What is Next Gen?

What is Next GenWhen fellow Nerd-Base writer Dave Chosid and I get into discussions about videogames, there is one topic that continuously comes up.  What is next gen?  Why upgrade?  Is it just better graphics, or is there more to it?  At first I didn’t have a good response for him because it seemed like he was right.  I didn’t see anything else other than slightly updated graphics.  As news continues to come out about both systems, I think I finally have a good idea as to what next gen is supposed to be.

This last generation was all about motion controls, and high definition.  The Xbox 360 kicked everything off with HD graphics right out the gate.  The original Xbox and the PS2 could do some games in HD, but it was few and far between.  The PS3 and the Wii launched about a year later.  The PS3 continued the trend with HD graphics, but the Wii went a different way with motion controls.  After the Wii’s great success Microsoft and Sony followed suit with the Kinect, and the PlayStation Move.

This generation so far is also two things.  Second Screen, and multitasking.  Although a half-assed attempt at being a part of the new generation, the Wii-U kicked things off with its tablet controller being the second screen.  Some games allow me to play without a TV.  I can play purely on the tablet, as long as I stay a certain distance from the system.  This has a few practical uses, where 2 different people want to do something different on the same television.

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The PS4 is doing something similar and allows you to connect your PlayStation Vita to the PS4 and play your PS4 games on the Vita screen.  In theory, this should work anywhere that the Vita can get a good internet connection. This means that if I’m bored at the in-laws for Thanksgiving, I can pull my Vita out and connect to my PS4 at home and continue playing my game.  Sony is also making a device called Vita TV which will connect up to a second TV in the house and allow you to stream your PS4 to the second TV.  The Vita TV is currently only announced for Japan, but it will likely come to America sometime next year.

The Xbox One is doing second screen in a different way with Smartglass.  Smartglass is an app you can install on any smartphone.  It works with the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One, however its 360 functionality was very limited.  One of the launch games, Dead Rising 3 will have some really interesting Smartglass features.  In previous Dead Rising games, you would receive a call in the game to let you know who needs help and where.  Dead Rising 3 will use the app to look like the phone in the game.  When someone needs help you will get a call or text on your actual phone through the app to bring even more interactivity and realism to the world.

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The PS4 has a Smartglass like app coming soon, but we don’t know what type of functionality it will have.  In theory if they work on it enough it will be capable of what the Xbox One is doing.  Meanwhile, Microsoft doesn’t currently have plans to allow you to play games remotely yet, but hopefully that will change in the future.

For multitasking, the PS4 will allow you to pause a game, and go into another app like a web browser, or Netflix, and then go right back to where you left off in the game.  You should be able to turn the system completely off at any time and resume the game right where you left off.  This may not be available at launch, but it will be coming soon.

On the Xbox One, you will actually be able to do what the PS4 is doing and more.  Instead of just switching between apps, you can also snap them on the side.  There are several times when I’m just flat out stuck in a game, and need help.  I often pull my phone out and go to YouTube and look up the section I’m stuck in to find out what to do. With this feature of the Xbox One, I’ll be able to snap YouTube off to the side and have the video playing while I’m playing through that section of the game.

I can also snap live TV off to the side.  I can see this really handy for sports fans.  You can also watch live TV and snap something else off to the side.  If commercials come on and they are boring you, you can pull up a browser or something else to entertain you while you wait for your show to come back on.

I was excited for the next generation of gaming to start, and now I have good answers as to why.

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