Of all the upgrades expected in the next PlayStation and Xbox consoles, next-generation solid state drives may be the most exciting addition, at least according to developer Crytek. SSDs are hard drives capable of retrieving information much faster than traditional drives, which leads to improved load times for video games.
Crytek is certainly a developer worth listening to when it comes to console technology. Its 2007 first-person shooter Crysis was one of the most visually impressive games ever when it came out. At the time of its release, it was practically impossible to play at maximum settings, and it was used as a benchmark of system power for years to come. More than a decade later, Crysis still looks great, and it’s still melting PCs at max settings.
Naturally, when WCCFTech got a chance to speak to Crytek about its upcoming game, Hunt: Showdown, the topic of next-gen console hardware also came up. Asked about the potential of the consoles’ new custom processors, ray tracing, and 8K support, Crytek said that it was actually SSDs that would be the most exciting part of the next console generation. Every console generation takes visual fidelity to a higher level, but according to the developer, SSDs will allow the next generation to do entirely new things, like do away with load times and enable games designed specifically for streaming. The developer pointed out that game engines will also have to change to take advantage of the new technology, meaning that the first batch of next-gen games won’t be running at their full potential, but said that the possibility was exciting.
This isn’t the first time that SSDs have gotten their due as game changers. The PlayStation 5 SSD has been a major talking point throughout its announcements so far. A Sony investor meeting earlier this year showed a scene from Spider-Man that took around eight seconds to load on a PlayStation 4 Pro loading in under one second on PlayStation 5 hardware. Some tech-inclined gamers have even taken to upgrading their current-gen PlayStations with SSDs to improve load times.
Load times were a topic of discussion well before the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett were on the table. One of the touted benefits of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was improved load times over their predecessors. This generation, games like God of War and Rage 2 have developed built-in methods to cut out or at least disguise load times. While the possibility of a loading-free game or one that makes interesting use of streaming is exciting, those are ultimately secondary to the quality of the game itself. While console makers fight for the title of “most powerful,” they also need to remember that it’s games, not hardware, that gets their consoles into living rooms.