Some Thoughts on the PS4

ps4 logoThe PlayStation 4 has finally been announced, and I for one am pretty excited by what I heard. Here are my thoughts on what was shown yesterday, nicely ordered and categorized! If you haven’t seen and/or read a transcript yet you can go do that… pretty much anywhere you’d like to, really. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

The Hardware

First off, I love that they all but admitted that the Cell processor was a misstep, and that making the PS3 a pain in the ass to program for/port to with proprietary technology hurt them. This time they seemed to be excessively developer-conscious, and the several interviews I saw after the show with people from Ubisoft, Bethesda, Epic, and other companies, it looks like developers are pretty excited by what they heard. The x86 architecture, the 8 gigs of GDDR5 RAM (sixteen times what the PS3 has, and fast GPU RAM at that!), the fact that the CPU and GPU are on the same chip providing 2 teraflops of power that can be freely set to graphics/simulation/whatever in any ratio the devs desire… the PS4 is a beast, but a very accessible, flexible beast.

dualshock 4The Controller

I’m really excited to hold a dualshock 4, find out how hefty it is, how tight the analog sticks are, and test out the touch pad. Sony once again went to the devs and asked around what it came to redesigning their signature controller, tightening up the analog sticks a little, and modifying the triggers and d-pad significantly. The touch pad looks like it would be awkward to use for in-game features, unless it’s relegated to minigames or menu navigation but I don’t really think this is a bad thing. It’s placed in such a way as to be innocuous, something a developer can utilize if they so desire but can easily be ignored. Where I think the touch pad will really shine is in system navigation outside of games, when using streaming services or web browsing. The light pad is an interesting idea, doing things such as colour coordinating your controller to your character in local multiplayer, flashing as you take damage, or changing colour to indicate when your health is critical. This is definitely a feature I’ll have to wait for a hands-on experience with to make a final judgement, but currently I’m leaning towards gimmick. It also has a built-in speaker and a headphone jack (and according to the press release every PS4 will ship with a headset), making it seem like the dualshock 4 is going to be the best of every other system’s controllers in one nice, slick package. I’ll get to the share button in a bit.

playstation 4 eyeThe New PlayStation Eye

This was completely glossed over in the presentation, but the PS4 has a brand new Eye, a two-camera four-microphone system that will allow for motion tracking, voice recognition, and even the ability to login to your PS4 automatically via facial recognition. It will also track the dualshock 4’s light pads, as well as allow for PlayStation Move integration into the PS4. Based on what we saw with Move, this sounds to me like a Kinect that works. It sounds like the Eye software is specifically designed to recognize the depth and volume of a room and figure out where sound originates from. To me this sounds like a perfect combination with the share button, as the PS4 will (and this is based on information from the press release and video shown at the conference, not on any official announcement) allow for extremely easy livestreaming of let’s plays or first impression videos by automatically inlaying a headshot of you as you play even if you move around the room and automatically picking up on your voice and broadcasting it alongside your gameplay. As long as you have a decent internet connection, one-button let’s plays look to be possible with the PS4, and that is something I think is really damn cool.

ps4 vitaThe Features

The stuff Dave Perry talked about, like the ability to stream the entire PlayStation library from all of their systems to the PS4 or even potentially other devices, is pretty cool but at the same time it’s where they’re hoping and planning to take the technology in the future, not necessarily features that will be available at launch, or even in the first year or two of the PS4’s life. Until we get closer to release and get a better idea of exactly what the system’s cloud capabilities will be at launch, I’m not going to go into it too much. The ability to stream (at least some of) your PS4 games to play on your Vita was actually demonstrated though, and that is pretty awesome. This is a big step in keeping the Vita relevant, as it has somewhat been steamrolled by the direction modern society has gone despite being a really great bit of tech. That’s next-gen transfarring, bitches! I also think that this feature and the ability to instantly put the system on standby mid-game and pick it up later could be really strong selling points for the system, especially with parents or people who have a shared common area and several roommates. These are smart ideas that really help to put you in control of exactly when and how you game, especially where single player is concerned.

The biggest annoyance with the PS3 for me, and many others I’m sure, is updates. Sony has obviously realized what a huge pain in the ass downloading and updating is for people, because now we get a second chip that seems to specifically handle background downloads while you use your PS4, or even when it’s powered down! This combined with the ability to charge your controllers while the system is powered down pretty much guarantees that when you want to play all you need to do is turn the system on (maybe with your face) and get right to it. Now sure there are still a lot of questions, like exactly what the new system interface is and how you navigate it, how features such as PS Plus and friends lists work (they seemed to hint that it would be some combination of anonymous handles and social network integration), what kind of range you have when playing a PS4 game on Vita, et cetera… but as it stands I’m very excited, this truly feels like a next-gen system and unless there’s some big secret like the next Xbox will buy you weed or suck your dick or something, I doubt Microsoft will be able to top this.

I’m not going to go into the games right now (Watch Dogs über alles!) but I did want to share this awesome meme pic I made, which I think sums things up nicely. Later, suckas!


blizzard ps4 announcement


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