As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, we still have a fair amount of moments that defined the 8th console generation to cover. So let’s get straight back into it.
Fortnite Takes Takes the World By Storm
It was quite hard to ignore Fortnite after its rise in popularity, not just within the gaming community but in the mainstream world.
Every time you browsed social media you saw Fortnite. If you turned on or read the news you saw Fortnite. And if you went shopping you saw Fortnite merchandise.
Drake was involved in a Twitch stream of Fortnite with Ninja. Travis Scott had a whole in-game event centered around his work.
Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comics have all had crossovers with Fortnite with in-game skins. Star War even had an event in the game where JJ Abrams showed up alongside a brief clip from the then-upcoming The Rise of Skywalker.
Some games make it big, some games go big and for Fortnite, it was the latter, even then that would be an understatement.
One of the most striking aspects of a new generation of gaming is how the games themselves will look. Cue Ubisoft who would show footage of upcoming games that were graphically impressive, to later have the game release and not look as jaw-dropping as the promotional material made it out to be.
The most infamous example of this would be the original Watch Dogs. Gameplay demos uploaded to the internet and shown at E3 had Watch Dogs looking like a true next-gen game with an open-world full of detail. It got people talking for all the right reasons, that was until they got their hands in it.
It was clear to see that the graphical prowess of the demos wasn’t present in the full game. The level of detail has been scaled back as well, making the whole experience of Watch Dogs feel like a lie. It didn’t help that the gameplay in Watch Dogs was naff too.
The company hadn’t learnt its lesson from the negative reaction to the stunt they pulled with Watch Dogs as it was repeated with another Ubisoft game, The Division. The E3 demo, had the game looking great in the visuals department, it was atmospheric, detailed and looked immersive. Then compare to the retail version which was bland, dull and downgraded in comparison to what we were advertised. At least the shutting of car doors was still a thing.
Competitive FPS Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege from Ubisoft was another victim of the dreaded downgrade.
Whatever caused Ubisoft to start downgrading games continued for quite some time. Though it appears they have stopped with the deception of downgrading games, at least for the moment.
This video from YouTube user Crowbcat highlights graphical alterations in a variety of Ubisoft titles.
The 8th console generation had its fair share of games that were released in a bug-ridden state.
Battlefield 4, a launch title for both the Xbox One and PS4 was infamous for being busted at launch. Constant online disconnects, game crashes and general glitches made what was otherwise a great game give players a terrible experience.
Assassin’s Creed Unity ran awfully with constant frame drops. And people are still having nightmares about the invisible faces. AC Unity’s launch problems were so bad Ubisoft gave away the Dead Kings expansion for free.
Despite Halo being the crown jewel in Xbox’s repertoire of games. Halo: The Master Chief Collection released in a rough state. To put it simply, the online matchmaking just didn’t work. You waited and waited, but you never found a match. You could wait hours before maybe being put into an online game. It would take years before being able to comfortably say Halo: MCC was fixed. Microsoft would give players who played the game before a certain date the Halo: 3 ODST add-on for free due to the problems.
WWE 2K 20 was flooded with bugs that would end up being ridiculed across the internet. It is no surprise that 2K has given the series a break after the monstrosity that they had the nerve to ask money for. Though they now have the nerve to ask $70 for the next installment.
Many other games were released In broken states, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and Fallout 76. It just seemed like no matter how big the franchise or how huge the publishers and studios were, games still made it onto store shelves in states they really shouldn’t have. Honestly, I would much rather have delays if it meant getting the game right and playable.
Speaking of Fallout 76, the game just couldn’t get a rest from the numerous controversies and scandals it was embroiled in.
First things first, the game was filled with glitches. Bethesda games are no stranger to bugs but this was on another level.
Then, the phantom canvas bag that was supposed to be included in the Power Armour Edition of the game. I say phantom because it wasn’t included even though Bethesda had said that it would be. Instead, a nylon bag of lesser quality was part of the package.
When confronted about the issue, Bethesda Support said, “We aren’t planning on doing anything about it”. This was followed by an uproar from the community that would result in Bethesda eventually getting the canvas bags made and sent out.
