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The newest generation of consoles has been making grand promises since early 2013, and – to the relief of early adopters everywhere – has largely kept to its word. Does PlayStation 4 have its heavily vaunted stop-resume feature? No, but as DualShockersreports, Sony Worldwide boss Shuhei Yoshida says it will come to the system soon enough. Has Microsoft fully fleshed out the Xbox One’s relationship with Twitch? No, but streaming and sharing content is constantly becoming easier thanks to frequent firmware updates.

They don’t have every last bell and whistle nor will they make you breakfast in the morning, but PS4 and XOne are shaping up to be the biggest and best consoles have ever offered. From a platform perspective, things have never been better. From a game perspective? Well, that’s more debatable.

New titles like Infamous: Second Son and Wolfenstein: The New Order have done justice to their respective franchises, to be sure, but the new generation has yet to deliver the fistfuls of earth-shattering innovation players pinned their hopes and money on. At the very least, E3 2014 showed signs that innovation will come. Demon’s Souls successor Bloodborne undoubtedly landed more than a few PS4 pre-orders, and everyone and their dog is talking Bungie’s Destiny into Half-Life 3 levels of hype. This is to say nothing of unlikely standouts like No Man’s Sky, which has stolen countless hearts since its debut. However, all that goodness is due out much later this year, or in many cases, well into the next.

Those hefty lineups in mind, now seems like an excellent time to iron out what we don’twant to see from the next generation, and exactly what it can learn from the previous.

9. Let Players Save When They Want

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What is it about the interactive entertainment industry that makes it keep guessing even after it’s correctly answered the question? It’s as though developers are forced to pass the good idea ball around, reverting to archaic and unquestionably worse alternatives with every toss. Sometimes they just throw the ball out the window altogether.

“How should we build our save system?” they ask, ignoring the mountain of player feedback directing them to a single answer.

“Why not let players save wherever and whenever they want, thereby eliminating needless tedium from the experience?” a lone voice cries out from the back.

“What? Player freedom? Ease of access? Saving time? That’s… that’s horrible! Someone get him out of here!” the group shouts back.

Ball, meet window.

It is never a good idea to glue the player to their chair until they find the next save point. It’s limiting at best and downright infuriating at worst to be unable to put a game down, to have your hand smacked when you reach for a necessary and basic feature. This isn’t an issue of balancing difficulty via checkpoint placement; it’s much simpler.

Whatever care-free world save-hating developers reside in clearly doesn’t extend to the gaming population. Things happen when you’re gaming: you get a call from a friend, you have to check on dinner—whatever it is, you have to get up right now and you won’t be back for a time. You therefore want nothing more than to save your game and get back to it later. Pretty please, developers, can all games let us do that?

8. Ditch Mandatory Cut Scenes

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Familiar dialogue assaults your ears, every word now a haunting reminder of your growing reluctance. Your thumb instinctively spams the same button, ready to play, and crucially not watch, the game, but then finally, your eyes forcibly glaze over in submission, accepting the two minutes of impending torture.

Much like the previous save topic, mandatory cut scenes are a development no-no, plain and simple. Be it due to a reloaded save or sudden death, there will come a time that players encounter cut scenes again. Very few want to sit through scenes a second, third or umpteenth consecutive time, and seeing “Press to Skip” along the bottom of the screen is too easy a solution.

7. Tame That Budget

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Put a leash on it, bonk its nose whenever it sniffs inefficient rendering, spray lemon juice on superfluous motion capture, just do something to keep that budget in check. It’s tearing up all the nice furniture.

This has been a growing problem for the industry for years and could easily undermine many an otherwise successful game in the new generation. The power of PS4 and Xbox One and their friendly x86 architecture give developers more ways than ever to bring their vision to life, but if left unchecked that very potential will smother a project.

This has never been demonstrated more clearly than with Square Enix’s 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. As Kotaku reports, Lara Croft’s modern reincarnation caught fire in the retail scene after bathing in industry-wide acclaim and sold a stunning 3.4 million units in its first month. The real surprise? Square Enix was banking on six million and therefore had no choice but to declare the game a financial flop. This points only to reckless, bloated development expenses for which there is no excuse.

Tomb Raider fell back in 2013. Who knows how scary the numbers will be for its new-gen sequel if Square Enix can’t fix their development philosophy? This is also true for Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, the next Mass Effect and every other game not drawn with an Etch-A-Sketch.

