PS4: Our Impressions

As most of you will know, a few days ago Sony officially announced the highly-anticipated PS4 (PlayStation 4). After about two hours of brief (albeit impressive) demos, and rather ambiguous statements about both the platform itself and upcoming games, we now have a slightly better idea of what to expect. But are things looking good for the heralded console? We share our first impressions following Wednesday night’s reveal… 

 

Stuart
After months and months of waiting and years of speculating, Sony finally unveiled its next generation of console. As with Nintendo’s Wii U reveal, despite their best aims to please, I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the presentation. Whilst the console does look graphically impressive, there was very little information on show, no real pictures to speak of and lots of teasing about when we would see more. Yes, they did have a lot of developers and key speakers, but even they yielded very little in the way of actual demos or information. Where was the information about the drive we would be using? The multimedia support and more? The decision also to remove native backward compatability with the PS3 is going to be a huge bone of contention with gamers and could prove a fatal mistake if not handled correctly.

This presentation to me seemed to be a masterclass in the usage of marketing and PR buzzwords, not giving away much information and leaving consumers salivating for more.

 

Laura Kate 
I’m surprisingly impressed with the PS4, and a lot of that comes down to the console’s built-in gameplay sharing features. Being able to upload my last 15 minutes of gameplay at the touch of a button or start streaming on Ustream just as easily is a huge plus for me and something I’ll use a lot. Killzone: Shadow Fall was being played live at the show and by the end of the event it was online on Facebook; it looked awesome in motion and I can’t wait to be able to play it at home.

 

 

Shalimar
Mark Cerny, the lead system architect of the PlayStation 4, explained how the console will enable games developers to “create the game experiences that they’ve always been dreaming of making.” He showed off a few very impressive tech demos and noted how “there’s some very sophisticated technology here.” Many developers took to the stage commenting on just how powerful the console is. The PS4 appears to be the technological beast that will allow developers to reach the uninhibited limits of their imagination.

There were some spectacular-looking video games shown – I imagine you could probably take a freeze frame of Killzone: Shadow Fall, print it out, frame it and hang it on your wall. But for all the high definition beauty on display, will this really change the way we play? Are the games on the PS4 going to make me say “Just one more go?” Will they make me laugh, or cry, or scare me to the point of paranoia? Will they go so far as to change my opinions or beliefs? Okay, maybe not the last one. However there were a few promising signs.

David Cage of Quantic Dream remarked about using the technology to get players emotionally involved. “We don’t want them just to watch something,” he said. “We want them to leave it and suspend their disbelief.”

There was also mention of an integrated gaming experience, carrying on with your game away from the console and on your Vita or mobile device. Can you imagine playing a game where in order to progress you actually have to leave your home, receiving clues wirelessly via your Vita or mobile to search for something outside or meet up with other gamers? If the PS4 accomplishes this then it could potentially take gaming to an unheard-of level.

The arrival of a new console is exciting, but so far there’s very little that actually has me excited. It’s too early to tell if the PlayStation 4 will truly be a game changer.

 

Emma
I think the main issue that Sony had with their conference was that they were trying to advertise something that’s hard to get across to the average person.

By making a console that’s more open for developers and has more tools, then the potential for creativity is that much greater. It might be that a year or two down the line, the PS4 will feature some amazing games that use things like the Move controller, gameplay streaming and the Kinect-style cameras, but for the conference there weren’t any games showing off many of these features except for Knack.

The conference was a night of sales talk and tech specs and it left most people with a lukewarm impression at best. Most of the games will be available on other platforms. My favourite game of the evening, Watch Dogs, will be available on everything including the PS3. The spot for Blizzard felt a little wasted. Their presence at the conference was a big surprise and could have been the most intriguing bit of news all night, but instead it was just the announcement that there would be a PS4 port for Diablo III (no big console MMO?). Media Molecule was another company that could have raised people’s excitement but didn’t. They made a couple of demonstrations showing the sculpting tool and the strange dance/rock gig all made with the Move controller, but again, it was another moment of seeing the tools for the developers without seeing the games to back them up.

It could well be that E3 will be the time for the really big announcements and this was just a way to get ahead of Microsoft. But even so, PlayStation needed that one big game to get people rushing out and making pre-orders. And it wasn’t there.

The better games of the evening weren’t PS4 exclusives so I can’t blame people for a lack of enthusiasm. Show me something really incredible that the PS4 can do that the others can’t and then I might start saving my money.

 

 

Christopher
The PS4 looks like it’s taking a step in the right direction. I’m interested in a console fully embracing the Cloud system by using it for backwards compatibility, streaming demos and accessing downloads at any point during the download process. It’s not groundbreaking, but the PS4’s movement towards greater convenience is brilliant for those who just want to jump right in.

While I don’t care much for Facebook integration and the like, the fact that the PS4 is acknowledging the surge in the popularity of game streaming is brilliant. The share button is probably the feature I’m most excited about, as it takes on the idea of replays, ‘Let’s Play’s and highlights. To have a console constantly compress and decompress live footage while you play is fascinating, and what interests me more is how creative minds are going to use this as a way to get new YouTube content on the internet in a flash.

It’s also great to see that the PS4 is embracing remote play and integration with smartphones and tablets. I am curious to see what the new generation does to take this implementation one step further. Loads of people have smartphones and tablets, and the PS4 embracing that is a great thing. In fact, the PS4 seems to be embracing a lot of things. Pinpointing the needs of developers and consumers in this new age of technology is a smart move, and it is certainly taking gaming into a new and logical direction.

There are still some worries, however. For one thing: price. The PS4 might be expensive. Very expensive. With the technology, not to mention the price of games and potential subscriptions, the PS4 might be the most expensive of the three consoles for next generation. Then one must consider potential Playstation Vita, smartphone and tablet purchases. None are necessary, and are more of a benefit than mandatory, but the full experience looks to be pricey. 

Also, I felt that the games used to show off the PS4 were rather lacking. This is almost always true for launch titles, but it felt so lacklustre to see all these brilliant promises, only to be let down by what really matters: the games. Watch Dogs was brilliant, Destiny will always have me excited, but those (I hope) are multiplatform. I need more killer apps to make the switch from the Xbox.  

Overall, I’m looking forward to the developments in technology and direction, and the share button is king, but I really need to see more A-Grade exclusive games before making the jump.

 

And now we pose the question to you: What are your feelings about the PS4? Do you feel it truly could be the future of gaming, or are you – like most of us – feeling slightly dubious so far? Share your opinions below!
For those of you who missed last week’s ceremony, read our event summary here to get a better idea of what happened (or didn’t happen, as the case may be!).   

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