The embargo on Xbox Series X previews have lifted, where professional (US?) reviewers got their hands on next-gen consoles. What has most excited me, even during the early stages, for both next-gen consoles was not the potential graphics but the speed with which games are loading.
While naturally we want games to look beautiful, what makes it work for me is that we get instantaneous access: to the games themselves, to maps, to aspects of gameplay. Smooth transition into different locations; instant loading of armour details or options. It’s hard to think of things being “seamless”, but it exists now and will only improve as the next generation firmly closes its hand on the possibilities Microsoft and Sony have allowed for on the upcoming consoles.
This should matter more to us than graphical capabilities because, on the one hand, art design matters more than photorealism; but more important than all of that is our mortality. We have a finite amount of time with this ridiculous life we’ve been given and, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that reality makes a mockery of our plans and our ability to spend our time as we like. We’ve lost this year to a pandemic some saw coming but few took seriously – we lost it to anti-science, hard-nosed ignorance in the minds of those in power. We can’t control time and we can’t control the world around us.
What we can control is how we spend our time. And that means not having to wait for flippin’ load screens and transitions between game items, maps, armour, map positions and so on.
Tech nerds have indicated that the other benefit of SSDs is the ability to keep environments fresh, without having to store assets they need to re-use. Instead, more unique items, elements, characters, etc. can be utilised since retrieving them will take less time – spicing up the variety of what we see, in conjunction with the increase in overall quality.
Again, this adds to undermining the detritus of banality we must contend with. More variety for our eyes and experiences makes more better living.
The idea of being able to boot up these systems from scratch and start playing – in seconds, sometimes unfathomably little seconds – has me more excited than the 4K 1,523,232 pixel count. Frankly, I often struggle to tell the difference (though I do recognise the majesty of 4K visuals) and games already look stunning on the ancient architecture of my beloved PS4. But nothing fills me with more joy than knowing I can be spending more time playing rather than watching load screens. What a joy to be able to take some of my mortality back, especially after a year of watching it slip by. Yay for next-gen.