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Wed, Dec 16, 2020 6:29 PM

PS5 and Xbox Series X: A new gaming era, but not what you expect

For more than three decades the video game industry has promoted technological leaps as the reason to be an early adapter of new consoles, creating a marketplace and a fandom that idolizes boxes and their components. Yet after spending a few weeks with the new video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft — and even dropping $1,000 on a new 4K TV to supposedly take advantage of their graphical prowess — I feel let down.

Yes, games on Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X bolstered by a 4K television look better. And combined with the consoles' faster computing power there's an overall performance boost that feels smoother, more fluid and overall more enjoyable. But the changes weren't drastic in the way console shifts once were. We've long been accustomed to 3D graphics, and the days of small pixelated characters gave way years ago.

Granted, when it comes to a home theatre, I've always opted for comfort, convenience and simplicity rather than whatever is championed as the latest and best. Music, for instance, via a smartphone speaker or played through a high-end stereo has never made much of a difference to me, this despite the fact that I spent the bulk of my professional career as a music journalist. There's a lesson in there somewhere about how an emotional connection isn't made by an audiophile-approved sound system or a 4K TV or a new video game console and all of its teraflops. After all, most of my favorite game stories involve a 20-sided die.

But lest one think I am underwhelmed by the new console generation I assure you that is not the case. I am, in fact, hopeful.

The more time I spend with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X the more curious I become about not just where video games can go but how the medium as a whole can become more inviting and more accessible...

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