What Do You Want From Next Gen?

By: John Wahl

The next generation of gaming is quickly approaching. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are expected to launch sometime this fall and their respective approaches to next gen gaming are beginning to come into view. But perhaps more than any console generation before it, the advances being touted on the PS5 and XSX are difficult to demonstrate or show to a perspective audience.

Gone are the days of massive visual leaps like we saw with the jumps from 16 to 32 bit, or the move to HD consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Now we’re talking about advances like SSD, Ray Tracing, and Teraflops. What does it all mean for players though? How will these new technologies change the way we play?

We asked folks who cover and are a part of the games industry what they were looking for in the next generation of gaming. Improved visuals? Increased resolution? Great performance? Here’s what they had to say.

Jez Corden (Windows Central)

“It’s awesome that CPUs and GPUs are getting a massive boost across the board, bringing hardware accelerated shadows and lighting to make games look more dynamic than ever. Ray tracing is a big one for me on the visual features front, but as an Xbox / PC fan, I’m excited for the additional investment Microsoft is pushing into Xbox Game Pass (for PC) and Xbox Game Studios across both.

Microsoft has been on the backfoot when it comes to exclusive games for the past generation, so it’ll be nice to see what an Xbox Game Studios with more serious investment looks like. I’m excited to see what State of Decay 3 will look like with Undead Labs under Microsoft, and it’ll be great to finally see what The Initiative is working on, finally. Who knows what other surprises are coming down the pipeline? Ultimately it’s about games at the end of the day, and I think regardless of what platform you prefer there’s going to be tons of awesome stuff to play.”

Victor Lucas (EPN)

“I know the leap in quality in the visual/audio fidelity of games is not going to be the same thing we experienced transitioning from 32-bit systems like the PlayStation to PS2, or the N64 to GameCube, but being blown away by what I’m seeing/hearing is something I expect from new consoles. Every time.

What I’m really looking forward to is the quality of life innovations that make jumping onto a new console such a treat. I loved the simplicity of sharing gameplay moments in this current gen and I’d like to see that expanded in the new machines with access to more distribution platforms and way quicker editing tools. I’d like there to be seamless cloud storage for saves so that there’s never a fear of losing progress in a game. I definitely want to feel more haptic nuance in the controllers. But I think what I’m expecting and hopeful for the most is some kind of way to access physical media from previous console generations and to see that software run in the best way possible. So for PS5 I want to be able to slide in discs from PS1 through PS4 and be dazzled by what I’m able to see and play on screen. Likewise for Xbox through Xbox One on Series X.

These very well may be the last consoles to prioritize disc-based physical media and because they are they should serve as a playable tribute to this 25+ year run of this era in our industry.

Apart from that I want to see beautiful new games that innovate in ways I can’t even imagine and sequels to treasured games that take my breath away. You know…the kinds of things games have been doing for my whole career. 🙂 #PlayForever”

Unreal Engine 5

Chella Ramanan (3-Fold Games, POC in Play)

“As a narrative designer, I saw that Unreal Engine demo and it was impressive, no doubt, but after the ‘wow’, my second thought was why that character? It was another Lara Croft-alike. A white woman with straight hair. Basically, we’re setting the same benchmarks every generation and that’s not really progress. I want to see how that lighting looks on dark skin and how all those triangles can help depict characters with textured afro hair.

I also want to see more games aspire to more than just photorealism. I think I want this at the start of every generation, but I’d love to see different aesthetics being explored. As a narrative it’ll be interesting to see how the technology allows openworld gaming to progress and the way we tell stories in those worlds.”

Danny Pena (Gamertag Radio)

“So the thing that I’m looking forward to about next-gen, it’s all about services. I’m not the type that care much about specs and graphics because yeah, it looks pretty, but is the game fun? Is it easier to play games? Is the experience a lot better because of it?

The thing I like about what Microsoft is doing and also slowly other companies are doing the same thing, is cloud gaming. Cloud gaming, Xbox Game Pass, stuff like that, that to me is going to be next-gen. I think that’s going to be the secret weapon for a company like Microsoft that are taking advantage of the new services that nobody has ever done yet, no other company.

Right now, there’s 200 plus games now available on Xbox Game Pass and it’s going to grow even more during next-gen and for cheap, and most likely, we’re going to see them bundle Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Project xCloud. You could play your games on the go, on any other device without buying a console. So I think that’s really, really big, and that’s what I’m looking forward to in next-gen.”

Bright Memory: Infinite

Kahlief Adams (Spawn On Me)

“In the upcoming months we’ll have two major companies in Sony and Microsoft vying for your hard earned dollars while ushering in the next generation of gaming consoles. Currently we have bits and pieces of information that are starting to build out individual narratives wrapped around pithy slogans that are hopefully going to describe the experiences and feelings around the systems you’ll be buying and games you’ll be playing this fall.

