The words "next generation" have always held a lot of promise — and a lot of hype — in the world of video games. Consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 that herald the arrival of a new generation are said to offer stunning graphics that unlock gaming experiences like never before. That’s an exciting promise, and there’s good reason for the fascination with these black boxes: for the next several years, video gaming itself will likely be defined by these two consoles.

But now that delirium over the launches of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is beginning to subside we must ask what, exactly, this next generation delivers to living rooms. When it comes to graphics — that jumble of polygons, sophisticated algorithms, and complex maps that create so much buzz — what do these systems offer that your dusty old Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can't? And, as of today, have these consoles delivered on their promises?

To find out, we've carefully examined 10 different games across all four consoles — a grand total of 29 discs. As is common during transitional periods, almost all launch titles are offered on both new and old consoles. These multi-platform games offer a unique opportunity to compare these consoles head to head. For each, we have side-by-side comparisons of the same exact scene across the two generations to let you see the difference for yourself. A few of these comparisons are included in this article (you can slide the divider to compare on each) — well over a dozen more can be found in our supplement.

At first glance, these games may lack that next-gen “wow factor,” but we’ve identified some key improvements that make the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of these games stand out. And developers are just getting their feet wet with this hardware — these are the graphical improvements you can count on getting out of your new console, and they hint at what this latest generation could offer in the future.