Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Best thing about the next gen

Astro’s Playroom – an early highlight of the new generation (pic: Sony)

GameCentral readers discuss the games and features they’ve been most impressed by when it comes to the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic asked what you think has been the highlight of the next generation launches and what gives you the most encouragement for the future of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

The majority of letters were about the PlayStation 5, with the DualSense and the graphics of the launch games coming in for particular praise. Although it was nice to see that the majority were generally positive about most things so far.

Money well spent
I’m not lying when I say that Astro’s Playroom is as much fun as I’ve had with a video game in… well, the last decade certainly. It’s only three hours long and almost impossible to lose at but the way it shows off the graphics of the console, the abilities of the controller, and celebrates decades’ worth of PlayStation history is just masterful.

The Nintendo copy/paste enemies are a bit of a shame but otherwise I’d say it’s an almost perfect bit of software. Even just the intro, where it demos what the controller functions is amazing, and I’ve shown that alone to multiple people and they’ve all been impressed even if they’re not really interested in games at all.

I also got Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is great but a more subtle upgrade. Although I agree the ray-tracing is impressive and I really like the bit at the end where you’re being smashed through windows and it all seems super epic, with not a sniff of slowdown or other technical problems. A very good launch, I feel my money was well spent.

No impression
As an Xbox fan it pains me to say that the Xbox Series X has so far struggled to make an impression with most people I know. I’m sure this will change over time but right now there’s nothing I can do to show it off to friends except show them things like XCOM 2 loading quicker and Gears 5’s graphics being better. I can’t say that they’ve been very impressed so far.

Even as a fan I think Microsoft has dropped the ball and there’s no way they got this far behind just from coronavirus. I think it is as GC said and Phil Spencer just didn’t get the budget he needed to make these changes until a couple of years ago and so really the Xbox Series X is launching much earlier than it should be.

I’m still sticking with it though. I always love to have the most powerful console and to me backwards compatibility is a very important issue.

The new masters
It’s got to be the DualSense. Everyone is talking about it and it’s both a massive upgrade on the DualShock and full of really great new ideas. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are really cool, new ideas and I can already tell that seeing how they’ll be used in each new game is going to be a big appeal in multiformat games. Much more than are the graphics slightly shiner on Xbox.

Sony has learnt a lot from Nintendo over the years and the focus on quality first party and innovative hardware has really borne fruit in the last few years. All without them copying them but using the same principles to create very different games and hardware.

By comparison I don’t feel Microsoft has learnt anything. They’ve been in this business almost as long as Sony and yet they keep bumbling form one mistake to another and frankly I’ve lost all confidence in them. When people talk about buying a Sony or Nintendo console they aren’t talking about bug-ridden disasters like Fallout 76, they mean industry-defining classics that are like nothing else on any other console.

Like so many other things Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand that and I’m not sure they ever will.

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When you get one
I would have to say the PlayStation 5 has blown my mind, not just the power itself or how fast the SSD is, nor the superfast way you set it up and sign in with the app, it’s that DualSense controller that really is a true next gen feature. I love it, the feel of it. It’s got a bit more weight to it, so it don’t feel like a lump of plastic but the haptic feedback is so realistic. Whoever came up with that at Sony needs a pay rise and 50 weeks off a year.

For those that haven’t got a PlayStation 5, yet when you get one try Astro’s Playroom as it shows off all the DualSense features. I’ve looked at Xbox Series X and to me it’s just an Xbox, nothing new other than a bit here and a little bit there. Like GC said, you wouldn’t know it was a new console at the mo’ and the power at the moment is a waste of power. But yes, that DualSense is just wow.

Not now, but soon
I have not played the PlayStation 5 but witnessed it in demos and the genuine reactions of players. Also, through GameCentral’s viewers articles and other magazine written articles. What I am impressed the most with though, are the menu screen and the controller. They absolutely look and sound like a very good development from the previous versions.

