consoles

The sad truth about Last-Gen

There is a sad truth for gamers approaching on the horizon. One that many have faced before, and others are facing for the first time. Last generation consoles are being left behind, and like it or not there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it.

Moving forward is a fact of life in the world of gaming. New engines, new releases and new expansions all build the experience that our gaming platforms deliver us. With PCs, the turnover of new hardware is frequent and swift so there is no heavy toll on the consumer, despite a bit of buyer’s remorse.  The thing about consoles, however, is the fact that the turnover is much slower. Many people built a lot of fond memories with their consoles that were not available with PCs years ago and this is what makes the reality of a shift to new generation gaming so depressing.

The days of sitting around with four buddies playing Halo 3 on your couch are over, with even the Master Chief Collection only offering two-player couch co-op. With backward compatibility apparently being a beast to be feared rather than cultivated, and local co-op being a ridiculous and foreign concept, the transition to next-gen has been made rough. On top of that, the drought of no real releases that lasted nearly a year, plaguing “next gen” consoles after release had even devout fans turning away.

There is a more glaring issue at hand that stands testament to the change many may not be ready for. In October, the developers of Dying Light, Techland, announced that they would not be releasing their game on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

“Much of this ‘next-gen feel’ is tightly connected to the technological side of Dying Light … For instance, up to 200,000 objects can be displayed in the game at once. Add to this our use of realistic, physics-based lighting technology and you really start to push the next-gen systems to the limits. Features like these along with our core gameplay pillars — such as the player-empowering Natural Movement, threefold character development system, and vast open world — are all an inherent part of how Dying Light plays. However, combining all of these into one fluid experience is only possible on technologically advanced platforms,” said the studio on its Facebook page.

This announcement set the mark for leaving last-gen behind and Techland wasn’t necessarily alone. Consumers have been repeatedly disappointed over the past few months as hot titles, like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Dragon Age: Inquisition, received excellent releases on next-gen, but sub-par releases on last-gen.

The problem here is created from a collection of things. First of which, there is the simple truth that games are being developed for next-gen hardware first, and last-gen second, meaning that the priority is put on hardware that can withstand more than its predecessors. This leads to a lot of features and items that put a strain on newer consoles, and an even greater one on older consoles.

Secondly, there is the unfortunate presence of apathy. Not blatantly that developers do not care about last-gen anymore, but the fact that there are gaps being created in quality assurance testing and this has a huge effect on the games that are being released.

Those at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry did extensive testing on Shadow of Mordor specifically, and found such a lack of effort put in that the game was nearly unplayable. Low framerates and rough texturing as well as glitches and clipping errors that were not seen in the next-gen releases once more hammer the sad truth.

“Inevitably, it falls on each developer to make the best call when weighing the viability of these last-gen versions. The increasing need to be technically progressive on PS4 and Xbox One – to truly show off their mettle going forward – also stands to make each port to last-gen a greater challenge,” Thomas Morgan notes in the article highlighting the results of this testing.

The thing is, Morgan is right, as it is up to the developers to determine if a game is even worth releasing. And it becomes a choice that will, at this rate, either cut off those hanging on to last gen, or drag them further into a falling generation and the neglect that is paired with it.

For those who are hanging on, who knows how long that will truly last.