Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony’s PlayStation 4 is coming: PAR’s round-up of Sony’s announcement of its next-gen system

Sony’s PlayStation 4 is coming: PAR’s round-up of Sony’s announcement of its next-gen system

Sony finally took the lid off the PlayStation 4 today at a special unveiling in New York. The Report outlined several points we wanted to see made, and even reminisced about our earlier PlayStation days prior to the event, but here we are at last, with the nitty gritty. Want to know everything we know about the PS4? Hold on to your butts.

The system

PC influence

The PlayStation 4 will use an X86 CPU, “enhanced” GPU that utilizes GDDR5 RAM, with 8 GB of unified memory. The idea is that the PlayStation 4 will be easier to program, more powerful, with a feel more like a PC than previous PlayStation consoles. This is a huge boost for the PS4 and Sony, especially after the Cell processor architecture wound up being a costly, difficult endeavor for Sony to endure. Utilizing existing technology instead or proprietary hardware should make the PS4 much more friendly all-around.

DualShock 4

Yup, those leaked photos turned out to be accurate. The DualShock 4 looks very similar to the DualShock 3, albeit slightly chunkier, with different tops to the analog sticks and differently-shaped shoulder triggers. Yes, that is a touch-reactive surface in the middle. Yes, that is a light bar designed to be used in conjunction with a new, Kinect-like peripheral.

The controller also features “enhanced rumble” capabilities (whatever that means), a headphone jack, and the oft-rumored but previously unseen “share” button.

Download while you play

The PlayStation 4 utilizes a second chip to reduce the time spent switching between functions. Hit the power button once to go into sleep mode, hit it again and the system will pick right back up, at the same spot you left off. It sounds similar to turning a tablet on and off. Even while powered off, the system can support uploads and downloads.

The second chip also helps with regards to downloading and streaming games. The idea is that you’ll be able to jump right into games and start playing, even while data downloads in the background. In other words, you don’t have to wait for an entire game to download and install, you can just start playing.

Sharing is caring

So, about that share button. It looks like it’ll feature prominently in the PlayStation 4’s user interface, which we also got a glimpse of. Supposedly, you’ll be able to upload recordings of any game, and share it on your profile.

While downloading and sharing screenshots and video is cool, the PlayStation 4 is also capable of live streaming. In other words, you’ll be able to watch a stream and comment on other people’s games as they play. You can even virtually hand the controller off, and allow another player to help you. Having trouble with a boss fight and know someone who’s great at them? Give ‘em a buzz and have them help you out.

A tailored fit

Each user’s experience with the PlayStation 4 will be different. The system will collect data about what games you play, what content you access, and so on in order to bring you the news and games you like. Play a lot of JRPGs? Or maybe you frequently enjoy games from Suda51? The PS4 will recognize such behaviors and pre-load content tailored to your tastes.

You’ll also be kept informed regarding your friends. Let’s say your friend buys a game that’s of a genre you like, and they open it up to streaming. You’re notified that they’ve bought the game, and when you go to spectate, there will be a link for you to buy it too, if you want. As long as the service doesn’t bombard players with inane babble and relentless advertisements, this could actually be pretty cool, and more importantly, useful.

Vii-ta U

Sony told the audience it believes in remote play. To that end, some games will support transferring a game from the PlayStation 4 to the PlayStation Vita and back, just as you would swap between the Wii U’s GamePad and the television. We didn’t see this demonstrated much, and that’s really all we can say about it for now. But hey, if you have a Vita, more reason to hang onto it!

The games

Knack

Mark Cerny introduced the PlayStation 4’s first exclusive, Knack. The game takes place in a cartoony, stylized world, with character designs that bring to mind classic animes like Astro Boy. Knack is apparently a robot… thing… that can pull together matter to make himself into different forms. He fights space goblins.

We saw some game play across both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita systems. It looked like a cute, albeit fairly standard, platformer/brawler hybrid. Yeah, it reminded us of Kameo, too.

Killzone: Shadow Fall

Holy crap, there’s a lot of green and blue in this game! That’s… different! This live demo opened with a fly-over of a beautiful future city, but soon transitioned into a Helghast attack. People were incinerated, executed, stabbed, and shot a lot. While it doesn’t look like there’s anything spectacular or mind-blowing going on game play-wise, Shadow Fall certainly looks great; lots of effects and models on the screen at the same time, really smooth animation with no dip in frames.

