Friday, November 8, 2013

Analyzing the Xbox One and Predicting the Next Gen

It's no surprise that the Xbox One has faced some stark criticism since it's unveiling in May. Since then we've learned a lot about the console, what it does, and what it can do. That has either pushed fans away or brought them back in. Let's look at the more recent problems facing the system.


The big talk around the internet now is a little problem known unofficially as "Resolutiongate." Turns out that games that are currently running at 1080p on the PS4 are only running at 720p on the Xbox One. As a console gamer I find this whole thing beyond hilarious. We've known for several years now that you can build a PC for less than a new console and get better resolution BEYOND 1080p on games natively on that platform. Since when did resolution become a console gaming problem. It's also not that the Xbox One can't run at 1080p. Forza 5 is running at native 1080p and 60 fps, it's the complexity of the hardware. The Xbox One, much like the PS3 before it, is harder to develop for and it'll be a while before we see the full potential of either console. I'll make a bet right now that games one or two years down the line will be running at 1080p on both systems. Though, to further illustrate my point, I'd like to point out the last generation of consoles.

The original Xbox was running at a higher resolution than the PlayStation 2, and it was even able to achieve 720x1080 when upscaled. Seriously, play an original Xbox game on an HDTV. The graphics are obviously dated, but it looks great. The PS2, however, could not reach the max resolution the original Xbox could. Do we remember which system won that console generation? I don't even think I need to tell you, but it's the internet so I might as well: Yes. The PlayStation 2 was the clear winner of the last generation.

In fact ... let's go even further. 

Between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, what happened last generation? The PlayStation 3 could achieve 1080p on *some* games where the 360 could not. In fact, Halo 3; the KILLER APP for the Xbox 360 didn't even run at native 720p (fun fact), but that didn't really seem to matter. The Xbox 360 was in the lead almost all of the current generation and only recently did the PS3 outsell 360 consoles, likely to The Last of Us and GTA V console bundles. 

The SNES and the Genesis. The Genesis outperformed the SNES in almost every way, yet the Super Nintendo won by a landslide. 

What does this tell us? The power behind consoles, be it in their graphical fidelity or the native resolution of it's games, don't determine the better console. It's the games. The PlayStation 2 had Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and so on. The Xbox 360 had Halo, Gears, and the support of independent developers like The Behemoth and Twisted Pixel, not to mention exclusive Valve titles. The games determine the king. Again, if your main reason for buying a next generation console is for the resolution, get a PC. Seriously. It's cheaper. 


What defines the next generation if it's not resolution? There are three things in my opinion that define the next generation. ONE: It offers experiences not available and not possible on the previous generation. TWO: It offers better looking games and richer worlds. THREE: The destruction of an annoyance that plagued the previous generation. Let's go over these one by one and why both the PS4 and Xbox One are beyond deserving of the next generation label despite the hilariously overblown Resolutiongate. 


Both the Xbox One and PS4 accomplish this. The PlayStation 4 has integrated a touch pad into it's controller which will likely add to the experience of playing games, especially if the games utilize it in a way that's unique. This isn't something that was available and I'd probably even say wasn't possible in the last generation. The Xbox One utilizes not only new impulse triggers but a Kinect camera that actually seems like it could add some great depth to next generation games without becoming intrusive. No absurd gesture controls that are tacked on to games like in the last generation, but a more natural use like pushing zombies off in Dead Rising 3. Both PS4 and Xbox One offer game DVR which was straight up IMPOSSIBLE in the last generation. Though the Xbox One seems to be pushing it a bit further what with having an HDMI In port and the Kinect 2.0 having it's own processor, both consoles are pushing the limits to what was available last time around.


Loading ... Loading ... Loading

The loading screen menace seems like it's exhaled it's final breath this generation. The next generation promises to see the end of the loading screen and I won't miss it. It remains to be seen wether or not developers will follow up on that promise, but Dead Rising 3 and a few other next gen titles have claimed to have abolished loading screens, but this comes back to a point I made earlier.


I'm pretty good at making predictions when it comes to the games industry (not to brag) so I'll offer a few predictions today and I'll check back to see if they were indeed accurate, which I'm pretty confident they will be. Three predictions.

Prediction I
The PlayStation 4, much like the Xbox 360 before it, will attract the most third party developer support. The Xbox One ports of multiplatform games will be slightly inferior on the Xbox One as they were on PS3 last time. However, since the hardware for both consoles is exponentially better than last generation, the lead that PlayStation 4 has will last (I'm guessing) until 2015.

Prediction II
First party developers will take the helm on the Xbox One front, much like Naughty Dog, Media Molecule, and SuckerPunch did with the PlayStation 3. We will see many new IPs on Xbox One due to the lesser extent of third party support on the platform.

Prediction III
I honestly think the Xbox One will surprise us. Maybe not immediately. Maybe not tomorrow. But at some point, I think the Xbox One will have something that will blow peoples minds. 

Prediction III is a vague one, I know. We'll see. 

1 comment:

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