We don't need a PS4k or Xbox One.Five
The PS4.5, or PS4k, is back in the news with another rumour. This time it is in the form of a codename: "Neo" -- hence the terrible pun of a header image. I'm Neo in this case, and Sony is Agent Smith. Hardware specs for "Neo" have also been rumoured at being slightly higher than the current PS4. But this begs the question, why is it needed? And why is it the worst idea since not having sliced bread?
It's about money, not about providing a better experience
The biggest, and foremost reason for an 8.5th generation being terrible is that it's just for the money. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has said he doesn't really like the idea of an Xbox One.Five -- this is from the head of Xbox representing a console that sold less than the PS4. With Sony wanting to make a PS4.5, all this screams to me is that they want more money. Instead of selling just one console, they can sell two.
Even if the idea is to have full parity of software between the two consoles, playing a competitive game online means that someone playing at 1080p60 has an advantage over someone at 720p30. A higher frame rate means there is less input lag, and the higher resolution means the image is clearer and easier to see. That simply means the experience of the game is compromised, not improved.
"Neo" could mean a VR focused console
Pictured above, on the right, is the processing unit of the PS VR headset. This is supposed to only add VR specific features like a VR desktop, 3D audio, and other features the main console doesn't have. It is not in anyway an upgrade to the PS4 for either CPU or GPU. That begs the question, if the PS4 can already play VR games at 120FPS, why is more power needed? The answer is simply, it's not. If you don't need more power, if you don't need to run at a higher resolution, there is simply no need for a new console. If something works, and it does work, you do not need more.
Screams of futility...
...can be heard from the offices of Sony. They know that their hardware is underperforming and outdated. It's sluggish, and underpowered, but that's ok. The Nintendo Wii and WiiU prove you don't need all of the power in the world. Mario Kart 8 runs at 1080p60, and the WiiU is a literal potato -- a lot of tablets are more powerful than it. But again, that's perfectly OK. Dirt Rally is proof that both the Xbox One and PS4, when being properly optimised for, can run at a smooth 1080p60 constantly. Consoles are not graphical powerhouses, and they shouldn't want to be either. It's never about the graphics anyway. It's about getting into games quickly, and those games running smoothly. All that counts at the end of the day is, did you have fun, or was it a good experience? Graphics are not needed for either of those. Halo 2: Anniversary only ran at 900p -- I say only though it's really not far off from 1080p. Due to it toalso running at a very smooth 60FPS, you didn't notice the slightly lower resolution, mostly because it's still a very high resolution. Halo 2: Anniversary looks stunning, and that wouldn't change by adding an extra 180 vertical pixels.
How much better looking do you want Bloodborne, or The Order: 1886? Both are beautiful looking games in their own right, and both run very well. Turning the graphics down a bit, they would still look phenomenal. With the added bonus of being able to run at 60FPS, it's ok to not have the best graphics in everything ever.
Graphics do not need to be maxed out anymore. Games look amazing enough for us to stop worrying about how they look. With game engines like Unreal 4, you can make great looking games very easily.While they won't be the best looking games, they will still look better than the average game anyway.
Look how amazing The Order: 1886 looks, but it doesn't need to. It went for graphics before everything, and it lost out big time.
Instead of PS4.5 can we see less focus on the best graphics?
I do love a good looking game, and there is definitely room for games that blow you away graphically, but can these become as scarce as a hen's teeth? Well slightly less rare than that, but it seems like they are trying to become a dime a dozen.
Instead of Sony, or Microsoft, trying to sell us another expensive piece of hardware, why not just bring the graphical expectations down a bit and focus on getting things running as smoothly as possible? This would benefit gamers more in the long run and improve overall experiences within the games. Graphics are already at the point where the returns far outway the cost, so can we all just be happy with how amazing almost all games look now?