6. Tear Down This Paywall

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It came as sobering news that PlayStation Network, the last remnant of the era of free online systems (Steam notwithstanding), would be going to pay-to-play with the advent of PlayStation 4. Indeed, a PlayStation Plus subscription is required for the lion’s share of PS4 multiplayer functionality, making the service required in all but name.

Sony’s decision heralds the dawning of a new age, one unsustainable without extra padding, perhaps in the form of $5 monthly. Thankfully, a few bucks a month is, for most, easy to swallow. It’s hardly a change from the previous console generation, and both Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus throw enough rewards at subscribers to keep most happy.

However, this is a pill easily made bitters by extra fees: look at Elder Scrolls Online, currently available for PC and, eventually, for new consoles. It’s no grand secret that it follows the MMO gold standard of a $15 monthly subscription. On one hand, If anything, this invites a sigh from PC players familiar with the business model. On the other, the console consumer’s general reaction to a second monthly subscription can be expected to be nothing short of abhorrence.

With so many games—The Division, Destiny, and even a potential console version of Guild Wars 2—pushing the jump to online-centric play, there’s concerning room for multiplicative subscriptions. PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live would buckle under the weight of one or, dare I say it, two game fees, in turn losing players. So, looking forward, the option not requiring the erection of a second paywall should be at the top of the pile.

5. Build An Experience, Not Visuals

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Game reveals are typically spearheaded by the same marketing spiel, with publishers relying on resolution, frame rate and copious superlatives to grab attention. The truly finicky will even delve into polygon counts and processor clock speeds, rarely bothering to flesh out the significance of their allegedly high numbers.

Is eye candy all the next generation of console gaming has to offer? Improved visual fidelity is a welcomed improvement, but should it be the only improvement? What about the nuts and bolts of gaming, the equally important but less obvious aspects of the experience? Load times, queue speeds, data management, installation rates, connection reliability and more seem equally deserving of a touch-up.

Updated visuals will never be a bad thing—unless of course they lead to the sort ofbudgeting discussed earlier—but they should not take priority in development. Make them the lovely ribbon on top of a collectively revamped package, and we’ll be in business.

4. Show It When It’s Ready

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Publishers can’t wait to flaunt their new project as early as possible to get the pre-orders rolling in keep fans in the loop. However, dropping the name a full year before a sample is in consumer hands is only detrimental to a game’s future. It’s happened countless times: promises build expectations, an absence of referential content can only fail those expectations, and suddenly a game’s on its way to vaporware status in the public eye.

This can all be avoided by keeping a project in the nest until it’s truly ready to fly. Don’t just force an announcement of an announcement of an announcement out the door in a desperate attempt to reserve a seat at the cool kids’ table. Hang onto the juicy details and screenshots a bit longer to save up for one fireball of a reveal, and back it up with in-game details.

3. Show Players Why It’s Next-Gen

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PS4 and Xbox One are the most socially connected consoles the games industry has ever seen. Players are capturing, sharing and spectating games like never before, and it’s high time the development side got in on the action.

Insomniac Games, best known for the Ratchet & Clank franchise and upcoming Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive, is setting the example on this one. Their next project, Slow Down, Bull, will be streamed live throughout its development process (not all the time, mind you, but weekly), putting the progress of the game directly in front of consumer eyes. This nails what countless marketing campaigns struggle to do: allow player feedback to play a live role in the creative process and remind players that the game they’re interested in is a very real, growing project, not just a name.

There’s no reason for total silence in such an interconnected age. A few minutes of footage here, a picture there, even a biweekly Q&A—any interaction can go a long way in holding player interest and, more importantly, allowing fans to interact with devs, both sides working to make their new game the best it can be.

Well, maybe some fans will do nothing but shout from their soapbox. Trade-offs.

2. Don’t Force Online Down Our Throats

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Microsoft ran headlong into a storm of consumer backlash after announcing DRM and mandatory check-in for Xbox One—so harshly, in fact, that they rescinded those policies practically overnight. The jury is out: gamers hate mandatory online anything. 

This same principle extends to shoehorning mandatory multiplayer into otherwise solo experiences. Case and point: Borderlands 2. All of the four DLC expansions available for Gearbox’s latest Pandora outing contain end-game bosses so difficult that they are next to impossible to defeat without a full party of players. This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the fact that the core game and indeed the meat of the expansions are single player affairs.

Borderlands 2 is a minor case, but the principle is sound: games should not force players to stay online or play with others. Dark Souls 2 handles this expertly, letting players aid or impede one another but also allowing both to be eliminated entirely without compromising the core experience.

