Xbox One X – part of a memorable generationA reader argues that the current generation of consoles is the best there’s ever been, even despite all the controversies.
As the next generation of consoles creeps ever closer, with this E3 likely to give the best clue yet as to how it will all shake out, it seems natural to take stock of the outgoing generation of consoles. It started in February 2011, with the release of the 3DS, with the first new home console of the current generation being the Wii U in late 2012 and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One a year after that.
It’s been largely forgotten now, but it was an incredibly poor start to the generation, with the Wii U seeming dead on arrival, the Xbox One shooting itself in the foot before it ever even came out, and all three consoles going without any notable exclusives for at least the first two years of their existence.
It took a long time for the generation to get into gear, and for the Xbox One it arguably never did, but once Sony’s first party games starting coming through, and Nintendo ditched the Wii U for the Switch, suddenly we found ourselves in what I genuinely believe to be the best generation of video games consoles ever.
This may seem a surprising thing to say for some, as this generation has had a lot of very obvious problems. The lack of new IP from everyone has been hugely disappointing, and the issues surrounding microtransactions, loot boxes, and pay-to-win have been really upsetting. Especially as they all basically boil down to publishers acting like comic book supervillains, with such a clear contempt for their customers that you resent giving them even a penny of your money.
But that’s just businesses being businesses, and while it’s probably only going to get worse they did at least get a bloody nose over loot boxes, which shows that they don’t always get what they want. But if you ignore all that I really don’t think things have ever been as good as they currently are in terms of the quality of actual games.
Big budget AAA games may often lack originality but the sheer amount of artistry and polish on games like Forza Horiozn 4 (best driving game of all time), Mario Kart 8 (best Mario Kart ever), Bloodborne (possibly best game ever), The Witcher 3 (ditto), Divinity: Original Sin II (best CRPG ever), Persona 5 (best JRPG ever), Uncharted 4 (most cinematic game ever), God Of War (best action game story ever), Super Mario Odyssey (best 3D Mario ever), Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (best Zelda and possibly best game ever), Resident Evil 2 and 7 (perfect versions of the past and future of the franchise), and NieR:Automata (proof that AAA games can be original and daring and still sell really well).
I don’t want to turn this into just a list but that’s not including wonderfully original and subversive indie games like Undertale, Oxenfree, Night In The Woods, Thumper, Darkest Dungeon, What Remains Of Edith Finch, Celeste, Into The Breach, and Baba Is You.
2017 alone may be the best year ever in gaming, with Sony hitting their best form ever and Nintendo, a company that’s been around since gaming began, doing the same. Sure, there are problems with games, and most publishers seem to treat their developers like dirt, but the end result – the games we actually play – have never been better.
And just to convince you this isn’t all mindless optimism I worry that this may be the best it ever does get. I’m very worried about streaming taking over, as removing the need for a console also means many people won’t have a proper controller. And if developers have to design for that then it’s going to lead to a lot of horrible touchscreen and motion controls, which I am totally against.
And yet, on the other hand, things like Game Pass seem like a great idea and if that becomes the norm then more people than ever will have access to more experimental games, rather than just being able to afford FIFA and Call Of Duty and nothing else. So there is reason to be optimistic for the future, but I still think the present is as good as it’s ever been.
By reader Boxoton
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