Tonight, Sony did what we all expected. Yes, they finally started a press conference on time. That, and they announced the PlayStation 4, many of its anticipated hardware capabilities, and a slew of first and third party games. And as anticipated, it’s arriving by this holiday season, 2013.
So let’s cut the cute chat and get cranking on this news. Fortunately, it’s all been divided into titled sections to maximize comprehension and minimize frustrated hair-pulling. You can thank the Lords of Literacy later, we’ve got a console to tell you about!
Sony opened tonight’s reveal event with a brief discussion on the PS4 hardware architecture, which has been reduced substantially in its complexity. In fact, they gave four design facets that were important when crafting the hardware – to make it Simple, Immediate, Social and Personalized.
Simple, quite simply, refers to the simplification of the system’s base architecture, which is an x86 CPU. This is the most common architecture system (and most familiar to most game developers), one that’s far less complex than the cell processor in the PlayStation 3 (which brought much sorrow to developers).
Here’s the spec breakdown:
- X86 CPU
- “Enhanced” PC GPU (for additional processing)
- CPU/GPU on the same die
- 8GB unified GDDR5 RAM, 176GB
- On-board hard drive (no size announced)
And we have no idea what it looks like because Sony decided that tonight was neither the time nor the place. What a silly idea, right? Revealing the PlayStation 4 on the night of the PlayStation 4 reveal. Perish the thought really. So PSHAW.
Do you remember those prototype photos that surfaced online last week of the new Dualshock PS4 controller? No, not the one with the Wii U taped to the top, the one that looked somewhat believable and was “confirmed” by numerous sources to numerous publications?
Well, it’s the real thing, as Sony showed it off tonight after wrapping up the architecture discussion. Similar to what the rumor mills speculated, this new controller combines the functionality of the PS3 Dualshock 3 controller, a PlayStation Move, and the Vita’s rear touchpad (except it’s on the front).
It has rumble support, better wireless communication with the console to reduce/prevent latency, a ‘Share’ button, a headphone jack (neat!) and what they’re calling a “lightbar” for motion control a’la the PlayStation Move functionality mentioned a second ago.
The thumbsticks are also noticeably no longer convex in design, instead opting for the “oh man this is way easier on my thumbs” concave approach.
Take another look at that touchpad – thing is… interesting-looking to say the least.
If your memory serves you well, you might recall that Sony (the guys cranking out this budding new console) acquired (read: bought) Gaikai, a cloud service company that offered services much in line with those of the now stuck-in-limbo/bought out OnLive (a cloud gaming service that didn’t work extremely well nor had many customers).
Well, Sony is making good use of that purchase, as it’s indicated its strides forward in the networking/Internet functionality department of the PS4. In fact, Gaikai is working on the ability to stream PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles to the PS4 (and other supported devices) with their newest streaming technology. This advancement has just been “green-lit by Sony” and is still quite a ways out from seeing the light of day – but hey, it’s something that’s being worked on, so that’s worth something.
The other announcement was that gamers will be able to start playing digitally-downloadable games the moment they’re purchased, as opposed to having to wait until it’s fully downloaded and installed. It’s not yet been detailed exactly how this system will work, but it’s evident that we’ll know more by or at E3 2013.
Overall though, let’s hope that, among all this new Internet-based tomfoolery, the PSN can manage to, you know, not be taken over by hackers rendering customer information unprotected.
Social Features & Customization
Since the PS4 will be a console you’ll want connected to the Internet, what with services like Gaikai backing up the back end, what sort of online and social features should you expect? In that same vein, how will you be able to tailor your experience to your liking?
Truth be told, Sony seems to have that covered – almost to the point that it’s disturbing. First, thanks to the controller’s built-in ‘Share’ button, you can livestream your gameplay to Ustream whenever you like, upload a few minutes of video to social networks at your leisure and peep in on other friend’s streaming play sessions. Also, if your friends are willing, the PS4 will allow you to take over their game to help them beat a hard level or boss or something. Bonkers, right?
They claim that the PS4 is “very much aware of the player and what is going on in the room.” One example they gave is that, once you start playing games and downloading content of your preference, the PS4 will start to understand you and pre-download content that it thinks you might enjoy. It’s sort of like Tivo and DVRs in general.
So, in theory, once you start playing the newly announced Killzone: Shadow Fall, it should have three seasons of Top Gear already preloaded on your hard drive. Oh wait, I haven’t covered that whole “new games” part yet. Let’s do that!
Deep Down (working title)
Besides being an easy porno nickname, this newest tech demo from Capcom has many speculating that it’s actually Dragon’s Dogma 2 in disguise. It’s running on the “Panta Rhei” engine, which many have speculated is pronounced “panty raid.” Makes sense to me.
Mark Cerny of Japan Studio was up early in the conference to show off this little fella, which is a game about a robot that’s out to save mankind. It’s like that really-quite-cleverly-written Nickeolodean cartoon My Life as a Teenage Robot, except… we know less about it. And this thing might not be a teenager.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
It’s got almost as many pew pews as it has shiny particles, and you can’t fault it for either. This newest Killzone is all about the unavoidable Helghast invasion, cloaking abilities, and… well, the rest doesn’t matter, because look at those graphics! Gorgeous!
Remember that indie game Braid that dominated early sales charts on Xbox Live Arcade? Remember that guy who made it, Jonathan Blow? Well, his iOS/PC title The Witness is now launching as a PS4 exclusive (for a limited time), and includes gorgeous, Proteus-esque visuals and puzzles galore.
Let’s just hope its narrative is more fulfilling than that of Braid.
Infamous: Second Son
It’s a CGI trailer that proves that Sucker Punch still enjoys making Infamous games.
It’s as if Grand Turismo had a baby with the first 30 seconds of gameplay found in Aliens: Colonial Marines – you know, the part where you stare at your character dicking around with a gun and its many prep animations. That first 30 seconds.
Jokes aside, it’s a hyper-realistic vehicle simulator, and it’s pretty gosh dang bananas in motion.
Somehow this is going to work. Features include four player, full-screen co-op and releases on both the PS3 and PS4.
The Ubisoft-published Watch Dogs was shown in a more fulfilling capacity this evening (as above), and certainly tapped our hearts similar to the way it tapped into that one dude’s bank account in the demo. And that girl’s cell phone. And that one security camera. Okay, just watch it already.
To make up for last week’s not-so-revealing press event, the dudes at Bungie released substantially more seconds of gameplay of Destiny, their hugely-anticipated “shared world shooter” that’s launching on Xbox 360, PS3, and as of tonight, PS4 in the near future.
Much like the Wii U does with its GamePad controller, the PS4 will be able to easily stream its games to the PS Vita so long as it’s within wireless range. This can already be done with Remote Play on the PS3, but it’s, you know, cooler this time, and with more… graphics. GORGEOUS GRAPHICS.
Is it Backwards Compatible?
Well, we’re not sure. Dave Perry, CEO of Gaiki, did mention (in what might have been in accidental slip) that the PS4 wouldn’t play PS3 games out of the box. This goes back to the somewhat distant system Gaiki is working on to stream older PlayStation games to the new system, and how it might be the solution. Then again, the system could end up with PS3 support by year’s end, who knows?
What do you think, folks?