Should You Hold Out For The Next-Gen Editions Of Upcoming Games?

News Daniel Hill 11/1/2013 at 9:56AM

With Call of Duty: Ghosts' next-gen iteration coming only a week after its current gen version, are you wondering if you should hold out for the next-gen edition of the game?

These last two generations have sparked an interesting trend – seeing a new console’s launch titles also being released on last-gen hardware. This never really occurred until last generation, given the smaller gap between technology than, say, the leap from PSOne to PS2 and Nintendo64 to GameCube. With this phenomenon occurring once again this gen, should console owners hold out on buying games that will soon be appearing on shiny new hardware?

It might seem simple, but there are quite a few things to consider when making a decision like this. If you’re planning on trading your old console in for a new one, this article won’t really apply to you. However, if you plan on holding on to your old stuff for games that will be coming out in the future, or just in case you get a little nostalgic, there is some history you should probably look over.

Transitioning from old hardware to new hardware isn’t always as simple as upscaling the graphics, for example. Taking a quick look back at Madden 2006 and it becomes clear that some features can be lost in translation when bringing a game to a newer console. Though the game looked much prettier, there were numerous features missing, such as the ability to craft your own player, something that players pretty much expected to see in the game at that point.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were games that came out that just didn’t see enough improvement, such as Gun. Neversoft may have thought that releasing a game that was identical on all consoles, save for the graphics, would be a good thing--but that didn’t turn out to be the case. It was immediately apparent that the game was ported from the PS2, with the Xbox 360 version somehow managing to look worse than the Xbox version, according to some critics. For those that just dropped $400 on a new piece of hardware, this was a pretty solid kick in the groin.

Though there were obvious missteps made in the past where cross-gen games are concerned, developers now seem to be working out the kinks. The upcoming Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, for example, may function similarly across all platforms, but full-3D foliage will react more realistically to player movement. The sea will also be more dangerous, with an engine making it more dynamic. Throw in individually lit raindrops and effects such as volumetric fog that bends to the area that it is in, and you have atmosphere that will be much richer compared to current gen versions of the game.

FIFA 14 will introduce football fans to EA Sports’ Ignite Engine. This throws in the expected graphical improvements such as more life-like crowds and a bump up to 1080p, but that’s not all. The engine’s additional power will also contribute to much more realistic behavior from computer controlled players. This is called Pro Instincts, and will ensure that the outcome of, say, a slide tackle, could unfold in any number of ways. All in all, the game will be much less predictable and more difficult to manipulate.

Another game I’m sure a lot of people will be wondering about is Call of Duty: Ghosts, which be releasing just 10 days earlier on current-gen systems. However, unlike the previous titles, the only real big difference with Ghosts appears to be in the graphics department. So, if you are looking for any big gameplay advantages that one has over the other, there really isn’t one.

What this means is that there is a whole lot that could determine whether or not you will be purchasing it on a next-gen system. You will likely have more people to play with on the Xbox 360 and PS3, given that the early adopters are always outnumbered by the user base of the old tech. However, Ghosts is not cross-platform; 360 gamers can’t play with Xbox One gamers, and the same goes for PS3 and PS4.

Though Sony and Microsoft have both said they will continue to support their last-gen consoles, we all remember how quickly Microsoft left the original Xbox to die, and who knows if Sony will stay true to their word (though they haven’t exactly given us reason to believe they won’t). Ultimately, having Ghosts on the newest consoles will guarantee that your title gets the longest legs. If you choose to skip on Treyarch’s Call of Duty titles when they come out, this means you will be playing Call of Duty: Ghosts for at least two years, and who knows where the Xbox 360 and PS3 will be at that point.

With this next generation coming, it looks like it really can deliver on more than just giving console gamers prettier graphics to look at. It looks like developers may just be using graphics as something to add another layer of immersion, such as in Black Flag’s case, or to make NPC’s have more realistic behavior. After a few cursory glances of the differences between current gen and next gen additions of upcoming games, I would suggest waiting. It looks like we’re in for a real treat with this new generation of consoles.

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