If you purchased the limited edition version of Fallout 76 from GameStop that came with a special Nuka Cola wearable helmet then you potentially could have been exposed to dangerous amounts of mould. This was because of inserts in the helmets that could have had mould on them, mould you certainly didn’t want to be putting your head against or face near. Because of this, they became significantly less wearable and were recalled, a yikes from me.
Fallout 76 could have a whole article to itself. Bans, progress loss, and business practices that pissed people off are just a handful of other issues that were associated with Fallout 76.
Then just to put the cherry on top, Bethesda released Fallout 1st, a subscription model for certain benefits and access to private worlds inside Fallout 76. This didn’t go over too well. Who could have guessed?
Oh, and though not directly tied to Fallout 76, the Nuka Dark Rum plastic bottle dilemma happened just as Fallout 76 was in the firing line.
Upping the Power
As more people started to pick up 4K televisions it was only natural they wanted to experience gaming at 4K on them. Unfortunately the base Xbox One and PS4 were incapable of outputting 4K images.
This is where the Xbox One S/X and PS4 Pro came into play. Microsoft and Sony would release upgraded versions of their systems that could handle gaming in 4K and HDR.
The Xbox One S could display content from 4K Blu-Rays and Netflix in 4K. Games on the other hand only utilised HDR.
The Xbox One X could do everything the S could do, as well as 4K gaming.
The PS4 Pro was also able to play films and games in 4K.
Having upped versions of existing consoles marked the end of the 8th console generation being like your regular one. Where the systems and the specs they launched with were pretty much the same throughout the lifespan of the machines. With no real deviations until completely new consoles came out.
4K gaming wasn’t the only trend that started to catch on. Virtual reality too started to get into more homes.
VR can be traced back to 1995 with the Virtual Boy from Nintendo. Though calling it a reality was a long shot, that is unless your reality contains only the colours red and black. Anyway, technology had advanced a lot since then and virtual reality is in a much better place now.
More high-end VR on PC is available with headsets like the VIVE and Oculus Rift (Oculus, the makers of the Rift, were acquired by Facebook for $2.4 million).
On console, you have the PlayStation VR for the PS4, a cheaper alternative to the standard headsets. Then you have Labo VR for the Switch, which you build out of cardboard.
Motion controls for PC VR and PSVR help immerse players in the worlds and can also lead to some in-game hilarity, and most likely some IRL injures too.
Games like Beat Saber, Half-Life Alyx, DiRT Rally, Star Wars Squadrons and L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files have given VR unique experiences and reasons for people to try it out. And potentially get into this way of playing games.
The walls between consoles started to come down with the implementation of cross-play. The support for cross-play by console manufactures, game publishers and developers allowed players from PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC and Mobile to all play together in online matches.
The days of not being able to play online with a friend because you play on different consoles are no more. Titles such as Rocket League, Minecraft, Need for Speed Heat and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare all feature cross-play.
The road to cross-play between everyone wasn’t as smooth as it should have been, however, as Sony didn’t want to participate and instead decided to be the buzzkill. It didn’t help that Sony defended its choice by basically claiming that the PlayStation is the best place to play and doesn’t need to mingle with the peasants that are other platforms.
Sony came off its high horse in the end and slowly started to support cross-play and later it fully supported it.
Having something like cross-play during the 7th console generation with games like MW2 or Mortal Kombat 9 would have been incredible. But we have it now, that’s the important thing.
This step towards console harmony is a good thing. Make more populated games, not console wars. Now hopefully the fanboys can reach a level of peace with each other and the systems they play on. But by the looks of social media, that’s doesn’t look like it happening anytime soon.
PlayStation Hit the Jackpot
Sony had a terrific generation, multiple critically acclaimed exclusives, and millions of consoles sold. The PS4 had a great run. And being a PS4 gamer was a good time, mostly.
A lot of the early successes with the PS4 were down to whatever you want to call Microsoft’s reveal of the Xbox One and the proposed but later called off practices. The Xbox One and its lack of killer exclusives and PlayStation’s impressive line-up of exclusives helped the PS4 thrive as the years went on.
