With Next-Gen and the Switch, Gaming Finally Matches My Lifestyle

April 25, 2021

When I was younger, I had all the time in the world to game. Sure, I had school and homework, but those were balanced out by weeks oh holidays without them. Throw in the sort of youthful exuberance that made an all-nighter a simple and easy affair, and there was always plenty of time to play games. Nowadays, working full time, studying at University, having a family, and a complete inability to stay up all night means that the time I have to game has been slashed considerably. There are often times where I’ll only have 30 minutes at a time to quickly play something and the technology of the last generation make that even harder. But now, with next-gen and the Switch, my consoles have finally caught up to my lifestyle.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate having a super short time to play a game. In a medium all about immersion, having a constricting and ever present timer running (literally or figuratively) sucks the enjoyment outside of it. It feels I’m in an exam or trying to hit a deadline, instead of feeling like I’m taking part in the hobby that I’ve loved for most of my life.

This feeling was often compounded by multiple things, but one of the biggest was the utterly atrocious load times of games last generation. While it wasn’t true of every single game, there were plenty of games with minute plus load times and thirty second plus Respawn times. It meant that if I went into a game like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order I knew that my 30 minutes was more likely to be sub-25 minutes depending on how many times I died or if I shifted locations. Throw in however long it took the system to reboot (who knows if the power cut out for 2 seconds causing the PS4 rest mode to be useless or if the Xbox One X has decided to not load games and requires a restart) and I could easily lose a third of my short gaming time. It was pretty disheartening.

This is where the next-gen consoles have started to reinvigorate my gaming. Their SSDs are so quick that load times are no longer the minute long affair they used to be. I don’t have to worry about a respawn taking bloody forever and I don’t need to dread heading to a new area with another load. Instead, I’m able to focus more of my time on gaming.

Where the next-gen consoles really start to maximise my gaming time is in their additional tech and systems. For the PS5, this comes in the form of its activity cards. Jumping me directly into a mission or activity, they cut out a lot of the fat to beginning a game. There’s no starting a game and working out where your next mission is or what to do next, you just click a few buttons and away you go. I used this frequently in my time with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Moralesbooting straight into main missions and challenge activities, and it completely changed my experience with the game and system  

On the Xbox Series X, it comes in the form of Quick Resume, a feature I have come to dearly love in my time with the console. Keeping saved instances of multiple games at a time, Quick Resume allows me to easily resume a game where I left off. There’s a super short load to resume the game and then I’m immediately in the action again. Whether I was in the middle of a mission or just wandering the world, I’m thrown straight in without having to sit through masses of splash screens and load times.

Suddenly, I’ve gone from massive swathes of gaming time being lost to load times to two next-gen systems clearly built to reduce that dead time. Finally, my gaming time is becoming my own again.

Conversely, the Nintendo Switch definitely hasn’t done anything to reduce its load times. Instead, it’s benefits come in a different form: its hybrid nature. Much of the struggle with gaming comes from my daughter being young enough that even when she’s occupied with something that doesn’t need my direct involvement she still needs supervision. This is where the Switch comes in handy. I can easily carry it around with me and jump in for a little bit before I need to put it down again. It’s not always the most satisfying way to play a game, but it allows me to get more gaming into my day in a way I couldn’t before.

For years now, gaming has steadily became more unattainable for me. My time has been shortening, while at the same time game load times and complexity have been increasing. It’s meant that I’ve had to make some hard calls and completely skip amazing games simply because I don’t have the time to dedicate to them. Finally, the needle is starting to swing back the other way with next-gen consoles and the Switch. It’s once again becoming easier to get a game going and get into the action. Now, I might be able to skip a few less games.