We’re less than half a year away from saying goodbye — if not in practice, then spirit — to the current console generation. So with that in mind, let’s look back at our favourites from the current PS4/Xbox One/Switch/PC generation.
I’m including the Switch here, primarily because it was built with technology from the PS4/Xbox One era. Sure, it’s only a few years old, but with more than 55 million Switches sold since March 2017, it’s hard to argue that it shouldn’t qualify.
So, obviously, Breath of the Wild has to be in the mix.
Every generation has a string of foundational games. They’re not just successful or iconic, but formative. Other games take design cues on their structure. Their mechanics. Gameplay. Characterisation. UI. The decisions they make during development.
Breath of the Wild isn’t alone here, though. CD Projekt Red set out to make The Witcher 3 a game that could stand up with the best AAA titles — and they did. It went on to become a successful Netflix series, the first video game franchise from this generation to really break out. (Other games had transmedia success, although most of those, like Sonic or Resident Evil, had already established their footing well before the generation began.)
In another sense, there’s games like No Man’s Sky. Regular consumers don’t think of titles like No Man’s Sky as seminal in the traditional sense, but the game’s long and critically successful recovery has become informative — even a template — for other studios facing their own rocky launches.
And then there’s games like Bloodborne, or the colossus that is Dark Souls, games that spawn and encourage the industry to adopt a new approach to difficulty. In a similar sense, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last of Us 2 does the same for accessibility features.
The suite of options in that game is, truly, astonishing.
For mine, it’s hard to go past the game that I’ve spent the most time with. Counter-Strike spawned a global industry within an industry — although StarCraft took off more in South Korea, it was the popularity of CS that formed the basis of third-party organisers and production companies. The society that’s evolved around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is now bigger than ever, despite the constant challenge from new video games, cheaters, and the occasional resentment from the community themselves at a lack of promotion from Valve. CS:GO even survived its own rough launch, years before No Man’s Sky did, with the community revived and coalesced around the inclusion of matchmaking — which other games have since drawn inspiration from for their own competitive communities.
Careers, friendships, rivalries have all formed around the game, a game that seemingly refuses to die nearly two decades on. I can’t think of anything else that’s had the success or stability of Counter-Strike, here and abroad.
But the generation has had aeons of incredible, memorable titles. What’s your favourite game from the current generation?