High-End PC Gaming Already Next Gen? Don’t Make Me Laugh!

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The games industry today is abuzz with talk of the next generation of gaming. With the WiiU already with us, the Playstation 4 having been announced a while ago and, by the time you read this, Microsoft being about to or having just announced the next Xbox unit, you can’t move around the gaming web without coming across some sort of discussion about the next gen. This is only to be expected of course; it’s an exciting time of promise and optimism, the culmination of one gaming era and the cusp of yet another; one which seems set to bring unprecedented gaming experiences. The gaming community is nothing if not willing to voice its varied opinions, so its unsurprising that there are as many views on offer as there are voices or keyboards with which to express them.

Now, we’ve all heard most of the big things (probably on this very site if you’ve any sort of reading taste!): tales of always-online restrictions, specification layouts, persecution of second-hand games, augmented reality, 3d sound and many more facts, rumours and outright fabrications have done the rounds and purveyed as ‘fact’ by many.

Thing is, even at times of relative serenity in the industry, trying to discern fact from fiction when it comes to gaming is often pretty hard. All it takes these days, it seems, is for one person to claim something with a measure of assumed authority and it can gain momentum rapidly, quickly becoming accepted as truth. It seems in the games industry the old adage of ‘if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth’ holds especially true (and that’s likely to be the last time I ever quote an old Nazi in one of my articles I hope!)

Next--Gen graphics will admittedly be amazing

Next–Gen graphics will admittedly be amazing

I was given reason to reflect on this recently as I was reading up on the coverage of the PS4 release news and the speculation around the scheduled Xbox announcement. While the reports were fairly standard and seemed to convey much of the same official information, along with the standard speculation, my attention was drawn to a recurring theme in the comments sections of the articles. Curious as to whether the release news was acting as a light to the troll-moths, I took an excursion around various forums and boilerhouse websites to see if the situation was the same. What I found mirrored the comments I’d seen previously. All across the various discussion points of the web, when it came to the subject of next-gen, there was the same ‘fact’ being put forward:

High-end PC gamers are already experiencing the next-gen today.

This puzzled me, as its simply not true.

Look at it this way; while high-end PC gaming has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, it still represents only a miniscule part of gaming companies’ demographic. For a game to be realistically next-gen, it stands to reason that it would have to be playable only on these new systems, as the hardware required would be only present on those systems. You name me one mainstream game that is only playable on next-gen equivalent technology!

Go on… I’ll wait…

Pretty, I'll grant you, but mechanically still current-gen

Pretty, I’ll grant you, but mechanically still current-gen

What’s that? Crysis 3? Ah, I think I may see the problem here. I fear people may be confusing graphical improvements with next-gen gaming. The fact is that while games like Crysis 3 are graphical powerhouses, wonders of visual design on high-end systems, they’re still designed at a base level to work on all reasonable mainstream systems and the current generation of consoles. This means that, while they look prettier on high-spec PC units, the core game remains the same. What many forget is that graphical quality, in this situation, is really no more than window dressing; graphical eye candy creating the illusion of being a step above the rest, when in actuality the base game runs on the same limitations as all the rest do. It’s the equivalent of putting flashy rims and a new paint job on your car; it’s still the same car as it was before; same speed, handling and feels as before, it just looks a bit flashier. The same is true of games like Crysis 3 and Far-Cry 3; they have all the graphical bells and whistles but under the hood they’re current-gen through and through.

Where the next generation of gaming will prove its step up from today’s is in the behind the scenes aspects. The upgraded processor power, graphics engine and RAM will allow for the game to be doing much, much more in the background, allowing for more environmental and gameplay features. It’s hard to say exactly what, as games being developed now are unlikely to use this to its full potential; that takes time and practice. To use an example from the previous generation gap, Half-Life 2 demonstrated the progression from the old generation to the current with its previously unseen physics engine, which allowed a whole new way of designing and playing a game. While visually a treat, the real revolution there was in the background, contained within the upgraded grunt produced by the better hardware.