The option and menu screen look great, very fluid and very accessible for quick access to the various operations needed, to navigate the consoles functions. It looks graphically exciting, with the background screens matching the current games being played, which makes it such a great way to encourage the exploration of the menus to see what else you can do.

Astro’s Playroom looks awesome and the players’ experience with it, sounds like such a breakthrough for the demonstration of the console. Getting use to the controller’s gaming mechanics and the operating of the various functions it can do, looks like a dream.

The various effects from the rumble of the controller, with what type of situation and environmental effect this has, sounds so far ahead of what was just soft and harder feedback from previous controllers. This makes immersion go beyond what we have experienced before as gamers, since the early days of the Nintendo 64.

So I am getting excited for what may seem at first gimmicky, but now game-enhancing force feedback. And coupled with a menu screen, which just makes this now current generation of consoles, so darn exciting. I haven’t even thought about games like the Demon’s Souls remake, Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil Village!

I must definitely be calming my excitement though, as I do not plan to get a PlayStation 5 yet, but will so, in the not too distant future.

Second-hand impressions
I haven’t seen Jack myself, thanks to not being able to pre-order a PlayStation 5 but I have been impressed enough by the videos to keep up my enthusiasm. Demon’s Souls looks really great for a launch game and I think a lot of people are sleeping on Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

I know the games can come across as a bit charmless and overstay their welcome but the graphics from the new game look seriously amazing and I predict will be the best of the next gen for a while to come.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Next gen Q&A
What is the most impressed you’ve been by something from the next generation of consoles?

Not so much the consoles themselves, but the reactions of the rage-enabled gamers trying to get them, and I mean impressed in a negative sense, as in it left an impression on me but not a good one.

Yes, I understand and agree that it’s incredibly frustrating that there’s limited stock of the PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X/S which makes them scarce, but from the reactions of gamers on Disqus and other comments sections on gaming sites around the web, you’d think scalpers and resellers had committed war crimes that required flogging and hanging.

What gives you the most encouragement for the future of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S and why?

If they’re in such high demand at this early stage, it promises to be one hell of a generation. For me, my expectations were quite low, and after years of playing 1080p30 games I’m more than happy for a stable 1080p60 to be the baseline of this generation, so that’s exciting. People who are saying 4K120 is going to be possible in every game I say – given a look at the console specs that’s just not going to happen.

The fact that the PlayStation 5 can play PlayStation 4 games near-silently, often with improved performance, is insanely good though. Whether you have a base PlayStation 4, PS4 Slim or PS4 Pro they’re all noisy when playing almost any game and for me personally it ruins the immersion somewhat, if your sound system is competing with the PlayStation 4 fan at full speed. I’ll barely notice ray-tracing on games but I’ll certainly notice and appreciate less fan noise, fan noise having been a problem for me since the PlayStation 2/original Xbox days 20 years ago.

Do you feel that the new consoles are making a better impression at this stage in their life than previous formats or do you think they’ve been a disappointment so far?

Definitely a disappointment. Buzz on them has been very strong… from the few people that have been able to play them. The silver lining of this though, is that it’s building the anticipation nicely for the end of Q1 2021, by which point I expect the stock issues to have been mostly resolved by both Sony and Microsoft.

What are your hopes for the immediate future (the next six months or so) and the longer term?

Hopes for the immediate future – and I hate to keep sounding like a broken record here – are the stock issues are resolved and everyone that wants one can get one within a week or two of making an order. My main use is going to be playing Cyberpunk 2077 with PlayStation 5 level graphics as a free upgrade from the PlayStation 4 version (which fortunately we should get before Christmas) and playing all the PS4 games I didn’t get around to with better performance and a nicer controller – the DualSense is certainly making waves with players and critics.

The final point to note is, no matter how good the launch titles are it will take an average of two to four years before we see the very best graphics the systems can offer, as developers not only learn the strengths and weaknesses and how to play to them, but also receive improved devkits from Sony and Microsoft which allow better compiling of the code to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the retail units!

Thanks for reading, if indeed you still are.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Best thing about the next gen

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