Welcome To The New Age: 2013′s Biggest Disappointments
This piece is a collaboration between Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln.
God, 2013, what happened? We started the year with such lofty hopes. New consoles! Good games! Maybe even a tad bit of growing up for the gamer community at large! In a naive haze we expected a kick ass year from start to finished, and anticipated looking back on it with the same blissful hangover you get after a pub crawl on free beer night.
But then this happened:
This bit of derp is from the impressively execrable Aliens: Colonial Marines. Look at it. No, stop looking at the floor, LOOK AT IT. That’s how the year began, and it only got worse from there. Hype, more hype, then BS, then more BS, followed by broken games, dumbed-down stories, and totally avoidable embarrassments. The one word that most defines the last 12 months is “disappointed.” We’re very disappointed in you, 2013.
We’ll hold out hope for a much improved 2014, but before we can get to that, we really need to put this year to rest.
Welcome to the New Age
The 2013 hype train reached maglev speeds of marketing drivel when it came to the release of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Zillions of transistors, cloud computing that could send your TV to the Neptune, social whatsits to make sure your grandma can check Facebook and see how many newbs you’ve pwned — it’s all the cutting edge of console technology.
Except there are no games, and what games there are seem to be mostly the exact same as the games we already have.
Though the newest generation of consoles have sold, uh, coughhack million units each, they’re not without some serious problems between then. Neither the Xbox One nor the Playstation 4 really seems ready for prime time, and both are plagued by weird errors, missing features, and onboard software that’s sure to be patched and patched again before it really works the way both Microsoft and Sony said it would.
That’s okay, though, because the majority of anticipated games for the systems aren’t even out yet. The stuff we can play on our new consoles are things like Knack, Killzone: Shadowfall, Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza 5 — not exactly a jarringly amazing list of new titles. Oh, and don’t forget cross-gen games such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts. Welcome to the new age, indeed.
It’s not exactly the fault of console makers or developers, as, historically, no launch lineup has ever been that spectacular. But for a pair multi-hundred-dollar machines that are supposed to render our old machines obsolete (while not including backward compatibility), the PS4 and Xbone currently leave a lot to be desired. Yeah, it’s cool you can share gameplay videos on social networks, but we’re still waiting on mind-blowing experiences. I will say that the PS4 version of Netflix seems to be much improved, however. Then again, I kind of feel like I just paid $500ish for a new streaming gadget. And I already had three working ones.
Things did get interesting, briefly, when console makers managed to inspire players to pick sides as ardently as Twihards fell into #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob factions. As a result, said console makers (you know the particular one I mean) ultimately haven’t inundated us with intrusive DRM and awful, anti-consumer policies1, as seemed inevitable only five months ago.
But when you’re reduced to singling out “Things are not actively worse” just to find something to cheer about, you’re in a very rough spot. All the really exciting games for the new consoles won’t be out until mid-spring 2014. By then, maybe software updates and feature rollouts will have progressed to make the new consoles more exciting (and a more worthy investment), but until that time, well … I guess, the controllers are better. Whoopee.