Are Next Gen Graphics All That Important?

What is it that makes you excited for the new generation of consoles, is it the graphical leap or a new way of making the gameplay both fun and progressive? This is a question I was asking myself when looking at comments on my review of Infamous: Second Son that was released a few weeks ago on the PS4. I gave the game a rating of 7; graphically it was amazing, there is no disputing that, but I felt the gameplay just wasn’t innovative and belonged very much to the PS3 era of gaming.

Reading through the comments posted it seemed as though people disagreed with the rating I gave mainly on the basis of this game looking so good. But is a leap in graphics the only improvement we really expect to come from this, the eighth generation of consoles, and is it also our main basis when looking at a new game? Personally I feel that the answer lies in both, there has to be a good mix and both have to improve when more powerful hardware is released.

Graphics are hugely important in drawing the player into the world, especially in a real life setting like Seattle, the detail in the background achieved in Second Son was very impressive and highlighted an attention to detail that just wouldn’t have been possible on the PS3 and I am sure that this look is perfect for Sony’s marketing team to make some amazing looking adverts for TV and online. To the casual gamer I do think the look of the game is the biggest selling point as this is likely the only part of the game they will see before buying it, but for a more avid gamer the gameplay mechanics play a much larger part in whether you will purchase it or not.

I’m going to take the Resident Evil series for an example now, my favourite series of games from the PSOne era. Capcom released several great and critically acclaimed games over both the PSOne and PS2 consoles but whilst the graphics in Code Veronica were vastly superior to the graphics in the original Resident Evil the mechanics of the game were not, and as such the series was tired and becoming repetitive. This all changed when Resident Evil 4 was released showing a completely new engine that was hugely innovated and changed the way the game was played from the pre-rendered background and tank controls to the over the shoulder 3rd person view that so many games now use (the demise of the series after number 4 is another article for another time).

This innovation in gameplay is something that I felt Sucker Punch could and should have done with the Infamous series. Second Son plays exactly like Infamous 2 on the PS3 just a more beautiful and sadly shorter version. With this in mind how can this game score a higher score than its predecessor? How can a game that averaged around the 8 mark then be given the same score or even higher on newer hardware solely because the graphics have been ramped up?  In this case where new hardware separates two games in a series then graphical improvement is the very minimum improvement I expect to experience.

The logical question that comes next is simply ‘what was I expecting to be improved’. That’s a tough one to answer as so far we have not seen anything revolutionary in the gameplay on the new consoles. While larger and more detailed environments are of course expected, I would like to see more interaction with that world, and more destructive environments in shooters surely has to be a must. In Second Son I felt the world was a bit empty, it needed people wandering around and interacting with each other to make Seattle a more realistic representation of a real life city. Maybe, in that respect, Watch_Dogs might fill a void.

It’s clear that graphics are crucial to showcase the new technology and easily show casual gamers that there is a leap in the games you are going to play by buying the latest console, but once you have them on board it is crucial that the games feel new; very few people want to play a game that they have played several times before just with a new lick of paint, if that was the case then we would all be playing Pong in HD. Innovation is what makes games so great and keeps the industry fresh and moving forward.


    • Did you even read the article? The guy wasn’t comparing the PS4 with the Xbox One but rather graphics between PS3 and PS4 and the gameplay innovation between generations. Your point is irrelevant and dumb. Congratulations on introducing yourself as a troll.

  1. It’s ridiculous to hear people always claiming “graphics don’t matter”. They certainly are not the be all and end of, but of course they matter. That’s why you went out and bought an hd television or monitor, and aren’t still gaming on a 480p tube television (at least I hope most are not still doing that.) I have a 1080p telly at the moment, and a pretty nice a/v setup. Graphics certainly matter to me, and the thing that many people who don’t have a surround sound system or a quality headset also miss out on is sound. Sound is just as important a factor in games. It completely changes your perception of a game if you miss the full array of what the developers intended, both visually and audibly.

    • I think you are missing the point. The author of the article said that he expected better graphics in the new generation but that gameplay is more important. I’m not sure why anyone would disagree with this. There are plenty of great looking games that are shallow and not very fun to play. I loved Infamous Second Son but it was short and didn’t really innovate other than moving some of the controls to the stupid touch pad.

  2. I believe that graphics are all that important. First I’d like to make clear that “graphics” is not an independent thing. It is the result of the processing power of a system. With XB1 and PS4 developers have a lot more power and RAM available. What does that mean to a gamer though? Well developers can definitely create the same game as previous gen with “just” better graphics BUT they can also create new gameplay and worlds that could not possibly be made before. Imagine Left for Dead. The concept of a first person shooter was not something new (Xbox had Halo 1&2) but with Xbox360’s power they could produce hundreds of zombies the same time and nice AI which lead to a unique experience. So right now we might have just enhanced versions of already tried game formulas but just wait to see what they can do with all that new power.

  3. Graphic are nice ,but it will not keep me from buying a game besides I don’t do side by side comparisons and I don’t sit close to my TV looking . As long that gameplay , story and duration of play are met am all set.

  4. Eye candy is all well and good but as long as the game developers are releasing the AAA games for the PS3 and 360, there’s no real reason to go next gen other than for a a step up in visuals. The XB1 and PS4 are no more powerful than i high end PC,they’ve been at that standard for a while now and i’ve not seen any innovation in games yet and unless the XB1’s cloud lives up to the hype, graphical improvements are all you’re going to get.

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