It has finally happened. No more guessing, no more speculation and no more rumors from the media. The PlayStation 4 has been announced, details revealed, games unveiled and minds blown. The newest addition to the Sony entertainment ecosystem is officially named the PlayStation 4 and will release this holiday season.
The system will feature vastly upgraded internal hardware. To demonstrate the power of the system, Sony showed a one million-object physics demo, where they let one million individual objects fall and be subjected to simulated physics. That simulation would have overloaded the processors of current consoles.
The system gets a new Dualshock 4 controller that features a share button and touchpad, as well as a new “light-bar” feature to be used in conjunction with PlayStation Move, through a new Kinect-like device that Sony also unveiled but didn’t name. The share button is extremely interesting and integrates with Sony’s new social media mindset. With the press of a button you can “instantly” share game-play through social media sites. This is without complicated capture equipment, without editing and without buffering.
Something to this magnitude has never been attempted by consoles and accurately echoes the new Sony mantra of simplicity, integration, personalization, sociability and immediacy. Everything from the startup time, to menus, to joining a friend’s game is supposed to be instant. And with the new powerful specs the system can definitely achieve that.
But the social aspects of PlayStation 4 do not stop at sharing game-play. In theory there will be the ability for a players’ friends to watch the player at a moments notice, and even seize control of the players’ game to help in difficult situations. This will likely be gated by system settings and won’t be turned on 100 percent of the time, but will be extremely helpful in difficult games like “Dark Souls.”
The announcements weren’t finished there, though. The Sony Entertainment Store will feature high-speed download and even the ability to play games “as” they download. This is something that has never been attempted by any platform to date. Additionally, every title in the store will be playable, again, instantly with the touch of a button. The store will also learn your likes and dislikes via social media and your purchases as well as your friends’ purchases through the network. This will allow for an extremely personalized ad-space.
The PlayStation 4 will feature Vita integration to a great degree. The goal of Sony is to have every single PlayStation 4 title available for Vita and have the Vita access the system as though it was a server, so you can play your games on the go. This functionality is indicative of both the bandwidth capabilities of the PS4 and the hardware capabilities of the Vita. This functionality of a dual screen experience was demoed with the first game ever announced for PlayStation 4, “Knack.”
The system will host plenty of games for a variety of audiences and age ranges. “Knock” was the first one demoed that takes advantage of the new physics capability with a character that disassembles at will, and uses this ability to solve puzzles that look like they come from the Lego franchise.
Next was “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” which is clearly aimed at a more adult audience and requires a separate skill-set the PS4 offers, graphical fidelity. Even on the low resolution of an Internet stream it was obvious that the types and amount of dynamic lighting, flame effects, high-resolution textures and frame-rate are leaps and bounds ahead of the current generation.
Other games announced were “Watch_Dogs,” “InFamous: Second Son,” “The Witness,” “Diablo 3,” “DriveClub,” “Deep Down” and “Destiny,” along with a teaser for the next installment of the “Final Fantasy” franchise.
While the event didn’t lack in games, it did lack in some crucial details. Sony did not name a price or show a PS4. So while this is an apparently amazing system, there is no guarantee of a sub $600 price point like the PS3 had. And it was unclear whether or not the social media integration would be gated behind a subscription model similar to that of Xbox Live, which has been a fear of many speculators.
All-in-all the system looks great thus far, and will not suffer from a lack of games this holiday.
By Sean Burke