We’re just months away from the launch of the PS5 and its competitor, the Xbox Series X. The start of a new generation would, for me, normally be a moment of fanfare and heady anticipation. The piggy-bank would be broken, the launch-title wishlists drawn up and the calendar would be marked and counting down the days. But as the sun sets on the current gaming generation, I’m not that fussed. I’m in no rush to upgrade.
- Ghost of Tsushima review: a samurai swan-song for the PS4
- The Last of Us 2 review: the greatest game, ever?
It’s not unusual for games released later in a generation to excel. Developers have had years to hone their crafts on then-familiar hardware, pushing console specs to their limits. We saw it with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 5 for instance, released in late 2013, a game so astonishing that it’s lived on in its remade form throughout the life cycle of the PS4 and Xbox One.
And we’re seeing it again now with Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part 2, two games that are so astonishing in scope and visual detail that they’re making me question what exactly the PlayStation 5 brings to the table that can tempt me to part with my cash.
As I stated in my review, Ghost of Tsushima is one of the most impressive-looking titles of this generation, a sweeping epic across the fields, mountains and battlefields of feudal Japan. It’s a huge game, with dozens and dozens of hours of play to enjoy. It sticks a little too closely to open-world gaming conventions, but it’s put together with such a beautiful eye that it’s easy to lose yourself in.
Onto The Last of Us. I’ve not had the chance to play Naughty Dog’s sequel yet – it’s my next title to hit – but you only have to read my pal Vic Hood’s 5-star The Last of Us: Part 2 review to see that it’s something special. She goes as far as to call it “the game of the generation”, a sentiment echoed by many who have played it.
Then I take a look at the PS5 launch games line-up and, frankly, I’m still a bit underwhelmed. There are a couple of titles that take my fancy – Little Devil Inside and Deathloop spring to mind (and the Spider-Man: Miles Morales game would have, too, were it not essentially a remake plus extended DLC pack). But that’s about it. And, without experiencing the alleged hardware upgrades for myself, like the DualSense haptic feedback control pads and SSD loading enhancements, I’ve not seen anything so far (Horizon: Forbidden West perhaps being the exception) that couldn’t exist on the PS4. Indeed, some of the big third-party titles, like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Hitman 3 and the annual EA Sports titles are set to be cross-generation (which is causing its own set of headaches).
Is that a failing of the PS5’s pre-launch buzz, or the success of the PlayStation 4’s late-cycle greatness? It’s a bit of both perhaps – launch line-ups are rarely stuffed full of must-play games, as devs get to grips with new tools and specifications. But, perhaps as equally important as the top-tier games coming through, has been the console manufacturers decisions to introduce mid-generation machines.
My go-to console is a PS4 Pro. With its extra horsepower, 4K visuals and HDR display options, it’s ticking lots of the boxes that many are specifically upgrading to a PS5 for. The jump, therefore, may be more significant for those that are still using the first wave of PS4 hardware. But if we can assume it's Sony’s most ardent fans who double-dipped for a PS4 Pro (or joined the generation with its release), they may be less inclined to be among the early adopters for the PS5. We’ve had mid-generation hardware recycles before, but they were mainly aesthetic redesigns, slimming down or refining exteriors, rather than offering a palpable performance upgrade like the PS4 Pro does.
Add to that the perhaps-unintentional side effect of just how generous PS Plus has been over the years. Thanks to the PS Plus free games, I now have a catalog of games that number in the hundreds in my PS4 library, many that have gone untouched, despite being very appealing to me. In the admittedly unlikely case that I stick purely to games I already have access to on the PS4, I could easily have several more years of spare time sunk into games that Sony has ostensibly given away for free with its subscription offering.
And so, for the first time in a long time, I’m thinking about sitting out the launch window for this console generation’s kick off. Perhaps my mind will change between now and Christmas, when the first PS5 hands-on impressions of Xbox Series X reviews start trickling in. But for now I’m still waiting for a reason to give my PS4 Pro the cold shoulder.
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