Following a not-so-subtle build-up, Sony finally unveiled the successor to its PlayStation 3, unsurprisingly titled ‘PlayStation 4.’ The PlayStation 4 will feature the updated graphical capabilities and technological advances that we’ve all come to expect with each new console generation, but from the massive amounts of information shown by the several different presenters at the conference, it’s safe to say the PlayStation 4 will be bringing more than just better looking games.
Check out what the VGW members who were able to watch the Sony livestream had to say about the PlayStation 4 announcement.
Brian Shea, Editor-in-Chief
Whenever a new console is revealed, I’m instantly taken back to those sleepless nights as a child — you know, the night before your mom or dad took you to the local game store so you could spend your hard-earned allowance on a new system. While these days information travels at the speed of light and makes you tired of hearing about new technology long before it releases, big unveilings, such as the one that Sony did on Wednesday, are the closest I can find to recreating those first few hours of exploration and unknown wonder I experienced when starting up a new console as a child.
Everybody knew the games would look fantastic. Sony already has the most powerful console on the market with the PlayStation 3, so it’s no surprise that one of its most graphically impressive franchise, Killzone, has a new entry that will serve as one of the console’s first must-have titles. Also making its way onto the system during the launch window will be a new game in the inFAMOUS series, my personal favorite Sony-exclusive franchise. Both titles look phenomenal and I’m excited to get my hands on them.
As for the additional features, I’m very excited for the “Share” button, as that’s something I’ve wanted on a home console since the first time I watched gameplay footage on YouTube. It will be interesting to see how game developers will implement this functionality into the games themselves (or even into marketing campaigns), but it’s definitely going to build around Sony’s already strong community. Nintendo did a good job of being the first to implement a social network-like ecosystem into its console’s native operating system, but it looks like Sony might end up beating the iconic game maker in this regard.
I definitely think it’s a good idea for Sony to get the console out within the year if they felt the need to announce it, so a Holiday 2013 release window isn’t surprising. I’m just hoping it doesn’t have a Vita-like launch, where it has a huge list of games on launch day, then nothing for the next several months. Luckily, the console market is a bit more stable than the handheld market, so publishers are much more likely to invest a ton of money to develop ambitious titles for the PlayStation 4 than they were for the Vita.
E3 2013 can’t get here soon enough. I want to see how that new DualShock controller feels in-hand.
Anne Lee, Copy Editor
It’s hard not to be excited about all of the opportunities for social connectivity Sony divulged at the PlayStation 4 presentation, but there are too many questions left unanswered for me to be 100% behind the new system. Perhaps the most worrisome is the fact that the PS4 will not be able to play PS3 games or older natively, and that Sony has instead acquired the Gaikai cloud computing company to solve this problem in the future. Not only does it sound like it won’t be available day one, but streaming games from the cloud is an expensive endeavor, meaning subscription fees will be likely. Nothing makes my blood boil more than having to pay additional fees and jump through hoops to play titles I already own on new hardware.
Secondly, there was no mention of region compatibility. While the PS3 has, for the most part, been region-free, meaning it can play nearly all games, no matter where in the world they were purchased, we can’t discount the fact that Sony may choose to region-lock the PS4, much like Nintendo did with the 3DS. As someone who imports Japanese titles on a regular basis, this would be a major setback for the new hardware.
Ultimately, not every question can be answered on the initial reveal, so I’m cautiously optimistic that Sony will tell me what I want to hear in the months to come.
Russell Jones, Staff Writer
While many of my predictions didn’t come true, I’m still in shock Sony didn’t show us the goods when it came to the PlayStation 4’s actual, real-life physical form. Instead we were treated to a whole lot of talk about what the next PlayStation will do for gamers, which is in all reality more important, but still going to be overshadowed now by speculation about what the darn thing looks like.
The games which were shown were interesting, especially Knack‘s design showing a direct connection between what developers can do with the beefier hardware and an actual game concept that uses it. Otherwise, the rest of the actual games were lackluster; even the surprise appearance of Blizzard’s Chris Metzen to reveal Diablo 3 was coming to consoles wasn’t that big a deal. Blizzard’s work to put their games on consoles was almost as well kept a secret as the next PlayStation’s name, and when they said “Diablo 3” instead of their still-mysterious “Project Titan” I knew I could get up and take a bathroom break from the stream because it’s all gameplay we’ve seen before.
