So it's that time again. Once every few years PC users the world over get to sit back in their smugly reclining chairs, settle in with a hot cup of java, and smile with all important know-how. Console players are currently engaged in a deadly standoff. An Xbox One would-be swinging a virtual chair leg. A PlayStation 4 debutant dual wielding metaphysical berettas. No one knows what is going to happen, but be sure: before dawn there will be blood or at least fingers jammed on the caps lock.
While ostensibly a PC kinda' guy, this upcoming generation of consoles has piqued my interest. This marks Sony and Microsoft's first real punt into basically making their machines more PC-like. They have touted social media integration, mentioned the word "Twitch" more times than I care to mention, and all but plastered a big sticker on the front of their machines with the word "INTERNET ENABLED".
Basically, for all of the moans and groans about PCs being too difficult for the layman gamer, consoles are heading in our direction. We the OS users of this world were right along. Pat yourself on the back and help yourselves to two helpings of dessert tonight. You've earned it.
Alongside the usual claptrap of copy-and-paste FPS games, the Xbox One and PS4 have a sizable amount of MMORPGs coming to their systems: whether that is reskins of Final Fantasy 14, ports of Planetside 2, or indeed Elder Scrolls Online. The PC is currently in the midst of something of a golden age of technological supremacy, and it seems that those joystick peddlers want to join our party.
Which can only be a good thing. My gripe with consoles has been that, for so long, they have lagged behind what I've been able to do for a decade or more. When the assorted teens and tots of this generation discovered Xbox Live, Call of Duty, and casual racism, I could only point to Counter-Strike. When they started to play Borderlands with the zesty enthusiasm of a squirrel monkey, I could only open the curtains to the billboard entitled "WELCOME TO ONLINE GAMES, IDIOTS".
PCs have been so advanced, so far in front for so long, that it seems as though we've been stood way out in the leadwaiting for everybody to catch up. Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War have been touted as superior in every category, but when you have access to a multitude of online games, it's hard to get excited about such linear experiences, especially when I'm simply pleasure cruising in my ATV in Planetside.
So now with a new round of technology coming our way, it feels like we can finally inch forward again, without fear of leaving too many behind. But this also brings up something of a question: will you as a PC gamer even bother with Sony and Microsoft's latest wares?
For so long, the PC has outshined consoles, and aside from a few iffy ports here and there, graphical capabilities are still beyond what even the best of the newest generation can offer. PCs allow their users to hurtle through the matrix of advancements at an alarming speed, and providing you have the GPU cash to back it all up, so-called "next gen" is something that can happen bi-annually.
All of which makes the new consoles looks a little passe to the ordinary desktop owner. These monstrously social machines, for all of their marketing glamour, look like really neutered PCs.
I say this because, essentially game consoles are a great idea for doing just as the title suggest. Playing games with. When you add in every other gadget and widget you can think of, you start to push the boundaries of expectation. Now consoles have installations, patches, expansion packs (DLC to the young ones) and the trappings usually found in a PC - except, well you can't really do as much can you? Where's Photoshop? The ability to play music, easily, whilst playing? Play two things at once (don't pretend you haven't)? And dare I say, have a cheeky Pornhub bookmark. Don't look at me like that. I've seen your history. You dirty bastards.
So these consoles become glorified media hubs. But at $400, it seems a little steep. My PC does what they do better, while my old PS3 essentially works as a motor for Netflix. Do I need this new console with all of its social integration?
Of course not everybody is a PC enthusiast, and many will still point to the relative ease of a console. And it must be said, selfish reasons aside, with more MMOs coming to the casual cluster of living room systems, it means less savvy friends can get in on the action.
But the question remains, are you excited for this new breed? With most MMORPGs ostensibly being PC, do you find yourself hugging your tower and forgoing their console cousins? Will you opt for the new tech or stick to your mouse and keyboard guns? And if you are opting for a new console, what excites you about them?
As ever, leave your comments in section below.
Adam Tingle / Adam Tingle is a columnist and general man-about-town for MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and FPSGuru.com. He enjoys toilet humor, EverQuest-themed nostalgia, and pointing out he's British: bother him at @adamtingle