Lately

So I haven’t posted in a while. I suppose I’ve been caught up in other things, kind of lost interest in writing. I mean I can’t suggest there’s nothing to write about, obviously there’s a lot. This year I decided to start a Graduate Diploma in Computer Science which I’m thoroughly enjoying, so I suppose I’m spending more of my free time studying than I previously was, and when I’m not studying, I’m still very much gaming.

A while back I was considering writing a review about Death Stranding, however I never got around to it, but I would like to simply say for the record. I really liked it. I barely find games that provide the level of atmosphere Death Stranding did. I won’t go into details of what I liked about it, but I will say I enjoyed almost everything about this game, including some of the game play elements people thought were boring or frustrating. The story was really interesting and the way it was told was incredibly creative. The only ‘grind’ was probably the building, I imagine some people didn’t mind all the bridge and structure building involved in the game, however I lost interest in it once I was able to start building zip-lines which I deemed the most superior mode of transport in the game.

Other than Death Stranding, I got addicted to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 200 hours in I decided to take a break as I felt like I’d done everything I needed to do.. even though Nintendo keep coming out with more content. I’m happy just leaving the game for now and if enough additional content comes out, I’ll likely jump back in.

Most recently I played Metro Exodus and Last of Us 2. Both beautiful games with excellent stories in my opinion. I understand the polarizing nature of The Last of Us 2’s story, without spoiling anything, I will say I too was a little put off by some of these things as the game progressed. However as things went on, I began to acclimatize to the direction the game was heading and began enjoying it again, leading to what I thought was a very thought provoking final chapter.

Which brings me to talk of next gen. I was playing The Last of Us 2, and there was a scene in there that was so realistic and so raw and I sat there thinking. “This is just the PS4, the PS5 comes out the end of this year and we already have this level of realism!”. I am in awe of video gaming at the moment, especially recently I’ve started to find games are getting ridiculous both graphically and with game play especially when interacting with other characters and enemies. With next gen consoles coming out at the end of this year, it really excites me to know that this isn’t the best of it, not even slightly.

In terms of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, both of which we have a solid amount of info, a rough release date, and a general idea of what to expect them to be able to do. I am definitely excited for next gen. The draw card of the PS5 is it’s SSD, the XSX, a combination of it’s GPU and SSD. The more I come to realize the advantage of superfast I/O from storage to processing in the context of video games, the more excited I get. Faster I/O does not just mean loading is faster. It also means more things on the screen at a time, and not just 3D objects to make a scene more full and realized, but also polygons in general. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the sense that the lack of an SSD in consoles has not only been the bottleneck for I/O but also for better looking, more atmospheric games, simply because better I/O allows more to be processed at once; which I assume means the CPU/GPU’s are doing more, which means they would run hotter, which I assume is why the PS5 and XSX are built in odd shapes and sizes.

At the end of it all, I’m incredibly excited, even Phil Spencer says:

In my view the feel of games this upcoming generation will change as dramatically as any since 2D to 3D given CPU upgrade, DLI, memory bandwidth and SSD.

Phil Spencer (Twitter)

I remain skeptical of this, however that’s a stupidly huge leap, so even if the leap is half as impressive, I will be blown away. I think what interests me the most, is we haven’t really yet seen what an SSD is capable of in a video game console. In a platform designed specifically for gaming, by developers designing specifically for that platform. If developers can make a game from the ground up for SSD only, this is something no one has really seen yet. So no matter what step up next gen will bring, it will definitely bring something we haven’t yet seen, which is very exciting.

I think right now is a very interesting time to be a gamer. The world of video games continues to broaden in every way, games are getting more realistic in every way, video game hardware is getting better in every way, the number of people playing games and making games continues to grow. Even retro gaming is growing rapidly with continued success from ports, remakes and re-releases, popularity of third party retro consoles containing either or both of inbuilt games or support for original cartridges, and games continuing to be made for older consoles by hobbyists. We often here that games are going mobile and that’s where the money is. I agree, the money is there, but in my opinion, the money is everywhere. People love video games and want to play them in a variety of different ways, at a variety of different levels, for a variety of different reasons. Personally I don’t care what platform a game is built on, the more people playing games the better, and I honestly can’t wait to see what’s right around the corner for video games, I suspect it won’t disappoint.

References:

Thanks to Teddy Guerrier for the featured image.

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