During the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation, games started to lose the magic and authenticity which they had during the 70s through 90s. During the subsequent Xbox One and PlayStation 4 era, this trend was continued and compounded when the creativity and risk taking hit which ever-ballooning budgets caused started to become manifest.
Games during these times-- roughly from 2005 to 2019-- were not bad per se, but merely "blah": colorless, uninventive, and drab.
Unfortunately, the video games market is continuing to follow Dante's Virgil-led descent through you-know-where, because for the first time in the history of the medium, this new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 generation of games is not just boring, or suffering from sequelitis, or any other number of mundane maladies: the games are instead actively terrible.
I sat through Microsoft's dismal "third party showcase" some weeks ago and thought, "ok, so maybe third-party development is in a bad way-- but it's the first-party games which matter more anyhow." I then eagerly watched Sony's PlayStation 5 game presentation, and was astonished to find that other than maybe two titles, the quality of the games on offer was just as poor.
"But that's ok", I convinced myself, "because I'm almost certainly going to get an Xbox Series X anyhow. The July 23rd presentation will be amazing." And here I sit afterwards, with six hundred or even more dollars in hand waiting to throw at one of these two companies, while digesting this reality: they've both talked me out of buying their products.
And when I say "talked me out of", I mean totally blown it. As in, "Giants 41, Vikings 0" blown it. I mean, "SpaceX aluminum foil rocket exploding on the launch pad" blown it. It wouldn't have taken very much today for Microsoft to get my cash, or for Sony likewise a few weeks ago. But even by that low, low bar, they've somehow managed to pull off the impossible: a total and complete Hindenberg, down in flames.
The indiscernable-from-2001 "Halo Infinite", which couldn't be more conservative if it was Rick Santorum supplicating in a confessional, was the lone bright spot in the entire hour-long jank-fest, during which this writer passed the time laughing hysterically at the god-forsaken character designs with faces even a mother couldn't love, and the ceaseless parade of "emotional journey"-style games with stories too immature for a twelve year old eating Cheetos while sitting on his bedroom floor in his Spiderman underwear.
To whom in the world are these games designed to appeal? Other than aforementioned game featuring a "Master Chief" probably old enough to be a card-carrying member of the local AARP chapter by now, the closest we got to seeing actual gameplay were the falling Tetris blocks with the faces of more dysfunctional Millenials than you'd find at the local Starbucks.
And maybe that is exactly what's going on here: a generational divide. There is nothing in the background, history, values, or gameplay sensibilities of someone my age which could make these games on display anything other than absurd.
Even graphically, for all the vendor blustering about ray tracing and teraflops, about SSDs and I/O throughput, about reduced latency and 144 Hz-- the only game I've seen across this entire swathe of "next generation showcases" which looked undeniably like a generational leap, was Gran Turismo 7.
Undoubtedly these machines-- especially Sony's latest offering, because after all it says "PlayStation" on the box-- will fly off store shelves. But to a dinosaur like me, it's probably smarter to just keep the faithful PC-- which can also be used for programming and financial investing and countless other grown-up activities-- up-to-date, because it can also be used to play the very rare modern-day title which actually does look appealing (here is looking at you, Microsoft Flight Simulator).