Let's Talk: This console gen is the best yet
Let's Talk is a mixed audio and written series about talking -- that much is clear. I talk about specific games, the impact a game can have on the community, about recent events, or how past events have shaped what is now. Read the article first or watch the video -- it's up to you, but without further ado, Let's Talk about:
This console generation being the best console generation
We are now in the 8th generation of consoles, it started when the Wii U was released WAY back towards the end of 2012, with the PS4 and Xbox One releasing towards the end of 2014. Unfortunately for Nintendo, they rushed out the gate almost unprepared, with some marketing which didn't exactly tell you what the thing was. Since then, they have done some interesting things on that little device.
As for Sony and Microsoft, their consoles are coming up to the 2 year old mark, and boy the last 2 years has been full of ups and downs. With Microsoft's lackluster unveiling -- after which Phil Spencer did a good job with turning everything around -- and Sony being very snide and childish about that. Now the waters have settled, and the consoles are each doing very interesting things, the PS4 is doing most of this locally, where the Xbox One is doing cooler things with the Microsoft network.
But what makes this the best console generation yet?
Wii U - Nintendo is 'growing up'
The Wii U was announced to everyone's confusion. "What was it?" This was the biggest question on everyone's lips. This failure in basic marketing lead to the Wii U not selling at first, but after a few years it started picking up. The multi screen system is an awesome idea, which I think even caused Sony to implement it into the Vita and PS3 while later making it more robust in the PS4. With the Wii U it allowed for some really cool usage. It's true, it hasn't been used to real success, but it's Nintendo bringing both the power of the home console with the portability of the handheld.
The best thing Nintendo did this generation was actually bring Bayonetta 2 to the console. This is the biggest step Nintendo has made yet, it shows them growing up. The perceived notion that Nintendo consoles are 'only for kids' is now dashed, Bayonetta is not a kids game, and this is the biggest step Nintendo have made yet. Here's to hoping that the NX will bring the power of just above a high end tablet, and the full portability of a handheld console.
Xbox One - Microsoft has crossed
Unlike Nintendo, Microsoft had a very focused marketing strategy, unfortunately it sparked a lot of controversy. When Phil Spencer took the reins of Head of Xbox, he turned the whole thing around, and built the Xbox One into a great console.
Xbox Play Anywhere, and Cross Play, may not be the biggest selling points for the console itself, but they are great selling points for Microsoft and a massive step forward for the industry. Sony have had the Cross Buy system for some time, but that was within their own ecosystem of consoles (PS3/4, and Vita). Microsoft have done it between the Xbox One and PC, which may finally bring an end to the 'fight' between PC and console players.
One of the other most impressive things Microsoft have done is with their cloud system, while we have yet to see what it can really do with the Crackdown reboot, its proof of concept in Forza Drivatars -- it's still a terrible name -- is very promising. Microsoft have taken their expensive tech background in the business sectors with their cloud systems and have brought that knowledge into the gaming sector, this represents a massive change in how Microsoft views their consoles and gamers as a whole. For that alone, Microsoft have done better than in the previous generations of consoles.
PS4 - "Greatness Awaits" is a terrible slogan
The PS4 hit the ground running. Yes, it's cliché to say, but it's true. Sony hit the ball out the park with it's marketing, no matter how childish some of it was. Greatness does not await the PS4, with games like Bloodborne, and Uncharted 4, it's possibly the least confident slogan I've seen yet. But Sony have also got VR, built for the PlayStation, and that alone means Sony is ahead in the hardware front -- on consoles, PC master race is of course ahead.
Sony have really pulled it out the bag -- I will use the clichés because, why not? -- with the PSN system. While I'm not for charging for an online system, look at Steam and how stable and fast it is for free, if it means that we don't get a repeat of the PS3 PSN then I guess it's acceptable. Sony have really beefed up the system and made it very robust, it's now as fast and stable as Xbox Live.
When it comes to indie games, you simply cannot ignore them anymore. And Sony has done an excellent job accepting indies onto their system, with Microsoft having a rocky start on their ID@Xbox system they have finally started embracing indie games. With some of the best experiences in gaming like Firewatch, Abzu, Superhot, or even Journey (which yes was a port from the PS3) both Sony and Microsoft have done a very good job incorporating indie into their console game lineup. Good job guys!
That is why this generation has kicked arse so far!
I'm not going to kid myself and say there aren't issues, there sure as well are, with dodgy DLC practices, microtransactions in full prices games (dubbed by Jim Sterling as Fee to Pay games), unfinished games being released as fully priced games, and a host of other issues with how large publishers treat their consumers, there is some way to go. But the online systems, the dedication to supporting indie games, the breadth of experiences between the consoles, and above all the games, this generation started slowly but has finally proven that new can mean better.