There are a lot of articles at the moment talking about next gen. This has mainly been triggered by Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 DX11. Some are saying that these games are next gen, including the developers of Crysis, Crytek, but I would personally rubbish these claims. I must explain that, to me a generation in gaming is dictated by new consoles. PS1 was a generation from PS2 and PS2 was a generation from PS3. So, I would argue that next generation, though close, is not happening now at all. Next generation will happen, I think as early as fall 2012. The new consoles will bring with them a new generation.
Why is next gen not happening now? Well, there is no doubt that at the moment Crysis 2 DX11 has the best graphics ever. Battlefield 3 will likely beat that when it’s out and Witcher 2 should get a mention too along with Crysis 1. These games however are not next gen, and I will explain why, though their developers say they are. History is repeating itself. Games like Crysis 2 DX11 and BF3 are very reminiscent of games like Far Cry 1, Half Life 2 and FEAR. The graphics of games like Far Cry 1 were, at the time, unreal. Far Cry’s graphics were not possible on PS2, yet if you look at screenshots of it now, it looks last gen. I predict the same is happening here. DICE have said that Frostbite 2 is a next gen engine, and I agree with them but it isn’t producing games at the moment that are true next gen, including Battlefield 3. The same thing happened with Half Life 2 which used the Source engine still used today on great games like Portal 2. Again HL2’s graphics weren’t able to be produced on PS2. The game was released on Xbox 1 and looked and ran very poorly compared to the PC. Though the Source engine is a current generation engine, Half Life 2 isn’t. If you play through Half Life 2 now, it certainly plays like a game that came out in 2004. If you compare the graphics of Killzone 3 or Gears of War with Half Life 2 now, there is only one winner. Episode 2 certainly looked better, but I think the same think will happen again with these games like Crysis 2 and BF3. The PS4 and 720 will be able to produce better graphics than both BF3 and Crysis 2.
With the exception of 2006 the best graphics this gen have always been found on PC. In 2006 the 360 found it's main franchise and the PS3 was released. At the time it is without doubt that Gears of War 1 had the best graphics ever seen. Gears of War 1 on 360 had the best graphics at the time including PC games. This crown was swiftly taken back by the PC a year later when Crysis was released. This will happen again I believe, that the new batch of Consoles will take the crown for graphics and this will truly mark Next Gen. PS4s graphics will be to BF3 and Crysis 2 DX11 what the PS3s graphics are to Far Cry and Half Life 2. Though I’m sure the PC will again swiftly take back the grown, maybe with Crysis 3? Another perfect example of this would be Battlefield 2. Another game that can’t really be compared to graphics this gen, but certainly was better than anything graphically the PS2 ever produced.
So, my assumptions are completely based on what has happened before. I could be wrong. I do expect that new consoles will be announced at E3 2012 and released either the fall of 2012 or spring of 2013. I believe that the Uncharted 4/5s graphics will basically be near to real life. I don’t desperately want new consoles now, but this is mainly because they’ve still got one last hurrah with Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3 and Forza 4.