Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My thoughts on the 3 major consoles of generation 8.

I was recently asked by a user on gonintendo my thoughts on the 3 new systems now that they're out.  I gave a pretty detailed response that I felt was blog worthy so here it is.  I should note, this has definitely been edited as I typed up the original response at some crazy hour of the morning.

Honestly? I feel that this generation of gaming is a bit of a let down compared to the previous generation but especially the home consoles. The graphical jump, while noticeable even on the Wii U (with Wii U games made specifically for the system), is not the graphical leap that we saw from PS2 and Xbox to PS3 and 360 and the Wii U Pad is in no way as revolutionary as the Wii remotes were. Many games that you can buy on PS3 and 360, while they do look better on PS4, XB1, and occasionally Wii U, don't look good enough for somebody to say "I gotta get those new systems or I'll be missing out." If anything, it's making people go in hoards to PC gaming for the vastly superior Steam service, user mods, and the highest end of graphical fidelity.

Why ReviewtechUSA abandoned consoles.

Also the whole sharing features of the new systems, some of the main features all 3 companies seem to heralding, are pretty limited over all which I'll get into more of when I talk about the individual systems. The lack of proper backwards compatibility is disgusting, the lack of digital media playback is disgusting, the forced online payments is disgusting, the storage situations are disgusting... it really seems like outside of marginally better graphics and slightly better online, the 3 new consoles are pretty much a disappointment. But talking about the 3 systems individually...

Wii U:

I find the library of games, since launch, to be the most diverse but the hardware is definitely not pushing the same horsepower as the other 2 consoles meaning, getting publisher support will be more challenging, especially without major sales numbers and a large install base. I love the fact that they introduced the Miiverse and gave the community a family friendly yet steam like way to communicate, I love the built in browser (it's quite possibly the best browser on a console yet), I love the fact they don't require payments to play online, I like the fact there's actual backwards compatibility, and the eShop is by far the best over all shopping experience of the 3 new home consoles however the lack of a real comprehensive account system, the lack of cross game chat, the lack of on screen notifications, the lack of game invites and game joining, and the lack of gamecube support is all VERY disappointing.

To add to this, the weird emulated Wii that basically puts a system in a system needs to go. Backwards compatibility needs to be like what the 3DS has where you can see all digital games in the eShop, not in a separate digital store from the previous generation and launch all physical games straight from the main OS, not an emulated one. Also, I'd really like to see better use of the Wii U pad in more first and 3rd party games as imo it's actually a pretty cool controller with all the buttons you need how you need them (minus analog triggers) and they need to get the controller part of it working with Wii games, not just the screen on the pad and the sensor bar on it. Also they need to get the integration of streaming content better implemented into Nintendo TVii so you don't need to launch different services based on what service has what show. They also really need to consider putting more storage into their systems, yes I understand it has external drive support and it uses quick and expensive flash memory however 32 gb is very small and almost nothing. They should consider shipping the system with 128 gb and with the bigger more powerful battery for the Wii U pad.

He can be pretty trolly but he's right, Nintendo needs to get with the times.

On the note of Miiverse and "sharing" on the Wii U, I find that Wii U unintentionally has the most "open" sharing of the 3 systems. You can upload your Wii U screens wherever you want via the amazing browser and you can access your Miiverse posts pretty much anywhere by linking them. That said, video recording is greatly needed and it is a bit disappointing that there isn't any twitch or ustream streaming features, especially for me as I like to stream games myself for the fun of it.

Lastly, I do wanna go ahead and state that I love the fact that the system has so many different kinds of controllers to choose from. I didn't have to go out and get all new controllers right off the bat because my Wii remotes worked. Also, I highly enjoy the Wii U gamepad (despite its limited battery life) and, despite the triggers being digital and it not offering a headset/headphone jack, the Wii U Pro controller is by far my favorite controller of this generation and quite possibly my favorite of all time (though Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, and Gamecube are major contenders for that title for me as well).

Playstation 4:

I actually find the library of games at launch and even announced so far to be the least diverse, which I find very disappointing. It feels Sony has completely gotten rid of what got them to where they are now and are trying to appeal to only an audience that wants mature western themed games. I know KH3 and FFXV are on the way but they're multi platform titles that could end out being on Steam. I'd like to see more of the games that made PS1 and PS2 great, make their glorious return, not more games that look like what most 3rd parties are doing and have been doing for a long time. I'd love a new Jet Moto, or a new Jak and Daxter, or a new Wild Arms, or a new Legend of Dragoon, or a new Dark Cloud, or a new Jumping Flash, or a new Lemmings, a new Parappa the Rappa, etc.

