The release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S has us thinking back to the console launch line-ups of yesteryear.
Games at the start of a generation can be notoriously buggy and unstable, be just glorified tech demos built to show off the new hardware, or genuine, fleshed-out experiences which galvanise the console’s place in the gaming history books.
It’s the latter we’ve been looking for; those games which really stand out as iconic, generation-defining moments. What title would you choose? Do you ever buy new consoles at launch? Let us know in the comments.
Reliving the Battle of Endor was one of Rogue Leader's many standout moments.
James | The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild | Nintendo Switch
When this topic came up, I was first pouring over lists of games from some of the great turning points in my gaming career – original DualShock PlayStation (first console launch), Xbox One (first Xbox at launch) – when it occurred to me I was neglecting the most unique console experience of them all – the Nintendo Switch.
The console wasn’t blessed with the widest variety of games on day one, and 1,2 Switch really falls into that glorified tech demo camp, so the only real choice is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Since my track record with Zelda as a series is dire (in short: played Ocarina of Time a bit, played The Wind Waker less and haven’t completed any since A Link to the Past on the Game Boy), I was determined to really throw myself into it, and, as my glowing review hopefully would suggest, I rather enjoyed it.
Something about the freedom and scale of the game’s world, as well as the accessibility of its combat and puzzles, really clicked and I spent countless hours hitting as many shrines as possible. It really captured the potential of what this new console could do. Whether we’ll see the in-development sequel before the next Nintendo console remains to be seen.
"I'm going on an adventure!"
Sam | Demon’s Souls | PlayStation 5
While I had access to various games consoles throughout my childhood, it wasn't until the launch of the Xbox 360, just after starting high school, that I got my very own console at launch. King Kong and Perfect Dark didn’t make for the best hardware showcase, so, though they hold a special place in my heart, I need to look further into the future.
On paper, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S launch line-ups were pretty underwhelming. Having now spent a decent chunk of time with them, however, there’s a lot to love. Gears Tactics has been my recent Xbox addiction, launching alongside the new Microsoft consoles and included with Game Pass from day one.
As much as I love Gears of War (and Xbox in general), PS5 games like Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales are on the next level. The former in particular, which is why it takes my pick.
Visually and technically it’s outstanding - just as you’d hope for from a next-gen launch title - though it doesn’t fall into the common “style over substance” trap. While it does utilise some non-standard (yet) elements of the new DualSense controller, rather than feeling like gimmicks, they genuinely aid immersion. Demon’s Souls is a fantastic experience in and of itself, which, within the context of a console launch game, is all too rare.
Demon's Souls does look very impressive (unless you suffer from arachnophobia).
What was your favourite launch game? Let us know below or in the forums.
After taking a look at the future line-up for Xbox last week, it’s time to delve into the wonderful world of PlayStation exclusives (you know, for the players).
There’s a stronger showing out the gate for the PlayStation 5 with Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro’s Playroom both going down well with gamers, but, similar to Xbox, there’s plenty of studios working away on the next PlayStation blockbuster – at least 14, in fact. Here are our top picks, but what’s top of the excitement-o-meter for you? Let us know in the comments.
Kratos outlines his plans for the sequel.
James | Horizon: Forbidden West
As I’ve not played much on the PS4 (only Spider-Man really), the majority of PlayStation experiences I’m looking forward to are still to come, when I finally break open the juicy fruit that is this generation’s exclusives and feast on the presumably square, circle, triangle and x-shaped goo inside. One series which seems to be right in my wheelhouse though, is Horizon: Zero Dawn and its 2021 sequel, Forbidden West.
Exploring expansive worlds has always been my bag, from Mass Effect and Middle Earth: Shadow of War to lesser-known personal favourites like Red Faction: Guerilla and even Microsoft’s ill-fated exclusive ReCore (there’s a video about it and everything).
The future dystopia which Horizon offers isn’t dark and bitter like that of something like Watch Dogs Legion, instead, nature has had a chance to take back much of the world, while the threat of robotic beasts still looms large, and in the sequel, the sense of scale looks to be being pushed further still.
All the games here will have impressive visuals of course, but the rich colours and vast biodiversity of Aloy’s world beg for all the pixels and particle effects the PS5 can muster. Will we be able to find out the source of the plague which threatens to destroy the uneasy balance the tribes of humanity’s future have found in this world?! I can’t wait to give it a try.
Nothing says bigger and better than new water levels/sections.
Liam | Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is exactly the sort of game you want to see on a next-gen console, one that takes advantage of the shiny new tech inside to push gameplay and spectacle even further.
I’ll admit, I’ve never played a Ratchet & Clank title before, despite owning a PS2, the platform on which the franchise debuted and first found fame, but I might have to remedy that this generation.
The dimension hopping shown off in the gameplay trailers looks brilliant, not to mention totally seamless, which is even more impressive. Even without that killer feature, the game’s combat, setting and general fun factor are all more than enticing enough to warrant the hype.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for deep, meaningful narratives and gritty gameplay, but sometimes you just want a game to be good, harmless, silly fun, and Rift Apart seems to fit that description perfectly.
I’m certainly eager to see more, and while I’ve yet to make a decision on which of the new consoles I’ll be getting first (ideally I’d like to buy both at some point), impressive, proper next-gen titles like this are certainly swinging things in the PS5’s favour.
