E3 2013 has come and gone, and while the stage has been once again dominated by the usual corporate chest puffing, there were also a number of new gaming trends on display. Accelerated by the introduction of new hardware, this year's show played host to a slew of fresh technological advancements, all of which look poised to dictate the direction of the software that's set to occupy the PlayStation 4.
The biggest example of this came in the form of increased connectivity. Multiplayer is nothing new, but it's clear that we're on the verge of a new era of socially enhanced single player releases. Titles such as Watch_Dogs and Need for Speed: Rivals are elevating the nature of solo sessions, seamlessly matching you with other players as you progress to make for a more emergent experience.
We've already seen glimpses of this exciting innovation on the PlayStation 3 with titles such as Demon's Souls and Journey, but new and improved hardware will unlock the opportunity to realise this vision more freely. Games like Destiny are really blurring the lines between the online and offline components that we've previously accepted as separate entities.
And with the promise of that, persistent multiplayer is being brought to life in the process. While the concept of the MMO is nothing new on the PC, it's a genre that – short of a few standout examples – has somewhat eluded consoles over the years. But publishers such as Ubisoft and Activision are gradually beginning to buck this trend, and titles like Tom Clancy's The Division are taking inspiration from these massive games. Meanwhile, we're seeing ambitious online endeavours such as The Elder Scrolls Online and PlanetSide 2 expand to the PS4.
Speaking of which, open worlds look set to become even more prominent on Sony's next generation system. While we've played copious releases on existing consoles that have offered the ability to traipse through gigantic worlds – titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption immediately spring to mind – this trend looks like it is set to become even more prominent on the PS4.
A huge number of the games on display at E3 promised massive non-linear environments. Destiny, for example, will sport a gigantic open world, inFAMOUS: Second Son will continue the series’ sandbox formula, and even Killzone: Shadow Fall is set to drop the corridor confrontations of its predecessors. It's an exciting step forward in terms of variety, and while there will always be a place for more scripted experiences – Call of Duty: Ghosts is proof of that – hardware advancements should make seamless worlds more easily accomplishable.
And then, of course, there's the rise of free-to-play. At launch, the PS4 is set to accommodate the likes of Warframe, DC Universe Online, and PlanetSide 2 – titles that have already proved popular on the PC. It's a new approach for consoles, which have stuck fairly rigidly to the traditional model of single-purchase products over the years. But if implemented properly, the free-to-play model can not only offer outstanding value, but also a new method for us to consume games in a manner that we decide.
Couple this with the usual array of visual enhancements and technical wizardry, and the next generation is shaping up nicely. Many have criticised the impending transition's ability to impress from a visual perspective, but it's going to be the implementation of advanced connectivity, new business models, and the sheer scale of game worlds that will separate the PS4 from its predecessors. Whether that will be enough to encourage the average consumer to upgrade remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that there are some genuinely exciting new experiences on the horizon.
Are you a fan of these particular trends? What aspects of gaming would you like to see evolve further on the PS4? Let us know in the comments section below.