And just like that, Sony has fired the first salvo in the real next generation video game wars with the newly unveiled PlayStation 4. From a new DualShock 4 controller and range of social networking features, to a look at upcoming games, the struggling consumer electronics giant made sure to check that box.
First and foremost, while the PS4 launches “holiday 2013,” the physical console itself was a no-show at the PlayStation Meeting 2013 announcement event. Expect it to come out of hiding later on in the year, possibly at the big E3 2013 tech expo in June. The company decided to leave out pricing info, yet reliable rumors have placed the PS4 in the ~$400-500 range. It could be slightly above that, but the list price will almost certainly be lower than the PS3′s $600 launch MSRP.
Although Sony was also purposely light on detailed performance figures, a little digging around brought up an official PlayStation 4 PDF, which closely matches up with months of leaked info.
If any of that sounds like gibberish to you, just know that the new PlayStation is considerably more powerful than the current model. Given the estimated pricing, it’s about all you can honestly expect from a mainstream gaming system.
Specs aside, a major selling point for Sony’s new system is expanding game experiences through personalization and deep social connectivity. This includes the ability to hit a button marked “share” on your gamepad to quickly connect to friends, exchange clips of play sessions your system records, along with the option to have your friends assume remote control over certain games you’re playing on your end.
Here’s what we know so far:
- NO native PS3 backwards compatibility; instead Sony’s Gaikai cloud service will stream PS1/PS2/PS3 games to your console
- Integrated social networking functionality across apps and services, including Gaikai, Facebook, Ustream, Netflix, and others
- New DualShock 4 controller has touchpad, share button, “enhanced capabilities” and built in LED light bar (like Move)
- Activating the share feature enables live streaming of games you play; friends can watch, comment and help out
- Share feature can also record gameplay sessions, which can be sent to Facebook, Ustream and others as screenshots or video
- New PlayStation app for Android and iOS, turns your phone and tablet into a second screen
- New PlayStation Eye has 2 higher resolution cameras, 4 mics, enhanced player tracking, and facial login capability
- Remote Play allows you to play select PS4 games on a PlayStation Vita, depending on per-game support
- Digital titles purchased from the PlayStation Store can be played even while you’re still downloading them
- Quickly suspend and resume games from exact spot where you left off; immediacy is an important goal
To demonstrate one of the PS4′s share capabilities, the live demo of “Killzone: Shadow Fall” was recorded while being played, then the footage was shared with game’s Facebook page, directly from the PS4. Funnily enough, two other titles shown — “Watch Dogs” and “inFAMOUS: Second Son” — have central themes warning of the dangers in video cameras being everywhere, increasingly broadcasting our lives for all to see. Meanwhile, the PS4 documents and streams everything you do . . . so you can be under surveillance, while being under surveillance.
In terms of graphics, keep in mind that the games shown are early generation releases, so they may not look like that much of a leap over the best visuals from current blockbuster titles. A few aren’t even remotely close to being complete. As always, next gen wares become more graphically impressive with more complex worlds, as video game developers get a hang of working with the new systems over time. Still, look closely and you’ll notice that titles like “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” “Watch Dogs,” and “Deep Down” simply can’t be done on present console hardware without being scaled back.
Based on reliable leaks, the next Xbox (codenamed “Durango”) will have some close similarities with the PS4, placing both platforms above the Nintendo Wii U’s lesser technical capabilities. Of course, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered over the coming months, and processing power isn’t everything. That said, Sony stepped on the PlayStation Meeting 2013 stage in New York, dropped the mic and walked away. Your move, Microsoft.
Sony has hi-res photos on their Flickr
Watch Dogs [Ubisoft]
Killzone: Shadow Fall [Guerilla Games]
Deep Down (working title) [Capcom]
DriveClub [Evolution Studios]
Knack [Sony Japan Studio]
The Witness [Jonathan Blow, indie developer of the highly acclaimed hit, Braid]
inFAMOUS: Second Son [Sucker Punch]
Final Fantasy: Agni’s Philosophy Tech Demo [Square Enix]
Unreal Engine 4 Real-Time Demo [Epic Games]
Developer Quantic Dream’s “old man” Tech Demo
Developer Media Molecule’s Tech Demo with PlayStation Move
PlayStation 4: PS4 DualShock 4 Controller Debut
PlayStation 4 PS4 Video Sharing Demo
PlayStation 2013 Event Stream Replay (full 2hr, 5min broadcast)