Sony and Microsoft have made it very clear that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are focused on eliminating load times. To date, most of the discussion has focused on getting rid of long in-game transition scenes. Game developers have long used transitions like long hallways or elevator rides to hide data loads. With the Xbox Series X and PS5, such moments are supposed to belong to the past.
But the PS5, at least, will apparently support another feature — the ability to leap directly into gameplay, bypassing any kind of loading screens at all. A yanked article by Gamereactor, preserved by Gematsu, stated that World Rally Championship 9 (WRC9) would have a deeplink feature allowing you to jump straight into races from the PS5 main menu. This is apparently part of the unrevealed “Activities” feature that Sony is keeping a lid on.
Gamereactor preview article for WRC 9 mentioned an unannounced #PS5 feature. Article was here but was taken offline: https://t.co/BIKFZEAhnL
Archive: https://t.co/zVtjk94ux0 pic.twitter.com/5VdNwyEPpQ
— Gematsu (@gematsucom) July 28, 2020
Is the Idea of Launching a Game Itself Obsolete?
For as long as we’ve had games, we’ve had game launchers. The idea of selecting game modes and changing options from inside a dedicated launcher screen is common to both PC and console games. Even multi-title arcade cabinets had game launchers from their earliest incarnations. The only real difference is whether the launcher runs before you start the game, or whether it runs from within the game itself.
I’m not saying logging into a game directly via launcher isn’t useful for a lot of things, mind you. If you want a central location for tweaking visual settings, changing keybindings, or using a different set of default servers, game launchers are great. But most of us only do those things when setting up the title for the first time.
This PS5 feature sounds like a kissing cousin to the Xbox capability to resume multiple games seamlessly after pausing them, though the actual mechanics would likely differ, with the Xbox possibly restoring saved states while the PlayStation 5 may just remember what tracks or levels you’ve previously unlocked and allow you to jump right back to them.
When Nintendo launched its NES and SNES Classic systems, one feature it copied from PC emulators was the ability to save state and restore a given game to exactly where it was the last time you hit the “Save State” button. This mechanic allows games that don’t support saved games to support them and gives players the ability to save right before a difficult boss fight rather than having to replay an entire level. But why should this apply only to old titles like Super Mario Bros.? What if you had the option to load your save game directly from the console dashboard (or the PC desktop), leaping directly back into the title with a double-click?
Of course, thanks to all those storage-side optimizations, the PS5 and Xbox Series X shouldn’t really have loading speed issues in the first place. But this kind of time-saving isn’t really about the handful of seconds you save in any given launch, but the time you save over the 4-6 years you might own the console. It’s interesting to contemplate how gaming might look different if level loads and save game resumes were essentially atomized in this fashion, however. Most of us only watch introduction movies a handful of times at most, and mods that stop them from playing are always popular PC-side. Giving people the option to leap directly back into the game as an expected feature could be a notable advance we see rolling out on consoles this generation.
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