Sometimes you can’t finagle a party of friends due to scheduling difficulties, sometimes you just want to play by yourself. Maybe you just aren’t up for multiplayer. Destiny, The Division, Assassin’s Creed Unity and others need to respect that and allow players to play their way.

1. Don’t Sell The Core Game As DLC

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Day-zero DLC and the like have been a thorn in the industry’s side for years. From severe cases like EA’s Dungeon Keeper remake to smaller blights like Alien Isolation’s filmic add-on (which brings the original cast back to the ship and initially required a pre-order for access) games are clipped in order to market central material as DLC. It’s irritating, underhanded, more often than not glaringly obvious, and has no place in any game.

The same can be said for the increasingly raucous bickering between Sony and Microsoft, charitably described as timed- and console-exclusive content. Watch Dogs, for example, was absolutely loaded with throw-ins unique to specific retailers and platforms, the most damaging being a batch of missions unique to PS4.

Multiplatform releases have no business favoring one platform or the other; leave that to the exclusives. Even the most insignificant of cosmetic add-ons are better off in everyone’s copy of the game. Superfluous pre-order incentives and console-exclusive content can only enflame the already sore wound that is the console wars, detract from the game they claim to embellish by ripping its content away, and lengthen lists such as these.

2 The Elder Scrolls VI: 10 Ways To Blow Skyrim Out Of The Water

Considering the four year gap between The Elder Scrolls III and IV and the five year dev-cycle for 2011′s Skyrim, we can only hope that Bethesda Game Studios is halfway done with The Elder Scrolls VI. No proper announcements have been made, but the errant logic of a progressive release pattern is all we have at this point. Zenimax has had a job listing for a bleeding edge RPG programmer at Bethesda Game Studios since January 2013, but that could mean anything.

Skyrim improved on Bethesda’s famous RPG formula in just about every categorical way. The versatility and verticality of vast, mountainous vistas was a stark departure from Oblivion’s relatively modest expanses. Dragons were a welcome respite from those damned Oblivion Gates. Combat was well-rounded with the addition of Shouts and an upgrade system that levelled up the skills you actually used – as you used them.

The PC modding community managed to carry out a laundry list of upgrades that teased the potential future of Elder Scrolls visual fidelity. Flora has been made fuller and livelier, while Fauna have received tremendous resolution enhancements. Extra realistic skyboxes, impressive lighting techniques and granular, geographical details have been hand-crafted and publicly uploaded by hundreds of passionate gamers. We have faith Bethesda can do better.

New consoles mean improved technical standards across the board, so, until we get that first glorious glimpse of current-gen Tamriel, passion and imagination are all we have to speculate on what’s next. Sharper textures are one thing, but The Elder Scrolls VI will need a bigger sword than that if it hopes to knock us off our feet.

For starters, they need to follow this simple ten point guide…

10. Conversation Animation Overhaul

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Bethesda  is perhaps most famous for their engrossing RPG systems, a reputation that just barely precedes a legacy of laughable character animations. Whether you’re chatting up some co-ed mages in Winterhold or spamming the crap out of the jump button as you hike a sheer wall, fluid movement has never been The Elder Scrolls’ strong suit.

Skyrim makes a few steps in the right direction, but these are marginal improvements and additions when compared to what truly needs addressing. NPC facial animations are in particular need of a… facelift. General expressions remain rigid, largely lifeless and unaffected by the physical intricacies of terrain. A person talking is never going to look like a person talking if they can’t move their eyes or head independently from their body. Traditionally, NPC’s have lacked the nuance of conversational gestures and glances, appearing altogether unaware of their surroundings until they feel threatened.

We want characters who don’t stare blankly until a conversation is over. Subtle environmental interaction and understated facial capture in the vein of The Last of Us would greatly enhance the believability of living bodies in space. The Elder Scrolls VI could introduce dynamic NPC reactions that remark on the weather, a scent on the wind, a view from a peak or the guidance of the constellations. Some procedural climbing animations would be icing on the cake.

9. Dynamic, Functional Combat Damage

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One major sore thumb regarding combat realism is the fact that enemy NPCs aren’t affected by the weight of your sword strikes until they stagger with a canned animation or receive a killing blow. The visceral chaos of first-person fighting is missing that critical feedback loop of progress. Sure, we have enemy health bars for visual aids, but that won’t fly this time around.

