I've been playing video games for the better part of 30 years. My friends have played since the home console industry was born (closer to 40+ years.)
Both they and I have never encountered a console generation before that our response to was this tepid.
Part of it is definitely age, having been exposed to so much in terms of game design, graphics, and mechanics that it takes a lot to really stimulate
our imaginations anymore. Another part of it is just the dearth of exclusives on any of the 8th gen platforms that really call to us. And the
multiplats that we care about, for the most part at least, are all playable either 1) on last gen systems, or 2) on our aging PCs. (I was amazed how
well Witcher 3 ran on my PC given its recommended specs, and have some hope if I downgrade to 720p Fallour 4 will be similarly surprising.) And the
rest of what we find compelling consists largely of indie games that our PCs also easily handle.
We do own Wii Us, as we appreciate the focus on bright, colorful, "gamey," mechanics-driven games, and the nostalgia factor. The system has a
of shortcomings in terms of industry standard features that are absent, and Nintendo's typical idiosyncrasy. (While admittedly that's part
of their charm, it can also be frustrating.) And some of their exclusives (Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mario Kart 8, Mario Maker, etc.) are either
incredibly fun or things we're hotly anticipating.
However, on the whole, this hardware generation just hasn't yet done anything to make us sit up and say, "Wow! I need
to experience that!"
as in gens past. Anything that really grabbed us, we were already able to play on hardware we owned. Of the games we were or are eagerly anticipating
(MGS V, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Witcher 3, Transformers Devastation, Zelda U - unless it really does get moved to their next platform with no Wii U
release at all - No Man's Sky, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Shenmue 3,) only two (perhaps 3 depending upon Shenmue's specs) will likely require us
to get new hardware. And even then we might opt (or be forced by finances to opt) for a low cost PC upgrade to scratch those itches.
The other big name releases just no longer end up being compelling propositions for me, or for most of my friends. We're severely burned out on first
person shooters. We don't do competitive online multiplayer anymore (been there, done that - and we lack the time to commit to ranking up anymore
even if we wanted to.) We've never enjoyed Naughty Dog's offerings (yes, that includes The Last Of Us,) and we're burned out on Halo. Somehow Mario
manages to remain fun for us, but Super Mario 3D World was still underwhelming in comparison to Galaxy or its predecessors. (We actually liked NSMBU
more - hearkened back to that classic platforming that's been lacking lately in our opinions.)
Bioware's recent RPGs (including all of the Mass Effect titles,) while once a bastion of gaming escapism for us in years past, haven't been as
fulfilling. None of us are into sports. GT6 and Forza 6 both had microtransaction offerings we found - while yes, optional technically - outright
offensive ($100+ for a single car in some instances. Yes. Real money.) And having played every entry in both since their inception, we just don't see
enough that's new or overhauled to make us want to dip back into them anyway.
Bethesda still produces games we love generally. We're excited for Fallout 4. But as stated, we expect our aging PCs to be capable of running it at a
reduced resolution on medium settings. (We're not graphics-critical gamers, in case that wasn't clear.) JRPGs remain one of the few areas of gaming
niche that seem to require new platforms. We have Wii U for Xenoblade Chronicles X already, but we might end up needing a new platform for the next
Star Ocean game. Though, we're certainly not buying hardware for a single game. No way. And we don't do MMOs. That, too, is a craze we've already
experienced and been burned out on. (They always seem to boil down to end-game meta-gaming, with no roleplaying - and more critically, no in-game
incentive to roleplay - even on roleplay servers.)
Perhaps the biggest issue for us is... we just don't see the new hardware as being particularly transformative, or facilitating of new mechanical
experiences as in gens past. Graphics look a little bit better (we've already long since reached the point where iterative visual improvements don't
wow us anymore, though. Art direction matters a lot more to us now than fideiity.) Game worlds continue to get larger. But the last real innovations
in mechanical game design we saw were Minecraft and certain touch-based games. If we play one more cover-based shooter, FPS, bullet hell shmup, visual
novel, CRPG, MMO, RTS, racer (though a new F-Zero like game is an itch long neglected, we all seem to agree,) sim, TBS (without any new revolutions in
depth at least,) fighter, open world city-based shooter, or third person super-linear adventure/action hybrid shooter Uncharted style game, our eyes
There is some novelty to be found in the indie scene of course. Some recent horror games have been refreshing. Some topical, social commentary driven
games have been both endearing and fun. And there are even some new mechanics on display. But most of those games simply don't provide the longevity
or replayability old hands like us desire.
And mobile... yeah, mobile is not going to do it for us, either.
(Though we recognize it as a valid form of gaming and are not elitist about it, as
some seem to be. It's just not for us.)
Lastly, there's the general state of the gaming community at large. While by no means universal, one reason we gravitate primarily toward single
player games today is because of the rampant bigotry, various "isms," and vitriol we encounter online (especially directed toward women and the LGBT
community.) We heard just enough of that to realize while perhaps not constituting a majority, there was no avoiding it, and that speaking out against
it just gets you called a "white knight" or "social justice warrior," so we finally concluded: screw it, we didn't need online socialization to
enjoy gaming in past decades... we don't need it now, either.
Whenever I bring this litany of criticisms up to anyone outside my circle of friends, there seems to be a near-universal knee jerk backlash suggesting
we're "just old and outgrowing games." While there is most definitely an element of truth to that - as stated at the beginning of this post - we
still enjoy the games we do play so much and on such a high level, that I don't think that's the entirety of the reality behind these sentiments.
For instance, Transformers Devastation is coming to my mailbox today, and I couldn't be happier.
Hence my asking: does anyone else feel this way at all? Does anyone else look at this latest gen and just feel, "Well, it's cool... I guess... but,
eh... I'm just not feeling it yet" ?