The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii are all slowly being sent off to pasture. It’s not a time of sadness. Instead, it’s a time to look back on all of the awesome things that the most recent console generation brought to gamers. After all, some pretty incredible things happened over the last eight years of video game history, and many of them are bleeding over into the newly-released Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We’ve already looked at some of trends that emerged from the previous console generation, and now it’s time to take a look at some of the important features that hit the scene during that very same time period.
Do you know what is really terrible? Losing your saves in a game for one reason or another. All that time and effort you put into progressing through the game goes away, and you are forced to start over. In the last generation, both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 introduced a magical feature known as Cloud Saves that allowed gamers to take those saved games and move them into cyberspace where they can be accessed from any console in which their account is logged in.
With this feature, if something bad were to happen to an HDD, the saves are tucked away in the mystical cloud, ready to be redownloaded to a new hard drive. It might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who has faced the struggle of trying to recover lost save files can tell you that it’s a giant pain, and it can sometimes mean replaying hours of a game, or even worse, simply giving up and not seeing a game through to completion due to the lack of desire to go through it all again.
Day One Digital Purchases
Love them or hate them, digital downloads for games are here in a big way. On the Xbox One and PS4, all games can be downloaded digitally on the same day in which the disc counterpart is made available. This means gamers do not have to run out to the store and brave long lines in hopes of getting a game the moment it comes out. Instead, the titles can be purchased and downloaded from the comfort of their own home.
The last console generation did not feature many games released day one, but what it did have was smaller games released digitally and some full games released after the fact. This allowed publishers to test the waters and see how gamers would respond to digital releases. With how hard it’s being pushing in the new generation of consoles, it’s clear that those tests were successful.
By our very nature, we gamers are a goal driven bunch. Whether it’s playing a shooter and watching our skills progress, or leveling a character in an MMO, we are always shooting for that next goal. Achievements and Trophies took those goals to another level by adding actual scores we can obtain by doing certain things in games. When Microsoft first rolled it out on the Xbox 360, I thought it was simply a dumb gimmick, but I was very wrong.
Not all gamers are obsessed with their gamerscore, but plenty are, and it has led to people playing games they would otherwise never bother to put in their console. It’s clear in the next generation that achievements are not going anywhere, with Microsoft adding them for even watching video content on the console. It all started with what seemed like a little gimmick, and it has since blossomed into a staple of games today, and one that can certainly add a lot of replay value to a game that may grow stale otherwise.
Second Screen Experiences
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 featured some pretty light second screen experiences. Xbox Smart Glass was a cool app that allowed gamers to control some aspects of their console, but it didn’t feel like and integral part of the expereince. In this generation, second screens are all over the place, and it all started with the previous consoles.
With the PS4, Sony has its own app, as well as Remote Play which allows gamers to stream PS4 games to their portable Vita consoles. Even games like Assassin’s Creed IV have second screen apps that allow gamers to view the map and send ships from Kenway’s Fleet out to do missions while away from the game. It’s clear that our smartphones, tablets, and handheld consoles are going to continue to be a big part of home gaming, and I am very interested to see just what kinds of uses pop up as this generation moves on.
What were some of the game-changing features that excited you the most over the life of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii? Do you agree with the ones on this list? Hit the comments section below and let your voice be heard!