A Final Goodbye To The Last Generation

A Final Goodbye To The Last Generation
Illustration: Benjamin Currie

For the past month we’ve been taking a look back at the winners, losers and defining trends of the PlayStation 4/Xbox One era of home video game consoles as part of a feature series called The Last Generation.

Welcome To The Last Generation, A Look Back At Seven Years Of Video Games

Since November 2013 a lot of what we do here, and a lot of what you play at home, has revolved around two video game platforms: the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. As we’ve welcomed both console’s successors in the last week, first the Xbox Series X and then...

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In that time we’ve covered Nintendo’s smooth exit from the console arms race, said goodbye to my Xbox One, congratulated the DualShock 4, marvelled at Grand Theft Auto skipping an entire console generation and how we all just settled into the age of microtransactions.

We called the feature The Last Generation for literal reasons. With a new generation of consoles launching, what was once current was now old. But we also gave it that name because this might well be the last generation of home consoles we ever see.

To define a “generation” of consoles has always been a weird thing, as imprecise and generalising as trying to lump human achievements and trends into decades like the “80s” when really, our experiences (and video game trends) bleed into one another as more of a spectrum than a series of chapters, especially when so many other major platforms exist and evolve outside this particular struggle. But so long as multiple machines were all launching at once, remaining in competition for years then being replaced by the same time, it worked.

Now, though? Nintendo hasn’t just walked away from the concept of competing on the hardware front, it doesn’t even give a shit when its consoles launch anymore. And Sony and Microsoft undermined the entire point of consoles with mid-cycle upgrades that split their userbases and chipped away at selling points and hype for their ultimate replacements.

So the idea that we’re even operating under a system of console generations at all anymore is a shaky one. Does it count as a generation if there are only two companies left, and they’re changing the hardware every three years instead of every 5-7?

Or are we simply arriving at a point in console gaming where, like the PC and mobile, we’re replacing incremental tsunamis of new stuff with the gentle lapping of constant new products?

Maybe one, maybe both! Whichever it is, the last seven years have been some of the most important in video game history, and if you’ve missed any of it you can catch up on everything we covered in The Last Generation here.


Goodbye To The Xbox One, The Most Pointless Console I Have Ever Owned

I moved house last year, and while packing everything away my wife and I made a simple rule: if anything was still in its box 12 months later, we would get rid of it, because that meant we never used it and didn’t need it. Last month, I sold my...

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The Xbox Elite Controller Was Premium, And I Respect That

For a multi-billion dollar industry that is supposedly at the vanguard of 21st-century technology advancement, video games sure like to keep things basic.

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Maybe The PS4 Pro And Xbox One X Were A Bad Idea

I know they’ve sold a lot of units — big techy launch things always have and always will — but there was no avoiding the fact that this month’s next-gen console launches felt a little…muted.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Saved My Life

Yesterday was Dragon Age: Inquisition’s sixth anniversary. To mark the occasion, instead of opining on Dragon Age 4 or loading up the game for another playthrough (which I’ll probably still do anyway), I sent a tweet to a couple of my friends marking our sixth(ish) friendship-iversary. I say “ish” because...

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Congratulations Sony, The DualShock 4 Didn’t Suck

The last time we did one of these generational roundups, I wrote a piece on how the DualShock 3 “sucked”. This is a sentiment dating back to my time with the DualShock and DualShock 2, both of which also sucked.

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PSVR Brought Virtual Reality To The Masses

Virtual reality has become much easier to jump into these days. Headsets are becoming cheaper and cheaper and some, like the Quest 2, don’t even need a powerful PC. But not that long ago VR was expensive, hard to hook up, and a mess. And PSVR was an imperfect but...

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Nintendo Completely Bailed On Console Generations, And Nobody Gave A Shit

The last time we said goodbye to a whole generation of video game consoles, it was 2013, and we said our farewells to three machines. This time around, we’re only saying goodbye to two, because Nintendo walked away from this game a long time ago.

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My PS4 Was Fun, But It Was Also A Piece Of Junk

The Xbox 360 was as famous for its catastrophic hardware failures as it was its A-tier catalogue of video games. My PlayStation 4 is very close to being remembered in the same way.

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We Sure Got Used To Microtransactions And DLC, Huh

There once was a time — around when Bethesda had the idea to sell armour for a horse back in 2006 — that the prospect of buying a video game then paying more money for stuff in the same game would prompt outrage.

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Cross-Platform Gaming Has Been Great

While I’ve already bemoaned the lack of real technological advances in the past console generation, not every innovation of the PS4/Xbox One era had to do with visuals or framerate. One of the quieter revelations, and one of the most forward-thinking, has been the slow adoption of cross-platform gaming, aka...

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No Video Game Company Is Perfect, And The Last Generation Proved It

For some reason there are people out there who are fans of entire video games companies, and not just the creative output they produce. Those people often suffer from a particular strain of Gamer Brain can lead to thoughts like “this is my favourite company” or “this studio is perfect...

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It’s Weird How Some Games Are Now Too Big To Fail

For nearly the entire history of video games, most title’s lifespans would play out the same cruel, Darwinian way: they would come out and either live or die, sometimes with spectacular consequences. No second chances.

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