Driveclub

Driveclub was hailed as an immersive, team-based, social racing game, with intense and “painstaking” attention to detail. You don’t just appear behind the wheel, you open the door, slide in, and buckle up, all in first-person. That’s not a particularly exciting description, but if you’re a car enthusiast who wants realism above all else, it might tickle your fancy. Hell, even the suede and carpet have fabric direction, and reflect light differently when touched.

Since the game is about creating and participating in clubs, you’ll be able to create groups and play, both simultaneously and asynchronously, with other Driveclub players. There will also be an app for mobile devices that will allow you to send challenges to friends.

inFamous: Second Son

No game play here, though it’s possible the trailer we saw was rendered in-engine. Not much was revealed about the game itself, but its introduction from Sucker Punch included a story about getting tear gassed at a rally and statistics on the security camera-to-citizen ratio in Great Britain. It looks like Second Son will have a very political message to send regarding personal freedom.

The Witness

Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, revealed that his next game, The Witness will be a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 4. It’s a puzzle game with 25 hours of game play, and looks very similar in art style to Journey: lots of bright colors and a lack of shadows.

Blow said each puzzle contains an idea, and the team focused very heavily on eliminating any filler or redundancies. They also wanted to communicate the essence of each puzzle in a non-verbal way. The trailer shows several fly-throughs of levels, and while nothing screamed “next-gen,” it still looked and sounded beautiful.

Deep Down

Not much was said about this upcoming fantasy-flavored Capcom game, save for the fact it was running on a new engine, codenamed “Panta Rhei.” The translation for that, by the way, is “everything flows.”

It’s hard to tell if what we saw was game play footage; there were icons on the screen which would seem to indicate yes, but damn if it didn’t look a little too good to be true. If it is game play however, Deep Down might be the first next-gen game to really look next-gen.

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs received loud support and a wave of enthusiasm when it was announced during E3 2012, but one detail was conspicuously missing: an announced system to play it on. Now we know: Watch Dogs is coming to the PlayStation 4.

We saw a pretty lengthy live demo, and damned if this game doesn’t seem smooth as butter. There are tons of characters on-screen at a given time, and it looks as though you’ll have plenty of options with regards to how you interact with the world. During a chase scene, the player overloaded what could have possibly been a fuse box, raised street barriers, and stopped a train, all via hacking.

Diablo 3

The console version of Diablo 3 will give players direct control over their character with an overhauled control scheme and new UI, but none of this was shown. Coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3… sometime. We were told to expect more details at PAX East.

Destiny

Bungie and Activision revealed the first in-game assets for Destiny at the PlayStation 4 announcement event. No direct game play, but plenty of glimpses at the locations, creatures, and people which exist in this world. What we saw wasn’t very visually impressive, but remember this game is coming out not just for the next generation of consoles, but Xbox 360 and PS3 as well.

The PlayStation community will be receiving exclusive content, but we don’t know what kind. No other details about the game were shared tonight, but if you want to learn more, check out Ben’s coverage from the trip he made to Bungie studios last week.

The tech demoes

Media Molecule

It’s not really clear if what Media Molecule showed is coming to PlayStation 4 users or if it was just meant to show off what the developers of LittleBigPlanet have been working on. We saw Move controllers used as sculpting wands which created all manner of statues and puppets, and at the end of the presentation we saw those puppets come to life to perform a rock ballad. The PlayStation 4 is being touted as the system of choice for creators and creative minds, and this demonstrated that quite well.

Square Enix

Square has a new engine and it looks really, really good. You already knew that if you watched the same tech demo that was shown at E3 2012.

Quantic Dream

David Cage introduced his company’s tech demo by reflecting on the subtle nature of emotion and how complex renderings can help tell better stories. He boasted the leap in graphical fidelity from Heavy Rain to the Kara tech demo, and from the Kara demo to the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls. Cage said the PS4 will allow Quantic Dream to push even further toward creating realistic virtual humans and expressions, at which point he showed an elderly man’s face cycling through various emotions. Definitely some uncanny valley stuff.

The release

The PlayStation 4 will be out holiday season 2013. Excited? Skeptical? Curious?