With the release of Sony and Microsoft’s new systems only just behind us, gamers everywhere are starting to decide which consoles they’ll be betrothing themselves to for the next generation. For many, the Wii U isn’t even being considered as one of the next gen consoles to buy this year, but ironically with 2014 starting to settle in, the Wii U is beginning to look like a better proposition than it ever has before. Here’s why.
With the last minute delay of both Watchdogs and Driveclub, and the mixed critical reception to exclusive launch window titles like Knack, Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall, gameswise – the PS4 lineup has come out with more of a sizzle than a bang. While the Xbox One has a few more exclusives under its belt, a quick look at metacritic will tell you that it’s not faring much better critically. With neither console’s launch lineup having a game come close to being a ‘must own’ title (March’s Titanfall helped) it’s lucky then, that one next gen console can already manage to boast several.
After a bumpy start and season long game droughts, the Wii U has quietly managed to amass itself a nice variety of highly rated titles. From must have first party games like Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Wind Waker HD, to third party games like Rayman Legends, Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate, Zombi U and Assassin’s Creed IV -There are a surprising amount of quality titles to choose from on Wii U, from a diverse selection of genres.
Some third party titles even offer the definitive version on Wii U (yes, really!) like the superb gamepad implementation found in Deus Ex: Director’s Cut and the stunning visuals showcased in Need For Speed: Most Wanted U. The less said about poor launch titles like Fifa 13 and Funky Barn however, the better.
While launch games like Battlefield 4 and Dead Rising 3 hint at the potential of Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles, in terms of both quantity and quality of software available at the moment, the Wii U is the clear winner.
YES, IT IS NEXT GEN
Yes, people of the internet, whether you like it or not, the Wii U is a next generation console. In both literal terms ( it came after the PS3/360/Wii generation) and in terms of it being a significant increase in power over the previous generation. To get all technical on you, the Wii U has double the RAM of the 360, a more modern GPU and pools of separate ram called EDRAM – something that current gen consoles like the PS3 lack completely. This more modern architecture and significant increase in memory, means that Nintendo’s latest console, without a doubt, outpowers the PS3 and 360 – despite what some early lack luster ports may suggest.
While the Wii U is still significantly weaker than either the PS4 or Xbox One on paper, the recent Windwaker HD and Super Mario 3D World show that the increase in RAM, combined with a great artstyle can keep Wii U titles looking only a few steps behind Sony and Microsoft’s new powerhouses – if developers put the effort in.
As developers get to grips with the PS4 and Xbox One hardware, the gap in visual fidelity between them and the Wii U is likely to increase. Yet, even so, you can bet that games like the stunning looking online RPG – X – and the Nintendo funded Bayonetta 2 will look amazing in their own right – even if they cannot quite match the brute graphical force of Nintendo’s rivals. Still not convinced? Watch a Mario Kart 8 trailer – last gen my bum.
From its decent launch to the abysmal post 2012 Christmas sale figures, it’s safe to say that Nintendo’s next gen console hasn’t exactly got off to a great start – and much of that can be attributed to how little value it was perceived to offer gamers. A high price point and a lack of software was the cause of this, making the system seem wholly unattractive to all but the rabid Nintendo faithful. Since launch, however, Nintendo have wisely decided to compliment the console’s recent arrival of compelling games with a much needed price cut.
While officially this means the console retails at £249.99, many retailers are offering the system for £200 or under – meaning that it’s at least a hundred pounds cheaper than its competitors.
As well as being the cheapest console this gen, the Wii U offers two features that its competitors have disappointingly forgone – backwards compatibility and a free online service. While the Wii is often remembered as being clogged with shovelware and embarrassing mini game collections, there were a lot of great games released for the system which slid under the radar – and having the ability to play these at higher image quality greatly increases the Wii U’s value and potential library.
This backward compatibility doesn’t just extend to the Wii’s games, though – many Wii U games can also be controlled with Wii controllers, saving you a ton of money that you would otherwise spend on shelling out for extra controllers. £50 for a Dualshock 4 controller? Nahh, I’m good.
While the Wii U’s online is pretty barebones compared to, say, Sony and Microsoft’s latest offerings, Miiverse is a great feature and it is nice to be able to hop on for a few games of COD or the upcoming Mario Kart 8 without having to pay for the privilege. Every little helps, as the great Dave from Tesco once said.
While the Wii U lineup is currently looking quite strong, part of investing in a console is also an investment into the future – and aside from the inevitably great new Zelda, games like X, Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros ensure that the Wii U’s future is already looking pretty bright.
But what of games from other publishers?
While it’s true that third party support for the ‘U has been patchy at best, indies appear to have picked up a lot of the slack. Due to Nintendo’s new found focus on the indie scene, the console’s eShop has been brimming with great digital releases. This commitment to indie’s has resulted in the console’s downloadable future looking especially strong – with over 120 indie games already confirmed to be in development for the Wii U.
Activision, Warner, Namco and Ubisoft have been good supporters of the console so far, but with the current install base being relatively small, many publishers are still on the fence. Luckily, the pre release response to Mario Kart 8 has been overwhelmingly positive, and if this translates to great sales it should be only a matter of time before we see more third parties returning to the fold. Fingers crossed, eh?
While a lot of western third party titles don’t seem to be heading to the Wii U, the recent announcement of third party collaborations like Hyrule Warriors and Shin Megami Tensi x Fire Emblem bodes well for the future. Hopefully E3 will bring us more interesting Japanese collaborations.
While a lot of you will roll your eyes or furiously shake your firsts at the mere sound of the word, the likelihood is you’ve probably never actually used one. Watching a Youtube video on the TV as you cue up a different video on the gamepad feels genuinely exciting.
Want to watch sports in the middle of a particularly grueling game of COD? Play it on the gamepad and do both. Got a friend round but hate splitscreen? On the Wii U, one player gets each screen – problem solved.
I own a PS4, and love the astounding visuals it produces, but the gamepad really makes me want to get multi plats on my Wii U. Instant item selection on the gamepad in Deus Ex and the intensity of having to keep an eye on both screens in Zombi U were some of the first truly wow gaming moments I’ve had since the first time I held a Wii Remote.
Asynchronous gameplay and the new-found screen space offered by the gamepad has brought back local co-op for me, and after a generation of playing online with friends on my 360 I now regularly meet up with friends for beer fueled games of Nintendo Land. Having one player in a totally separate type of game from the rest of the people in the room is a concept that is hard to appreciate until experienced, but it works incredibly well. If you value having fun with your friends round as well as being stuck into great single player games, Wii U really is the console to get.
The Wii U really isn’t for everyone, and no matter the price, some people will surely prefer the software lineup on either PS4 or Xbox One, but for those with broad gaming tastes – Wii U really is the best option right now. The Wii U has racked up 10 highly rated exclusives, and boasts a diverse lineup of games that offers something unique compared to the competition. With the new Mario Kart bundle announced today only setting people back £220, there is a lot of fun to be had here – and now is a perfect time to dive in.