The Sony PlayStation, or PS4, is due for release this Christmas around the world, but what exactly will it be like? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the PS4 based on the news so far.
The Sony PlayStation 4 will feature a single-chip x86-64 AMD Jaguar 8-core processor and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. It’s closer to PC architecture, with a PC-like graphics processor in the form of a 1.84 teraflops AMD Radeon graphics engine. However, don’t think that super GPU equates to 4K visuals, it’s been confirmed that the PS4 will not output games at UHD, only photos and home movies.
It has been confirmed that there will be a hard drive on board for storage, although the capacity has not been detailed. We guess there will be different capacities at different price points.
The Sony PlayStation 4 console looks angular and sleek, with its slanted design looking aggressive, like the sort of thing you’d find on a Lamborghini. Either than or a slightly lop-sided Bourbon biscuit.
There are no rounded tops or curves here, everything is flattened. The new console will sit vertically or horizontally, so will either fit into your existing TV stand or become a monolith showpiece in its own right.
The PS4 console sticks to black and blue coloring that we’ve seen before from PlayStation, but we do not doubt that there will be special editions in the future. It is, like the Xbox One, finished in two tones, partly glossy and partly matte.
What we have heard is that you’ll get smart functions like an instant resume of games, so you won’t have to spend time waiting for the console to boot and load your saved game. You should just be able to wake it from standby and resume gaming.
There will be a physical optical drive in place, with support for Blu-ray and DVD.
In terms of communication, the PS4 will have an Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi b/g/n, and Bluetooth 2.1 on the wireless front and HDMI, analog AV out, and an optical digital output. There will also be USB 3.0 connections.
Sony has also confirmed that you’ll be able to upgrade the hard drive after the fact.
Sony has ditched the original DualShock design for the PS4 in favor of an evolved design in the DualShock 4. It’s instantly recognizable as a PlayStation controller featuring the usual array of buttons, however, there have been some additions to bring it to bang up to date. The Start and Select buttons are now combined into an Options button.
Aside from a design difference, there’s a capacitive touch panel at the top of the controller, as rumors had suggested. This will give you a new array of options when it comes to interacting with games. The motion controls have also been beefed-up, with a new six-axis sensor.
There’s also the addition of a 3.5mm headphone socket so you can plug right in, with a bundled mono headset coming with the console. You won’t always need a headset, however, as there’s a speaker in the controller too.
There’s a light bar on the DualShock 4, so rather than a tiny illuminated red square, you’ll be able to see who’s who by the lighting on the controller, which should be a great aid when in social games or playing multiplayer games in the same room. This light bar will also be used to convey information during gaming – for example, turning red to show you’re critically low on health.
Additionally, there’s the Share button. It might sound like a minor point, but the way that Sony has presented the PS4, social aspects, and connected gaming run right to the core of what the new PlayStation is all about. As previously mentioned, you’ll be able to share game footage to Ustream, connect with friends, as well as get involved with spectator playing, and so on.
Sony also demonstrated applications using the existing PlayStation Move controllers, so it looks as though there will be support for some of the hardware you might already own.
PlayStation 4 Eye
Yes, it’s actually called the PlayStation 4 Eye and that’s not a dig at the ocularly challenged. The new PS4 Eye features dual cameras with an 85-degree wide-angle field of vision. The new Eye will be able to locate gamers in the room, as well as being able to identify the light bars from the DualShock 4 controller for accurate positioning.
Face recognition is included and, thanks to having four mics, the PlayStation 4 Eye is said to be able to locate where voices are coming from too.
The PS4 Eye supports the Move controller too.
Streaming and connected play
Much has been made of the streaming and downloading capabilities of the PS4. Although the PS4 won’t be backward compatible with PS3 game discs, you will be able to stream older titles to the console, with Sony saying it’s looking at making the library of more than 3,000 PlayStation 3 titles available as part of its long-term strategy.
But in terms of PS4 games, you’ll be able to download and sample games from the PlayStation Store. Again, you won’t have to wait for games to fully download, with Sony saying you’ll be able to start playing as soon as you have the first part of the download, with the rest of the game downloading in the background, thanks to the incorporation of Gaikai’s cloud technology.
Talking of background downloads, the PS4 will be able to update games in standby mode, although we assume you’ll pay a price in power consumption if you choose to do this.
One final bonus is that Sony has now confirmed that the PS4 will play pre-owned titles. The second-hand games market will be happy.
Cloud gaming and the ability to play PS3 games on your PS4 will launch in 2014, with the US first to get the service.
Much has been made of the social and connected gaming experience, so you’ll be able to share your gaming sessions, with “always-on” video compression and decompression to give you seamless sharing. A partnership with Ustream announced that will host PS4 gaming action.
