The next generation of consoles is fast approaching and if you read the writing on the wall, it’ll probably happen in the next couple of years. Sony has been doing some really odd things such as pulling out from E3 2019 and not doing PSX 2018 which can only mean that they’re gearing up for something big. Xbox has been dropping some hints about their next console, but nothing substantial has been revealed just yet. Everything is tucked away neatly behind the curtain, but considering we’re in the fifth year of the current console lifespan, the future is coming whether we like it or not.
Considering all we know from the current generation, what would be the key features we hope to see with the next round of consoles? Some might be simple while some might be a little more hopeful, but here’s my personal wishlist for the next generation.
A while ago I wrote an exhaustive piece about backwards compatibility in the next generation and I still stand behind everything I said. Our current games need to be playable on the next generation and this includes both disc versions and digital versions. If this doesn’t happen, we’ll be in for another round of remasters and ports that have been a constant during this generation. It’ll be easier for Sony and Microsoft to implement this considering the more streamlined hardware compared to the last generation.
We probably don’t have to worry about Microsoft since they’ve been pushing their “one place for everything” ecosystem pretty hard in the last few years. Sony, on the other hand, might have some problems considering their recent self-imposed isolation and walled garden approach, but I surely believe it would be in their best interest to have backwards compatibility on their next console. If not, I have my pitchfork ready
More hard drive space
Please, for the love of Gordon Freeman, 500 GB and even 1 TB is just not enough these days for the games we’re getting. Red Dead Redemption 2 was a whopping 100 GB and even came on two discs and if you still had a launch day console, more than a fifth of your space would be claimed by just one game. I have a 1 TB PS4 Pro and I filled up an entire 2 TB external hard drive and made a significant dent in the local storage already. Games will be getting much larger in the next generation considering it’s going to be 4K or nothing and just the sheer volume of games gets larger by the year.
If we can be massively hopeful, a move to an SSD would be absolutely fantastic and considering that they’re getting much less expensive these days, it is definitely a possibility. Hard drive speeds are pitiful compared to a good SSD and even just having the system OS on a separate SSD would be wonderful. There are also hybrid drives out there that deliver SSD-like performance on a high capacity drive for a fraction of the price. 2 TB would the absolute minimum that I would be comfortable with, but obviously the more the better.
Better launch titles
The launch titles for the current generation were rather lukewarm. Sony had Killzone: Shadow Fall which was just a pretty shooter that showed off some visuals and Knack, the most beloved game in the world. Xbox had Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3. Woo. Most of the other games were just titles we’ve seen in the previous generation already. You could tell with the majority of these games that things were rushed in order to meet the deadline for the launch and we were forced to wait quite a while before things started picking up steam.
I don’t expect 10/10 games for the new consoles’ launch, but having some titles that were in the incubator for a little longer would be great. Microsoft acquired so many new studios recently that I’m suspicious that they’re developing a star-studded launch day line-up and Sony has had the exclusives game on lock for a while. If we can start the new generation off with a bang, that will only spell good things for the future.
No need for a mid-generation refresh
The PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X were anomalies in this generation. It was a new thing to see a more powerful console released that wasn’t just a new slimmer model. The differences weren’t negligible either, you received quite the performance bump if you bought the new premium console and it was the only way to utilise 4K technology. The next generation consoles need to take what they have learned from this generation and create powerful consoles from the get-go that will still retain their power five years down the line.
I genuinely think it’s feasible to create such a powerful console considering the leaps we’ve made in hardware. It’ll obviously be a delicate dance to make a powerful console while keeping the price low enough to be affordable, but it can be done. I don’t want to see the PS5 Super or Xbox Two Ultimate in 2024, I want to buy one expensive console and be done with it.
Things might get hairy in the next generation because of our slow and methodical move to a digital-only world. There’s already an Xbox One console in the works that won’t feature a disc drive and will be digital only. At first, I thought something like this was crazy, but then I realised that the majority of the games I play now were downloaded and I only have a handful of physical copies lying around. Microsoft or Sony can quite easily create a digital-focused console, but my hope is that they’ll provide us with the option to buy either a disc-less unit or a more traditional console.
A lack of options is what sunk the Xbox One during its disastrous reveal. They wanted to go digital-only way back in the console’s launch and when they revealed all the restrictions and compromises, people were absolutely livid. No more second-hand games, you need to be online at all times to validate your purchases and it felt like they were confining us to a cage. All I’m asking of the next generation is to provide us with options for how we want to enjoy our games. Whether you’re a collector who loves physical copies, a casual player living off a game subscription, a single-player focused gamer who doesn’t need online services, we all deserve to game how we want to.
Anything new is scary and going into this next generation, a lot of delicate pieces hang in the balance. One weakness and the entire thing may come crashing down. It’ll be endlessly fascinating to see where we’ll end up and I hope to every deity out there that things move smoothly. Gaming is reaching a critical mass with so many amazing experiences to be had that I want to see it grow to immense proportions and a new generation might usher that dream into reality. What do you hope to find in the next generation? I skipped out on a few things like virtual reality, cross-play, controllers and so on, so let your creativity go wild!