3 Oct 2013

PlayStation 4: A Console for MMO Gamers?

About 5 months ago, I made the decision to preorder a PlayStation 4. Some of you might see that as a bold or brave choice, while others might think that it’s ridiculous or short-sighted. A few might even wonder why, as a heavy-PC gamer with a powerful gaming rig, I’m getting a console at all.

The truth is, I’ve been eyeing up the next generation of consoles for some time now. The graphical grunt and online capabilities of each machine feel like they’re getting good enough to deliver some incredibly rich experiences. Take one look at titles like Titanfall, Destiny, The Division and Dying Light, and it’s clear that the concept of multiplayer gaming is changing. With flexible grouping systems and an open-world feel, they’re beginning to borrow from the MMO playbook.

Selecting a system has been a slightly trickier issue, as I’ve based my decision on the current-generation crop. Nintendo’s Wii had some great games, but failed to live up to my expectations socially. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 managed the opposite, providing me with some okay-ish experiences but locking much of the multiplayer goodness behind a subscription. For me, the PC was a better deal all around.

That said, console gaming does scratch an itch that PC gaming has yet to satisfy. Although platform exclusives are becoming rarer these days, the PlayStation 3 saw a range of innovations from independent developers. From Flow to Flower to Journey, thatgamecompany was a great example of what indies can bring to console. After seeing Resogun and Hohokum at Eurogamer Expo, that trend looks set to continue.

I also think that the PlayStation 4 will become a hotbed of MMO gaming. We already know that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, PlanetSide 2, DC Universe Online and more will be heading to the console. More importantly, free-to-play titles won’t require a PlayStation Plus subscription for access. It might mean that we’ll see DUST 514 and others make their way onto Sony’s latest.

As for Microsoft? When I originally made my decision, their demands for an always-online connection was at loggerheads with twenty years of console gaming. I didn’t feel they’d earned the right to impose such gregarious DRM controls, in the way that Valve had with Steam. And, even though they’ve since relented, their sports-focused advertising has made me feel like I’m outside the target market. I’m not interested in the NFL, I just want to play games with friends.

With all this said, I realise that MMO gamers are a fickle bunch. The PC has served us well for over ten years and there’s no real need to change. So I’m curious to know: are you tempted by the next generation of consoles, or will you be sitting this one out?

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