There is no shortcut to making good games. Nothing can replace inspired design and clever development, and games designed primarily to make use of new hardware ultimately fail. There are, however, some franchises that could benefit from a jolt of new technology.
Now that the next-generation of gaming systems is here and we’ve had the chance to spend some time with the hardware, it got us thinking. New gaming hardware launches are a time for hope. It lets us dream that our favorite forgotten franchises may make a triumphant return (bring back Fear Effect, dammit!), but it also gives developers a chance to reinvent their franchises through the new tech.
With that in mind, we offer a few franchises that we want to see on the next gen, partly for their own sakes. Obviously we hope they are fun to play, but they are games that we think would specifically benefit from the new technology offered on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Some we are fairly sure are on the way, while others we’re just hopefuly for. None have officially been confirmed though. There are certainly dozens more we could mention (we love Shemue too, but there are specific reasons for the games listed), so consider these the start of the conversation and feel free to continue it in the comments below.
It would take a meteor striking Gearbox headquarters to stop another Borderlands game, and probably not even then. Borderlands 2 was a monster hit for publisher 2K Games, and it became the gift that kept on giving thanks to numerous DLC offerings and a multitude of add-on content. Still, the gaming market is unpredictable. Things could change, and until Borderlands 3 is officially confirmed, there is no Borderlands 3.
The first two Borderlands games did a lot when it came to co-op play, weapon variety, and mixing first-person shooter mechanics with RPG progression. It may not have been the first to do all that, but it is regarded as one of the best.
Imagine what a new Borderlands could do with the new hardware. More processing power could allow the world of Pandora (or even a new setting) to be significantly bigger. The cap of four players per party could jump. We’d look back at that Guinness record of 17.75 million guns in a video game for B2 and laugh at how quaint it is.
You’re going to see a bunch of sandbox games on this list, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. Open world games require a lot of processing power, and expanding that power means more options. Most of what we’ve seen and heard from next-gen sandbox games thus far offer more guns and more ways to make things explode real ‘purdy. There’s nothing wrong with that, and hey, the next-gen graphics make fireballs look super sweet. But still, it’s nice to see games like Bully take that increasingly familiar open world style and present something decidedly not shooty.
2006’s Bully was a game unlike any other. Bring Rockstar’s open world sensibilities to an open world game that doesn’t focus on violent gun battles, just for the sake of originality, and we’re sold.
The character of Crash Bandicoot is due for a revival, and the next-gen systems would benefit from his bizarre visage. The Wii U has taken a wee bit of criticism lately, but one area it does excel at is with platformers like Mario and Rayman. Nintendo’s new tech has led developers to rethink how platformers work, and that philosophy should return for the new options available with the PS4 and Xbox One.
If/when Crash does make his return, he needs to come back strong to stand above his rivals in the genre. Other franchises can build on previous successes while Crash would need to overcome past disappointments and work off nostalgia. The next gen hardware could give Crash new life, while simultaneously giving the platforming genre a shot in the arm.
Dishonored offered a refreshing twist on the familiar first-person style of play, but it also felt a bit limited at times. A lot of that is down to the game’s presentation, which accidentally and repeatedly lied to us. It touted the freedom of how to approach an objective, but then limited the options. You may have had several ways to enter a house, for instance, but if you wanted to take the stealth route and sneak in a window there were really just one or two ways to do that. That’s not freedom, that’s the illusion of freedom.
With next-gen processing power, the game can let players flex their creative muscles. Let us sneak in several ways. Let us methodically drive a guard crazy by smacking him on the back of the head and teleporting away. Let us wreak havoc and a ghost-like god the guards come to fear! That’s freedom, and we can’t wait to abuse that power.
Yes, there is a port of Dynasty Warriors 8 coming to the PlayStation 4 when the system is released in Japan, but that’s not the same as a DW game made for the next-gen. The series is in desperate need of a complete overhaul, and has been for years. It’s still fun to murder your way across ancient Asia, killing thousands of poor, unprepared peasants with sticks conscripted as soldiers. It’s even more enjoyable to do it with a friend, making them accessories to your mass-murder, you monster, but there are only so many barren landscapes and doomed souls you can kill before it grows old.
With the next-gen systems, the series could retain the core hack-and-slash action, but make the whole thing feel fresh. Up the hundreds of enemies on the screen into thousands. Have co-op teams face armies led by other players. Expand the story with more objectives and side quests that actually mean something. Make little digital children run from you in terror as the legend of your monstrous nature spreads. These are relatively simple concepts that would make a tired franchise feel vital again.
Despite repeated teases, Bethesda continues to toy with the emotions of Fallout fans and blatantly refuses to confirm that a new Fallout is on the way. How dare Bethesda not satiate our admittedly selfish curiosity. More Fallout would be boss, and it is likely going to happen sooner or later – followed by Elder Scrolls 6, which would also be rad on the next gen.
Fallout 3 is a huge game. It’s so big that you can complete every side quest and main mission, and still not come close to seeing everything the game has to offer. And that was five years ago. The game was, and still is, impressive, but with next-gen technology at its disposal, a game like Fallout 4 could push the hardware beyond what we thought possible. If Fallout 4 is even bigger and more addictive than, say, Skyrim, people may starve to death as they plan to eat as soon as they finally reach a stopping point that never, ever comes. War never changes, but it gets cooler.
Gears of War
There will be no shortage of FPS titles in the years to come, but what about the increasingly beleaguered third-person shooters? This year there were 15 FPS released for console compared to six TPS games. The genre isn’t going away, but it needs a champion, and one of the best of the last gen was the Gears of War series.