We want armour and flesh to degrade in real-time, dynamically. Metal Gear: Revengeance showed us the extreme, but such hyper-stylized violence has no place in the medieval grit of The Elder Scrolls series. The sentiment remains that bodies should always react to the weight of contact, with metal plates and limbs that break differently every time and match the very specific trajectory of each attack.

Kill-cam animations could take new form as they procedurally take advantage of damaged body parts. Holding down the attack command could deliver more precise degrees of power based on the exact amount of time held. The highest-powered swing of a great sword might cut a Draugr in half, but a fraction less could stop the blade on its spine and require a manual pull-out method.

8. Upgraded Ragdolls

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While we’re asking for deeper combat damage, we might as well go the whole nine yards. Skyrim is known for some absolutely fantastic animations, but none of them were designed by Bethesda. The most visually stunning, if not comically entertaining, motion mechanics in the series have always been generated randomly with dynamic physics and rag-dolled character models. These simulation systems add a much needed sense of chaos to the aforementioned rigidity of others.

We take every chance we can get to scatter the bones of our skeletal foes with a well placed strike, but stunned and lifeless bodies could certainly flail about more realistically. Rockstar Games is a forerunner in the fields of organic, procedural animation implementation. Their characters will put one foot up on a curb, lean against walls and, most importantly, gesticulate naturally when rolling out of an explosion or falling through the air. The best The Elder Scrolls has achieved looks something like a limp sack of potatoes with limbs.

Player-controlled and NPC characters alike should show some sense of self-preservation when blasted into the air. Kicking and screaming would do nicely, but procedural awareness of balance and what’s within a safe, arm’s reach would jack the realism up to eleven.

7. Snappier Controls

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Throughout the series, some Elder Scrolls animations have simply taken too long to carry out. In Skyrim, the sense of weight was great, but the repetitive time delay of bow-loading and great-sword-swinging still came dangerously close to taking control away from players for those crucial fractions of a second.

Gameplay systems that reward tactical timing and a knowledge of in-game physics should be encouraged, but not in a way that forces players to fight the latency of their control inputs. General movement should be altogether fluid and swift, encouraging players to dodge attacks deliberately and nimbly hop across ledges. A combination of Thief and Far Cry 3 would satiate the screaming warrior crowd, whilst adding an authentic, tactile point of view for stealth junkies.

If control inputs in The Elder Scrolls VI are sharper all around, but simultaneously improve the overall sense of physical weight in both fighting and exploring, fans of GTA V might visit Tamriel for their next physics vacation. Now we just need some interesting ways of getting around.

6. Experimental Methods of Transportation

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Skyrim makes a habit of handing us objectives that require a certain affinity for long-distance running. Faithful horses and fast traveling to familiar locales always makes things easier, but The Elder Scrolls series is overdue for a broadening of travel options.

On foot traversal proves to be the most engaging, as you’re most likely to explore every nook, camp and crevice. Horseback riding becomes a delicate balance of efficient pacing and studious elevation awareness, lest Sir Long-face should fall prey to a steep decline and a lethal shin splint. Still, that feeling of wide open freedom has the potential to reach even greater heights if Bethesda were only to bring us new ways of exploring it. A whole range of mountable beasts could make Tamriel’s already vibrant food chain even more fascinating. For that matter, Skyrim already hosts a bucket list of mythical creatures we’d love to ride bareback. Giant Spiders. Sabre Cats. Horkers. Bears. The final DLC let us ride a Dragon, but not in the way we’d hoped. James Cameron’s Avatar did some things very well, and this was one of them.

There are plenty of mechanics that make you slower in Skyrim. Over-encumbrance. Frost spell damage. Poison. Curses. Ducking. Far fewer factors boost a player’s speed. There’s no spell for running faster. No potion for speed. Skyrim’s Whirlwind Sprint Shout sends you hurtling directly forward, but the rigid mobility, short distance, lightning speed and sluggish recharge hardly constitute a method of transportation. Don’t even get me started on…

5. Sprint-jumping

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You’ve gotta jump that gap, but you need a running start, which means you’re screwed. Wait! A Whirlwind Sprint will launch you straight across. Heck yeah! Remember now, you can’t be running or jumping when you use it. Screwed again. And the ledge you need to reach is a foot higher than the one you’re on. What? Whirlwind won’t send me up into the air? Only straight ahead? Triple-screwed.