As for the system itself, the hardware is the most powerful on paper but after playing around with the 3 systems, its definitely not the graphical difference the internet makes it out to be and it's definitely not as powerful as my PC (and many other people's for that matter). Don't get me wrong, the games look good, but like the Vita vs 3DS or PS3 vs 360, the graphical difference isn't enough to really sway the smart consumer or the core gamers to the system. I like the controller redesign, the triggers are no longer bent the wrong way, the analogs are stiffer and have more tread, the handles are incredibly comfy, and the dpad has a nice roll to it and is no longer squishy. That said, the triggers feel a bit loose and flimsy, the track pad is awkward and unresponsive, start button went MIA and the share button feels like it could have had its functions mapped to the PS button.

I like the look and speed of the interface. It feels like a very good visual evolution from the XMB and it's definitely the fastest over all however I dislike how it takes your most recent application and moves it to the front though and the front wall looks a bit cluttered though. I hate the fact your forced to pay for PS+ in order to play games online. It's in stake contrast to the whole PS3 is free online and 360 you gotta pay claims that people seem to have forgotten over the past 3 years. Also, when you have a free service like Steam available which is infinitely better then anything any of the 3 console companies are doing and have ever thought of, I personally find it hard to justify paying for a SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE service. Also, I hate the lack of backwards compatibility, especially with digital purchases, which could end up screwing me and other consumers over who bought plenty of digital games on the 7th gen consoles.  Sure there is Gaikai aka PS Now but it's a payed service that requires a constant stable connection.  Anybody promoting Gaikai as the end all be all answer to BC but was against the XB1 DRM should re-evaluate their thinking process as there standards couldn't be any more double.

Killzone: Shadow Fall visually looks great but it still doesn't justify buying clunky new systems with no backwards compatibility.

I like the fact you can change out the internal storage, which is a huge thumbs up to Sony for that but I dislike the fact that you have to install every game you purchase (which can go up to 50 gb) and have all this recording functionality yet it only comes with 500 gbs. The storage is a complaint I have for all 3 systems though to be completely honest. Also, I'm very disappointed there isn't more media features with digital music and videos, which is something PS3 had plenty of. I will say though, I'm very glad they decided to say no to the DRM crap and forced Microsoft to change their ways or lose all their customers.  That said I'm still very skeptical because the question of DRM should have never been an issue in the first place.

Last 2 things, the sharing on the system is one of the most hyped up features of this gen but I feel it's incredibly over rated. The share button could have been mapped to the PS button the way it's mapped to the home button on Wii U and it's mapped to the Xbox button on the XB1 and the sharing is bottled into PSN and facebook... which isn't very many options for sharing at all. It's cool to see the streaming options but nothing about this systems "sharing" makes it this major selling feature. Also the price point, while good, I feel is very skewed when people talk about it. When you buy a PS4, you actually get the least right out of the box. Unless you get a special bundle, it doesn't come with games, it doesn't come with the camera, it doesn't come with with a second screen for off tv play, and it doesn't come with TV functionality. I'm not saying the price is bad, because it isn't, but in general, consoles box price points are not the price you'll be paying for the system, especially in the long run and in the case of the PS4, despite having a pretty good entry price, you'll actually be paying more to take full advantage of the system then you would XB1 and especially Wii U.

Xbox One:

This is by far the most under rated system of this new generation with the most under rated launch line up. Don't get me wrong, there are many more things I dislike about the XB1 then I actually like about it and I actually dislike much more about it then I do both Wii U and even PS4 but it's nowhere near as bad as the rep it's got from it's reveal and forward. First and foremost, I'll say this now, if it wasn't for the payment methods of the games in its launch line up, its launch line up would be my favorite of the 3. It recieved the western focused 3rd party titles also got some other titles worth mentioning such as Killer freaking Instinct. Sure, I know, it's not a real Killer Instinct made by Rareware, but I had a whole lot of fun playing it and in the end, that's what matters. Also, though I wished I was using a Wii Remote or DS/3DS/Wii U touch screen and stylus while playing it, I actually highly enjoyed my time with Crimson Dragon. While it's definitely not a real horror game, Dead Rising was a lot of fun. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is the sequel to one of my favorite games on Wiiware and is awesome.  Even many of the announced games on the way look great, such as Project Spark, Sunset Overdrive, Below, D4, Titanfall, etc.

