Big Picture Mode
Nathan Brown would rather not hear your E3 2019 tips, thanks
The rumour mill is spinning up again. I’ve never been one for industry gossip, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong: if you’ve got some scuttlebutt about a misbehaving PR rep, I will buy you a drink and you must tell me immediately. But I’ve spent my time in this profession studiously avoiding too much in the way of rumour. Mostly, to be honest, this is because I am at heart a great big fanboy, and I love to be surprised.
One of the greatest moments of my career was being in the room for the Sony E3 conference a few years back when they showed off The Last Guardian, Shenmue III and the FFVII remake within minutes. Brit journos always feel a bit out of place at these things. There’s all this whoopin’ and hollerin’ and then there’s us, pale-skinned and feeling weird in our shorts, griping about the poor air conditioning and barely-there WiFi. We are typically quite hard to impress, like. But when Sony showed that lot off, well, I’ve never seen anything like it. I was there when the UK magazine press lost its collective shit.
You couldn’t take that away from me. Shortly before E3 this year a fellow journalist bragged to me that he knew every single game that was being announced at the show bar three. There’s lots to unpack here. First, what a lot of obvious bullshit. Secondly, how did you know there were only three? Thirdly, why on Earth would you do that to yourself – robbing yourself of one of the few remaining rays of sunshine in an increasingly overcast world? New games! Surprising ones!
All of which is to say that I know about as much about PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two, or whatever names you’ve heard applied to the inevitable new wave of console hardware, as you do (unless you’re that guy from the previous paragraph, in which case you probably know loads but it’s all wrong). But it seems to be universally acknowledged that it’s happening, and reasonably soon. I do not deal in rumours. But I can certainly tell you what I’d like to see from the next batch of boxes to take up residence under our TVs.
First, and perhaps most importantly, if we get another generation of consoles powered by five-year-old CPUs, I shall simply scream. Let us never again be suckered in by lofty promises about GPU power or memory; it is the CPU that has held the current generation back from greatness, and if platform holders are left unchecked it will probably do the same next time as well. I like my shinies as much as the next person, and I’m assuming 4K will be the bare minimum the platform holders allow onto their new boxes. But framerates have been left behind throughout this generation, and the work the industry is doing in AI isn’t really going to get anywhere if the next generation of console hardware is to be powered by a worse CPU than the one in your mum’s phone. If I can’t play Destiny 3 in 60fps on a new £400 console, there’s going to be hell to pay.
Next, platform holders, please ensure your new devices are actually able to fully avail themselves of all available bandwidth. As I write this, I am staring at a PSN download that is using barely half what my connection is capable of. Xbox One X is a little better, sure, but glass houses and all that: while we’re at it, let’s also commit to disc installs taking less than, say, 300 hours.
PS4’s Share button was a brilliant innovation back in 2013, but five years later I think we can all agree it is terrible. To this day I’m not entirely sure how to get it to save a clip of the amazing 360 no-scope headshot I just did (and let’s be clear, this is the only reason I have no such clips saved to HDD or uploaded anywhere, because I do them all the time). I mostly use it for screenshots, but the delay between press and capture mean that getting the perfect screengrab is a deeply annoying, and usually unsuccessful, guessing game. Switch is the gold standard here; it takes a capture the instant you press the button. It works. Please copy it.
Another biggie is the frontend. You want us to live in your precious console ecosystems, I get it. Could you make them a little more pleasant to actually exist in, please? We game-players are simple folk at heart: all we ask is that when we press a button, something happens, and it feels good. After lashing out £500 on the world’s new most powerful console, my first experience with it shouldn’t be comparable to that of a £30 Android tablet.
Lastly, and most importantly: I don’t want to hear any of this in advance. Leaks are boring, and spoil the fun. In fact, just wake me when it’s ready. I’m going back to bed.
If we get another generation of consoles powered by five-year-old CPUs, I shall simply scream