My somewhat hyperbolic takeaway is that this was the biggest, most expensive and elaborate marketing effort to date for the PS Vita, and probably its most successful. People who are serious about getting a PS4 will go out tomorrow and make sure they get one tomorrow, because it’s the only thing they can get to prepare for the console’s launch. The rest of us will absorb what we’ve seen and wait impatiently, again, for E3 to roll around.
Stu Strock, Staff Writer
When it comes to new console reveals, I prefer to take a stance of careful optimism, and the PS4 announcement is no different. Let’s start with the positives. Graphically, the output seen in the presentation today was actually a step or two above what I had expected, particularly with regard to the Deep Down demonstration. Textures and lighting were simply gorgeous, and the minimalist HUD is something I’ve long been a fan of. Hardware-wise, I really dig the new controller. The sticks look way more comfortable than the traditional DualShock design, and more ergonomic triggers are something the controller has been sorely lacking. I’ll reserve judgement on the touch pad until I see it in action. On the network front, I must say that I like the idea of streaming backwards compatibility. Finally, the proposed ability to play downloaded titles before they’ve even finished downloading is a huge draw, especially when you think on how large full PS4 games will likely be.
I have my share of concerns for the PS4, as well. Chiefly, where is the system itself? It’s one thing to say you’re showing us in-game footage, but nothing assuages our fears like playing it right in front of us. I keep having nightmarish flashbacks to the original Killzone 2 announcement. Next, returning briefly to the issue of backwards compatibility, what will we do with the hard copies of games we already own? Will we need to repurchase digital versions in order to play them? To round out my concerns, I’m sure I’m not alone in worrying, “How much is this thing going to cost? What about extra controllers and the new Eye? God I hope this thing doesn’t hit my weak point for massive financial damage.” Simply put, I need more information before I commit, Sony.
The high point of today’s announcements for me was hands down the Deep Down footage. Capcom earned my trust with Dragon’s Dogma (I’m not entirely convinced this game isn’t the sequel), and I’ll always be a sucker for sword and shield combat. I believe it was Sun Tzu who said, “Shut up and take my money!”
Scott Grill, Staff Writer
First off, this was one of Sony’s better stage presentations that I can remember. There were no overly boisterous, arrogant claims and the focus was mostly on what the new console can do to enhance the experience of gamers and developers. Though, it was a little odd to see that all the primary presenters for a Japanese company were of the western persuasion.
That said, I think I was most impressed with the hardware and feature announcements than the games themselves. Killzone looked gorgeous but was the same current-gen gameplay we’ve seen already; Knack looks like a fairly straight-forward 3D action game; Watch_Dogs‘ main innovation appears to be hacking everything; and many of the other games such as inFAMOUS: Second Son and Drive Club were little more than demo reels with no actual gameplay. Meanwhile, Media Molecule’s demo with the PS Move was interesting but it ultimately looked like a disposable junk food kind of experience that we’ve already seen on the PS3. Also, PS Move.
Much of the rest was the expected – Destiny, The Witness – and slightly unexpected – Diablo III – with tech demos to provide filler. Also, shame on Square Enix for showing up with the exact same Agni’s Philosophy demo we saw last year.
I suppose the question is what do we expect out of next-gen gameplay beyond prettier graphics and gazillions of particles on the screen? On that note, I thought it was interesting that none of the new DualShock 4 features were shown off beyond the Share button. Sony touted the touch pad and light sensor on the controller but never showed how it would actually with gameplay.
My final thought is that it looks like PS4 is going to pay for the sins of the PS3. Sony’s insistence of going with the Cell processor in the failed hope of making it a ubiquitous architecture for everything from consoles to TVs and appliances has resulted in the lack of backwards compatibility for not only retail games but games purchased via PSN as well. This means gamers will have to rely on the promise of Gaikai’s Playstation Cloud service to provide backwards compatibility to games already purchased. Unfortunately, we have no idea if there will be an additional cost for that.
It was a good introduction overall for the PS4 and definitely has me eager to see what Microsoft has in answer.