Half-Life 2's real next-gen features were mechanical, not graphical.

Half-Life 2’s real next-gen features were mechanical, not graphical.

Yes Diablo 3 will look prettier on the PS4 and next Xbox than it would on the PS3 or 360, but this is a game that runs on standard, middle of the road PCs now. Unless some exclusive content is produced for the new consoles, the game is going to be the same as it is now, but with prettier graphics.

While graphical improvements are always the most striking and obvious feature of the next generation of gaming when it arrives, in many ways it is a smokescreen, a visual sleight of hand used to impress the public and demonstrate in a easily recognised way the improvements over old technology. This causes many to mistakenly identify improved graphics as evidence of next-gen gaming. As with many things, the truth is really much more complicated. It’s going to be a while into the new generation before we start seeing true next-gen gaming, as it will take some time for developers to adapt to the improved technology available.

In this case, beauty is only skin deep. For true next-gen gaming you have to dig a little bit deeper.

About Paul Izod
Paul Izod is a lifelong gamer. Since he was old enough to tap at his Dad's PC's keyboard he's been a gamer. Dedicated and often opinionated, you can be sure he'll always have something interesting to say about the subject at hand. Find him on Twitter at @PaulIzod or @FaultyPixelUK or email him at paulizod@zero1gaming.com

34 comments
copied
copied

wow... this has to be one of the most incorrect things i've ever read. quite simply in every way you are wrong. this is not a matter of pride, because i am a pc gamer, its just a matter of fact. here are of few of those facts to explain why current pc owners ARE playing games in "next-gen" style. 

first - every single game that comes out for current gen runs at 720 - where as anyone running a pc is running at 1080 (or higher), now this in and of itself doesn't make it "next gen" but considering that one of the big selling points of the new consoles is the fact they can finally do this makes t it was worth mentioning. also running at 60 - 120 fps is also one of the considerations (note that it hasn't been confirmed aside from the COD franchise) of next gen consoles, something we have been doing for years. I know that this not only isn't, but also shouldn't be considered next gen gameplay, so please read on.

second - here is where i tell you why we are in fact and have been for a while experiencing "next gen" gaming. dx11. so, the brunt of the post is about how graphics alone aren't enough to constitute "next gen" which i guess to be fair is one opinion. however for the last few years all games on consoles have been running in dx9. that not only means that they have a lower graphic capability, but that they actually don't have the HARDWARE to do the things that game developers ARE putting in games today. a brilliant example of a few of these things can be seen by searching for the DX11 patch for crysis 2. go on i'll wait...... now,  those things are hardware specific and drastically change the visuals of the game.  

third - continuing on there are things like tessellation which will be added to next gen consoles isn't currently available is something we've seen in many titles. there are also a few things recently to come out like global illumination in hitman absolution, also something that can't be done on current gen. these things coupled with things like increased draw distance or even AA still can't be achieved on current gen and still change how immersive an experience in a game can be. ex. skyrim texture pop ins can be greatly reduced leading to a much cleaner experience. as for the last thing i'll mention, go check out phys-x something thats been around for a while an incorporated into older and newer games alike, something that doesn't change anything visual but is actually adding to the game itself.

finally i would like to add to anyone who could stomach this entire comment is that i am not one of those, "i am so superior because i own a pc" i also own a console and have enjoyed quite a few games on it. the fact is that saying that somehow better visuals aren't considered next gen, and that gameplay is, well this just isn't true. the vast selling point of a new console is what its capable of visually, and whether its done though hardware or software that is what most of it comes down to. to say that a COD game somehow is somehow next gen coming out on a new console is ridiculous if it looked exactly like the last one. most games will play exactly the same as previous games and only be enhanced visually, so in turn the point your making not only doesn't make any since its just plain wrong.

