This past week, Sony unveiled their new console upgrade: Playstation 4 Pro. Bringing a beefier gaming experience for more hardcore players, the new black box looks set to provide an alternative to those who already own the PS4, and a better entry-point for consumers yet to jump into the home console foray. One thing that is confirmed is that the new hardware upgrade will guarantee sharper visuals for already existing games, and boost the visual fidelity of upcoming titles when played on the system. What isn’t yet known is this: will the PS4 Pro finally usher in a host of titles that cement the Playstation 4’s legacy as a gaming system?
Now, don’t get me wrong; we’ve had some great games so far since the PS4 was launched back in November of 2013. The most recent release that springs to mind is the excellent Uncharted 4 – a title that completely blew me away when I reviewed it at release. There’s also been stand-out experiences like Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn, that took existing gameplay mechanics of the choose-your-own-adventure genre, and incorporated them in a horror environment. For more hardcore players, there have been titles like Bloodborne that really pushed the envelope when it came to storytelling through gameplay.
If we’re saying that the PS4’s lifetime began back in November 2013, then it should be fair to also state that the Playstation 3’s ended at this time. Being released in November of 2006, the PS3 lasted for 7 years – comparatively making the PS4 seem like it’s still in its infancy.
Within the first three years of the PS3’s release, we’d been treated to the likes of Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Not only were titles like these hailed as incredible at their launch, but they’re still fondly remembered as classics today; games which still stand testament to how legendary the Playstation 3 became as a gaming system. While I enjoyed the likes of Until Dawn, I don’t know if I’ll still be thinking about it years down the line like I do of Bioshock. Both games were original IPs that expanded what was thought capable within their respective genres, but Bioshock created an entire universe that is fondly remembered and pondered over today. Also, how about that twist, huh? Legendary.
If we’re going to look at how both consoles have done in their first three years of release, then it also seems fitting to see how the PS3 matured towards the end of its lifetime. In 2013, we were presented with games like Grand Theft Auto V; a truly revolutionary sandbox experience, and The Last of Us; a modern classic hailed by many as one of the best story-driven games of all time. Even in its twilight moments, the Playstation 3 ushered in games that were so good they’ve been brought onto the PS4, and stand as some of the best titles currently available on the most recent system. Even for a self-proclaimed Sony fanboy, it seems fairly damning that the top two games on the PS4 (according to Metacritic) are re-releases from the last console generation, doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing, though: if we’re operating under the standard lifecycle for a games console, then the Playstation 4 still has four more years until it’s gradually phased out by the next big thing. The Playstation 4 Pro isn’t here to replace the standard PS4; it’s meant as an upgrade to what we’ve already got for those willing to purchase it. Does this mean that in 2020, we’ll see some of the PS4’s most prestigious titles? Perhaps. As I’ve said, it’s ridiculous to claim that the console hasn’t had its fair share of excellency so far, but there’s just not quite enough new, iconic releases to tickle my fancy, whereas last console generation’s releases seem to have come thick and fast.
Who knows, though: maybe the rising popularity of mobile gaming, or the ever-expanding allure of VR worlds will take videogames in a wildly different and unpredictable avenue. Maybe we won’t even get seven years out of our home systems. With 2016 drawing to a close, and titles like Dishonored 2 still to come this year alone, the PS4 is far from dead. I just hope that it can truly feel alive in a landscape that’s becoming increasingly more stagnant and saturated.
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