It feels like a lifetime ago we were first introduced to the PS4 and Xbox One, but after seven long years, the eighth console generation is slowly wrapping up. Though both consoles are receiving continued support, for now, Sony and Microsoft have been prepping their successors, ushering in a new generation with fresh technology. For those of you lucky enough to secure a pre-order or haven’t seen their deliveries delayed, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 are finally here.
The best next-gen indie games
We’ve never seen a launch line-up with so much choice either. Leaving out backwards compatibility, Series X|S boasts 33 different games and PS5 has a respectable 25 games. As you’d expect for a new console, a lot of these are cross-gen releases but unique to this generation, many are offering free upgrades for their next-gen equivalent, utilising a cross-buy system between PS4 to PS5 and Microsoft’s Smart Delivery across Xbox One and Series X|S editions. It’s easy to lose track of the indies amongst such a heavy line-up, but here are five of the games you won’t want to miss.
We’ve all heard the song at this point, but when Bugsnax was first revealed, that catchy tune and cutesy aesthetic had us instantly sold. Developed by Young Horses of Octodad fame, this adventure takes us to Snaktooth Island, tracking down the inhabitants of Snaxburg and reuniting them. Playing a journalist in search of their latest scoop, you’ll need to get creative in capturing the different Bugsnak species, using different contraptions and documenting your progress within a journal.
We thought pretty highly of it in our Bugsnax review, calling it a “fascinating game that delights and perplexes you at every given chance”. Launching for PC, PS4 and PS5, Xbox owners will sadly miss out on this whimsical gem for now, but any current-gen adopters on PS4 can upgrade for free on PS5. If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber too, the PS5 version will be free to download upon launch, so there’s absolutely no reason to not take a look.
Observer: System Redux
Bloober Team has made a strong name for themselves in recent years, bringing us horror hits like Blair Witch and Layers Of Fear 2. Whilst their upcoming launch window game The Medium was delayed to January, they’ve confirmed that their cyberpunk game Observer is getting an upgrade for next-gen consoles. Starring the late Rutger Hauer as Krakow police detective Daniel Lazarski, an “Observer” who hacks into people’s minds to interrogate them.
Bringing us a gritty detective drama within a neo-future aesthetic, we thought it was a niche game but gave it a fine recommendation. So, what does System Redux offer? Not only does this re-release features an expanded story, but it’s also boasting technical improvements like 60fps gameplay, completely remade character models and further visual upgrades. Launching on PS5 and Series X|S, there’s no free upgrade this time, but we’re looking forward to seeing how it’s improved.
No Man’s Sky
From a rocky launch in 2016 to a simply staggering level of post-launch support, No Man’s Sky is possibly gaming’s greatest redemption story. Letting players traverse an open-world universe with over 18 quintillion procedurally generated worlds, Hello Games’ impressive exploration game has gone from strength to strength, bringing major updates that included multiplayer and virtual reality support, but as confirmed by Sean Murray, they’re not done yet.
Dubbed the “Next Generation”, this updates focuses less on new content and more on technical improvements. Launching on both PS5 and Series X|S, Sean revealed significant visual upgrades, more detailed worlds, and even larger bases to build than current-gen consoles offer. Also introducing cross-play and support for 32 players in an online party, it’s the perfect time to finally dive in. Better yet, existing owners on both Xbox One and PS4 can upgrade for free.
Solo projects have brought us some incredible games before, and The Falconeer is the latest to make its mark. Developed by Tomas Sala, this aerial combat game takes us to the Great Ursee, a sea-covered lands divided between imperial houses within a fantasy setting. Giving players full control in exploring this open-world whilst riding a falcon, you’ll need to defend your land from an emerging pirate threat, and there’s a sizeable campaign to keep you occupied.
We reviewed The Falconeer recently, where we had some criticisms for the combat system but called it an “absolutely applaudable effort” from Tomas Sala, saying that it boasts some “impressive artistic direction, smooth performance, and enjoyable open-world exploration”. PS5 owners are sadly missing out on this one but its due to land on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, also offering a Smart Delivery upgrade.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat
We’ve seen some exceptional multiplayer experiences this generation and both Overcooked games are high amongst them. Working with a team of four players, it requires you to fulfil some rather frantic orders across some chaotic kitchens. We were quite pleased to learn of the “All You Can Eat” remaster, which brings back both original campaigns and all previously released DLC, running in 4K and 60fps. Brand new content is also included, such as extra levels and new chefs.
Overcooked 2 proved quite entertaining, and we called it “one of the best party games there is to play”, making for great co-op fun, so anyone seeking out multiplayer shenanigans will likely find an excellent choice here. As a new edition of the game, you’ll have to pay for this one, but with its whole new buffet of content and technical improvements, Team 17 are serving up one dish we’re looking forward to trying.