andy3471
andy3471

When people say PC Gaming is already next gen, it means that PC gamers are ready for next gen games, NOT saying that current gen games ported to consoles will have better mechanics than the console version. Console has held PC gaming back as they have made sure that the games would also run on 8 year old budget hardware, whereas when the next generation consoles are out, there is far less of a worry. When next gen games come out for PC, I know I'll be ready to far out do the performance if I was running it on a PS4 or Xbox one, but it doesn't mean games ported from current gen are much difference except major graphics tweaks. I'm not saying consoles are a bad thing, they enable people with a smaller budget get in on gaming which does propel PC gaming, but in PC there is no worry about generations, people keep moving forward rather than staggered hardware launches, meaning stuff like this is possible with graphics mods -  http://www.pcgameshardware.de/screenshots/811x455/2013/02/GTA_4_iCEnhancer_2.5_Alpha_2__2_.jpg 

TL:DR - PC gaming may not currently have next gen mechanics, but most mid range PCs are ready and will be able to handle next gen console games, therefore they are "next gen" machines, just with a current lack on next gen games. 

Webocs
Webocs

well there's a lot wrong in what you say.. but i'll let you realize that for yourself.. i'll show in one simple example.. you're saying that ps3 games, Xbox Games, and PC games deep down are the same, that they just add a few better textures and stuff, but deep down they are all 3rd gen.. Let's take the example of Pro Evolution Soccer, with your logic, PS2 version of PES 2012, it's deep down the same as PS3 version but with less pretty things.. yet PS2 is 2nd Gen and ps3 is 3rd gen.. and if i'm correct 2nd is not equal to 3rd ;) .. ergo.. you fail

UgrinkoZvrkVeselica
UgrinkoZvrkVeselica

Witcher 2, Crysis 3, BF3, Tomb Raider on PC look better than next-gen consoles...

Consoles still cant figure out how to properly control FPSses if we want to talk about inovation.

Greatest invention console could have is to give keyboard and mouse as mandatory peripheral .

UgrinkoZvrkVeselica
UgrinkoZvrkVeselica

Truly crappy article.

Lets see Skyrim and GTA4 with ENB,SweetFX and if you want to talk about stuff behind the curtains, Terabytes of mods that can bring total conversion of games(Skyrim can be played as RTS etc..)

Consoles were always two steps behind in any way, be it that M$ forced developers so PC got only crappy ports(and even with ports, community managed to fix all the mess)..

natedawg3654
natedawg3654

This article is stupid and jst stating the obvious.  Even the first generation on games on next gen consoles won't be truly "next-gen" because they won;t be using the engines and hardware to their full potential.

Luieburger
Luieburger

Article is false. The vast majority of groundbreaking game features have always started on the PC, and are slowly adopted by the consoles.

-FPS games

-Strategy games

-Online multiplayer

-MMO games (which consoles handle poorly)

-3D graphics

-Virtual reality displays done right (Oculus Rift)

-Isometric RPGs

The list just goes on.

Heck. The "next gen" consoles aren't even running unique hardware anymore. The PS3 cell processor was a bust since nobody could use it, so now both the PS4 and XB1 are using an AMD APU that they designed for laptops. So now you're even adopting our hardware... our last gen hardware...

So yes. The author of this article is right. Graphics are not the only thing that define next gen. It is just the most obvious feature. However, almost everything that you enjoy in a console gaming experience is something that was originally designed by PC gamers, for PC gamers. Almost everything.. That was true last gen, and it will continue to be true this gen.

The PC is where all the innovation happens.


MatthewGerardCrane
MatthewGerardCrane

simple as this the pc is truly next gen but the new consoles are not they are pc gaming from 2008 now the reason the new games for pc do not look truly next gen is cause the current gen consoles are holding back gaming 

rollpard
rollpard

let's see what Janguar can do in next gen

which is just better than ATOM

JutoKuto
JutoKuto

Listen paul you are completle clueless.

