Following the recent announcement of the Wii U, gamers are now intrigued by the next generation of consoles more than ever. While Nintendo’s innovative iPad-esque controller certainly set tongues wagging, most gamers are staring longingly in Microsoft and Sony’s direction, impatiently awaiting the announcement of the successors to both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
So what features do we want to see from them? We can certainly think of one or two… or seven:
XBOX: Less focus on gimmickry
The past couple of years have seen Microsoft shift from the hardcore gamers company of choice to fully-fledged competitors to the Wii’s casual gaming throne. Unfortunately this has not gone over well with Xbox fans, as this year’s E3 provided barely anything for them to get excited about amongst the Kinect shovelware. Considering how much Microsoft is pushing the Kinect, it would be wise to conclude that the 360’s successor will include some form of motion-control hardware already built into the system, but if that is to be the case then we just hope that they don’t forget about the little guy who still likes to play his games with a controller.
PLAYSTATION: Better online experience
It’s hard to bemoan the PlayStation Network considering it costs a whole $50 less than Xbox Live, but suffice to say it isn’t perfect. While we don’t want to see Sony start charging for the service, we would like to see it become a bit more user-friendly, with the current setup proving to be quite the pain to navigate and operate when compared with Microsoft’s sleek and minimalist approach. Even though Live has its faults, it is still miles ahead of the pack and we could easily forgive Sony if they were to ‘borrow’ a few of its ideas.
XBOX: Silence, please?
Now I’m not going to go into the technical aspects of how Microsoft should lessen the 360’s almighty roar (I couldn’t even if I wanted to), but the PS3’s almost silent whisper makes playing Halo Reach feel like you’re trying to watch a movie in a theatre filled with crying babies and circus performers. Initially the 360 slim diminished the noise greatly, but after a few months it slowly but surely becomes louder and louder until you are almost back to square one. We want the Xbox next-gen to behave like a 1940’s housewife – seen but not heard.
PLAYSTATION: Do something with Home!
Ah, PlayStation Home. Essentially a marketing tool that no one pays attention to, it offers you virtual furniture and clothing that no one will ever see for REAL money. While forking over your cash for a pair of digitized Loafers on Live is equally obscene, at least your friends actually get to see your avatar regularly, with it being incorporated into some major titles such as the recent Mortal Kombat. But you’ll have no such pleasure with Home, as it is solely inhabited by people who have far too much time on their hands/”just wanted to try it out”.
Here’s an idea then: why not actually do something with it, Sony? You can still use it to market TV shows, straight-to-DVD movies and the like, but you could also fill it with actually fun mini-games and the Home avatars could be spruced up and made playable in other titles. The whole experience could easily make the transition from a purgatory for the relentlessly bored to a cool online meeting place for friends, families and pedophiles.
XBOX: Parallel analog sticks
Aside from first-person shooters, any multi-platform title that is released I buy for the PS3. Why? Because its controller is nigh-on perfect. Aside from the slightly terrible trigger buttons it’s an absolute dream to play with, and this is in no small part thanks to its parallel analog sticks. Fighters feel better using them. Platformers feel better using them. Third-person shooters feel better using them. The only genre I can think of that is slightly (and I mean slightly) better suited to the Xbox’s diagonal analogs is the FPS, but everyone’s getting bored of them anyway, right? No? Oh.
PLAYSTATION: A less alienating price tag
Some people, including myself, were put off by the PS3’s ridiculously large initial cost of $600, meaning that it spent most of the current generations ‘console war’ playing catch-up to its more affordable competition. Unfortunately this means that a hell of a lot of people missed out on a fully-fledged entertainment system, with the PS3 offering consumers far more bang for their buck than both of its competitors. It’s already been stated by Sony execs that they’ll be aiming to make the PlayStation 4 a cheaper development, and we hope this is to be the case. If the PS4 can place itself in between the Wii U and the 360’s successor in terms of price, we expect to see a lot of gamers yet again pledging their allegiance to Sony.
XBOX: A more diverse range of games
The 360’s library has almost exclusively consisted of manly men holding guns shooting other manly men. Sure there have been a few that have broken from the pack, but seeing something as innovative as LittleBigPlanet or Heavy Rain on Microsoft’s console just wouldn’t feel right. While its testosterone fuelled third-party output has made the 360 the beer-drinkers console of choice, it wouldn’t hurt to add a little variety into the mix. I’m not talking about completely abandoning the by-the-numbers shooters that EVERYONE loves, but at least throw a few genuinely unique exclusives in there to give us all a little break from the tedious grey/brown colour palette that we’ve all grown annoyingly accustomed to.