Lighting fast SSD’s, eye-searing graphics, immersive sound and haptic feedback that brings you closer to the game are just a few of the features touted but here is are a couple of things that I really care about when it comes to the next gen console wars that I think you should pay attention to.

BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY – With us at end of our current console generation, we as gamers have amassed an enormous library of titles in our digital and physical libraries. I’ve been gaming for over 30 years now and can’t even count how many games I’ve played over the years. What I DO know is that many of the games that I’ve collected over these decades I can no longer play due to hardware constraints. With enough trips to Ebay or Gamestop, I could gather up these gaming relics and do the work of rebuilding but I don’t have the space or patience to make that real. My hope is that with this next gen of consoles that both Xbox and PlayStation really do right by consumers and live up the word and go fully backward compatible with the Xbox Series X and PS5. Luckily, we’ve already heard some ideas around this being the case on the XSX and some potentially promising news on the Sony front. I think with our current consoles having cross-gen titles that we’ll be playing this year before the new gear comes out this will make a potentially paltry launch lineup be more palatable.

CROSS SAVES EVERYWHERE – Epic Games deserves a lot of credit here for showing the gaming industry the way. Fortnite ushered in not only cross-platform play in a real way but cross platform saves. The best model for this so far has of course been the monster battle royale game, but it has shown up in other places that really showcase why cross saves and not cross platform is the way of the future. I think of how linking accounts and having being able to pick up my progress from one platform to another just makes more and more sense due to the lifestyle and way that super enthusiast gamers play these days. My person gaming ecosystem includes three consoles and a PC. The frustration of having to determine where I play or where I start first continues to be an unreasonable thorn in the side of gamers everywhere. I can see a bright future where this doesn’t exist and a financially brilliant model in Xbox Game Pass that really puts the onus on playing together, breaking down barriers and getting us to that Dennis Dyack gaming utopia that he shared so many years ago.

CROSSING THE STREAMS – This generation has brought new forms of entertainment to all of us in the form of online game streaming. Platforms like Twitch, Mixer and Youtube have proven that we as gamers really do like to watch other’s play. That we want to engage with folks who for a variety of reasons give us joy, show us the possibilities of high level gameplay or give a space for folks to share culturally important gaming news (Listen To Spawn On Me 😊). While that space has been dominated in terms of quality and stream variety by the PC platform, consoles have also been an important part of that growth. My hope in this next generation is that content creation is given a way to flourish. The ability to run a full-featured stream from console would not only give beginner content creators a launching pad for their budding streaming careers, but it could give a much needed infusion of new diverse talent into a space that needs it. Having the ability to use overlays, alerts, fully supported webcams and audio devices could turn the streaming world on its ear and make console’s mobile streaming studios in a way. Having all platforms be available with a UI that feels built for their systems while making streaming again available at the touch of a button would be fantastic.

DISCORD FOR ALL – Lastly, the community audio giant Discord NEEDS to be integrated into the operating systems for next-gen consoles. Mark my words, the biggest “get” that someone from Xbox or Sony could snag would be this chatter powerhouse. Discord has come in and quickly become the de-facto way that people chat with each other and converse with the communities they’ve built. So much so that folks gleefully tout the numbers of members their Discord channels have. If a console maker can snatch them up and have that integrated alongside their usual chat options they will have a SIGNIFICANT advantage over the other platform

We’ll folks, there are a couple of the major spots where I think next-gen gaming can and should be going. Whomever makes the case for your dollar this holiday will have lots of work to do to fend off the competition. We as consumers and gamers need to not only ask for features that make our experiences better, but we also need to push for ones that bring us closer together so we can share these wonderful moments along side each other.”

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Alex Van Aken (OK Beast)

“As the barrier to entry of PC gaming becomes less significant year after year, and as once-cheaper home consoles now house more expensive components, the allure of the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles have changed in my eyes. Players don’t need a home console to play the vast majority of video game releases, and even first-party titles like Horizon Zero Dawn and Halo: The Master Chief Collection make the journey to PC eventually. Therefore, I’d argue that the purchase of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X later this year is one based on convenience.

Turn it on and it just works,” has become the slogan by which game consoles operate. Designed for the primary purpose of play, these turnkey devices allow users to simply grab a controller, power up their preferred game and immediately dive into the fun. However, there are few inconveniences more frustrating than grabbing a gamepad and sitting down in front of the television only to find out its battery is dead.

So, one of my biggest wishes for the upcoming wave of new home consoles is the inclusion of inductive charging, or in other words, wireless charging. Specifically, I’d love to have the ability to place a controller on top of my console and have it charge the gamepad’s battery after I’ve finished playing. Wireless charging has been adopted by countless consumer technologies over the past few years, from phones and tablets to even wearables, and I think it’s about time we see the gaming industry benefit from this major convenience.”

Thank you to all of our contributors on this feature. Let us know what you want to see out of next gen gaming in the comments below!

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