Bf3 on consoles, low settigns 1280x720p with barrely 30 fps. Pc very high, 1920x1080 with 60 fps. Max payne 3 also runs on low. Crysis 3 and metro last light  run on lower than lowest settings on consoles and look better than killzone shadowfall. Apparently next gen wont be 60 fps and dice will cut cornets with bf4. The one year old unreal demo run at visibly lower quality settings than the pc version. Like medium settings.


You seem to talk about technology despite the fact consoles use old antialising, ambient occlusion and rendering techinques.


Or you reffer to gameplay scripts and physics?


Games had large maps and physics back in 2007 with crysis, its consoles that hold progress due to their limited hardware and lack of innovation.


So killzone shadowfall appears and guess what? it plays and works like current gen fps, same gameplay, same linear maps, same texture streaming techinique that loads new areas by removing the old assets. So 8gb of glorious GDDR5 and the game relies on old tech and methods.


So by your logic, killzone is not a new gen game, it just looks better.


Come on, really?


DreWilliams
DreWilliams

Lol console tech demos are 100 percent fake and always have been. My Pc with 4gigs graphics memory will still look better than any console game. Ive been told this crap from console fanboys for years. But all last gen i was told the same thing i had both systems xbox and ps3. And guess what they all looked like shit compared to my cheap 4870 i bought years ago. a 139 dollar graphics card looked 5 times better than any console game that came out dont make me laugh.

hexagonsoldier
hexagonsoldier

Its funny that you say that PS4 will supersede PC capabilities when it will be more like raising the standards across the board. AMD chipset support has usually been thrown together and the driver support has been sluggish which has caused PC games to be poorly optimized when ported from consoles. Since both the PS4 and Next Xbox will be AMD X86 based, many of the technologies will be identical and will help developers better optimize code across the board. Even if the next gen systems are more powerful than PCs, they will only be marginally better because of the  almost identical technology much like a slightly more powerful PC would only be marginally better. In the end the argument is not really an argument. The next gen systems will provide great benefits to PC gamers as well as console gamers.

sertz
sertz

This is a straight up troll of PC gaming.

There's nothing here that "proves" next gen consoles will be better than high end current PC's. PS4 is an impressively designed system, taking the best aspects of the PC architecture with multi-core x86 processor, and modifies parts (the shared GDDR5) to make the system cater a little better to what an entertainment system handles, AKA: Video, games, apps, etc.

However: This in no way means PC gaming is going to get blown away when the next gen arrives. PC gamers will finally be able to see what their "current gen" PC hardware can really do. PS4's GPU is around the equivalent of a *mobile* Radeon 7850, meaning under-clocked due to the (generally, I'm looking at you Xbox) cramped space of a consoles chassis. This shouldn't be taken at face value though, as in truth I have no doubt the best programmed PS4 game will rival the best programmed PC game any day of the week, at least for the next couple of years.

Bottom line, programming and game engine improvements are what is going to usher in the next generation, thanks to the increased hardware capability of the next-gen consoles. And now that they have finally embraced the PC architecture and modified it to be even more efficient, it will only mean good upgrades for PC gamers in the future, as each market bleeds into the other.

High end current computers will be able to run anything the PS4 can until well into its lifecycle, until Naughty Dog uses their voodoo stone to extract the last mojo juice out of the emotion engine.

tbalboni
tbalboni

so what needs to happen in a game to be considered next gen? This article doesn't make any sense

Lt_Dan
Lt_Dan

You're going to say that PC gaming isn't current gen by showing screens from half life 2? That's like saying CGI isn't very realistic looking yet by showing shots from the first starwars trilogy. Also, the only reason PC graphics aren't as good as some of the screens you show is because current gen consoles are forcing devs to make PC games worse than they could be. 

