (PS4/Xbox One) video games already looked pretty amazing. We also had the base PS4 and Xbox One receive big time enhancements with the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, for a sort of mid-generation upgrade.

This new generation (PS5 and Xbox Series X|S) mostly adds small changes like quick/instant load times, more lighting effects, ray tracing and more technical stuff mostly made possible through the use of SSDs (Solid State Drives). PS5 has 3D Audio and the all new DualSense controller featuring haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Xbox Series X|S has Dolby Vision & Atmos and the quick resume feature, which just sounds incredible.

When Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was introduced as exclusive to PlayStation 5 this made me very excited. This will be the first “true” next-gen game (I guess Returnal was also a PS5 exclusive, but I haven’t played it yet.

When games are announced to be multi-generational my first thought has always been, Aw man, that’s going to hold back the technology on the new platform. I know that the true potential of these new consoles isn’t really tested until later in their life cycle. Games released at the end of a console’s life are usually better quality than many launch games for the next console, due to the learning curve and sometimes trying to implement new technology (like PS4’s Touch Bar early on).

The Last of Us: Part II was an amazing technical feat on the PS4 (and PS4 Pro), but that’s also because it was made so late in the PS4’s lifecycle. By this time the developers know how far they can push these titles. They’ve learned tips and tricks to make up for what they can’t do. Look at how stunning Ghost of Tsushima looks and plays on a PS4 Pro.

Something I didn’t consider until recently was how games on PC have to be extremely scalable depending on what PC parts different gamers own. There are some high-quality games for PC that require only newer parts, but for the most part most PC games work on all (or most) PCs. My PC is made up of older parts and I enjoy playing older games on it, but if I plan to play some of the upcoming Xbox/Microsoft exclusives I’m going to have to either upgrade some parts or get an Xbox Series S|X.

I’m excited to watch the Xbox + Bethesda E3 Showcase this weekend and finally figure out if it’s time to add that Xbox Series S (or X) to my next-gen console collection.

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