Well, all of Sony’s hinting this month has finally paid off, with a grand two-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, the controller was pretty much confirmed as the one that was leaked last week, but we never got a look at the actual console, or the price. But here’s what we do know, for now.
The PS4 will feature an Intel X86-based processor. 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 GPU and a hard drive. The hard drive will have 8 GB of RAM, and a dedicated processor to allow users to play games as they download them (or rather, it will download them 20 gigs at a time). The console will also allow the player 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?).
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 made it so it’s easy to take video and screenshots of your gameplay and share them, and friends will be able to manipulate levels in games, leave you items, and even take over your controller. It also sounds like there’s 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 now I’ll be able to do it with my sister still, even though she lives five hours away.
The system is also meant to personalize — 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. What if I don’t buy it, and I don’t have an unlimited internet plan, and it downloads it anyway? Does that mean that people will constantly be getting overage charges on stuff they didn’t buy? I can see this being completely problematic. It’s early days though, maybe we’ll have more details on this later.
The PS4 will also have remote play, and all games will be playable on the PS Vita and even have mobile components.
A surprising number of games were announced, both for launch or in the launch window. Some we even knew about beforehand, but didn’t know they’d be next gen. A few engines were tossed around — the new Unreal Engine, Quantic Game engine, Square Enix’s new engine that they showed at E3 last year, and Panta Rhei. But let’s get to the games!
- Knack, by Sony Japan Studio, a platformer that looks kind of similar to Ratchet and Clank.
- Killzone: Shadowfall. Yup, a new Killzone game! The gameplay video is gorgeous (though way too long), though I personally don’t really care about FPSs.
- 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. Yup, another Infamous title, Infamous fans! As soon as this one came on it was pretty clear it was going to be a new Infamous title.
- Jonathan Blow, the creator of indie hit 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.
- 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, 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 GODDAMN TRAINS, turn off cameras, makes sense on a console that seems to be a lot about surveillance and sharing. I think the social aspects of the game could potentially be really cool. This is the only one 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, but what do I know?
- Blizzard also announced that they were working on another PS4 title, but told or showed us nothing at all about it. 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.
Sony confirmed the release date for the new console would be Holiday 2013, but no details on the price or even what the system looks like.
That’s it! That is all we know for now. We’ll keep you posted on more details as they start coming out.