Beyond the general need for more exclusives on the Xbox One, Gears has excelled at both multiplayer and cooperative modes. Deciding on the first game to offer a horde/survival mode could drive you crazy, but Gears did it very well, and many other games have since featured it. Epic Games is an innovator, and the next gen hardware should give them a chance to flex its muscle – not to mention highlighting its own, new Unreal Engine 4.
God of War
Sony has yet to confirm that a new God of War is on the way, but you can assume with some certainty that a new God of War is on the way. Eventually, at least. On the current gen systems, the God of War games feature some jaw-droppingly beautiful backdrops, set against fights that absolutely earned the distinction of being called epic. You fought gods, monsters, titans, and even a giant living statue. More of that, please.
God of War 3 was released in 2010, and yet it still looks as good as most games released in the three years following. The multiplayer introduced in God of War: Ascension showed a lot of promise too. Put those two things together, add a new storyline, do it all under the even better graphics and power of the PS4, and color us sold.
Grand Theft Auto
After GTAV’s record humbling performance, a sequel is as certain as any sequel can be, even if it is years from now. GTAV is an impressive game. It is massive, teeming with activities, GTA Online adds another layer, and there is more to come through DLC. Each new iteration of that series has been bigger than the last, and there’s no reason to think GTA6 won’t be bigger still, especially fueled by the next-gen hardware.
It was five years between the previous games, so we will likely have to wait a while. Maybe in that time the politicians that once had an issue with the series, but were too busy hating each other to complain about GTAV can unite and really rage at the next-gen depravity Rockstar is cooking up. Here’s hoping!
Persona (Shin Megami Tensei)
Atlus recently announced Persona 5 for release in 2014, but so far it’s being billed as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. That’s swell and all, but the next-gen could do a lot with that franchise. If you don’t know the Persona series, the games are RPGs but with a twist built around social interactions. That social slant ranges from making friends to dating to working menial jobs. Some of it was more fun than others, but it was original.
With the next gen systems, Persona could really delve into the social interactions in a far more complex way, potentially even working real social interaction into the game. We saw that hinted at in Persona 4 Golden, as gamers could see what choices other made before deciding themselves. We’ll probably see a lot more of that in Persona 5 on the PS3, but on the next gen it could make for a completely different experience. Imagine being a janitor, but with next-gen graphics! Can’t wait.
Rockstar likes to work on the DL. There may be a new Red Dead game on the way, or there may not be. For all we know, Rockstar’s next game will be a next-gen version of Table Tennis featuring glorious looking Ping-Pong balls. That would certainly confuse Rockstar’s enemies. RDR was more than just a Western skin on the GTA body, the game felt like its own creation, and a massive creation at that.
Red Dead Redemption (or whatever the sequel may be called) could use everything the new systems have to recreate a Wild West setting that is teeming with life, objectives, missions, and plenty of bears that you can blow up using dynamite.
Resident Evil 6 did its best to destroy the franchise, but it still made money for Capcom, so there will probably be a Resident Evil 7. The developer can’t let the Paul W.S. Anderson movie series be the only Resident Evil property still out there, regardless of how awesome Milla Jovovich is. It just can’t.
One of the early demos of the new Kinect showed that the peripheral could judge how flushed a person’s face was. In theory that means the Kinect could judge reactions, and to a degree, fear. At the very least the Kinect and PS4 camera could use little, simple tricks, like waiting for you to look relaxed before triggering the next attack. It could also wait for you to be distracted. Maybe the game could even call your real smartphone using a second screen app, then attack when you were distracted. It would be like cheating, but awesome. If nothing else, better graphics would help sell the monsters.
The SOCOM franchise may be among the unluckiest game franchises of all time. There was a time when the SOCOM games on the PS2 were the height of online console play. It was a big fish in a small pond, but new technology brought new competitors.
Developer Zipper Interactive tried to reclaim its online dominance with MAG on the PS3, but an anemic PS3 community in the early days of the system couldn’t support it. It then tried to revive SOCOM, but the game released two days after the PlayStation Network was hacked, keeping it offline for nearly a month. Zipper tried to bounce back with the Vita-only Unit 13, but it wasn’t enough to stop the developer from closing. With a bit of luck, maybe someone else can give SOCOM another chance using the next gen hardware.
There was a time when the Syphon Filter series was considered one of the best on the PlayStation, and a rival to Metal Gear Solid. It couldn’t keep up with Hideo Kojima’s games though, and so it didn’t try. Instead it went in a different direction, including a PS2 game that was meant to be played cooperatively online. It was radically different from most console games at the time, and required precise teamwork. It also made you hate noobs like no other game on consoles, so it had that going for it.
The series is not only ripe for a comeback, it would benefit from the next-gen technology. The last game released, Syphon Filter: Combat Ops, was a PSN only title. It was released in 2007 when the PSN was still in its infancy, and you can make the argument that it was ahead of its time. With the next gen power, the time is nigh.
Since Final Fantasy is apparently the all-Lighting all-the time franchise these days, there is room for another classic JRPG to return triumphantly on the next-gen. Beyond that though, there is a good reason Xenogears/Xenosaga specifically would work well on the new systems.
The original Xenogears was essentially a movie that you occasionally took a break from watching to fight and choose which subplots to pursue. The JRPG-style fighting was solid too. With the next-gen hardware, the game could become even more like a movie, a damn good looking one at that.