Unfortunately, outside of the games... things get pretty ugh worthy. The controller fixes a lot of problems that the 360 controller had. The D-pad is WAY better and has a nice roll, the the face buttons aren't as hard and blister inducing, the triggers feel great on the fingers and have the rumble in them which really is nice and the design is the same design that made the 360 controller quite nice. That said, though the analogs have a generous amount of tread, the analogs feel loose and don't have enough force feedback (though they're not as bad as the Vita's) and the lack of a battery in the controller is facepalm worthy.

Pretty much describes what I think of cable companies.

The DVR functionality is interesting but is immediately hurt by the fact that, unlike Nintendo TVii, you need cable in order to use it. Then you also have the added storage problem to go along with it as the system only has 500 gb and, like the PS4, is supposed to be a system with mandatory game installations, have recording and sharing functionality, BUT ALSO is a DVR. Being a DVR alone and only having 500 gb is pushing it but all the other stuff too.... are you kidding me...? Oh and how do you go from a system that had the most awesome detachable and portable storage option to a system that requires you to take apart the entire system and void the warranty just to upgrade the storage?!? REALLY!?!? To add to that, the lack of external storage is insult to injury here.

The interface .... well it's fast.... Outside of that though, it's pretty nasty. I guess I'm biased here because I can't stand Windows 8 but the fact of the matter is, it's Windows 8, not Xbox. It's incredibly convoluted and confusing (I spent a good 10 minutes just to figure out how to suspend and launch software), it screams corporate, it lacks the avatars, and to be honest, it lacks a soul. Sure its fast and you can use Kinect to get around in it, but it's so uninviting and unispired and doesn't feel anything like the Xbox brand.


The lack of backwards compatibility, just like the PS4 is really disgusting but the fact they aren't doing anything to compensate for it shows they really don't care too much about the actual gamer. Then again, what would you expect, it's Microsoft. I just feel that the direction they're taking the Xbox brand will kill it off very quickly. Also, while I understand why the price point is as high as it is, I mean it has the Kinect and the DVR functions built in, the price point would be justified if the DVR functions were more open and the Kinect shown serious promise. Granted the Kinect is great for interacting with your system and moving around the interface quickly but I have yet to see anything that actually uses it to really enhance the gameplay that wasn't just voice commands.

Graphically, the system is much better graphically then the internet makes it out to be. Looking at XB1 and PS4 side by side in action at the store and at friends houses, they're near identical. Granted, there is a difference, but it's not this huge gap the way the net makes it out to be. That said, while things didn't look bad here, like the PS4, I wasn't blown away. What I played was not the bleeding edge of graphics and it felt like what I was playing 2 or 3 years ago on PC. They both look good but they're not this major graphical gap over their predecessors.

Lastly, on the note of sharing, while the XB1 isn't as directly open as the Wii U, it's by far the best sharing experience of the 3 systems or rather, it will be.  It has every feature the PS4 has without the overhyped new button and diehard fan hype but it also does much MUCH more.  First and foremost, every achievement allows you to record footage letting people see exactly how you got said achievement which imo is GOLD.  Another thing is you can highly edit your clips to the point where you won't really need to do things later unless you're trying to go for production like quality.  Also, you can upload your clips to your skydrive allowing you to share your stuff basically anywhere you want.  The problem here though is not all of the features are implemented yet.  Sure they just got streaming but you still can't upload everywhere, which both the Wii U and PS4 had all their sharing features up and running day 1.  Hopefully, this will eventually get resolved.


Sorry about the ultra pessimistic post but I'm really not digging this generation of consoles. I'm very disappointed about the direction they're going and saddened by the decisions the companies are making and continue to make. Hopefully all three get their crap in gear and turn things around but I just don't see that happening and feel console gaming is increasingly not for me. I currently have no intention of getting a PS4 or XB1 and if Nintendo continues making the decisions that they are, I doubt I'll be getting another Nintendo system again (even handhelds) and go completely PC.