The PlayStation 5's SSD working its magic.
What's your most anticipated PS5 exclusive? Let us know below.
It’s finally here, the next generation of gaming beckons us all – whether you’ve decided to jump in already or not – with a world of new possibilities. Some of us haven’t been lucky enough to grab a new console (or two) just yet, so we’re looking ahead to the exclusive gaming experiences we can expect from this new hardware, starting with Xbox Series X|S.
While the launch day lineup might not be blockbuster, Microsoft has made no secret of the fact it’s bought up studios left and right; 14 world-class developers, including Bethesda, now comprise Xbox Game Studios.
There’s a few games in the works we already know about, so which are the ones to get most excited about? We’ve picked our favourites, but leave yours in the comments.
A shield is basically a giant space blanket.
Sam | Fable
The lack of a new Fable game during the Xbox One generation is a travesty. Well, in actuality, that isn’t strictly true. Fable Fortune was a respectable CCG from Mediatonic (Fall Guys) that saw the light of day, but it isn’t really what fans wanted.
Neither was Fable: Legends, which I had the opportunity to play before it was axed. It wasn’t great, though series custodians Lionhead didn’t deserve to go down with the ship. With the developers disbanded, for years it looked like we may never get the proper continuation that the franchise deserved.
Step in British developer Playground Games, best known for their work on the Forza Horizon series. Although crafting an RPG is a massive departure from building racing titles, the team’s consistent track record for delivering on quality helps to mitigate any concerns.
As I get older RPGs become less and less appealing. They tend to require a huge time and energy commitment, plus are more often than not overly long and po-faced. It’s one of the reasons I still haven’t played The Witcher 3 and that Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t get me hot under the collar. A new Fable on Xbox Series X|S could (and should) be the antidote to that.
Is that a river, or a racetrack? Who knows!
Liam | Microsoft Flight Simulator
I do enjoy a good flying game, so I’m pretty excited for the console release of what could be considered the flying game: Microsoft Flight Simulator.
As much as love taking down capital ships in Star Wars Squadrons or battling drones in Ace Combat 7, it’s easy to forget that simply cruising around the skies can be just as rewarding as any thrilling dogfight. Flight Simulator looks like it could be the ultimate chill out game, letting you cruise around the world at your leisure in a variety of aircraft.
Even though there’s a plethora of exotic destinations on offer, in a weird way I’m most looking forward to simulating shorter, more familiar commutes, such as London Gatwick to Amsterdam, a journey I undertook many times over the years. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the journey from the pilot’s perspective, for once.
Although there’s no release date, or even a release window, for that matter, Microsoft Flight Simulator is supposedly coming to an Xbox near you at some point in the near future, and I for one am greatly looking forward to it.
Short-haul flights are a lot more fun when you're in the pilot's seat (we hope).
What's your most anticipated Xbox Series X|S exclusive? Let us know below.
We're on the eve of a new generation, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S due to hit (abandoned) shops in the next two weeks – 19 and 10 November respectively in the UK – which has got us reflecting on what the Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch have given us.
What's been your top release since this round of consoles were released? Let us know in the comments.
The future of gaming is bollocks.
James | Control
There’s something about an immersive single player experience which lets you really lose yourself and feel like you’re stepping into something really exciting. That’s how it was for me with Control.
Though it wasn’t a critical success, I enjoyed Quantum Break’s experimentation with time manipulation and storytelling, and Control showed that developers Remedy had moved their ideas forward and really delivered a gaming experience I hadn’t had before.
It’s not all heady concepts and confusing narratives of course, the core gameplay – third-person shooter with some added telekinetic abilities thrown in – was solid as well, and made you want to continue to explore its world, despite the brutalist, bland architecture.
It wasn’t without its flaws, of course. The experience was captivating but not one I was drawn to replay, though the substantial DLC offerings since the original release no doubt would tempt me if there was a good deal.
The visual presentation was particularly stunning, and, though not aiming for photo-real, really showed off the technical power of the Xbox One X in a way which few games really do.
For offering memorable boss fights, interesting puzzles and getting the balance just right with its careful use of real-world footage, Control gets the crown and is certainly the game I’d use to demonstrate the potential of this generation.
2019's Control was a late contender for game of the generation.
Liam | Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Last year I labelled Ghost Recon Wildlands as one of my game of the generation contenders, and now that the PS5 and XSX are almost upon us, it’s time to make good on that statement.
For me, it had plenty of what a ‘next-gen’ game should offer; a big (but not too big) interesting world to explore, co-op with mates (plus an AI squad when running solo) and plenty of interesting gadgets and weapons with which to dispatch masses of enemies.
I also thoroughly enjoyed digging into the game’s setting and story, which got surprisingly deep in some places, and picking off cartel bosses one by one, region by region. The hierarchy system gave the game a real sense of progression, and, at times, made you feel like you were the invisible threat the Ghosts were meant to be.
I know Wildlands was a bit of a departure for fans of the series’ more linear focused games, such as Future Soldier, but I had a lot of fun with it, to the point where I genuinely missed playing it once I had completed it.
It’s probably not the best this gen has to offer, but it was a personal highlight, so it gets the nod from me.
It might not be the best, but it was very good.
What's your game of the generation? Let us know below.