For all the hop-skipping one does up Skyrim’s foggy hillsides, it seems ludicrous that the sprint and jump commands don’t crossover. What the Fus is that about? Can the Dragonborn only process one simple motor mechanic at a time? It’s 2014. We should be able to jump out of a run for greater distance. Tell us if we’re crazy, but we’re pretty sure this feature’s been around since the original Super Mario Brothers.

There’s nothing less immersive than a video game halting you from accomplishing something you could definitely do in real life. High-tailing it away from a Sabre Cat is all but effective when we’re forced to stop at the base of a boulder before we can jump onto it for safety. Such logical fallacies shall be stricken from the very time and space that the Scrolls govern! All hail Runair, the God of Sprint-Jumping!

4. Real-Time Only Mode

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This is hardcore. The Elder Scrolls has always allowed us to freeze time when entering a menu, whether it be an objective check-in or inventory switch. What we’ve never been able to do is opt out of this paradoxical feature.

The Elder Scrolls is all about deep gameplay mechanics and an engrossing open-world, but all of this feels artificial when we’re forced to pause so often. Sure, a million decisions are made in these standstills – like potion drinking, enchanted item charging and book reading – but such improbable time exploitation takes the gut-wrench right out of split-second combat or dungeon sneaking. Not only does this negate the tension of forethought and proper strategy, but it unavoidably reminds us we’re playing a video game.

Hot-key favorites take some of the sting out of an otherwise demanding interface, but we want a menu system that keeps us connected to the world. Rifling through an impossible, Mary Poppins-esque bag might be a bit much, but a more immersive approach to managing ones inventory would be a nice change of pace from the traditionally text-focused menu screens.

3. Console Access to PC Mods

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Since launch, the vast majority of content created for Skyrim has been unofficial. With hundreds of unique textures, effects and pop-reference skins, the modding community has achieved both absurd and remarkable technical feats. Not all of us can afford to invest in a decent PC gaming rig, but we’d all love the chance to dance about The Elder Scrolls’ realm of user-generated content.

Obviously, graphical enhancements and the like would be irrelevant, as Bethesda can only squeeze so much power from the fixed RAM in our newest consoles.  Unfortunately, the power of high-end PC’s greatly surpasses the capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One, but we know we’ll be getting an upgrade either way. Texture replacements are last on our list of mod priorities.

Bethesda could just throw in a comprehensive toolkit that allows players to tweak the levels, sizes and shapes of every in-game asset, but that’s easier said than done. More likely, a selection of popular PC mods could be ported and packaged as DLC. Either way, us console gamers want at least a shred of the same creativity afforded to our PC brethren.

2. Autosaves Every Time You Kill Something

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Skyrim lets us save our progress whenever we want. If you’re halfway through a powerful axe swing aimed straight for a Troll’s face, you can pause and save your game. Some people don’t have time to finish their axe swings. If you forget to save manually, you’re simply warped back to the last loading checkpoint. That’s a big “if.”

If you’ve ever wandered into a dungeon full of monsters that outclass you in every way, you’ve also gotten so worked up in the fight that you forgot to save. It doesn’t matter how many bastards you’ve slain. You start at the beginning of that room. Rules are rules. We’re fine with some kind of consistency when it comes to saving our game, but the system should support us every step of the way.

Taking a stab at something Dark Souls tried, albeit cruelly, The Elder Scrolls VI should save every time we kill something. Where else will the game autosave if there’s…

1. No Loading

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This one is a given. Every current-generation game is making a big stink about how seamless their experience is. From gameplay, to cinematic, to gameplay, seamlessly. Entering and exiting interiors, seamlessly. From land, to air, to sea, to land again, without seams. We get it.

Considering the accumulative hours we’ve spent rotating random assets and pretending those “useful hints” are “useful,” it’s almost impossible to imagine an Elder Scrolls game in which we can simply enter a new area, no strings attached. As trivial as this may seem to some, loading time is one of the last, great immersion breakers in gaming. Show us a game designer who loves loading screens and we’ll show you a lot of angry gamers and a game designer who just got fired. Obviously, such things are far from intentional, but merely the technical limitations of an era, one that’s rapidly coming to an end.

If The Elder Scrolls VI were to load once and simply be, we wouldn’t have to endure thirty seconds of darkness just to see if we want to go deeper into that cave. We wouldn’t have to twiddle our thumbs forever just to enter the top floor of that tower. Bethesda’s epic, medieval fantasy frontier would become our seamless oyster, and we just might finally run out of reasons to leave home.