I recently wrote an article about how the PS5 doesn’t feel like a next-gen console. I attribute this to the abundance of cross-gen titles, remastered PS4 exclusives, and the lack of games you can only play on PS5. I was hoping we would start to see a gradual buildup of PS5 exclusives as 2022 progressed. Unfortunately, recent news has put a damper on that.
Bloomberg reports that Sony plans to manufacture PS4 consoles until 2022 to ease pressure on PS5 production. Yes, a year later and finding PS5 restocks is still an absolute nightmare. With Sony planning to produce another million PS4 consoles this year, it’s safe to say that we won’t see the end of cross-gen titles any time soon.
Am I frustrated about this? Absoutely. My PS5 is actually a glorified PS4 Pro Plus because it exists primarily to play boosted PS4 games. I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I remember when there was a clear delineation between the end of one console generation and the start of the next. The lines started to blur between the PS3 and PS4 generations, but have now effectively been erased due to the industry’s inability to move forward. I can’t complain too much about this last point since the world is still reeling from the effects of the global pandemic and the current shortage of semiconductors. But knowing that I will have to wait longer to play real PS5 exclusives.
Are more cross-gen games a bad thing?
My main concern with cross-gen games is that developers may not be able to achieve all of their ambitions. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are exceptionally powerful consoles that developers (in most cases) can’t take full advantage of because they have to make games that run on 8-year-old systems. But does old hardware prevent games from being good?
To answer this question, I’ll be using Horizon Zero Dawn, a title generally considered one of the best PS4 games and one of the most graphics-intensive. Few people know that the developer Guerrilla Games had to omit the flight mechanics due to technical issues. Did the inability to fly around the game world prevent Horizon Zero Dawn from being an outstanding game? He does not have. And heck, it’s possible Guerrilla figured out how to add flight to the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West. But even though this game has the same core mechanics as its predecessor, it’s still going to be a great experience, cross-gen or not.
And while I want games that can only run on PS5, I have to admit that PS5-enhanced PS4 games can be mind-blowing on their own. Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and God of War (to name a few) are jaw-dropping on PS5 due to their respective next-gen patches. Not only do they look better at higher resolutions, they also play better thanks to 60 frames per second.
The same will be true for Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok. Yes, they’re still technically PS4 games, but the upgrades they’ll receive will at least superficially feel like next-gen experiences. PS5 will be the best platform to play all upcoming PS4 games. After all, the developers – as limited as possible by PS4 hardware – will add as many PS5 bells and whistles as possible, such as DualSense controller features.
To further illustrate that older (or weaker) hardware doesn’t hinder gaming, I have to mention Nintendo. While I’m not necessarily a fan of the company or the kinds of games it typically produces, it’s clear that Nintendo fans don’t care about cutting-edge graphics or ultra-realistic physics mechanics. They have too much fun playing Metroid Dread, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In fact, many gaming sites have rated Breath of the Wild as the best last-gen game (some even hailed it as the greatest game of all time). It can’t match the graphical richness of something like The Witcher 3 or Cyberpunk 2077, but that’s hardly a concern for the vast majority of Nintendo enthusiasts. All that matters to them is that their games are enjoyable.
We have to learn to live with cross-gen games for now
While I’m still not excited about the idea of cross-gen games continuing to release until 2023, I’m going to take a Nintendo fan page and stick with the games we’re going to get. That’s not to say I won’t care about graphics and performance. I will always want to get the most out of my games in terms of visuals and physics. But if I’m going to go through two or three more years of cross-gen PlayStation exclusives, I’ll have to adapt and stop being disappointed every time cross-gen exclusives are announced. As long as the games are great, I’ll have to stick with it.