Last night (February 20th 2013), around 11pm UK time Sony called a “meeting” to discuss the future of the Playstation and its latest foray into the home console market the PS4, the event lasted around 2 hours via webstream but don’t worry if you missed it, we’ve got all the important information here.
The PS4 lets be honest is probably the worst kept secret in the industry, it’s arrival is inevitable but its the details that maketh the console, and whilst many important factors were left out of the conference many interesting facts came out.
Controller – We got our first look at the Dualshock 4, essentially at its core it is the same as a standard Playstation controller dating back to the original PS1 days, however there are 3 large changes – Sony has worked hard to get the latency of the pad down, meaning your interactions with the console will be much more immediate. You will notice that the pad has a lightbar on top, firstly this is to help identifying a player, (i.e. Dads pad is the red one, yours is blue) but its primary function is to take over from the horrible “Move” wand-thing as the new PS4 comes with an Eye sensor bar much like Microsoft’s Kinect. The final innovation is that the pad has a small touch sensor on it much like the rear of a Playstation Vita, now it remains to be seen how much of the latter two hardcore gamers will use but they are there for developers to utilise to make our experiences better.
Remote Play – Sony have been working on the successor to the PS3 for some time, it seemed like the presenters were alluding to the fact that they knew they had dropped the ball with the PS3 and they had moved straight on to the new console to ensure their dominance from the start, to that end Sony want to heavily utilise the Vita and other devices such as your mobile phone, tablet and PC to enable you to continue playing games whilst you’re on the move, much like the Wii U does with its controller/screen combo, similarly they want everything to be immediate, so if you go to the Playstation store and want to check out a demo you no longer have to wait until you have downloaded and installed the whole thing, it will start streaming after a small download enabling you to play whilst it is downloading, similarly much was mentioned over the “Share” feature allowing you to let friends watch you play, and if you get stuck on a particular section they are able to take control of your pad from another part of the world and help you through it, another cool feature of the PS4 is that it is constantly encoding what you play and essentially becomes a media server allowing you to go back and upload a section of what you just did to an online service and share it with the world. PS4 will not have backwards compatibility however they have another streaming initiative in the works, no strong word on how this works but it was mentioned that the ENTIRE Playstation back catalogue all the way back to the original PS1 could in theory be able to be played via streaming in the near future.
Video: Tech demo by Quantic Dream – skip to 3:40
Technical – I will not bore you with technical figures and numbers – A. because it is boring and B. because I dont understand them enough to even begin explaining, that said the PS4 is a beast and it has been made with the game developers in mind; the PS3 is an immensely powerful system however hardly anybody ever utilised the full potential of the machine, in comparison to Microsoft’s Xbox which was a much simpler machine allowing for quick ports of PC games and easy fast development, the annoyance by the developers must have hit home with Sony as they have gone back to their roots and apparently the PS4 is made around the developers needs meaning they will be able to get nearly 100% out of the machine as soon as it launches.
Video: Drive Club – Skip to 5:30:
Games – Games sell consoles, and Sony was happy to parade a whole slew of gaming stars on stage showing off just what they have managed with Sony’s new baby, we were treated to many game and technical demos with each one more impressive than the next, that said there were some notable absentees in the form of EA and Rockstar, but the game that stole the show (much like it did at E3) was Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs – When this was initially shown at E3, people were confused at how this would be running on current technology and they were right to be suspicious it is an amazing looking game and if it is a launch title this will sell by the bucketload.
Video: Watch Dogs PS4 Gameplay:
Conclusion – Whilst I currently skipped this generations offering from Playstation down to shoddy game development and poor online features, I am highly interested in seeing what Microsoft has to offer in comparison with what Sony has thrown into our laps, that said there were some glaring omissions to the presentation – with all the mention of new online features nothing was mentioned about whether Playstation Network would become pay to play much like Xbox Live is and even more strangely not even a mere glimpse of the console was shown at any point in the conference.
The PS4 was shown for release Holidays 2013 in the US, however rumours are abound that the console will see an early 2014 release in Europe, your turn Microsoft.