Seems like every game console release goes from the initial fervor of the announcement, to an overwhelming amount of “why do I need it?” I’ve heard it for various reasons; some have PCs, some don’t find any of the launch content compelling, and some just can not afford them. All are valid issues, but here I stand; intimidated by the complications of PC gaming and bored with the current consoles, but desperately seeking something new. Am I being irrational in wanting new consoles, or are there legitimate reasons to be enthusiastic about the coming launches?
I love indie games from the fences. My current HP laptop makes it difficult for me to stay topical. Anything outside of Frog Fractions or Papers Please is impossible, and watching my brethren consume the Stanley Parable makes me envious. I want what they have. My tastes have broadened, and the bland offerings of the currents consoles make my gag reflexes fire. To me, these consoles are more than hardware upgrades, they signify change; a facelift to the status quo. Sony’s increasing interest in bringing different and interesting experiences to their new platform is titillating. Don’t Starve, Octodad, Transistor, The Witness, and Resogun have me salivating holding a fistful of wet cash. Most of the games mentioned will not be available at launch, but like previously stated, pragmatism is abandoned in my want for new consoles. I’m buying into a promise, an idea that Sony will deliver on a unheard of amount of diversity on their new platform.
Gaikai is ambitious in that it has the potential to change the way content is delivered. It’s forward thinking, and could secure Sony’s future in the game market once the traditional idea of a consoles becomes obsolete. I’m skeptical to believe a company that has struggled with online infrastructure can accomplish the ambitious goals of Gaikai. Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic, and willing to gamble with my wallet at launch in hopes the feature comes to fruition at a later date.
I once owned a Wii U, and for two glorious months my bathroom visits were a lot more, uh, enthralling. The PS4’s Remote Play feature will combine the Vita with the Ps4 to imitate what Nintendo has done with the Wii U. Sony has demoed Remote Play with the PS4 and Vita a few times now, but I’d be naive not to believe those were staged demos in ideal conditions. Another promised feature that may, or may not work, at release. Yet, I’m excited.
My interest in Microsoft’s Xbox One has nothing to do with software. Their gimmicks rekindle the same interest that a younger me had when seeing karate action Power Rangers. There really isn’t a practical use for the gimmick, but it’s new and it does something different enough to rendered the previous iteration irrelevant. In my opinion Kinect has never quite worked right. The inaccuracy and inconsistency are duly noted, but insert liquor and quality compatriots and the Kinect goes from useless peripheral to the centerpiece of a gathering. Fun to be had with motion controls may be isolated to this generation, and the new Kinect could be destined for a spot in my closet adjacent to Rock Band drums. Albeit, I’m willing to buy an Xbox One and drink some whiskey for science.
What’s the prevailing reason why I will be in line day one to buy next-gen consoles? Their operating systems. Consoles become a permanent presence in your home after purchase. I have spent so much time navigating the menus of my consoles I can reliably get to Netflix without the TV being on the proper input. I’m anxious to see what improvements Sony and Microsoft have made to the GUIs I am so comfortable with, to see the new features they have added, and to see how I can customize the machines to suit my preferences.
I attribute a lot of the dominance of the Xbox 360 over the PlayStation 3 to the fact that Sony is a hardware company, and Microsoft is, for the most part, a software company. The ease-of-use of the Xbox 360’s OS made the PlayStation 3’s XMB look draconian in comparison. A new generation of consoles is a reset. Sony has had eight years to improve the XMB, and to siphon features from the competition. Microsoft isn’t falling asleep at the wheel. Their new OS is touting snap features that seem to be bringing multi-tasking to consoles for the first time. The Kinect also has applications outside of dancing games. Microsoft is using the Kinect as the crux of the Xbox One’s operating system.
Controllers are intimidating to those who don’t regularly use, and motion is intuitive. Microsoft has never hidden their desire to be number one in the living room; the name of the console even reflects that sentiment. Kinect is the key to that strategy. While I don’t personally believe that waving my hand in front of a television will be as fast, or efficient as using a remote it can be less intimidating. Microsoft’s commitment to broaden their appeal is commendable. Assumptions have been made that the large part of the one-hundred dollar price gap between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 is due to the Kinect, and I’ve heard mixed impressions of the new Kinect from various sources, but, “what if,” always comes to my mind. I think back to when they bundled a headset with the Xbox 360 and the pay-off of that gamble, and I can’t help but be optimistic about the possibilities of the new Kinect. I just want to see if it works for myself.
Both companies have made considerable design improvements to their controllers. Although, I haven’t had hands on with either of them they both seem to fix issues, or in Microsoft’s case improve on what wasn’t broken. The touch-pad on the DualShock 4 interests me the most. I’m curious to see if Sony has some how incorporated the intuitiveness of touch into their GUI. Similarly, I wonder if developers will use the feature and quickly abandon it like Six Axis. The Xbox One controller trigger rumble is also an interesting feature, which has the ability to contextualize certain game-play mechanics through vibrations. I’ll be the first to say vibration in triggers is the epitome of gimmicky, but it still can’t curb my excitement for the feature.
Most of the things that excite me about new game consoles have nothing to do with games. I’m an irrational sheep that needs the new now. I understand the rationale of waiting, but I have a personality flaw. I’m impatient, and easily excitable. The combination is deadly, and may lead to my inevitable economic demise. For now, I’ll enjoy what games I can get a launch, and try to make the most of my frivolous pre-order.