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New Generation, Same Old BS

Next generation dilemma.
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So we know the drill: the PS5 and Xbox Series X are just beyond the horizon. We just went through it around seven years ago when PS4 and Xbox One was announced.

Personally, I know my pattern. Wait about two-three years until they have a decent library saved up and have at least three to five exclusives that I could not live without. I’ve been burned by being an early adopter in the past (RIP – PS3 60 gig) or have made some terrible decisions (PS Vita over a 3DS, what was I thinking). Because face it, we have a limited budget and not all of our money will go to gaming even if the rest of our peer groups and family think that most of our hard earned dough really goes to gaming.

We’re responsible adults, yeah? Yeah right.

As a console gamer, my pattern is to secure a permanent home console and a handheld device. For the last seven years, it was either a PS3 and a PS Vita that became a PS4 and a PS Vita. While I got a lot of value from the Vita, FOMO made me look at 3DS with envy and soon, the Switch.

As for deciding the console, it is really the games I want to play and as with every generation, justifying getting a whole console or a gaming laptop for one game seems a little excessive. In a society that’s built on instant gratification and FOMO – there were some terrible choices.

I bought a DS for The World Ends With You, a PS Vita for Persona 4 Golden, and a Switch Lite for Octopath Traveller. While I could probably hold out on picking up a PS5 as long as my PS4 continues to perform, a FF7 Remake: The Unknown Journey (Not the actual title) PS5 exclusive could be enough to get me to pull the trigger. 

What about the rest of the population whose lives don’t revolve around keeping up with gaming trends and being first in line for the latest world designed by Nomura, Kojima, or Bethesda? When did choosing a console get as complicated as choosing a phone line, insurance plan, or life partner? One thing is for sure, there is no perfect gaming console. There’s a niche to fill with every quirk.

What’s Wrong With My PC?

Nothing is wrong with PC Gaming, though it’s all about your system requirements. Your PC now may run most of your apps and web browsers, but may not have the power to run the latest Call of Duty or that battle royale game with pinatas.

Simple solution would be to purchase a gaming laptop. I don’t know if one can justify the spend for a high end device solely used for games. If building a gaming tower is more to your budget, what you give up on price, you put in the hours to get it set up. If you are computer illiterate, maybe get a friend to set you up or pay a professional.

That is the biggest reason why I’m a console gamer, I ain’t got time for that. Though if you love your console games and want to play them on PC, “exclusive” ports to PCs do tend to be released a bit later. Just the same when you have a PC port you want to see on a console (like Disco Elysium), the wait goes both ways. It’s all about priorities!

How About Mobile Gaming?

Smartphones have come a long way and while some of the same indie / Steam games and remastered games are coming out on phones (almost all the Final Fantasy remastered titles can be played on the phone), if that’s your cup of tea, it costs about the same and Google Play has options for an achievement board as well. Sadly, it is also full of free-to-play/pay-to-win games and a lot of casual fodder.

Another downside is if you want the Triple A titles, they would still be on the consoles or on PC.

Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 (or Nintendo Switch)

There is no right answer as clickbait articles and brand loyalists would tend to have you believe. By now, each brand has established an identity. You want a great subscription service that also promises cloud gaming, Xbox is the right place for you. If you’re someone who prefers single player exclusives and critically acclaimed triple A titles that subvert expectations, then go PlayStation. Since I can’t afford a gaming laptop nor have the patience or skill to build a new one: I’ve subscribed to Playstation ever since. Though I did go through a Xbox 360 phase because the Playstation 3 era did not make me happy.

It’s all about what you want from your console. I know many friends prefer the Switch even if it doesn’t have the latest and the greatest from Sony and Xbox, because they can bring it with them on the go. The Witcher 3 just came out relatively recently and Dragon Quest XI may not be glistening on your 4K TV, but it is possible to play some PS4 games on it while you’re out on the train or on vacation. I’m not a Nintendo guy, so if you’re into all the Nintendo exclusives, that’s another plus. Did we say that you can play while in the toilet?

The Verdict

Know yourself as a consumer, your budget, and what games you’re going to get into. Most Triple A titles have designed their games to tickle the fancy of the mainstream crowd, so if you’re not too discerning of a gamer, either console would work for you. Also look into the individual games. Do you like your games with a bit of an edge like God of War or do you just want to spend the rest of your life on an island paying off your loan shark? Then you’ll know what console is right for you. 

The decision is quite easy once you get to think about what you really want and how you’re going to use it. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t have to be. The hype for the next generation is real but the trick is not to ride it blindly. Let us do that for you.

Author

Vincent Ternida’s book reviews and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Entropy Magazine, The Ormsby Review, and rabble.ca. His short stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in several anthologies including Write To Move Anthology, First Page Literature, and Seagery Zine. His short story "Elevator Lady" was long listed for the CBC Short Fiction Prize in 2019. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and is spending the lockdown catching up with his Japanese RPGs.

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