Last week during the 2020 Xbox showcase, nine minutes of gameplay for the upcoming and next-gen title Halo Infinite was released. However, this wasn’t just our first look at a new Halo. It was also our first extended look at actual next generation gameplay.
However, if after the event you were scrolling through Twitter like me, the general feeling across the gaming community was one of disappointment. Gamers were quick to point out Infinite’s apparent lack of next-gen graphical magic, making an instant meme out of an unsuspecting Brute, since donned Craig. Poor Craig.
Let’s get the obvious point out of the way, Halo Infinite is not a bad looking game. It actually does look really nice, without even having to highlight the fact that Halo has never been a graphical powerhouse of series. Yet many felt the gameplay was lacking that wow factor. The sense of wonder and shine that leaves you yearning for that new black box to be fitting snuggly next to your TV this Christmas. Personally, I fell into the old school vibe that 343 Industries were going for, and it has me interested to pick this title up, even as a relative newbie to Halo. What it does highlight, however, is the expectations we should all have heading into the era of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.
Studio heads such as Phil Spencer (Xbox) and system architects like Mark Cerny (PS) will wax lyrical about the power of next generation, with Spencer himself stating that this next leap will be as drastic and impressive as 2D to 3D was. Yes, there will be improvements – we expect as much if we are to shell out £400-500 for a new console – but next-gen is all about streamlining rather than the huge graphical leaps we’ve been used to in the past.
Take for instance loading times. A huge concentration of PlayStation 5 has been the chopping down of loading times, with Mark Cerny claiming their big white wifi-router will boot up games like PS4’s Spider-Man ten times faster. All of this of course means you will spent more time playing and less waiting.
We can expect to see some improvements, but again it lines up with performance over graphics. 60 frames per second is about expected for most AAA releases, however, Xbox Series X and PS5 will practically guarantee it, whilst additionally aiming for 60 and beyond. 343 Industries themselves have announced Halo Infinite’s lofty aspiration for 120fps in free-to-play online multiplayer. There is also the question of how much better do we need? Games like The Last of Us Part 2 have such stunning visuals, that we can take in all the emotional nuances in facial expressions during a wordless conversation. How much further must we go?
So, in the coming years, there will be games that visually impress, and it would naive to assume that there wont’t be those next boundary pushing games at some point down the line. However, many gamers have to temper their expectations, and realise that this generation is about the more gradual and minor improvements, rather than the grand sweeping vistas, and awe-inspiring graphics. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be excited, as elements such as social interactivity, the complexity of games, and a wider range of more unique stories can all be anticipated. Just because those experience won’t look photo-realistic, doesn’t mean they will have any less impact.