Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Best thing about the next gen
GameCentral readers discuss the games and features they’ve been most impressed by when it comes to the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic asked what you think has been the highlight of the next generation launches and what gives you the most encouragement for the future of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
The majority of letters were about the PlayStation 5, with the DualSense and the graphics of the launch games coming in for particular praise. Although it was nice to see that the majority were generally positive about most things so far.
As one of the lucky few to get a PlayStation 5 on release day the superfast loading and 60fps are both excellent features.
However, the most impressive thing for me is the DualSense controller. The biggest thing I always miss from not having an Xbox anymore is the excellent joypad. Not anymore however, as the new PlayStation joypad actually feels a lot more like an Xbox One with the added bonus of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
Fantastic but ugly
I honestly cannot fathom how badly Microsoft have messed up the launch of the new Xbox consoles. No new games is absolutely ludicrous! Can you imagine telling someone that a few years back!? Now, it appears that even cross-gen games are running better on the lower spec PlayStation 5. Again, when part of your marketing is to highlight that your console is the most powerful you really need to work with developers to ensure that it runs best on your system.
I think the PlayStation 5 is incredibly ugly, but Demon’s Souls looks fantastic, and the DualSense sounds like it’s a huge step forward, so fair play to Sony.
The most impressed I’ve been so far is the graphics in Demon’s Souls. They are seriously amazing and much better than I was expecting (I always hope but as a veteran of numerous console launches I know it rarely pans out). The detail and solidity of it all is outstanding. I know it’s a remake but that just means the game design and controls are already solid. They maps may have already been designed but the way they’ve been brought to life two generations later is incredibly in my opinion.
And this just means that things later in the generation should be several degrees better. That blows my mind (can’t wait to see Elden Ring) and is as optimistic as I’ve ever felt right at the beginning of a new console launch. So well done Sony, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
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Questionable indie stuff
I haven’t got a PlayStation 5 yet so the only thing I’ve been able to do is watch official and unofficial videos. But I’d say I’ve been pretty impressed by most of it. Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls both look great in the streams I’ve been watching and the streamers playing them all seem to think the DualSense is really good. In fact, I haven’t read or heard a thing said against it anywhere, which is pretty good going.
I’ve also been impressed by Sony’s only trailers. I know they have a reputation for announcing things too early but they certainly do know how to cut a good montage. I’m interested in most of the stuff they announced in the original reveal, even though a lot of it will probably turn out to be questionable indie stuff.
Overall though it’s convinced me I want one, now it’s just a case of finding the money and having it in stock.
I said to myself that I wouldn’t pre-order a PlayStation 5. I’ve no real need for one, with most games being cross-gen, and I don’t trust Sony to get the hardware right the first time. And I don’t just mean software crashes and defective units. That’s just standard early adoption perils. I mean genuine design flaws that get fixed in later versions, e.g. jet engine PS4 Pros and PlayStation VRs that don’t allow HDR pass-through.
So, naturally, I got caught up in the launch hype and took delivery of a brand new PlayStation 5 last week. And, so far, it’s been excellent! Whisper quiet and the fast load times are a revelation! Especially with the number of times I’ve died in Demon’s Souls! The DualSense too has been far better than I expected, with Astro’s Playroom a perfect game to show off the features.
Also, it’s nice to see so many games targeting 60fps, even some of the backwards compatible games such as Days Gone and Ghost Of Tsushima. Improves them no end. Haven’t played anything with ray-tracing yet, so unfortunately can’t comment on that.
Not everything has been perfect though. I’ve experienced a few software crashes, although nothing too serious, and I’m not too fond of the user interface. It’s certainly snappier but the design seems a step back from the PlayStation 4 version, with no sign of folders or custom themes. The integrated store, whilst again being faster, seems to be missing sections that are available on PlayStation 4. Can I really not view the latest discounts?
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with no feelings of buyer’s remorse. It genuinely does feel like a generational improvement over the PlayStation 4. And the surprising quality of the launch titles bodes really well for the upcoming releases in 2021.
I know GC has tried to make this Hot Topic non-partisan but let’s face it, nobody’s going to be enthusing over the Xbox Series X are they? ‘Wow, I love how Assassin’s Creed Valhalla doesn’t run as well as it does on the PlayStation 5!’
But I’ll stick up for Microsoft’s machine (I don’t own either yet) and say that I’m really looking forward to The Medium. Its use of the SSD seems really innovative and the sort of idea I hope we’d see more of by now. Shame it’s been delayed into next year but then that’s the Xbox Series X launch in a nutshell.
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It’s a bit of a high level answer but the thing that’s impressed me most about next gen is kind of the same thing that’s impressed me most about Nintendo since launching the Switch and that’s how the big players finally seem to be doing exactly the things I’d want them to do.
I never owned a PlayStation 3 and even after the PlayStation 4 launched the fact that I’d missed Demon’s Souls and a whole bunch of other exclusives did make me consider getting one but it just made more sense to get its successor and hope I’d somehow be able to play most of those games.
That hope was rewarded in the PlayStation 4 era, of course, save for that one obvious exception. So now that Demon’s Souls has not only been fully brought up to date but also looks to be one of the best games of 2020 and the best showcase for the PlayStation 5, I don’t think I could’ve realistically asked for a better start to the generation.
Microsoft has yet to start delivering on its next gen promises in any meaningful way but it’s clear they’re at least trying to build a first party talent pool that makes them more relevant this time, which, again, is exactly what I’d want from them. While the PlayStation 5 seems to be a runaway success initially, the fact that I’d consider getting a Series S or X in the coming years because we might actually see some killer apps is already an advantage over Xbox One.
Despite how the narrative is often over-simplified by those who visualise the console market as an athletics podium, I don’t see Sony’s success as inversely proportional to Microsoft’s and I can see the new Xboxes doing Xbox 360 numbers or better in the end.
As I suggest, it’s reminiscent of Nintendo finally doing what I’ve wanted them to do for years, in that case by committing fully – among other things – to a Zelda game that dares to depart from an increasingly worn template and a 3D Mario game that gets back to the non-linear exploration and experimentation-based gameplay it left after Super Mario Sunshine.
It’s a bit self-centred but it feels like all these businesses are finally trying their best to appeal directly to me after spending so much time running after others, and how could any gamer not be happy with that?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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