Day One Woes

I’ve never been one of those souls so hyped up by the thought of the next generation of consoles that they would happily camp outside their local game retailer to snag a day-one plastic box. Or wait impatiently, having thrown a sickie, for the postie to stagger up the drive bearing their precious cargo. I suppose day-one console ownership has never been a thing for me – I’ve never given a damn. In part, this is due to the fact that I’m usually too busy playing catch-up in the mess of last-gen titles I’ve yet to get stuck into, or that I’m simply sick to death of the hype and can’t be bothered.

I can’t recall one console I’ve bought on launch. The ones bought by me or for me by parents/other half had all been out a year or so already, and others were bought by me as retro curios, so tack twenty years onto the release, in some cases. Yes, the Wii was bought for me around release but, needless to say, it didn’t get much use. It was a Wii, after all.

If anything, I’ve always been the opposite. I tend to come later into a generation – too late, in the case of the N64 – leaving everything feeling a bit rushed, like the whole thing has been rather short lived (GameCube). Of course it hasn’t, it’s just been my insufferable lollygagging that has made it seem that way.

This gen, I decided that it was high time I was in there from the beginning – after all, I remember regretting waiting over a year to get stuck into the Xbox 360. So, we pre-ordered a PS4 and it duly arrived on schedule. When I eventually got it set up and had faffed about, trying to remember all my PSN details, swearing over the lack of chat-pad, and the (to me) awkwardly placed left thumbstick (I’m used to the 360 layout), I just stared. Was this it?

My first impression was that the place had been burgled. The dash was clean and functional, yes, and the store was easy to get to and use. Only there was nothing there. Okay, there were a few games, which I could download for free, but other than that there were just a handful launch titles and some add-ons. I spent an age scrolling around, exploring, convinced that everything was being hidden somewhere, taking advantage of my Sony n00bness to lurk in a darkened room somewhere on the dash before jumping out and screaming “Surprise!” It didn’t happen.

Having come from a game/junk-packed Xbox, and knowing that the PSN store held many treasures, which I had yet to sample, I was disappointed (despite knowing that all that stuff had built up over years). Of course, I had been told that, sadly, PS3 games weren’t compatible with the PS4, which meant I wouldn’t be able to try Fat Princess or fall in love with Lemmings again, but worse, it meant no pre-stocked chock-full store of goodies that I could wade into. So, I knew to expect that nothing had been passed over from the last gen, meaning lean times, but I had expected something. Stuff to browse, stuff to buy. Content. Things. Trinkets. Nonsense.

What I got resembled what I imagine an iMac’s house would look like: clean, stark, ultimately empty, and wholly unsatisfying. It didn’t stop at the store either. Launch lineups are traditionally lean, but this one seemed especially so. I don’t give a rat pup’s toss about Call of Duty, Battlefield, or sport. That left me with Assassin’s Creed IV, Need For Speed Rivals, and Putty Squad – I had enjoyed the original on the Amiga, and was excited to see it on the new gen, so it was a must-purchase. NFS was beautiful… and not a lot else. I spent my time pottering about thinking, “oh, pretty rain”, “oh, nice sea”, “that was a superjump”, “I wish they’d made Burnout Paradise 2 instead”, “This is a bit boring”. I still go back to it, and it’s good to pop in and out of, but for me it was a touch dull. What did I expect from a Need For Speed game? Well, there wasn’t a lot of fucking choice, as far as I was concerned, and if I hadn’t got it, things really would have been bleaker than a night with Katie Hopkins.

I’ve yet to play the other games, thanks to time and other constraints, but those are the only three titles I had an interest in. Watch Dogs was pushed back, Trials Fusion wouldn’t be happening until the following year, and exclusives, such as The Order: 1886, were far off in the future. As it was, the whole launch purchase was something of a let-down.  I suppose, in my heart, I had secretly expected it but I had hoped to be proven wrong. Maybe my slacker-self in years past did it right. Wait. The price would also have come down, no doubt, but it is about the games more than anything, and without those the whole thing feels emptier than a George R. R. Martin character reunion.

Hell, in my desperation for some sort of comfort – a cosy nest of content – I’m starting to think “sod the games”.  Even pictures, trailers, an estranged Kevin Butler’s face randomly popping in at the bottom of the screen, toastie-style, would do. Something to make it seem alive. The silence is oddly out of place after the slurry of gaming white-noise on the other consoles, but I’m sure it’s a prelude to a bus load of lagered-up content vomiting over everyone’s pristine front doorstep, so, with that in mind, perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

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  1. Susan Feltchwood says:

    And that is the main thing missing from the new gen. There’s no “Wow, look at this game” launch title that could never be played on the previous gen. The PS2 had the same problem at launch, but you could play your old PS1 games on it to fill the gap. Has everyone forgot that new games sell new consoles?

  2. Stu Stu says:

    I’ve got mixed feelings about my PS4 purchase. In some ways I think I could have put that money towards something useful, like replacing the rotting wooden door to my garage but thanks to the PS+ subscription I have actually been getting something new pretty much every month and with my reduced time to spend on gaming it’s actually suited me quite well.

    The galling element is that even now, some launch titles still sit at £52.99 – meaning that games like NFS, which I’m only vaguely interested in having a squizz at have priced themselves out of a purchase, at least for a while.

    With Sony taking a great head-start in the hardware department by delivering native 1080p experiences they are now poised to shoot themselves in the foot with a content drought. This is the first time I’d taken the leap to buy a new console on launch and while I use it for Netflix, PSN and the 3 retail games I have, I kind of expected more choice to be available 5-6 months after launch.

    I’m so glad they haven’t gone down the route of the Xbox360 (I haven’t seen the XOne dash in a live environment) style of advertising that did nothing but irritate me every time I started up the console. I didn’t want 3rd party ads, especially when coughing up for a Gold subscription and the ‘recommended games’ were often terribly off the mark.

    I’m not upset that I bought a launch console, but it hasn’t set my world alight. Even if some of the graphics are very pretty and shiny indeed.

  3. Edward Edward says:

    This is pretty much what happened to everyone who bought a Wii U, except for some reason it caused a massive “Wii U is dead” sentiment that’s never been shifted since.

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