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Everything You Need to Know About the PlayStation 4
Megan Patterson on Sony's entry into the world of next-generation gaming consoles

This is seriously all they showed us of the PlayStation 4 console itself last night

Well, all of Sony’s hinting this month has finally paid off with last night’s grand 2-hour press conference in New York officially announcing their next-gen console. It was a bit of a bizarre occasion – some specs and launch titles were announced, though the majority of the conference was spent on the games, and the controller was pretty much confirmed as the one that was leaked last week. However, we never got a look at the actual console, or the price.

But here’s what we do know, for now.

Hardware

The PS4 will feature an x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” processor with an 8-core CPU. Sony’s Mark Cerny, the lead systems architect for the console, described it as being, “like a PC in many ways, but supercharged to bring out its full potential as a gaming platform.” The system will have an unspecified Radeon GPU and a hard drive, though the sizes have not been specified. The console is also packing 8 GB of RAM, and a dedicated processor to allow users play games as they download them (or rather, it will download them 20 gigs at a time, using the Gaikai cloud service). The PS4 also will have Blu-Ray, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 2.1, 802 11b/g/n wifi, HDMI, analog video, and digital optical audio.

The controller will be the Dual Shock 4, a slicker version of the prototype we saw last week. It will feature Sony’s familiar set of  dual sticks and buttons, as well as a touchpad, a “share button” that allows players to share gameplay video, and full PlayStation Move-like motion tracking capabilities for the stock controller using colored LEDs on its back, paired with a stereoscopic camera. The controller will also have a power save mode.

The Software and PlayStation Network

The emphasis of the PS4 is being placed not so much on graphics, but on sociability. The new PS Home interface looks a lot like Facebook, and will feature game updates from your friends, their achievements, and even game news. You’ll be able to use your existing social networks to find friends, and while there will still be some anonymity, it’s much more about playing games with people you already know as opposed to complete strangers. They’ve also made it so it’s easy to take video and screenshots of your gameplay and share them (simply press the new share button on the controller), and friends will be able to manipulate levels in games, leave you items, and even take over your controller.

It also sounds like there is going to be much more emphasis on co-op play as well. I am really into this. I’ve always loved playing co-op, and I’ll be able to play games with my sister again, even though she lives 5 hours away!

The system is also meant to personalize itself – it can learn what you like to the point where it can tell what you’re going to buy, and already have that game downloaded before you buy it. I am personally not so much into this feature. I don’t want my PlayStation doing anything I don’t tell it to do. What if this is the beginning of Skynet!?

The player is also able to suspend and resume games instantly, doing away with the need for save game data (uhh, but what about if you need to turn the thing off?).

Sony did confirm today that all of the online features will be totally optional, and that a permanent internet connection is not required. So I suppose the “instant download” feature can also be turned off, which is good news for a lot of people who don’t have unlimited internet (the majority of people in Canada).

The PS4 will also have remote play, and all games will also be playable on the PS Vita and even have mobile components.

Sony also confirmed that the PlayStation 4 will be able to function as a full entertainment device, with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video and other movie downloading services all available via Gaikai. Canada will probably only have access to Netflix though, like it does now.

The Games

A surprising number of games were announced, either for launch or within the launch window. Some we even knew about beforehand, but didn’t know they’d be next gen. A few new engines were tossed around —the new Unreal Engine, Quantic Game engine, Square Enix’s new engine that they showed at E3 last year, as well as Panta Rhei. But let’s get to the games!

  • Knack, by Sony Japan Studio, a platformer that looks a lot like Ratchet and Clank.

 

  • Killzone: Shadowfall. Yup, a new Killzone game! The gameplay video is gorgeous (though way too long), and I personally don’t really care about FPSs, but it gives a good sense of what the PS4 will be capable of graphically.
  • DriveClub. A team-based racing game where players form clubs, and play asynchronously and in real time for points. Players are rewarded for working together, and you compete against other clubs. There’s even a mobile component to this one. I’m interested in the concept, but the game itself looks kind of boring. If this were a Twisted Metal title I would be all over it.
  • InFAMOUS: Second Son. The next InFAMOUS title has even more of a post 9/11-influence than previous titles, where a secure state is terrorized by freedom-fighting mutants. Cole MacGrath is no where to be seen.
  • The Witness. Jonathan Blow, the creator of hit indie puzzler Braid, is back with a new title exclusively for the PS4. This one’s called The Witness, where you find yourself on a mysterious, open-world island full of puzzles. Blow said the game was about “epiphanies,” that the puzzles would not become immediately apparent, until they do. It’s one of the more interesting titles announced, but it’s essentially Myst with a little bit of Portal thrown in. It does have a great little trailer though, and this was the only indie title that they announced at the press conference.
  • Capcom announced a fantasy title called Deep Down. The trailer is indeed impressive, if it doesn’t really show anything that really makes me want to plunk down money on a new system and buy it.
  • WATCH DOGS. Ubisoft finally confirmed it; Watch Dogs (Watch_Dogs?), the surprise of E3 last year, will be a next-gen game. This title, where you use hacking skills to hack phones, spy on people, open locks, STOP SUBWAY TRAINS TO ESCAPE ON THEM, basically manipulate any electronics you see, with a little bit of shooting and parkour thrown in, makes sense on a console that is all about surveillance and sharing. I think the social aspects of the game could potentially be really cool. This is the only title so far that I really want to play.
  • Two titles were announced as both PS3 AND PS4 releases – Blizzard’s Diablo III, and Bungie’s Destiny. I kind of think the dual launch is a dumb idea, because it gives current gen players little incentive to buy this new system, not to mention the fact it doesn’t really confirm developer’s confidence in the system, but what do I know?
  • Blizzard also announced that they were working on another PS4 title, but gave no other details. Square Enix did the same, showing the same video for their new game engine that they showed at E3 last year, and then giving us two sentences about how they’re working on a new Final Fantasy title, and that they would be announcing it at E3. It was bizarre, to say the least.
  • The Witcher 3. It was confirmed this morning that the third installment in The Witcher RPG series would be available on PlayStation 4. The RPG nerd in me is pleased by this news.
  • The price of these titles was not really discussed at the conference, though many journalists have been asking about it today. So far the only answer we’ve gotten has been, “it’s not as scary as people would have you believe.”

Release Date

Sony confirmed the release date for the new console would be Holiday 2013, but neglected to share any details on the price or even what the full system looks like.

____

Megan Patterson is the Science and Technology Editor at Paper Droids and currently a Toronto Standard intern. She has also written for WORN Fashion Journal, Elevate, and Salon Magazines. She also tweets more than is healthy or wise. 

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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