What do we really expect from the next-gen?

What do we really expect from the next-gen?

"The next-gen is here". How long has it been since we first opened an article using this phrase? Well, it's been about seven months now, and we know it well, it's a negligible time frame compared to the duration of a videogame generation.

You can't expect who knows what from the developers, after all the new machines are as soon as they come out, some are not even on the shelves, so it is more than legitimate to justify the various cross-gen publications or the production of low-key titles.

One wonders, however, when did we start to think in this way, considering that a soft transition is the only possible solution.

It certainly did not happen with the first contact with the Super-NES bins. It did not happen following the leap made by the Sony PlayStation CD-ROMs. It didn't even happen with the minidisks of the good old GameCube, much less with the introduction of the very high PlayStation 2 boxart. And it didn't even happen when Oblivion debuted on Xbox 360, nor by touching the Nintendo Wii nunchuks.

To tell the truth, it happened only once, during the debut of the eighth generation of consoles. Yes, we are aware of it, we are approaching the technological asymptote and it is now impossible to witness impactful generational leaps as in the past, and it is precisely for this reason that the time has come to work on the scale of ideas.

Returnal has the enormous virtue of bringing an indie undergrowth concept to the triple A market, taking on a huge risk. Let's rewind the tape. The next-gen is here, yet we're dealing with titles that often next-gen have elements such as resolution, framerate, loading times or texture quality. You've often asked us this lately: "So what do you really expect from the next-gen?"

It's a million dollar question, in fact, with the times running out of millions it's worth at least five hundred. We would tell you that we want to experience innovation first hand, but there would be no more vague answer than this. We would tell you that we often think back to the words of David Perry, when he said that he dreamed of being in front of an AI so refined as to be indistinguishable from a human being, but it would be a simple chat.

Let's move on to the facts, therefore. Among the very few courageous titles that have chosen to debut only for "next-gen" is Returnal by Housemarque, a product that we have chosen to reward practically without reservation in our review. And among the many qualities that the work carries with it, its particular nature as a roguelite AAA stands out without a doubt.

Returnal adopts a formula explored and refined by the incessant research of independent undergrowth to apply it to the he orbit of large investments, telling its story in a transversal way at least and taking a considerable deviation from the rails of the traditional market. Housemarque's video game, therefore, is not simply the first AAA roguelite, but it is also one of the first video games that can be defined as next-gen.

The next-gen is not in the machines, it is in the ideas. And the indie market, with games like Outer Wilds, has been in the next-gen of ideas for years. The independent market is an extremely difficult entity to tell the general video game audience; there are many fans who are unable to overcome the obstacle of graphic obsolescence or that of the communicative dimension, stopping at the cover and reading, mistakenly, productions that are protected and rewarded beyond measure by critics.

The secret of Pulcinella is that the AAA video game market has become a very expensive world in terms of economic and human resources, as well as extremely risky. Investments pay off only in the very long term, and it is now well known that problems of all kinds can emerge in the development phase. For this reason, the most famous sagas arrive close to the seventh chapter without upsetting their formula, focusing on well-established mechanics and anchoring themselves to a more defined style than ever.

In the meantime, behind the scenes, the Hades are born , Disco Elysium, Outer Wilds, Divinity: Original Sin 2, often finding funding directly from the public, limiting expenses to a minimum and treating every single facet of their original creative identity with extreme care.

And it is exactly what we want to see from the next-gen, something that ironically already exists: a courageous, different market, willing to take risks in pursuing ideas that often and willingly do not align with the dominant creative thinking. Put simply, we want the next-gen of ideas. Housemarque tried it, Sony believed it, and PlayStation 5 was able to usher in the ninth generation with an excellent project that is finally far from the classic action or yet another open-world.

In some ways Red Dead Redemption 2 is a next-gen creative video game released on old-gen. Among the next next-gen titles that are preparing to color the new hardware there is one that we often tend to forget, namely Deathloop by Arkane Studios. And Deathloop is the son of an inspiration very similar to the one that guided the hand of Housemarque: Arkane has in fact assembled a formula close to that encountered in Outer Wilds by Mobius Digital to compose, also in this case, an exclusively next- gen which stands out for its originality in the first-tier market.

Let it be clear that the industry still needs blockbusters, and celebrating the thrust of the independent imagination, our goal is absolutely not to subtract merits from works like Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Last of Us Part 2, which were able to reach the state of the art in the course of the eighth generation. On the other hand, these are titles that to an inexperienced eye might seem anchored to their respective genre traditions, but which, to the test of facts, wear mechanical, philosophical, narrative, recitative and technical fabrics that know no comparative in the medium.

Alongside them, on the other hand, there is an immense tangle of productions that have grown in symbiosis with the dogmas developed over the course of the seventh generation, without taking tangential paths or questioning their roots. It could be argued that if a formula works there is no need to change it, right? Well, the fact is that the competition in the meantime goes on, some brands evolve, some publishers experiment, and several well-tried recipes end up aging prematurely.

The next-gen of video games comes from characters like Miyazaki, who have the courage to dare to create, even unintentionally, unprecedented innovations. It takes a lot to surprise a player by taking advantage of open-world mechanics after they have tested the emerging gameplay and chemical engine of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You want to emotionally strike an enthusiast by focusing on the script following the powerful journey of Ellie and Abby. And how do you leave someone speechless with a fantasy setting after they have been lost for hundreds of hours exploring the mountains of Skyrim?

Ultimately this is the original sin of any new generation, or the fact that there have been many others before her: the park of works grows exponentially, setting more and more milestones along the way. And of course, this means that "truly" next-gen titles can arrive at any time, often and willingly at the end of the generation, but this is certainly a product of the immense attention that is paid to the GPU.

We have often discussed the shift of resources towards the technical sector, criticizing a process now linked to a double thread with resolution and framerate, with the creation of textures that take years to be filed, subtracting an incalculable amount of time to search for features forgettable like 8K. And when 8K is a reality within everyone's reach and every video game will be splendid to look at, what will happen? It will happen that we will be point and head again.

Most Read Now

E3 2021, Xbox and Valve have a joint bombshell announcement?

A surprise for the entire industry.

PS5 is nowhere to be found and fans let off steam on Twitter! # NoPS5 goes on trend

No improvement on the horizon?

Death's Door: the release date of Devolver Digital's delightful action RPG will be announced at E3 event

From the developers of the great Titan Souls.

Not just graphics or mechanics: the stories and the way they are told also matter. The next-gen, today, should not start from an image, but from an idea. From rooms like the one in which, in 2004, characters like Allen Adham, Jeff Kaplan, Sam Didier and Chris Metzen put the crazy concept of World of Warcraft on paper. From desires like that of Hidetaka Miyazaki, who wanted to go back to the origins of the hardcore video game with the great new bet of Demon's Souls. From risks like the one assumed by Patrice Desilets and Jade Raymond when they put together a certain political fictional title set in the Third Crusade.

The next-gen connotation, for a video game, should not derive from the machine it runs on, but on alien concepts, never-before-seen mechanics, courageous stories, creative flashes and break with the past. It's difficult? Of course it is difficult, and today it is also very dangerous. But that's what we'd like to see from the next-gen, and come to think of it, it's nothing different from what we've seen over the past forty years.

Powered by Blogger.