04 May 2013

Where are the Next-Gen 'Wow' Games?

In 2001 Halo: Combat Evolved was released to coincide with the launch of the first Xbox. Though it has been said many times the value of that game to Microsoft's first console cannot be understated, indeed, it's entirely feasible to argue that without Halo there never would have been an Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 meanwhile came with Gears of War. Another genre defining title which guaranteed the success of the console at an early stage. Microsoft have yet to announce their successor to the 360 but when they do later this month, will there be another 'wow' game?

So far we know Call of Duty: Ghosts is headed for the platform and there are reports that Respawn's untitled shooter will be a connected sci-fi experience which may be exclusive to the next Xbox console. Bar the exclusivity, that sounds a lot like Bungie's Destiny. Both games will no doubt be solid, quite likely even exceptional shooters, but will either of them kickfire the new consoles like Halo and Gears? Only time can answer that.

While Xbox has in the past being able to place a not-insignificant degree of its success on those early titles it's proven to be opposite with Sony's consoles, at least to a degree. Some of the finest games of the PlayStation 2 era came in the dying days of that console, titles such as Shadow of the Colossus. Indeed, God of War 2 was released after the PlayStation 3. I've always wondered, had that game been delayed and moved to PS3 whether the system might have performed better in the early days.

This generation is looking to be no different. It's often said that the company which 'loses' the console war ultimately has the best console and the PS3 certainly has some spectacular games. This year The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls will be hitting the system and both look to be superb additions to the console's roster. There are also novel titles which push the conventional boundaries of gaming like Rain and Puppeteer.

But looking ahead to the future, what is there that truly stands out? The game's most people are excited about this coming are largely either current gen or cross-gen. Grand Theft Auto V, current gen (for the moment at least). Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flags, cross-gen. Watch_Dogs, cross-gen. Destiny, cross-gen. Call of Duty: Ghosts, cross-gen.

We know the PS4 has InFAMOUS Seconds Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Drive Club and Knack as exclusive titles. Between E3, gamescom and the Tokyo Game Show more should be revealed. Every first party Sony studio is developing for PS4 as well as a number of second gen studios such as Quantic Dream.

This means that the games from Sony Santa Monica and the jewel in Sony's first party crown, Naughty Dog, have yet to reveal what they're working on. We also know Guerrilla is working on a new IP, possibly The Order 1886. While the games showcased at the PlayStation 2013 event in february were impressive in their own way and will likely be excellent games they all appear, from what we've seen, to be advancements of their genres rather than revolutions of them.

In other words, next-gen is so far missing its Halo. Of course, we have the Xbox Reveal and what's bound to be one of the most exciting E3s in years (even without a Nintendo press conference) as well as a host of other industry events throughout the year. Hopefully, one of those occasions will see a game that will blow everyone away. A game that may very well sell a console almost by itself.

Mark Cerny has said the PS4 will have the strongest launch line up of any PlayStation console and while Microsoft have fewer first parties than Sony they no doubt have some surprises up their sleeves, perhaps even Respawn's game.

As more titles are revealed for next generation consoles hopefully at least one of them will look to redefine the way we play next-gen and beyond.

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