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It is interesting to note just how much “next-gen gaming” is alluding to online interactions, and how it seems to be less centered on graphical fidelity. When Sony made the jump from Playstation 2 to Playstation 3 – the difference in graphical prowess was shocking at the time, as was the case with the Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Now, while there are undoubtedly some gorgeous games looming on the horizon for the upcoming Xbox One and Playstation 4, the jump isn't as drastic, thus making it hard to get gobbled up by the talk of “next-gen” as things currently stand.
However, one thing that’s immediately apparent is that online connectivity in games is making a massive leap, and the lines between single-player, cooperative, and competitive game-modes are about to be blurred completely. Last year’s Journey received critical acclaim for its groundbreaking, seamless cooperative mode in where two players would spontaneously cross paths with one another and play in small bursts before parting ways. Both Demon Souls and Dark Souls boasted a similar system in where players could either summon or invade each other for moment-to-moment cooperative and competitive play respectively.
In other words, the days of waiting around in matchmaking lobbies are about to be a thing of the past. Developer Ubisoft is truly pushing this concept in every shape and form imaginable, with titles such as Watch_Dogs, Tom Clancy's The Division, and The Crew implementing this seamless approach to online gaming. What’s even more impressive is that this seamless nature will persist on tablets as well – manning a drone to provide support for squadmates in The Division, calling in artillery strikes on unsuspecting hordes of zombies in Dead Rising 3 or jacking into Chicago’s surveillance network to track Aiden Pearce in Watch_Dogs are merely a few examples.
Bungie’s upcoming online shooter Destiny will also feature Public Events in where groups of players will be mashed together in epic-sized skirmishes before parting ways once the smoke settles, whereas Respawn Entertainment’s similarly themed shooter Titanfall will strictly be an online experience with single-player elements such as NPC’s, set-pieces and an-going narrative meant to supply matches with a context.
Basically, developers are consistently finding new ways of merging these vastly distinct play styles into one singular whole, making for an almost MMO-esque vibe in where random run-ins with players might result in new usernames clogging your friends list or a new arch nemesis to keep tabs on. If anything, the next-generation of gaming will prompt you to interact with players in ways you never thought were possible before, making for a promising future for online gaming.