The PS4 did very well and left its competitor and their console playing catch up for most of the generation.
Gone But Not Forgotten
For all the new games we gained, we lost so many development studios.
This generation we lost:
United Front Games – Sleeping Dogs.
Capcom Vancouver – Dead Rising 3/4.
Visceral Games – Dead Space 1/2/3 and Battlefield Hardline.
Boss key Productions – Lawbreakers.
Lionhead Studios – Fable 1/2/3 and Black & White 1/2.
Telltale Games – The Walking Dead (all seasons), The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands.
Despite the amazing and great games these teams brought the gaming world, it didn’t stop higher-ups from bringing the shutters down. For other studios, it was the fact that they weren’t bringing in enough money to continue making games and supporting them.
Losing all of these teams is sad. Not only did talented people lose jobs, but we will never know what else they could have created. They may have gone but we won’t forget about them or the contributions they made.
What’s the most important thing to a console? Games. Here are some titles that I think are essential from this generation, and played a role in defining it.
Red Dead Redemption: 2
Arguably the most detailed game this generation. Seriously impressive visuals, outstanding soundtrack, gripping narrative, memorable characters, and an amazing world make RDR2 a stand out game of the generation.
Despite being such a smash hit, RDR2 took risks with its slower and realistic gameplay. It didn’t land with everybody, but if it did land with you, you most likely loved the game. Games like RDR2 don’t come around a lot, but when they do, you get something truly special.
RDR2 is my favourite game this gen, unless Cyberpunk 2077 has something to say about it. But time will have to tell on that one.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
An RPG like no other, the mature, unforgiving but beautiful world of The Witcher made for one of the most praised games of the generation.
Geralt of Rivia’s story captivated players, forcing them to make difficult choices along the way. Interactions with Geralt’s friends and foes felt believable thanks to stellar writing and performances.
Sidequests were smaller stories in themselves, with dialogue options, choices and consequences.
GWENT, the card game that features inside The Witcher 3, was so popular it spawned a standalone game.
The game is also backed up by a grand original soundtrack that can really set the mood. From harrowing to joyful, it’s all here.
The Witcher 3 is without a doubt a defining 8th gen game.
God of War
Kratos returned in another spectacular exclusive for the PlayStation 4, in a game centered around Norse mythology that tells the story of Kratos and his son (Atreus).
God of War’s gameplay was changed quite drastically from previous entries in the series. But that didn’t stop it from receiving heaps of praise.
Glorious visuals and an emotion-evoking original soundtrack made God of War a fan favourite and gave people another reason to own a PS4.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
MGS went open-world. In some ways it certainly suffered, but it also gave players buckets loads of freedom in how they wanted to tackle objectives.
MGS’S quirks and attention to detail returned, and we got a stealth action game for the ages. It may not be everyone’s favourite MGS narrative-wise, especially given the loose ends that never get tied up. But on the gameplay side, this MGS is up high on the list.
A game unlike any other. 1930s hand-drawn cartoons meet controller breaking difficulty.
Cuphead was magnificent. Everything from the period-authentic art and music to the boss battle action would have been just as remarkable if it was from a AAA studio. The fact it was from a small team such as Studio MDHR makes it even better.
Fast, bloody, and intense are three words you can describe DOOM Eternal with. DOOM Eternal is one of the best first-person-shooters this generation of consoles saw.
Just take a look at our review of it to find out why this is a defining game of the generation. To put it shortly though it’s good, very good.
On to the Next
So there we have it, the moments that I think defined the 8th console generation. Sure, other big events and trends happened such as Microsoft acquiring Zenimax and cloud gaming starting to become more practical. But I predict these will have more of an impact on the next console generation.
I enjoyed the 8th console gen. Sure, it had some problems, but we had so many good games and implementations.
Anyway, here’s to the new consoles and whatever moments will define them.
You may be seeing this after reading a piece that I may have written. If so, I hope you derived something you deem positive from it. Or maybe you didn’t read something I wrote in which case this probably doesn’t mean much.