Before the latest console generation kicked off, we heard loads of technical nonsense about teraflops, triangles, and teradons, but none of it seemed to make much tangible sense. In fact, that third one is made up, and you probably didn’t even notice. We were fed so many details about the giant leap that this new generation was going to give us, but I wasn’t all that convinced. I know it’s still early days in the era of PS5 and Xbox Series X, and I will admit that haptic feedback and DualSense upgrades have been more noticeable than I thought they might be, but for the most part, it just feels like a slightly faster toy than the old one. I’m not complaining though, the improved loading times are obviously a big plus. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by never-before-seen gaming experiences, especially not in the first few months when most games are cross platform anyway. But faster? Sure. The only loser is my phone, which now never gets idly picked up while I wait for a game to start. But there is one problem – the load times make it too easy to rage quit.
At first, I actually thought the load times would deflate the need to rage quit. You instantly get back on the horse, as if the ground you’d fallen off onto was not really ground at all, but a trampoline. I think you’re asking for trouble if you’re riding a horse on a trampoline, but you get what I mean. The first experience I had with these load times was in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Trying to complete the Peter Parker combat challenges too early into my time with Miles meant I didn’t have the powers or suit abilities to best them as quickly as I needed to, and the cycle of start, break combo, restart was constant.
But every time I clicked restart, Miles was already in position before I had lifted my finger off the button. Screw up last time around? No worries, let’s crumple that memory up and throw it out, next round starts now. No more staring at your reflection while you contemplate your own ineptitude, just have another go.
But it turns out that Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a special case. Miles is one of my all-time favourite characters, and the original Spider-Man game was possibly my favourite of the last generation. It’s impossible to get angry at a game like that, there’s too much charm involved. It’s like a friend who makes it impossible for you to get angry with them, even when they do something stupid like ride a horse on a trampoline.
Not all games are Spider-Man: Miles Morales though, and the world is all the poorer for it. Since beating Miles, the PS5 has been my main console, and I’ve played through a variety of games with the decreased load times. To be honest, I haven’t really noticed it, which is probably a good thing. Loading speeds were a barrier rather than a feature, so all the PS5 has done is remove them. The new Xbox has too, for what it’s worth, but both my best and worst experience with the new load times have come via the PS5.
The best was with Miles, but the worst was with Oddworld: Soulstorm. The problem with Oddworld is that it’s not super difficult, it’s just frustrating. In Miles Morales, at least when I failed a challenge, it was on me. I should have dodged left, not right, or fired off a different gadget, or used my fists instead of my webs. I felt hard done by sometimes, sure, but mostly, I messed up, let’s try again. With Oddworld, it didn’t feel that way. Abe’s jumps are too looping, yet he still doesn’t grab the ledge. If you throw water at a fire, it seems to come down to random chance whether it will extinguish or not. Enemies will sometimes spot you if you’re silent, or miss you if you’re loud. The deaths don’t feel earned in Oddworld, but neither do the victories. It’s just some random thing the game decided – this time you get to pass.
But because you have no control over your own failure, every death just made me more and more irritated. If there had been a blank space in time filled with nothing but loading, maybe I would have calmed down and took a deep breath, ready to have another go and try to understand what quirks this particular puzzle was falling foul to. But without the break, it just felt like the game was pelting me with custard pies over and over again until I gave in and decided to quit.
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- TheGamer Originals
- Oddworld: Soulstorm
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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