The next console generation starts this week, at least if you're American. The PS4 and Xbox One are just scant days away, heralding a brand new age of gaming goodness, and the promise of a new wave of exceptional titles.
However, before the PS4 and Xbox One move in, they'll have to clean house.
This generation has seen any number of stupid design decisions, awful consumer-hurting business practices and downright lazy omissions seep into videogames - that we'd like to see killed off in their entirety going forward. Here are ten of the most deserving offenders that, frankly, should be first against the wall.
10: All Those Idiotic FPS Clichés
In no particular order:
- Boosting someone onto a ledge, then having them pull you up. We've played Army Of Two. Old news.
- Being knocked down and picked back up every few minutes by a comrade
- Impassable walls that you could easily step over in real life
- People saying "stay sharp." Believe me: this is in practically every game ever made. Listen out for it.
- Not attaching to ladders properly. FIX THIS DAMN YOU!
- Hilariously awful 2D foliage that clips through our faces
- Turrets. Just stop it.
- Stabbing rats
- Scourge: Outbreak
- Unnecessary multiplayer that has no hope of retaining players for more than a week
Add your own in the comments. There's more. There are always more.
9: Ridiculous Online Prices
Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel. The Devil's sodding Cartel. A game that was doomed to fail before it even released, that deserves only scorn and hatred, to be consigned to the flames.
Sony has been doing their best to try and bring prices down (Soul Sacrifice and Tearaway are great examples on Vita), while Microsoft's Xbox Live prices are actually fairly reasonable for many older games, but the third parties need to get on this if they want to compete.
8: Broken Multiplayer Launches
It's reasonable to expect a certain level of upf*ckery when a new online game or MMO launches. Servers are limited, the load is colossal and we're givin' it all we've got, cap'n. But the chaos of Final Fantasy XIV, SimCity, Diablo III and GTA Online absolutely have to become a thing of the past.
With 'cloud power' and multi-platform MMOs doing the rounds on PS4 and Xbox One, we need the biggest players to sort their infrastructure out and conduct more thorough stress testing this time around, especially if they want the market to thrive on consoles over the coming years. Us console players are used to instant gratification and convenience, and this needs to extend to multiplayer too.
Oh and don't get us started on putting multiplayer in totally unsuitable games. Spec Ops: The Line says 'hi.'
7: Stupid Stealth
I'd like to see stealth games make a comeback in a big way, and we've definitely seen the indie sector doing wonderful things with it. Stealth Bastard. Mark Of The Ninja. Warp.
And we've also seen all manner of games throw in totally awful, completely unnecessary and utterly embarrassing stealth sections that have no right to exist. From Ken's Rage 2 to Sniper: Ghost Warrior and beyond, this needs to become a relic. If your game is all about shooting people or punching them so hard they explode, here's an idea: keep doing that.
6: Cross-Platform Argy Bargy
Now that Microsoft and Sony both make us pay for online multiplayer, it stands to reason that we should be able to see more cross-platform games hit the marketplaces. Last year we learned that Defiance was ready to let PS3, PC and Xbox 360 players fight together, but the console manufacturers simply refused to play ball. We rather suspect that Microsoft didn't want its premium customers mingling with players who were online without spending extra money.
Let's make it happen now, guys. Plus, just think of all the microtransactions you could flog with fanboy grudge matches and console-specific cosmetic items. Am I speaking your language yet?
5: Cutscene QTEs
Look, I think we can all agree that QTEs have totally failed as a means of making cutscenes more immersive. They don't. At all. In fact, they tend to have the opposite effect of reminding us that we're playing a game and yanking us back into the real world.
I don't mind QTEs in combat - when handled well, they can provide an awesome new dimension to the action (see also: Arkham Asylum and Bayonetta). Just keep them out of our cutscenes from now on, please.
4: Loading Screens
This one is probably never going to happen, but since this is a wishlist, I'm going to wish loading screens away. There they go, look, floating off into the past, to be replaced by blisteringly fast caching and clooooooud pooooowwwweeeeerrrrr. Well, the first one anyway.
In all seriousness, we'd love to see much less in the way of obvious loading screens (or the classic 'I'm going to walk slowly for no reason' schtick) and enormous contiguous worlds to explore.
3: Online Passes & Season Pass Pre-Orders
EA popularised and killed off the online pass in the space of a single generation, and everyone else followed suit. It's time to put the last of the online passes to the torch, to round them up, shove them in an enormous wicker statue and dance around it holding hands and singing hymns. Then Britt Eckland shows up naked for no good reason.
Sorry, what was I talking about again? Ah yes, online passes. Die. You're next against the wall, season pass pre-orders.
Actually, go on then, since we're at it. Next-gen consoles can offer an evolving smorgasbord of content for our games, and new ways of letting us choose exactly what we want from each one. Stop trying to convince us that spending money up-front for content that doesn't even exist yet is a good idea. We've been saying this since mid-2012 in our podcasts, but let's make it official: pre-ordering season passes is ridiculous.
That said, there's nothing wrong with a season pass once the content has actually launched. When you know what it is and whether you'll get the use out of it, why not pay a little less for the whole lot?
2: Awful Boxed Games That Should Have Been Cheap Downloads
Fun fact: downloadable games are awesome. They're relatively inexpensive to make, allow a small team to create a focused project, let developers experiment with innovative ideas, can support a wide variety of art styles and more. Plus, thanks to XBLA, PSN, Steam and other marketplaces, distribution is easy peasy and we can pay less to own them. It's win-win.
So when we see games like Battleship and Splatterhouse stinking up the pre-owned shelves, we can't help but wonder why they weren't repurposed as downloads instead. Rather than a £30-40 waste of disc space packed with filler and fluff, they could have been short, muscular games that made the most of their most interesting ideas - like Scott Pilgrim's superlative tie-in. And cost £7. Hell, Battleship only lasted about 5 hours anyway.
Tomorrow I'll likely review a game that really should have taken this advice.
1: Gimped Ports
My oh my, Skyrim and Bayonetta were great games. On the Xbox 360 (and PC for Skyrim, obviously). However, the PS3 versions suffered from all manner of technical issues and frame rate problems, a phenomenon that lasted throughout much of this generation until developers managed to wrangle the Cell Processor to heel.
Now, though, developers have two powerful machines to create games on... right? Erm, hopefully.
Of course, some bright spark is going to bring up the 'resolution wars.' The PS4 definitely appears to be easier to develop for at higher resolutions as things stand, while the Xbox One's ESRAM pool acts as a stumbling block for studios to hurdle over with extra tech development. With luck, we'll quickly hit parity across all versions as opposed to the last generation replaying itself, but with the roles reversed. Fingers crossed.