MrBobbo
MrBobbo

This is pretty damn stupid. First off, you're originally talking about people claiming PC hardware is next-gen, then "proving" it's not by talking about how the software is only current-gen. You say that next-gen isn't all about the graphics, yet offer no other idea for what next-gen is. Most of your arguments have no basis behind them. No one ever said for a game to be truly next-gen it had to only be on next-gen consoles.

The point is, PC hardware is already where PS4 is going to be. If you want a PS4 early, you can buy close to equivalent PC parts. I find it pretty mind blowing that you took the fact that consoles hold PC gaming back and actually used it against PC gaming. It's true, current software has to scale back to run on consoles. Imagine when it doesn't, and games will actually make full use of PC hardware.

The PS4 isn't going to be as amazing as you and most people think it is. It's not going to be "avatar quality graphics." The hardware in the PS4 actually isn't that impressive, because Sony already admitted they're not in a position to take a hit on every console. It's extremely efficient, but held back by a budget. So, you're stuck with a glorified APU. That screenshot of the realistic face you have up there, you're not going to see that in games. Just that face alone takes one hell of a GPU to process, and claiming that you're going to have a bunch of enemies in a game with that kind of graphics is just stupid.

Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3
Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

Just curious: Based on you analysis, wouldn't this prove that Wii U is next-gen since although in its early life people haven't seen much graphical prowess, which obviously won't come until later in its life for like the next Mario or Zelda, the fact that it does stuff other consoles are incapable of doing solely and has features that weren't present last-gen mean that those who say it's current gen are wrong, or it depends on the person hypothesizing the issue?

eragon3232
eragon3232

@UgrinkoZvrkVeselicaSaying BF3 or any of those other games look next gen on PC right now is laughable. I play BF3 on my PC at 1080p, maxed settings, and it's way better than console, but anyone who has seen the BF4 footage knows that it's not next gen. You don't even have to use your brain to realize this, just your eyes. 

Also, Skyrim runs on DX fucking 9 even on PC, that's not next fucking gen. Just shut up.

Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3
Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

@Luieburger LOL. That's funny because I recall the N64 first using a control stick, a targeting system, AND playing with up to 4 players at the same time out of all game machines and NOT PC. What you gotta say to that?

jerrydeeeee
jerrydeeeee

@MatthewGerardCrane I know I will get flamed for this but Wow was truly next gen when it was released and through the years evolved to something no console could do. This is not talking graphics because obviously thats not what this is about. The social aspec, the massive open world or the ability to kill a boss with 40 other people. This is just one example and I would like to say PC is the next gen. It is what everything follows. If you want to play true next gem games dont buy a ps4 or xbox one, buy a GTX 780.

Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3
Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

@MatthewGerardCrane So ur proposing that consoles adopt the same open architecture on PC so that they all have an equal experience no matter what you're playing or just want consoles to take a different form altogether in the future? Or just advance faster?

kyleh334
kyleh334

What he said has applied to every previous generational release, so why would he be wrong this time round? Did you actually read the article? Moron.

DreWilliams
DreWilliams

@hexagonsoldier  

Amd  drivers arent bad nividia are just whores that pay develpoers 2million dollars to make games run on there cards the best. Well amd has started this pay developer crap as well so there wont be anymore gaps in performance. But its the crappy developers fault for putting out a badly optimized game in the first place maybe they are just hopping for a nividia payoff so they put out shit games on purpose.

kyleh334
kyleh334

Wow are you stupid? If you read this article properly then you would have to say that the Wii U is not next Gen as it offers no significant improvement over the current Gen. What he is saying is that now we have the Xbox One and PS4 with there significant increase in storage and performance, you will now get games that utilise that power with new gaming engines that can push the boundaries even further. As most if not all current games are based around the lowest denominator e.g Xb 360 and Ps3, all you are getting on P.C is the same engine but with prettier visuals. So P.C isn't next gen currently, as it too uses the game game engines as current gen consoles. Look at Gears of War on XB as an example. This game would of been impossible on the first Xbox and PS2. So you can expect to see a similar pattern months down the line after the new consoles release. I totally get what he is getting at, and I find it astonishing that you are too stupid to see it.

superfaggot123
superfaggot123

@gam3r1o1 @Luieburger

It's funny because doom had 2 to 4 players coop/deathmatch multiplayer in 1993. And I think it wasn't the first one eaither.

