There seems to be an obsession running through the gaming world today – an obsession with the past. Retro gaming is currently “in” with its awkward controls, simplistic gameplay, and pixel graphics. Many an older gamer long for the consoles, computers, and titles of their youth while many hipsters long for things from someone else’s past.
If you asked any one of them, though, which decade they’d prefer to be stuck gaming in, then I think you’d be surprised to hear that now is the time they pick – hands down. Without getting into all of the differences between today’s core hardware and yesterday’s (pretty soon, today’s core hardware WILL be yesterday’s so why bother?), here’s a few of the major reasons why I feel right now is a great time to be a gamer.
Virtual reality has been promised to us in movies and TV shows for so long now that most of us can taste it. Yet, we’ve been horribly disappointed year after year as there just isn’t any viable technology to deliver on all the hype. All of that is about to change with the Q1 2016 consumer release of the much-anticipated Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that promises to let players step inside their favorite games and virtual worlds.
“Big deal”, you say? “3D has been in my living room for years now”, you say? Well the difference is that while the Oculus Rift IS a 3D device like your TV or the local movie theater screen, it breaks you free from the constraints of a static screen. It does this by putting the screen on your head and combining ultra-low latency (the time between you move your head and the headset responds on-screen) head tracking with a wider-than-your-eye’s field-of-view (this is important because you can’t see off screen – there’s no box) to create a smooth, thoroughly immersive 360 degree 3D virtual reality experience.
The development kit has been in the hands of the game makers for a while now and hundreds of top-flight titles are being developed around for the platform. On top of all that, it’s expected to hit shelves without the out of this world sci-fi price making it all the more attractive to the vast majority of gamers, like me, who are unfortunately on a budget.
Who the hell doesn’t love Star Wars? If you’re reading this, I KNOW you do. If you’re reading this I’m sure you know what I’m leading up to – DICE and EA’s upcoming Star Wars Battlefront! Now is a good time to be a gamer because on November 17th 2015 we’ll all be able to wage epic multiplayer battles on Hoth, Endor, Tatooine and more as an eager young optimist in the Rebellion or a cold-hearted trooper for the Empire.
Star Wars Battlefront promises to be one of, if not the biggest release of the year. It promises to let players fire blasters, drive speederbikes, snowspeeders and command AT-ATs. We’re told we’ll be able to fight as the franchise’s most unforgettable heroes and villains, like Darth Vader and Boba Fett. We’ll be able to pilot X-wings, TIE fighters, the Millennium Falcon and more! It’s almost more than a SW fan can take! Take my money now!
That’s probably a bit hasty since SW fans have been burned by bad movie-to-game titles before but from what little was revealed at E3 2013 and the fact that this is being developed by DICE on the success of their Battlefield series, things are looking quite good. We should know a bit more about it in terms of gameplay specifics, features, and characters after E3 this year but if it can come close to delivering on the hype, it’s looking like Christmas 2015 is going to be very merry!
Survival, espionage, and mutant virus genre fans have a lot to cheer about now to with the upcoming release of Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, an open world third-person shooter/RPG MMO based on real-world events that incorporates many of today’s popular survival elements into it. Another title announced during E3 2013, The Division promises to allow players to cooperate with or compete with each other as they race to survive and prevent the downfall of all humanity after the United States collapses due to a viral pandemic. We’ve also been told that gamers will be able to play on tablets to join in the game as a drone to offer tactical support for other gamers playing on PC and consoles. How cool is that – too cool indeed. We expect to hear more about The Division at this year’s E3.
Video Game Streaming
Thanks to social video sharing services like YouTube and the gaming-centric Twitch.tv, gamers now more than ever have access to a huge variety of material and the unprecedented ability to produce it at any level of experience from any angle within the industry from intro video game journalist to professional team player.
The list goes on and on. Services like Twitch and YouTube not only allow us access to watch and create awesome video game content, they also link us with other gamers via connected social media. It seems like almost anyone these days can find and engage an audience in the video game world and make a name for themselves.
Anyone with even slightly more than a passing interest in gaming knows that competitive video gaming or eSports has blown up in popularity over the past few years. Thousands of gamers are now competing with thousands or even millions more watching. The phenomenon has come a long way in a very short period of time and now more than ever, players are considering professional gaming as a valid career choice, much to the chagrin of moms and dads everywhere.
Major League Gaming (MLG), founded in 2002, has become one of the world’s largest and certainly most prestigious eSports organizations and is one of the major contributing pioneers of eSports in America and the world over. Amazingly, they’re still growing and offering their players hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes via premier online and live events.
Since their launch, other large eSport leagues and tournaments have jumped on the bandwagon including the game developers themselves such as Blizzard, Valve, and Riot Games. Many smaller, non-professional tournaments are held and most big name competitive video game titles offer ranked competitions where even the non-pros can compete. That combined with those video game streaming services I mentioned before and even an average, everyday type of gamer can get noticed and find themselves with a shot at entering professional esports.
Next Gen Has Settled
The console wars of 2013 left a really bad taste in the mouths of most gamers and in chasing down console sales, all three major consoles seemed to forget to produce good games. We’ve been treated to a series of less-than-stellar launch titles and ports from previous gen consoles. Blah!
Well now it’s two years later and the launch titles are mostly out of the way and now we’re set to start getting the next flock of gorgeous looking, more carefully crafted (we’re hoping they learned their lessons with the launch titles) AAA titles made exclusively to take advantage of the better graphics and increased processing power of the next gen consoles – games like Star Wars Battlefront and The Division to name a few I already named above. This year should start to see the drought begin on major releases to the PS3 and Xbox360 which should be reason number 247 to upgrade your hardware!
So there you have just a few of the major reasons why I feel like now is a great time to be a gamer. And even still for those who just LOVE retro gaming know that with today’s technology they can fit an entire library of Commodore-64, NES, Sega Genesis, and PS1 games on a thumb drive. It is INDEED, a good time to be a gamer!