Gaming changed quite a bit this generation.
A while back, I wrote a piece about why modern gaming sucks. Admittedly, I spent the majority of the article just ranting about things that annoy me when it comes to gaming these days, and while those points still stand, I feel like I should point out some positive things about gaming today.
It didn’t occur to me in full force just how spoiled I am with my PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One – besides having the privilege of owning all of those in the first place – until I finally got everything I needed to get my GameCube up and running again. I remember booting up Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes and thinking to myself “I can’t wait to review this!”. Then it hit me… I have no way to capture footage from my GameCube, meaning I wouldn’t be able to take screenshots, which is a bit of a deal breaker for me since I almost always use my own footage and screens in my reviews.
Then this morning, I turned on my Switch and opened up a game to keep my occupied for a little while, and it opened up right to the point I was at last night.
Hot damn… I take modern gaming for granted.
All Digital Libraries
Ask the internet about digital versus physical, and you’re likely going to get a ton of input about why people only buy digital copies of games. There are a litany of reasons why they choose to go that route, and even though I prefer to buy my stuff as physical copies, I still enjoy having the option. Furthermore, because we live in an age of digital gaming, services like PlayStation Now and the Xbox Game Pass exist, which allow you to just stream or download any game linked to those services.
Sure, it would be nice if digital games were a little cheaper. You know, since those pesky retailers aren’t taking a cut of the profits and there isn’t a shipping cost to get each game into the hands of customers. Still, it’s nice to have the option to buy any game that releases onto your chosen platform as a digital game. It’s easy to forget that just one generation previous, while many games were available in a downloadable format, not every title was made available as a digital version. Microsoft didn’t offer multi-disk games for Games On Demand, and PlayStation and the Wii only offered some titles for digital ownership. As indie games took more of a center stage, that changed a little, as many of those games were only available digitally anyway, but it took until this generation of consoles to make every game available for digital purchase.
We shouldn’t forget that this was big news before the PS4 and Xbox One released.
I remember watching the reveal announcements of the PS4 and Xbox One back in 2013 and glossing over the tidbit about being able to take screenshots and record video clips (even though the ability to take screenshots on Xbox One came much later). It didn’t really hit home how big of a deal it was that I could just record whenever I wanted to until I played Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and I ran into an orc named Zunn, twice. Well, they were two separate orcs named Zunn… I guess it’s kinda like naming your kid John or Steven?
That was before I even started a blog, or got into using Twitter for more than trying to score free stuff from Larry Hryb. Once I began trying my hand at writing reviews and other gaming stuff, I discovered just how valuable it is to have a native capturing tool built into my game system. Granted, each system handles the process differently (which is something I’ll get into later), but the fact that I can take pretty pictures on any system I own is a major convenience.
Suspend And Resume
Who misses waiting several precious minutes to get into a game? That time would’ve been better spent on playing video games, of course! These days, you can just set your console of choice to Instant On or Rest Mode and “turn it off”, which suspends the application you’re running until you’re ready to start playing again. So instead of waiting for five to fifteen minutes to boot up your console, start the game, and load your save, you can just pick up right where you left off. It’s a godsend as an adult to know with some degree of confidence that you have the option to stop wherever you’re at and walk away if you need to, and that if you need to weasel in some time to play Subsurface Circular or Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you can do so without getting the history lesson about Wenceslaus IV and his jackass of a half-brother.
Although I seriously miss that oddly satisfying snap sound thing my Nintendo Switch made that one time…
Ah, memory cards. I think they finally died last generation with the Xbox 360 and Wii being the holdouts. USB drives proved to be a much better alternative once their cost dropped. However, the most convenient option for game saves has proven to be saving to the cloud. Now, if you head to a friend or family member’s house and you want to play a game, all you need to be able to access your latest save is to log into your account and download it.
The same goes for getting a hold of any screenshots or video captures, on the Xbox One at least. Since all of your captures are uploaded to Microsoft’s servers automatically, all you need to do to transfer that media to your PC is to download it. On the PS4 and Switch, you can transfer them manually to a PC with a USB drive, or upload them directly to a social media account. While all of these options make it simple to get your captured media from one place to another, I’ve found that the Xbox One’s method of handling the transfer works best for my needs considering that I don’t like to need to constantly manage my space on external storage.
Regardless, this generation has proven that save file and media storage is most convenient when you don’t need to track memory cards or which USB drives are used for your gaming needs.
Unless you’re talking about a Nintendo Switch. Then you can just bring the whole damn thing with you wherever you’re going. Talk about convenience in modern gaming… You have a complete console experience that you can just pick up and take with you anywhere.
Oh wait, the PlayStation Vita kinda did that back during the PS3 days. Until Sony chose to forget about it…
Is That All?
I know these aren’t the only things that have proven to be awesome conveniences in modern gaming, though I’m at a loss coming up with more.
What modern gaming innovations have you been taking for granted? Are they any I didn’t touch on? Let’s hear it.
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