We’ve treaded this issue many times on VGCultureHQ, even recently, but we’ve have missed the point. For all the graphical splendor and amazing set pieces, we’ve failed to see the real issue with this video game console generation: it lacks innovation and creativity. This is what makes it boring. This is what makes it lackluster. This is what makes it feel like it’s not fun. While the Nintendo Switch has re-invigorated things to an extent, even they have fallen into re-releasing old games (a trend Nintendo actually started). Do you know why that is? Because studios have run out of ideas and are cashing in on old projects. This is why Square Enix has re-released many of their games on the PlayStation 4 and why the beginning of this generation was permeated with remasters. This generation has forgotten its’ fun factor and innovation. Power Power is great. But there is a reason we play console games, not PC games. This race for power between Microsoft and Sony is a sad joke. Most people don’t care. The average consumer can’t tell the difference. Most people don’t even have TVs that can take advantage of the hardware. Most developers can’t even take full advantage of the hardware. It’s actually detracting from making this gaming generation great, which is rather sad. Nintendo has gone an interesting route with the Switch, which lacks the sheer power of the other consoles, but it’s honestly too soon to tell how things will go. It came off to a great start with Zelda, Mario, Xenoblade, and Splatoon, but it needs more than those games before it can become a truly great system and right the wrongs of this console generation. At this moment though, it is the best console of this generation with the best games, even with it not even being a year old. Even Nintendo is falling into the remaster trap though. Remasters The beginning of this console generation was filled with remasters and games that weren’t fully utilized for the current hardware. It held back development and only now are we seeing games that are actually passable as being decently fun experiences, even if they aren’t very innovative. Remasters are still happening though. Not all are bad, and I’m not saying remaster’s are a bad thing; the problem is when they become too abundant and unecessary. Right before Uncharted 4 came out, an Uncharted collection was released with the first three games. An Arkham collection was released with the two Batman games about a year and a half ago. Final Fantasy XII and Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 were released this year. Why? We need energy being put into games with innovation and new ideas, not re-hashes which are simply cash grabs, which are still happening. It’s unacceptable. While it’s nice to have, and in certain circumstances it is acceptable, the overabundance is not. The Last of Us was remastered within a year of its initial release. Who asked for Resident Evil 6 to be remastered? What this shows though is that the gaming industry, like the film industry, has merely run out of ideas. Games that do try to do something new and innovate, like Destiny or even The Division (which did have issues at launch) are crucified. It also shows that previous generations were far superior to this one. Why do you think the remaster of Shadow of the Colossus is getting such incredible reviews? It’s because that generation of gaming had something very special that this generation lacks, for the most part. Nintendo is not immune to this either. They’re releasing several remasters and have already released one in Mario Kart which has done very well for itself. To be fair, these games were on a system that was a commercial failure, so it does give a wider audience a chance to play them, and they were incredibly good games. It also gives them additional time though to come up with new ideas and innovate, which they’ve actually been able to do quite a bit of with games like Breath of the Wild, ARMS, Splatoon, and Mario Odyssey. Nintendo is the shining hope of a rather lackluster generation (I do consider the Switch to be a current-gen console). Fun Factor Riding on a Nazi Pazerhund is probably the most enjoyable mission in the entire game, and most satisfying. This is something that also seems to be lost this generation. Fun and enjoyment are paramount to every form of entertainment, but games this generation haven’t really been all that enjoyable. Some have been interesting, like Resident Evil VII, but I wouldn’t call that fun, but it was innovative, so props to Capcom. That makes up for the RE 6 remaster. Bethesda has had a few fun titles in DOOM and Wolfenstein II, but, those games weren’t incredibly innovative, and that’s okay, but they were creative. Much better than most games this generation. Final Fantasy XV was marketed as an open-world Final Fantasy for new players and old ones alike, but it was an allusion of an open-world with a poor combat system and a story that was told in several different mediums, not one game, which is unacceptable. The story was beyond comprehension. Uncharted 4 is the perfect example of a game with a story many people liked but mediocre gameplay which makes for an incomplete experience, lacking in fun and innovation, making it boring. It lacks creativity and spark. This is a simple fact. Why was it remastered again? There hasn’t been a better mainline Final Fantasy game since. Which says a lot about the state of gaming. RPGs can be fun, despite the cutscenes, if their battle systems are rewarding. Final Fantasy XV’s system was not. Hence why each of the mainline Final Fantasy games and even other Square Enix properties have been remastered, because they are far superior to the products that have been released today. I will say it’s nice to have Kingdom Hearts I and II on the PS4 though. Maybe Kingdom Hearts III can fix that, if it actually comes out this year. Going back to Nintendo, again, Splatoon is more fun and whacky than any current shooter on the market, and is so much fun. ARMS is incredible. Mario Odyssey is both fun and challenging. Mario Kart’s new battle modes are fantastic. These games are full of fun. Sony and Microsoft could learn a thing or two. Bottom Line This past year has helped this generation in a lot of ways, but it still lacks the innovation, the fun, and is still mired with remasters. Some are justified, but others are simple cash-ins that just should not happen. Shadow of the Colossus is a game that definitely should have been remastered. The Last of Us is debatable, considering it was done so fast after its initial release. The Uncharted games and Arkham collections should not have. Final Fantasy XII, after all this time, is another that’s debatable; that energy should have been made into making Final Fantasy XV an incredible game, not a mediocre one. There have been some gems this past year that give us some hope for the current generation. Nier was great, Nintendo has had some good Switch titles, Horizon Zero Dawn was an incredible balance of fun gameplay and a great story, Monster Hunter World is taking the world by storm, Destiny tries to do something new, RE VII re-defined a franchise, Titanfall 2 is massively underrated, and Persona 5 was fantastic. I’m sure Kingdom Hearts III will be great as well. Why did it take so long to get these games though? Development takes a long time, but I’m speaking why did it take this long to get games of this quality level? This generation needs to stop obsessing about power and realize that story and fun gameplay need to co-exist in order to make a fun experience. Even the puzzles in games like Uncharted 4 were just…bad?…if they could even be called puzzles. People criticize Xenosaga Episode II, but the puzzles in that game were actually very well designed, moreso than anything this generation. And that was two generations ago. With the Xbox One X’s release (if they ever release exclusive games for that, which would be the smart thing to do) and rumblings of a new PlayStation in the works, this generation may be a lost cause if you look at it as a whole. The Nintendo Switch gives a glimmer of hope though, if they can keep up the pace they’ve established.