FEATURE: The future is... convenient. Next-gen's biggest claim to fame.
Updated: Jun 20, 2021
We're officially in next-gen. PS5 and Xbox Series X is current and the PS4 and Xbox One are thrown out the door, buried in a shoebox, and deemed... last-gen.
Not everyone has had the chance to pull themselves into the future, with stock consistently just out of reach and some even questioning the need for new devices with cross-platform releases keeping "last-gen" viable, but I'm here to set the record straight. Next-gen is necessary for those of us trained by the era of instant gratification.
Next-gen's greatest calling card isn't the souped up graphics or fancy controller gimmicks, but instead is a thing summarized in one word: convenience. Convenience is built into every aspect of both the PS5 and Xbox Series X and after years of frustration with our OLD consoles, it's an incredible refresh that hopefully holds for the entire generation.
Convenience plays out a few different ways on these consoles. First up is the buzzword of both consoles pre-release... backwards compatibility.
Microsoft has been the shining example in the world of backwards compatibility as they've spent the last few years making sure their systems were capable of running as much of their entire library of games as possible. This remains true with the Xbox Series X, but it's Sony that surprised a bit with their implementation with the PS5. While only going back one generation, the PS5 showed major strides in running games that otherwise ran terribly on the PS4, even outpacing its peer in the Xbox Series X when running the same games.
Either way, the knowledge that all of the games you've been playing obsessively for years will not only work, but might even work BETTER on the new box you get is an extremely exciting prospect. Especially if you jump all the way up to next-gen from a PS4 or Xbox One rather than the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X.
One of the most talked about aspects of next-gen in the run-up to launch was the SSD-based architecture allowing for a "revolution" in gaming. Gone are the days of slow hard drives and instead we are given a future of SPEED with solid-state drives. Naysayers insisted that things wouldn't change drastically because PCs have run with SSDs for years. But with major variances in each household's PC build, developers couldn't just develop for the mega-fast hardware. But with SSDs built into both next-gen boxes, developers are able to FULLY tap into their capabilities. And... boy did they.
Load times on backwards compatible games saw decreases of literal minutes. Load times on next-gen games were actual seconds long. My PS5 journey has been defined by my lack of downtime. Instead of being able to snack on some goodies during a long load between cutscenes, I'm instead moving between fast travel points in eight seconds. Instead of reading tool tips and learning secrets about the game world, I'm loading into levels in four seconds. Pace has never been better and this is the main thing I hope holds steady late into the generation.
Streaming and Recording
One of the surprise quality features of next-gen are the streaming and recording suites available on both consoles. I can only speak to my experiences on PS5, but as far as I understand it, the capabilities are fairly similar.
On the PS5, you are able to record up to 4K footage in either .webm or .mp4 formats. You can consistently record either the last 15 or 30 seconds of gameplay for quick saves of SICK GAMER MOVES or record up to 15 minutes of footage yourself.
Streaming also sees a bump in quality over its younger siblings with 1080p 60fps streaming capability. The PS5 got a much needed update to the overlay while streaming, with chat comments coming in and out over full screen gameplay. As opposed to the ridiculously ugly overlay on PS4 that shrinks your game screen down and dedicates TOO much of the screen to an always viewable chat display. Even Twitch emotes show up properly now instead of just a constant bombardment of text: ResidentSleeper ResidentSleeper ResidentSleeper.
On top of that, the PS5 controller comes with a very capable microphone built-in that allows for quick and easy streaming use. All of this amounts to an incredibly easy jumping off point for those interested in streaming. And it just... works the way you expect it to.
Next-gen is about convenience. It's about making things simpler and removing barriers between a gamer and a game. Although some folks are unable to buy in just yet or have their consoles but are facing issues, the potential of next-gen is undeniable.