(Before I dive into the bulk of my topic here, yes I am aware I am currently a ghost. My actual username is @Dissent. Supposedly my username issue is being worked on. I have not recently seen anyone else with this same issue of mine, so it's safe to assume, in this thread, anyone without a name is probably me. Anyways...)
Since the Xbox One and PS4 have been released, a lot of people have claimed they're bringing "A true next gen experience" to gaming. But what does that mean, really?
I think, overall, most of all, what "Next Gen" is, is different to each person. There's a lot of ways developers can take advantage of newer, more powerful software, and so in the end, it really falls to the user to decide what "Next Gen" means to them.
What does it mean to me? Well, graphics have, without debate, reached an impressive level of fidelity. Even before moving to "Next Gen", they were doing things with pre-rendered animation that was near photo-realism. In my mind, a true next gen experience moves beyond just making something look nice, and introduces newer, more innovative mechanics. In my opinion, this generation of gaming will be defined not by impressive graphic capabilities, but in the underlying, computative capabilities of games. Things like the impressive number of zombies on display in Dead Rising 3, and the larger sized Battlefield 4 multiplayer games (something a bit of an old hat for PC gamers) will really be where this "Next Generation" of console games shine.
I think the best example, in my mind, of this potential, is the game "Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor". The developers of that game sat down and said "What can we improve that no one else has. And instead of graphics, or a larger map (really just a memory requirement), they went with the enemy NPC's. They tried to create an expansive, procedural, unique experience utilizing the enemies in their game. Now, whether or not they actually manage to deliver on their lofty promises... that remains to be seen. But I'm watching closely.
So what is Next Gen to me? That's it. Not making the game look better, but play better.
What is Next Gen to you?