We’re about to enter what is likely the strangest transition to next-gen consoles we’ve ever seen. After months of fragmented online speculation in times of COVID-19, we finally have an idea of what to expect from the release of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S and their respective launch lineups. On the surface, the consoles have all the traditional trappings of new video game hardware–faster performance, more detailed graphics, and bigger, better games. Sony and Microsoft have maintained the forward-thinking approach that encapsulates the promise of next-gen. However, what is different about the upcoming launch of both consoles is that Sony and Microsoft are actively reframing the expectations for the new hardware’s launch window, for the better.
What strikes me as refreshing, and a lot less stressful, about this upcoming generation is that I know that we’ll have plenty of games to play due to continued access to my existing games from the current and past generations. Historically, new consoles have been something of a reboot for existing fans, while also being a fresh start for newcomers. Once we enter the next-gen, it’s essentially a new era with dedicated games, a new infrastructure, and an assortment of features and innovations that put each console several leaps ahead of its predecessors. This change is to be expected with new hardware, and because of this ensuing gap, I tend to keep my older consoles close in case I want to play some games that aren’t accessible on the new hardware.
This divide can often be the decider when looking forward to the consoles, and it’s especially noticeable in the early period of new hardware. Truth be told, when I first bought my PS4, I had some regrets about my purchase. In the months immediately following its launch, the only games I had sunk any time into were Infamous: Second Son and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. So far, based on the messaging from both Sony and Microsoft, the launch of the new hardware seems to be addressing this rut that can often come from adopting new hardware early. Instead of anticipating the usual angst and uneasiness of having a new console with not much to play at launch, I see myself more enthused about buying a new console earlier than I expected.