Inb4 "HURR ITS NETWORKED MP IT DOESN'T COUNT" babby consoletears

AuZrael
AuZrael

@kyleh334I would like to say that what JutoKuto means is PC is better, it is prettier, and the only reason things Have NOT changed is because console is holding things back. The PC hardware if by far ready for next gen. and everything but it isn't here. I could also interpret while he talks about consoles running games on "lower than low" he means that PC's are already experiencing what Consoles are calling next gen. Not that it actually is. PC is enjoying similar graphical quality to what Consoles will call 'Next-Gen" though nothing has changed.
          I will go on to say that current games do not harness current hardware correctly, and current engines are sloppy, Crysis 3 IS good looking, but it's a brute when it comes to handling hardware. I'm looking forward to 'Next-Gen' engines that are both efficient/optimised, and fabulous looking. I'm hoping for all of the things that have been 'effects' to this point to become real simulations, Entities spawned because of certain parameters in the physics engine. Sparks spawning and falling in the simulated wind because a bullet skimmed past a wall at a certain speed, a certain angle, in a certain material, causing it to heat up past a pre-defined temp parameter, and (x) many sparks spawning because of the distance travelled before lodging itself in the wall. THAT would be next gen.

TL;DR     PC is only as pretty as consoles will let them be, PC experiences what consoles will call next gen, not that it is. Current engines are poorly Optimised, inefficient. I hope new Physics engines will actually be physics, not gravity+fall curves.

Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3
Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

@kyleh334 apparently you didn't thoroughly read the article and just went through the parts that praise graphics and performance as next-gen factors. the part where it says talks about half-life 2's advancements show that the game made gameplay leaps for gaming, not just graphics with gameplay being the main focus of the paragraph. Obviously graphics and performance are the main ideas of the article and I understood that-I was just pointing out that since Paul Izod included gameplay also as a factor, what if that could classify Wii U as next-gen since it's doing what previous console generations couldn't do; which is have the console on to play a game WHILE someone is watching TV while other consoles don't have the luxury. Don't bother schooling me on PC/Console compatibility and generation leaps because I already uphold the knowledge to a high degree but that's not what I wish to point out. Even though the only significant improvement over current gen is the asynchronous/asymmetrical activity of Wii U, it's never been done to it's maximum potentially or fully realized with just one system alone until now; that's what I was getting at. Honestly, I know all about this stuff and all about gaming so no need to explain. I got the big idea of the article I was just analyzing the part he didn't go in depth with that wasn't as big a focus because I was hypothesizing; how can you be so stupid to judge my observations when you don't even understand the basis behind the comparison? Hmm? Even Paul Izod would have understood me; I find it hysterical that you really went on a totally different tangent from where I was originally proposing my idea but whatever, you're a PC guy who thinks substance is more valuable than style and I'm a guy who thinks that there's more to a console than its graphics so it makes no difference; let me know if you still don't understand my initial analysis, I'll be euphoric to go through and reiterate my stance on the subject to your naive being again. Do you understand why I mentioned the Wii U now?

jerrydeeeee
jerrydeeeee

@AuZrael @kyleh334 Go play skyrim and addthese things called MODS!. yea thats right, maybe the consoles hold back the game but the PC community can make a game next gen all on its own. Advanced ai, physics, graphics or super High res graphics thats all done on PC. PC is the future of gaming.

PaulIzod
PaulIzod

@gam3r1o1 @kyleh334 I appreciated the 'Even Paul Izod would have understood me' part there but the way.... 

Charming