There will be a “Share” button on the new DualShock 4 controller that will let you scan back through the last few minutes of gameplay, and then let you upload that content whilst you resume playing. You’ll be able to hook-up with Facebook to make sharing simple via existing social networks.
There will also be a 3.5mm headphone socket on the new controller that will make chatting during gaming easier, but you’ll also get spectator modes and the ability to call in help from friends who have completed games, letting them take over control if you’re particularly stuck on a particular game element.
PS4 on Vita, iPhone, iPad, and Android
Expanding the PlayStation experience wider, Sony has also announced wide compatibility with other devices. The PS Vita is at the forefront of these experiences, naturally, with a Remote Play feature. Remote Play will let you pull content from your PS4 onto the portable PS Vita over Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to keep gaming away from your TV. It’s a bit like the Wii U controller.
We’ve seen this sort of promise before and never really found it to be as ambitious as we wanted, but Sony is stating that the aim is to make “most” PS4 titles compatible with Remote Play on the PS Vita.
Other devices get a look-in too, including the likes of the Sony Xperia Z, as there will be a PlayStation App for Android and iOS devices. This will let you turn your favorite smartphone or tablet into a second screen for things like maps, which sounds similar to Xbox SmartGlass.
You’ll also be able to browse and buy games from the mobile app. And, as we’ve mentioned, with background downloads, you’ll be able to buy a game whilst sitting on the bus and find it ready to play when you get home.
As an extension of social gaming, you’ll also be able to use your mobile device in spectator mode to witness other gamers playing.
Sony has announced that there are over 140 games in development for its new next-gen console, the PS4, with 100 of those promised for the first year.
“SCE World Wide Studios (SCE WWS) is currently developing more than 30 PS4 exclusive titles, 20 of them, including 12 new IPs, are planned to release within a year of the launch of the PS4 system,” confirmed the company in a statement to Pocket-lint.
Exclusive PS4 titles include Drive Club, Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, which will be available at launch, and inFamous Second Son, available first quarter of 2014.
Sony also unveiled the next blockbuster title, The Order: 1886, from acclaimed studio Ready at Dawn, which will be available sometime in 2014.
But it’s not just about big games from big publishers. In a move to ensure indie developers get a look in too. The PS4 will have several smaller indie games at launch including Transistor by Super Giant, Don’t Starve by Klei Entertainment, Mercenary Kings by Tribute Games, Octodad: Deadliest Catch by Young Horses, Secret Ponchos by SwitchBlade Monkeys, Outlast by Red Barrels, Oddworld: New N Tasty by Oddworld Inhabitants and Galak-Z by 17-bit.
Other titles to look forward to including Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV from Square Enix, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, and Watch Dogs from Ubisoft, 2K Sports’s NBA 2K14, Bethesda Game Studios’ The Elder Scrolls Online, and Mad Max.
Of course, Sony is also promising Bungie’s Destiny on the PS4 as well.
We’ve also learned that the PlayStation 4 will be predictive, so it will be able to examine what you’ve been playing and know what you’ll be interested in playing next. Even downloading it in the background in preparation for you buying it.
One of the first titles to be demoed was the next-generation of the stalwart PlayStation title Killzone. Known as Killzone Shadow Fall, the level of detail seen in the demo was staggering.
Another title that was demoed was Watch Dogs. Although we’ve seen this before, it’s now confirmed as a PlayStation 4 title. It will be on other platforms too.
One new, non-sequel game that will be coming to PS4 is Bungie’s first-person shooter Destiny. The creator and original developer of Halo have confirmed that its new intellectual property is coming to next-generation consoles as well as Xbox 360 and PS3.
Also, we heard from Blizzard, which is bringing Diablo III to the PlayStation 4 (and PS3), in what was termed a “strategic partnership” with Sony PlayStation. It will be getting exclusive content like Drake’s Amulet.
There are, of course, plenty of other titles – like a new Final Fantasy game, the next installment of Infamous in Infamous Second Son, and DriveClub – coming to the console and you can expect many more announcements in the coming months.
Does the PS4 have the same DRM issues as the Xbox One?
“PlayStation supports used games, doesn’t need to be connected, and won’t require you to check-in online,” were the strong words from Sony at its E3 press conference, much to the delight of the gamers in the crowd.
Sony went on to say that gamers will be able to: “Trade in games at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever.”
The approach is in stark contrast to Microsoft, who has announced that gamers won’t have the same freedom on the Xbox One.
Is the PS4 region free?
Yep. Sony has confirmed that you’ll be able to buy the new console in the US and bring it back to the UK and it will still work. Christmas shopping trip to New York anyone?
PS4 release date
Christmas for the UK, the US, and Europe. A specific date hasn’t been set yet.
£349 in the UK, 349 Euros in Europe, and $399 in the US. That’s £80 cheaper than the Xbox One.