February 21, 2013 by culturecub
So… it happened.
Sony held their ‘future of PlayStation’ press conference, and as was expected, officially announced the PlayStation 4. We got to look at some of the new features and we even got to check out some of the games we’re going to be playing. But while the press is very guilty of jumping on the hype train sometimes (I’m not ashamed to admit that some of my game previews, in retrospect, shouldn’t have been so disgustingly positive), the Sony press conference didn’t just elicit emotions of positivity and excitement. In fact, some of the media has been quite scathing about the new machine.
But why? Were our expectations too high? Were my personal expectations of what a next-generation console ever realistically going to be met? Probably not. So, let’s take a look at a few things… what does the PS4 get right? And what concerns do we have moving forward?
It controls differently.
That is to say, it controls differently to how the PlayStation has ever controlled before. Yes, the new controller looks a little… bulky. The console will also be paired with a new PlayStation Eye that is, pretty much, a prettier and technically more impressive version of Xbox 360′s Kinect. To what extent Sony intends to use this camera is unknown at this stage, but the controller is designed to work directly with it, including a light as a part of it that helps the camera identify you in multiplayer games along with giving you indicators such as health (that means green = healthy, for those playing at home). Then, there is this strange little button with ‘Share’ written next to it…
An entirely integrated PlayStation social network.
Sonybook. Instagame. Twitstation. There was a huge emphasis on sharing that was highlighted, but thankfully it goes above and beyond just a status update or an automated comment of ‘Culturecub is now playing SingStar (AGAIN!)’. No, the cool thing here is that if you do something incredibly awesome while playing a game, you can instantly pause the game temporarily and share what just happened – as in, captured gameplay footage – to your friends on your personalized page. Whoa. Ok, so if I get some fully sick fatality in Mortal Kombat or chain together an epic kill-streak in Call of Duty, I can share this instantly? And it will upload while I keep playing? Sign me up.
Also, if my mate is playing a game, I can just jump in and watch him play while chatting to him on the headset. Not only that, but if he needs help with a tricky level or just wants me to have a go for a bit, I can jump into his game and control it, literally providing with an online assist.
In fact, the entire process of accessing things online via streaming is an idea that is fully realized by the PS4, as you can play games you’ve purchased while they download and even ‘try before you buy’ by streaming games to your machine pre-purchase.
Vita not forgotten; smartphones neither!
Vita owners even have something to be excited about (the first thing in 12 months, really) as via remote play, gamers can play their PS4 games on the move with the handheld, meaning you don’t have to stop playing that big new release title when you have to attend a birthday/wedding/funeral. There will even be an app for smartphones so that you can track what your PlayStation friends are doing while on the go, and even get downloads started before you even get home to play them, saving the hassle when you actually return to your couch! Smartphones can also even be used to interact directly with games, such as accessing maps and inventories, ala the Wii U.
So far it’s all sounding very positive. I don’t have to commit to downloading anything as it’s all streamed and I can have a social gaming experience with my friends without ever leaving my gaming den, and I can even access games via my smartphone and Vita so I don’t have to worry about turning on my pesky and shiny new PS4 in the first place. Well, I guess I can see how some people interpreted these features as… a bit average. It’s taken a bit of Wii U influence, a bit of Kinect (360) influence, a bit of Facebook/social media influence, a bit of smartphone influence and slapped some large PS4 branding all over it.
But, again… expectations.
Did we really think virtual reality was next? I mean, I already talked recently about the PS3/360 being pretty damn good as they are, so what do Sony and Microsoft really have to do with their new hardware to get people excited? I’m certainly an easy mark for this kind of stuff, and I’m the guy that buys new nerdy hardware the day it comes out even if I have my doubts about its longevity… but fuck it, I like what I saw today.
I like that it integrates pretty much every piece of technology I already have. That means I don’t have to pay for any pesky new technology (apart from the PS4 itself). I also am sick to death of most of the dribble people post on Facebook. ‘My cat is doing a cute face again’ or ‘I’m having a bad day at work today’ or ‘check out this photo of my dinner!’ is about as stale and hideous as it gets, so I applaud the idea of a social network that is entirely based on video games, because now I can share the experiences I legitimately care about with like-minded people.
But all of this doesn’t mean much for a gaming machine if it doesn’t highlight… you know… games. And, Sony did. A bunch of ‘em. Watch Dogs looks awesome, still… seriously I want it now. DriveClub comes from the same team that made Motorstorm and pretty much that alone makes it a Day 1 purchase for me. Knack is a new IP I want to get stuck into, we got a couple of sequels announced in Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous: Second Son, along with confirmation that Halo-creators Bungie will be putting Destiny on the PS4, and a solid deal with Blizzard Entertainment means that we’ll be getting a console version of Diablo 3 later this year, along with more collaborations with the developer in the future.
Then there’s the yet to be announced properly shit like a new Final Fantasy, whatever Naughty Dog is working on and much much more.
When it comes to console announcements… what more could you really need? I’m still not entirely certain I’m ready to dive in to the future just yet, and I’ll cuddle my PS3 tightly over the next few months as there’s plenty of life left in the old girl… but all in all, I think Sony know what they’re doing and skepticism at this stage is just people who want to have a whinge because JOURNALISM.
It’ll be out later this year and my only fear right now is the price of the thing, and whether Australia will get to play it the same time the rest of the world does. But even if we don’t, I’ll have plenty still to play in this current generation, so I guess it’s not all bad. Whatever people think overall, Sony have taken the first big leap into the next big stage of the gaming industry and everybody is absolutely buzzing about it.
Your move, Microsoft.
What did you think of the PS4 announcement? Are you excited or underwhelmed? What will Microsoft do about it? Will Wii U still matter in 6 months? Comment below!
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