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DF Direct Weekly: has the next-gen era actually started yet?

Plus: No, Breath of the Wild 2 isn't 'too big' for Switch.

While the major publishers are keeping their announcements to a minimum, making for an interesting challenge in creating a weekly tech news show, there are still some interesting topics to discuss in DF Direct, though the discourse is still centred around Unreal Engine 5. This, in turn, raises the question: has the next generation era actually started to 'happen' yet?

There's no doubt whatsoever that we've seen plenty of games that offer big improvements when run on the latest wave of consoles - Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, Forza Horizon 5, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West - but the amount of truly impressive current-gen exclusives are thin on the ground, to say the least. Unreal Engine 5 is so significant because it's the first time that we've seen a company attempt to utilise the power of the most recent hardware to bring about a fundamental change. However, recent experience with the engine suggests that it's still some way from being the finished article.

So why has cross-gen persisted for so long? Many titles coming out in 2023 look set to continue the trend. Silicon shortages may account for this to a certain extent but the truth is that games take so long to create, developers and publishers would likely have targeted cross-gen to begin with - shortages or not. It's more likely that it's simply about financial viability: games are only becoming more expensive to make year on year, so it makes sense to maximise returns by making those titles more accessible. On top of that, it's the first time we've seen such direct continuity in hardware architectures - there's the same fundamental x86 CPU and Radeon GPU building blocks to work with. While the potential ubiquity of UE5 is of concern, it is at least a firm demarcation point: if UE5's key Lumen and Nanite systems are deployed, the last-gen consoles simply don't have the horsepower to deliver those projects.

Somehow the tech chat keeps on coming as DF Direct Weekly hits its 58th episode.Watch on YouTube
  • 00:00:00 Introductions
  • 00:01:04 News 01: Has "Next-Gen" happened yet?
  • 00:27:52 News 02: No, Breath of the Wild 2 isn't 'too big' for Switch
  • 00:32:54 News 03: Playdate has arrived
  • 00:40:52 News 04: Steam Deck at 40Hz
  • 00:49:31 News 05: Sonic Origins details emerge
  • 00:56:16 News 06: Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi to return in big budget form?
  • 01:01:24 DF Supporter Q1: What are your thoughts on Sonic Jam on Saturn?
  • 01:03:07 DF Supporter Q2: What are your favorite RTS titles?
  • 01:08:16 DF Supporter Q3: What's John take on CRT shaders such as CRT-Royale
  • 01:10:22 DF Supporter Q4: Any chance we can get a video on Cyberpunk's next-gen comparisons to PC?
  • 01:12:41 DF Supporter Q5: Am I the only one who looks at Ghostwire: Tokyo and thinks Lichdom Battlemage?

Beyond the 'next-gen' discussion, we also tackle some of the misunderstandings surrounding our comments on the recent Breath of the Wild 2 footage. Reports have suggested we said the sequel would be 'too big' for Switch, when we didn't say that. Others believe we said that the game wouldn't be coming out at all for Switch, when that's obviously not true - it's been announced! These stories derive from our Breath of the Wild 2 discussion back in DF Direct Weekly #55. Ultimately, our point is simply this: the new footage showed fidelity and effects that are significantly beyond what we've seen from any title on Switch seen thus far, even those from Nintendo first party studios. Maybe it will be a cross-gen Nintendo game similar to the original? We'll just have to wait and see.

Staying in the handheld realm, recent 'megaton' news reveals that Steam Deck's display is capable of 40Hz refresh rates, opening the door to games running with even frame-pacing at 40fps, an effect we've already seen on PS5 with Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. It's a Windows-only hack at the moment, but Valve is seeking to implement arbitrary refresh rate support and 40Hz would be a great target to work with - at a 25ms per-frame persistance, it's a great halfway point between 30fps and 60fps in term of fluidity. Steam Deck does have issues locking to 60fps in many games 40fps or 50fps offer interesting alternatives. We'll be looking at that in due course, once it's an official part of SteamOS.

Supporter questions for the team? We tackle a lot of them this week - and the performance implications of Unreal Engine 5 are clearly of concern. Beyond that, it's all about whether we should be stacking up the Cyberpunk 2077 next-gen patch on consoles up against PC, our thoughts on the CRT shader effects coming out for retro titles and of course, the hottest topic of all. Is Ghostwire: Tokyo a spiritual successor to the legendary Lichdom Battlemage? Check out what we've been up to on the DF Supporter Program this week and visit Patreon to gain access to a bunch of early access videos, bonus material and of course, to become part of our excellent community. Join us!

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