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The RPG Files: With Console Upgrades, PC Gamers Win

By Christopher Coke on April 28, 2016 | Columns | Comments

With Console Upgrades, PC Gamers Win

The internet has been abuzz for most of the last month under speculation of Sony and Microsoft releasing major hardware upgrades to their consoles. Readers of this site are used to the idea of upgrading our PC hardware every few years. Console players are outraged. As a PS4 owner, I understand that rage, but the PC player in me is struggling to find a downside.

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Even though most people reading this site are is likely die-hard PC gamers, it’s important to understand why our console family is so outraged in the first place. Console gamers have long prided themselves on their long stretches without needing to upgrade. It’s actually one of their main digs against PC gamers. That console bastion is evaporating as it looks more and more likely that PS4.5, codenamed PlayStation Neo, will be releasing this October offering substantial hardware upgrades.

In an internal communication from Sony, the company made it clear that developers will be unable to split the playerbase in any way, not offering extra features or functionality, and that all games must be cross-compatible with original PlayStation 4s. The Neo, presumably, would be able to offer better looking games at better framerates and 4k upscaling. The rumored price is $399.

This is, of course, a sham. It’s a way for Sony to make players buy their console twice and to funnel more power to their VR headset. And despite their goal to keep communities playing their games together, this does fragment the userbase. The extra feature is the improved framerate and graphics, and they can downplay it as they like, but it’s an awfully crummy move to all the people who bought the PS4 at launch, now forced to spend another $399 while the resale on their current console plummets to the ground. Way to make your biggest fans second class citizens, Sony.

And why? The PS4 is selling phenomenally. Sony has a big enough lead over Microsoft that there is little chance of their ever catching up. Why turn all of that positive sentiment sour? Future proofing and virtual reality are the only logical answers, but in another few years when PS5 comes along, how many people will be willing to drop hundreds more dollars on a second, now, three year promise? Consoles are not cell phones. There is not precedent for this, only the shattering of an implicit trust that consoles would be performance-upgrade safe for their lifetime.

Yet, the PC gamer in me can’t help but see the upsides here. For years, many of the biggest games are held back on PC for “parity” with their far underpowered console versions. When the Neo launches, it will already be behind the PC curve, so this isn’t an answer, but it’s a step in the right direction.

What’s more, if mid-generation upgrades become the norm, the difference between a console and PC almost evaporates for console players. They’re still paying out the ear and still winding up with the lesser version of the game. Taking that same amount of money and applying it to PC upgrades, even broken up year after year, will result in a better experience than consoles are capable of providing, with better game prices, modding options, and a much, much vaster game library to ice the cake. Now that in-home streaming and Steam Controllers are available, there’s not even the “I game from the couch” excuse to keep people away. Console upgrades will create more PC gamers.

Look, I get why people are upset. Honestly, I am too. No one wants to be a second class citizen. But if you’re reading this as a PC gamer, the way I see it, we only stand to benefit.

Quick Hits

Sad as it may be, it appears that From Software is moving on from the Dark Souls franchise. The director confirmed such in a recent interview, revealing that the studio is already hard at work on a new IP. This also indicates that a sequel to Bloodborne may not be on the horizon soon. It is important to note, however, that this does not mean there will be no more Dark Souls games, as the IP belongs to Bandai Namco. Would you play a Souls game from another developer?

In what is surely the death knell of the Wii U, Nintendo has confirmed that their next title, codenamed NX, will release in 2017 with its own version of the formerly much anticipated Wii U Legend of Zelda game. It’s safe to sell your Wii Us, folks.

In other Nintendo news, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing are both being prepped for mobile game releases. They’ve described Fire Emblem as being made more accessible and Animal Crossing as tying into the main console game for “increased enjoyment.”

Upcoming JRPG, I Am Setsuna, has a release date on July 19th. Not long now! The game’s combat system takes heavy influence from SNES classic, Chrono Trigger. With CT taking a hallowed place on my pile of shame, I have no experience with that system, but the RPG world’s excitement is infectious. Will you be buying it?

In what is surely no surprise to anyone here, Gearbox Studios is working on Borderlands 3. No butt slam, no buy.

As we march through the first half of 2016, we come ever close to the release of The Witcher 3s second expansion, Blood and Wine. The whet our appetites for May’s promised info dump, CD Projekt Red has released five new, gorgeous screenshots.

Lastly, you should definitely give a read through of our impressions of Divinity: Original Sin 2s improved combat system. Terrain appears to play a much bigger role, but all around Terry’s write-up did a great job of getting me reinvigorated for the game.

That’s all we have room for this week. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.