Next-Gen is nearly upon us and Sony and Microsoft are pulling out the big guns (but maybe not so many new features) for their new consoles. We’ve heard about the CPUs, GPUs, and all the technical jargon we pretend to understand. Graphics will be great, and load times will be a thing of the past. And while that’s all well and good, it’s really how games are going to improve that matters. How is our gaming experience going to change with these new consoles? While we do know some details, there are quite a few features about the future of games that remain a mystery.
The fact that features such as these listed have not been addressed by any developer is troubling, to say the least. Sure, tell us how much faster loading will be and how much detail will be in the dirt under a character’s fingernails, but when will we get the answers we really want? Are developers too cowardly to promise us the improvements we really want? Or maybe they just hope we won’t notice. That’s not for me to say. What I can say is that if these features are not present next-gen, then we might as well cancel the entire generation and start over.
Characters With Long Hair That Doesn’t Clip Through Everything
In the PS2 and original Xbox days, once 3D models were more than just polygons with textures painted on them, hair was short. If the hair wasn’t short, it was tied up in a bun or something to try and excuse the fact that it was clearly a single lump and not strands at all. The last generation was mostly the same. Seriously, go try and find long-haired characters. You won’t find many. Men were bald or close to it, and there was a ton of helmet and hat-wearing. Female characters stuck to the short hair look for the most part.
A few may have tried longer hair, but it almost always turned out looking like a stiff spike coming out of their head. There were also a couple that made medium length hair that basically had jiggle physics. This gen, we started to see some progress in games like Horizon and Tomb Raider. Even in the best attempts, though, long hair at best would still clip through character’s heads and bodies. At worst, strands would bounce and twitch around like an electrified rubber band. Next-Gen, we deserve long hair that actually looks and acts like hair. I want to see a character with hair down to their waist headbanging and believe it!
Characters Sleeping Under Covers and Changing Clothes
Think about every time you’ve seen a character sleep in a video game. Now try and think of a time you’ve seen a character sleeping in a bed under the covers. Not so easy, is it? In games, if a character sleeps, they’re laying on top of the covers fully clothed. Heck, more often than not they’re even wearing armor or weapons in bed too! I can’t even sleep with socks on! It’s time we finally get our game characters tucked in for a relaxing sleep for once. While we’re at it, show us them changing clothes. I don’t mean in an NSFW way, either. Just putting a shirt, pants, or jacket on. And no more of these camera tricks, either. Showing them hold up a clearly frozen stiff shirt and then cutting away to them shifting a bit with it full on doesn’t count. We have the cloth physics technology, so make it happen already!
No More Twin NPCs
This is a quick one, but I know everyone is just as sick of it as I am. Aside from bald, white, space-marine men, twins are probably the most represented group in gaming. Any game with a lot of NPCs, especially open-world games, you’ll find the same guy or girl walking around doing whatever. Often you’ll see more than one of them in the same location. If you’re lucky they’ll be wearing a different colored shirt. I say no more. If I’ve never seen a pair of twins in real life before, I don’t think I should be seeing 5 or more pairs in a single RPG town. No offense to any twins out there.
Why is it every time you talk to one of the 4 brown-haired quadruplets for a side-quest their mouths just flap open and closed like a confused fish? We’ve come to the point where basically every character is voiced, and we get a nice close shot of them talking. So, why do their mouths look like they’re speaking Japanese but have been dubbed over in English? I’ve seen the behind the scenes footage of games with facial capture. We have GIFs of Call of Duty dog’s mouth. We know it can be done. I think we deserve better than another generation of Oblivion levels of face details on NPCs.
Actual Working Mirrors
This one actually looks very promising. Thanks to the big push for ray-tracing that seems to be going on, we may finally get to experience a game where all the mirrors haven’t been smashed to pieces. Finally, we can explore realistic bathrooms in our games! We will be free of the kind of terrible ways developers have tried to avoid it. Smashed, or outright removed, mirrors were super common. Some tried to pass off big murky textures as mirrors. Few other brave souls even tried to trick us with mirrors that were just flat textures meant to look like a reflection of the room. Until now, Hitman was probably the king of mirrors this generation. I hope you’ve got some new tricks up your sleeve for Hitman 3 agent 47. Nex-Gen we’re all going to be reflecting.
Show Characters Picking Up and Handing Things
This is one of those “can never unsee” it type things. So, if I’m ruining this for you, good. Now you’ll feel my pain and can join me in fighting for showing characters handing things to each other. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think back. You just finished a quest and are about to turn in the 12 lizard hairs, or whatever you were asked to get, in to the NPC. What happens? Your character reaches behind their back and moves their arm forward while the camera keeps their hand out of the shot. The NPC reaches forward, hand still out of frame, and then pulls back. It’s like the world’s worst magic trick. Who really believes anything was passed between these two? The same goes for gathering items. In basically every game but Red Dead Redemption 2, picking up an item just means squatting down for a second. Maybe there’s a canned animation of them scrambling their hands around if you’re lucky. The day I see my character actually put a bird tooth in someone’s hand, and they pass me some gold coins back, is the day I can die happy.
Eating and Drinking
It may not seem like it, but we eat and drink a lot in video games. Or, we are told we are eating and drinking a lot, anyway. We’re basically never shown it, though. Just think of health potions, or having fruit and meat to heal. Games even have you carrying around entire meals! Think about Monster Hunter: World and Final Fantasy XV. The food in those games looks better than anything I could afford with a week’s pay. Why then can we never see them actually enjoying these masterfully created dishes? At best we see them hold it up to their mouth while their head bobs around as though eating is a full-body activity and a single chunk is taken out of the food. At worst it’s just a menu option with no animation at all. If developers are going to tease us with food the likes of which no mortal man will ever witness, the least they can do is let us see it actually be eaten.
Those are just a few of the features I think deserve to be talked about for next-gen. I’m sure a ton of you out there have your own list that you want to see, so share some more ideas below. Maybe, together, we can make it known that these minor things matter to us way more than they should.