As expected, Sony announced the PS4. In an unusual move, it will be a new, slimmer and download-only PSVita unit. JUST KIDDING. The PS4 is the fully-fledged follow up to the PS3 that we all expected. Here’s a summary of what we have learned so far about the platform….
– Gone is the proprietary hardware designs of Playstations past such as the PS3’s much-vaunted Cell Processor. The PS3 will feature an AMD X86 processor and 8GB of DDR5 memory, resembling the hardware of a high-end PC rather than the completely unique hardware configurations of the past. Sony did much to promote the ease of development this will afford the new console and is certainly great news for third party development teams. In the past they would have to decide whether to develop for the tricky PS3 hardware or develop on the much more PC-like 360 and then convert the code over to the other console. Assuming Microsoft also sticks with a PC-like architecture (and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t) then developing multi-platform games for the PS4 and the next Xbox is going to be easier and therefore cheaper for developers. This will however prevent backwards compatibility as everything will have to be based on software emulation which for PS2 and PS3 games would be extremely complicated. Expect loads more HD update collections we guess?
– The good old Dual Shock finally sees a design update beyond just bolting new features to it. It now has sleeker lines, more concave triggers and judging by the different color of the underside, a rubberized texture or some sort of similar material. Also new is a touch pad in the center of the device which we assume will work something like the pad on a laptop. The “Start” and “Select” buttons are gone, replaced with an “Options” button and the “Share” button that we will get into shortly. There is a glowing light on the front of the controller which we assume adds some PS Move functionality and has something to do with this:
– This Kinect-esque looking device is the new Playstation Eye with 2 cameras. They said it was to improve the Move functionality and accurately measure depth but they didn’t say a lot more. This is all we get to see of the actual hardware as the final spec and design of the unit itself are still being worked on.
– Back to that “Share” button, Sony plans to bring some interesting social features to their new console that most certainly must have a lot to do with the cloud technology they gained when they bought Gaikai. The share button isn’t just like the Facebook button on that crappy HTC phone nobody bought, it opens up a host of features that while not entirely original have not been brought together into one unifying device before. Sharing allows you to upload clips of your games, a “brag video” feature that OnLive offers is similar. but also promises straight streaming of gameplay to Ustream. They also discussed the possibility of sharing the control of your game with a friend, allowing someone to take over and help you out if you’re stuck. They also showed a mode where the PSVita connects to the PS4 and essentially behaves like the Wii U’s tablet controller.
– Game-wise there wasn’t a whole lot to show for a 2 hour event except for Watch Dogs, an absolutely astonishing-looking new demo that was shown after it was revealed that Watch Dogs is a next-gen title. Footage was also shown of Bungie’s new project for Activision, Destiny. Unfortunately Bungie really stole some of their own thunder by premiering this game themselves last weekend. Also with both of these titles being from third party publishers, you can bank on them appearing on the new Xbox also.
– As for first party PS4 exclusives they were a mixed bag that very much depend on how invested you are in the Playstation console line. What was apparently a live demo of Killzone Shadow Fall (later confirmed to be a launch title) that showed off some very impressive particle effects, massive cityscapes being rendered very smoothly, and lots of stuff being blown up. Later on the show Sucker Punch revealed a pre-rendered video for a new title in the Infamous series: Infamous Second Son. It was hard to glean much from this trailer other than this new guy has fire powers instead of electrical ones, and he seems to like blowing up cops a great deal.
– The other 1st party games shown were Knack which looks like a novel puzzle/action game and Witness, the latest from Jonathan Blow (Braid) which looked like a cross between Journey and Myst.
– The rest of the show consisted of tech demos from a variety of sources. Perhaps most interesting and most game-like was from Capcom, a project with the codename Deep Down which displayed some truly amazing lighting effects as a man in a suit of armor attempts to survive the attack of a dragon. The rest, such as Media Molecule’s Move-based puppet show and Quantic Dream’s “old man head” demo were visually very impressive but outside of a game context are largely meaningless eye candy.
Also, while Sony didn’t have an actual console unit to show nor a price point, they asserted it was being released holiday 2013 which is a big deal as consoles rarely go from announcement to release within the same year. We will hopefully get to see a great deal more of the system at E3 with some hands-on experience from the press and the ball is definitely in Microsoft’s court to not only show a similarly compelling new console but to have it ready for the end of the year.