The rumor mill has been heating up once again over the arrival of the next console generation. Whether this round was kick-started by inside sources at one of Sony's first-party developers or by the Xbox 720 banners in that fighting robot movie, people can't seem to stop talking about it. Of course, all this speculation has got me thinking about the sort of potential another console generation would have, which eventually brought me to my own personal desires for next-gen gaming. Here's what I'm hoping for.
The obvious thing the next generation needs to provide is better visual quality. Now, some people are starting to say that console graphics have come as far as they possibly can, since they're already cranking out images at 1080p. But these people are wrong. PCs are already light years ahead of consoles in the graphics department. Just look at Crysis. This game came out four years ago, and it still had to be greatly trimmed down for our HD consoles to even be able to run the game. Another example, Battlefield 3. There's a reason EA's only releasing screenshots of the PC version.
Now, what these poor misinformed souls were probably trying to say is that fidelity can't be improved upon. A 1080p image doesn't need to be compressed or trimmed or "squeezed" for a 1080p screen. However, what our HD consoles lack is the processing power to render these images in the first place. What we need from the next generation of consoles is higher polygon counts, higher-res textures, the ability to display more details on the screen at once, and greater draw distances.
No More Texture Pop-In
This is an extension of better graphics, but another thing the next generation needs to deliver is the end of texture pop-in. You know, that annoying low-res image that loads immediately, followed a half second later by the high-res version, making it look like you maybe forgot to put on your glasses and then popped them on real quick. Now, this is something I sort of thought would have been eliminated by the end of this current generation, but I was wrong. There are examples of pretty bad texture pop-in in games as recent as Brink and even RAGE. It's hard to get immersed in a world where you can see textures loading in around you.
During the current generation, we've worked very hard to amass absurdly high Gamerscores and massive Trophy collections. No one wants to see that vanish after buying a next-gen console. So the PS4 and Xbox 720 (or whatever they will be called) need to come with an option to import your data from the old system. Perhaps these could even sync up somehow so you could earn Trophies on both the PS3 and PS4—or Achievements on Xbox 360 and 720—interchangeably; as in, you could continue to earn PS3 Trophies after already importing the data to your PS4, and those Trophies would still count toward your PS4 Trophy collection.
One of the cool things about the early models of the PS3 was that they allowed users to play their PS2 games. Up until recently, all models of the Wii allowed players to play GameCube games; now we're being told that the Wii U will be able to play Wii games. Even the Xbox 360 had a limited amount of Xbox games that worked on the new console. To expand this, The PS3 now offers PSOne games on the PlayStation Network, and we're starting to see some downloadable PS2 games now. The Wii has its Virtual Console, which has a collection of NES, SNES, and N64 games (and even games for non-Nintendo platforms of old.)
So many gamers love their nostalgic trips back to a simpler time in gaming, and allowing them to play old games on new systems makes them happy. And a happy fan base is never a bad thing.
Motion Controls in the Box or Not at All
Now, as much as I feel motion controls have worn out their welcome, they aren't going to go away any time soon. So as long as next-gen consoles are going to have motion controls anyway, they need to come with those controllers in the box in the first place, like the Wii did. Part of the problem with motion controlled games on non-Wii consoles is that because the motion controls aren't included with every system sold, the potential buyer base for those games is lower. This makes the development risk/reward factor more weighted toward risk, and developers don't want to take a chance at something that isn't a sure thing. And this means that Wii Sports and WarioWare will be copied over and over and over.
But every once in a while, a quality motion control game actually does come out. For example, I was pretty set on buying the PS3 remake of No More Heroes when it first launched, but I was held back by the fact that I'd have to spend almost $100 on a PlayStation Move. If the move was boxed in with the PS3 in the first place, I would probably be playing that right now instead of writing this article.
The bottom line: if you're going to have motion controls as part of your console, include them in the box. Don't weaken your potential buyer base by making them buy a peripheral they are probably on the fence about in the first place. Give them the hardware for free, then wow them with must-buy software.
The Same PlayStation Controller We've Always Had
Now, as strange as this may seem, one of the things on my wish list is that the PS4 continues to use the same controller design as the PS3. This design goes back to the PSOne era, and has only had a few minor tweaks to it since. It's really the perfect controller. Now, I don't feel this way about the Xbox 360 controller, but the 360 controller and I don't exactly have a decade-and-a-half history together. I don't think it's too much to ask for PlayStation to continue doing what they've always done.
By Josh Wirtanen
CCC Editor / Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*