With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 rapidly approaching, fans are rushing to stores to make their pre-orders, many of which are committing to trade in their current consoles towards the purchase of their new hardware. But is it really smart to buy a new console at launch? Should people be giving up on the PS3 and the 360 so soon? Let’s take a look at the top reasons to keep those current gen systems hooked up:
#5. Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, WiiU, Xbox 360
Yes, it’s true: Michael Ironside will not be reprising his role as Sam Fisher. Yes, this is a travesty. However, in spite of this blow, Blacklist is looking like it has the potential to be a step up from the last installment in the series. For long time fans it was unfortunate to see Ubisoft take Splinter Cell: Conviction and attempt to make it more accessible to non-stealth fans by adding a bigger incentive on the action elements of the game and somewhat turning a blind eye to the series’ roots. Yes, it is possible to play Conviction as a stealth game, but the level design and lethality of Sam’s arsenal blatantly attempt to point players down a more action oriented path. The action genre is very well occupied while the stealth genre is still pretty unpopulated; we need to keep the few stealth series that we have! With that said, Ubisoft seems to of designed Blacklist in such a way that will allow both passive and aggressive play styles to be used to their maximum potential, we’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out. If the single player campaign manages to fall through, luckily the game will be able to fall back on its extremely fun and wholly unique Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode. Sam Fisher’s last outing of this generation should prove to be an interesting one.
#4. Batman: Arkham Origins
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal
Release Date: October 25th 2013
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, WiiU, Xbox 360
First thing fans of the Arkham games should be saying is “Why isn’t Rocksteady Studios developing this game!?”, and unfortunately the answer is not 100% clear as of yet. The general consensus is that Rocksteady is working on a still-unnamed-sequel to Batman: Arkham City, but in the meantime, the publisher of the series, Warner Bros., decided to have one of their other teams develop a prequel as a sort of stopgap in-between the Rocksteady Arkham games. The combat engine in Origins will remain practically identical to the previous installments of the series, and the story is being heavily influenced by several different Batman comic books. As the title implies, Origins will be about exploring Bruce Wayne’s early years as the caped crusader, including interactions with characters never before seen in the series such as Black Mask and Deathstroke, as well as Batman’s first encounter with The Joker. The game will introduce new bat-gadgets, new enemies, and new locals to prowl. Despite the change of developer, this Arkham title seems primed to keep the bar set high.
#3. Dark Souls 2
Developer: From Software
Release Date: March 2014
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
If you still haven’t introduced yourself to the Souls series, you’re truly missing out. With Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, From Software put forth two quality titles unlike anything else on the market today. These Action-RPG games allow players complete customization of their character from their appearance, to their stats and their combat style. These titles are not for “casual gamers”, as there is no hand holding going on here; the Souls games give the player a world to explore and conquer, and it’s largely up to the player to decide where to go and how to accomplish their goals. The enemies are tough, the world is unforgiving, and death definitely takes its toll. In a generation where most games have become mind-numbingly easy, the Souls games provide harsh difficulty, which in turn yields a great feeling of accomplishment when the player is successful. With all that said, From Software is looking to up the ante with Dark Souls 2, with increased difficulty on top of new enemies and a whole new world to explore. Series veterans will be glad to hear that DS2 will be going back to dedicated multiplayer servers (à la Demon’s Souls), so you’ll be seeing a lot more ghosts / bloodstains / messages. I’m prepared to die.
#2. Next generation launch lineups are not that impressive
Let’s take a look at some of the most anticipated titles which are expected to be available at or around the launch of the PS4 and the Xbox One: Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Destiny, and Watch Dogs. What do all 5 of these titles have in common? All of them will be on both current and next generation hardware. Will the next gen versions look better? Yes, slightly, but not enough to make you feel like you’ve jumped into the next generation of gaming. Advertisers will make you feel like the next gen version is the truly better option, and companies will offer exclusive DLC for the next gen versions, but when it comes down to it, all versions of these games will be near identical. Most of the great looking, truly next gen games (Metal Gear Solid 5, Final Fantasy XV, Titanfall, etc…) don’t have concrete release dates yet, and will most likely see a 2014 (or beyond) release. If you’re on the fence about which console to get, don’t stress over it. The games I’ve mentioned here and many more will be released on consoles that you already own, so unless you’re dying to play one of the few exclusive next-gen games that will available at launch, save your money.
#1. Grand Theft Auto V
Developer: Rockstar North
Release Date: September 17 2013
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
I originally had GTA5 at #2 on this list, and then I re-watched the gameplay reveal trailer. This game looks utterly fantastic. For months (even years) now people have been saying “Why doesn’t Rockstar port GTA5 to next gen systems, won’t the release of the new consoles hurt the game’s sales?”, and while I never bought into that theory, I actually believe the reverse may be true now (to a small extent). Grand Theft Auto 5 literally looks good enough to deter people from buying next generation consoles this year, simply because it looks vastly better than anything that’s going to be available for the new consoles at launch. After the GTA5 gameplay reveal, legendary game developer Hideo Kojima tweeted that Rockstar’s game looks so good that it’s depressing to him that his next game, Metal Gear Solid 5, may not be up to par. Interesting comment by Kojima, especially considering that many thought MGS5 was the game of the show at E3 (keep in mind that neither Rockstar nor GTA5 were present at the expo). Rockstar games are known for quality, and GTA5 looks to produce in spades. It’s been 5 years since the release of Grand Theft Auto 4, fans are rabid with excitement, and as impossible as it may sound, I feel like this game may exceed expectations.
-Matt De Azevedo