For anyone that has spent the last few days under a rock and have just surfaced: Hello, the PS4 was announced. After a dazzling event, Sony have laid to rest a few rumors and sparked a whole new array of questions, so after the dust has settled and the hype has mellowed, what is fact and what is fiction?
Probably the leading aspect of the show was the unveiling of the much-rumored Dualshock 4. Leaked images had cropped up on quite a few sites in the coming days before the event, so most of us had a good idea of what to expect. Thankfully, the leaked images were accurate, and we were faced with a touch-enabled (banana reminiscent) controller.
Features for the Dualshock 4 are apparent from the offset, none more so that the rather large touchpad where our old friend ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ used to chill. This was only described as another opportunity to vary play methods and wasn’t actually demoed specifically, although I can imagine “swipe to toss a grenade” or “tap to pause”. The indented thumbsticks and the Vita-esque D-pad also offer some pleasant aesthetic changes, both of which will enhance the controller’s responsiveness and longevity.
The other major feature is the new “Lightbar” located where the player LEDs used to be on the Dualshock 3. This colored lightbar was described as a friendlier way of identifying player numbers but has also been confirmed to react to gameplay (flash when near death etc.). It was also described as a link point between the controller and the new PlayStation Eye.
An accessory built to contend with the Kinect, the Eye offers 4 built-in microphones (all the better to hear you with) dual 1200×800 pixel camera lenses (all the better to see you with) and communicates with the controllers to perceive the depth of everyone in the room. However, the best thing about the Eye is its facial recognition software which players can use to log in to PSN!
Whilst some aspects of the PS4’s specifications remain in the dark (such as the standard HDD size) we were given a fair few tidbits to placate our appetites for the time being. These specs were Blu-ray/DVD reader drives, USB 3.0 ports, an 8-core CPU, 1.84 TFLOPS GPU, and a staggering 8GB of unified memory. We were promised an inbuilt HDD, but the size remains unconfirmed. It’s a shame we’re not getting super fast solid-state drives in our PS4s, but I suppose we will all be thankful for it when they release the price tag, something an SSD would have raised dramatically if it had been included.
We can expect a lot from the takeover of Gaikai, namely the PlayStation Cloud service was patented by Gaikai last week. What we know is that cloud gaming will abolish download times and players can instantly play the small portion of the game that’s downloaded whilst the rest finishes up in the background, not dissimilar to starting a movie mid-stream. Gaikai also noted that a system will be put in place to refine the “suggested games” section. The console will learn your tastes and interests and download them in the background. A whole library of play will be behind the ‘Buy’ button rather than a 45-minute download wait. The overall feel of Gaikai’s speech was that they’re trying to bring immediacy to online play and download, something I’m sure we all want…badly.
The other main point drawn from Gaikai’s speech was the Share button and what this means. Basically you will use the share buttons to…share. Video clips of that awesome headshot or finally achieving that super hard trophy can be edited and shared with the world in minutes, bringing your gaming experience to your friends via the internet. Speaking of friends, another new feature is spectating.
Players will (with your permission) be able to ghost your game and basically view it on their own screens at home, watching what you’re playing and having the ability to step in with their controller and take the reins. This was suggested to be used when the players get stuck and can ask friends for help online where they can literally take over the controls. The potential of developers jumping into your games to lend a hand or to watch top gamers to learn tips is a brilliant way to form a huge community amongst the PlayStation Network.
Interface, Backwards Compatibility, and Pre-Owned Games
The interface displayed in the PS4 demo looks much like the most recent PSN Store update layout, which is worrying/interesting. I must admit I’m incredibly attached to my PS3 dashboard theme. Hopefully with the ‘personalization’ features they expressed at the event, aspects like custom themes will remain.
In terms of being able to play PS3/PS2/PS1 games on the PS4, you can’t. Well, not with disc copies at least. Our hopes of moving our game library (and PSN purchases) have been dashed in confirmation that there will be no backwards compatibility with the PS4, and your PSN purchases will not transfer either (more on that here). The silver lining to this came from Gaikai. They stated that with cloud technology they’re planning to make a huge library of back catalogued games from the PS1 to the PS3 being available for streaming and downloading, some of which are supposed to be ready for launch day. This means we’ll be getting a similar treatment like the PS Classics on the store we have now.
The biggest fear for me with the PS4 was the prospect of pre-owned games being disabled. The implications for this would have been huge on consumers and on the high street game industry. A move to remove the rights of a consumer once they have purchased an item is wrong in my eyes and I’m glad to say that Sony Worldwide Studios President, Shuhei Yoshida, has confirmed that “…used games can play on the PS4”. Whilst it isn’t extensive and detailed an explanation as we’d like, it gives us some peace about the controversial issue.
Vita and Remote Play
Sony pushed the idea that gaming will no longer be confined to just the living room. According to the conference, the Vita will be able to take the gameplay of the console on the move. This remote play functionality was shown off with a demo of Knack, the first game announced (see below). The potential for this is quite staggering and echoes aspects of the WiiU and its controller.
Knack – Mankind enlists the help of an unlikely hero named Knack to protect them from a dangerous new threat in this fun-filled and action-packed adventure set in a unique and vibrant world.
DriveClub – DriveClub is a next generation racer featuring the world’s top supercars, cutting-edge graphics and unparalleled social connectivity. Start a club and challenge the world.
The Witness – Explore an abandoned island and solve the puzzles you find there. What is this mysterious place, what happened here in the past and what is happening now?
Watchdogs – Play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, who uses the city of Chicago as the ultimate weapon to exact revenge on those who hurt his family.
Infamous: Second Son – Surrounded by a society that fears superhumans, Delsin Rowe is forced to run from the oppressive Department of Unified Protection. The choices he makes along the way change the future of everyone around him.
Destiny – Explore the ancient ruins of our solar system, from the red dunes of Mars to the lush jungles of Venus. Defeat Earth’s enemies. Discover all that we have lost. Become legend.
Killzone: Shadow Fall – Thirty years after the events of Killzone 3, step into the shoes of Shadow Marshal and maintain order in a new world where the Helghast and the Vektans live side by side in a futuristic city, divided by a vast wall.
Some awesome looking titles, which ones are you looking forward to most? I must admit the new Killzone has got me very excited.
With the facts clarified, it’s time to take a look at what we don’t know.
- HDD Size?
- Release Date
- Console aesthetics
- 4K output support? **UPDATE** 4K Confirmed but not for games
- Eye included?
The first three points are really playing on most everyone’s mind. However, they are all based on the economy, unconfirmed stock prices, and global distribution costs which haven’t been finalized, so it’s fair that these details can’t be nailed down quite yet. In fairness, they are probably just trying to avoid making promises they don’t know they can keep.
So overall, the PS4 is shaping up to be a really great console for both developers and gamers. What’re your thoughts? Will you be picking one up? (Game are taking UK pre-orders now!!) Or will you be stubbornly holding off? Share your comments and thoughts below and on our Facebook page.
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