One Year Later, Should You Buy a Playstation 4?
"We Take a Look Back at the PS4's First Year"
On Friday November 15, 2013 the Playstation 4 was released. (In North America) It was a time of excitement. The last generation of consoles had lasted much longer than I think anyone expected and it seemed people were hungry for new consoles. Months in and the sales numbers showed that people were indeed ready for new machines. One year later and Sony and Microsoft are selling consoles faster than ever before
. Sony in particular is selling tons of PS4s. And as we are at the one year mark of the PS4, it seems like a good time to take look at the PS4 and see what has changed, what worked, what needs to be improved and if you should buy one?
The PS4 is a sexy console. Sleek and compact it looks like a piece of technology from the future. Seeing Xbox Ones I remember thinking how blockish and big they looked. But the PS4 was something out of a sci-fi movie. Bright light on top, sleek angles, jet black. In those first weeks when there wasn’t much to play, I remember looking at the console and thinking “That looks pretty cool.” Eventually as I got games to play another aspect of the console became apparent: quietness.
The PS4 is still silent and still runs relatively cool. I barely notice it these days. It just blends into my dark room and quietly runs. It’s nice and a huge change from the PS3 at launch. That thing sounded like a jet engine and put off enough heat to cook a steak.
Sadly, the Playstation 4 controller is having some issues
. I am a huge fan of the controller. As someone who hated the Dualshock 3 the Dualshock 4 is a huge improvement. I wish Sony would move that left analog stick up and get rid of that damn light bar, or at least let me turn it off. But other than that I’m quite happy with it. But I have had some issues. My first DS4 stopped working after 6-7 months or so. Before that the analog stick started to rip and tear a bit. A friend I know had a similar issue and looking online it seems like we are not alone.
Which is a shame, I really like the controller and hope a revision is on the way. One that ditches the light bar and improves the build quality of the sticks.
Overall, I found my time with the PS4 to be great. It sucked having to replace the controller and I know some have had some severe issues with the console, but I have had a smooth experience with the Playstation 4 console.
When it comes to the system software of the PS4 I have some issues and some praise. The problem is that most of my issues were issues I had in week 1. Here we are a year later and the PS4 is still having these issues or missing features it should have by now. For example there is no friend online notifications. This seems really weird considering the PS3 had a online and OFFLINE notification. My friends and me have found a crude work around to this. We start a party and the PS4, for whatever reason, has a notification for that. Which makes no sense.
The main screen, the XMB, dashboard, whatever you want to call it, is simple and basic. In some ways this is great and it certainly beats the cluttered mess that I’ve seen on the Xbox One or even on some other devices. But if you want to play a game or use an app that you haven’t used in a while you have to go all the way to the end of the list, find library and find the game/app in there. It’s a hassle and could easily be fixed by allowing me to pin stuff to the home screen, something the Xbox One does. Folders of some sort would be nice too. All the cool indie games I have on Playstation 4 could be sorted into a “Cool indie” folder and bigger games or apps could have their own folders as well.
To the credit of the PS4 I actually enjoy moving around the menus and the whole things feels fairly snappy and quick. Double tapping the PS button to jump between the game and the homescreen feels nice. Though sometimes double tapping brings to me a screen I wasn’t expecting and some menus could be surfaced more to allow you to quickly find them when you need to.
There are solutions to the issues. Hopefully Sony starts providing some. I don’t want to be able to copy and paste this paragraph into the two year update for the PS4.
The PS4 needs a nice big software update. The last major update, 2.00, was an attempt at adding themes, YouTube support and SharePlay. I wrote about my experiences with SharePlay and I really think it’s a cool feature. What isn’t cool is all the weird issues the new firmware added. Issues that cause Evolve’s
Alpha to not work and is causing other weird issues. Microsoft has been bringing monthly updates
to the Xbox One and meanwhile Sony is barely able to get a major update out before the console’s first one year anniversary. Sony needs to add more features, fix existing ones and help make the PS4 more customizable.
When the consoles were first announced Sony was the king of games. They explained how focused they were on games and how games came first. Microsoft instead tried to sell the Xbox One as a machine for TV, games, social apps and more. They got a lot of backlash for this and in the last 7-9 months have really made great strides to refocusing the console to games. Meanwhile Sony is selling tons of consoles, many more than Microsoft, but doing so without many games.
Sony’s box is still focused on games but, when it comes to big console exclusives Sony seems to be falling behind. This year brought a small and less than critically loved list of exclusive games to the PS4. Games that are ONLY available on the PS4 are:
-The Last of Us Remastered
-Killzone: Shadow Fall
-Infamous: Second Son
Sony has some indie games that are CONSOLE exclusive like Rogue Legacy, CounterSpy and Don’t Starve
but these are available on PS3, Vita, and PC. And looking at the list of PS4 only games you have a few like Shadow Fall
which received lukewarm reviews and games like Driveclub
which are still barely working and not reviewing too well either. In fact the highest rated and most well reviewed PS4 exclusive is The Last of Us Remastered
, a rereleased PS3 game. To say Sony needs some big and amazing games is an understatement.
As for multiplatform titles it’s fair to say the next generation is in full swing. Every month seems to bring a few big games to the new consoles and the PS4 seems to be running them at higher resolutions and more stable framerates. The whole framerate and resolution debate is tedious and feels a bit weird considering if those things are that important to you... well you should probably be playing games on a PC then. Regardless Sony’s PS4 has a nice and growing selection of games like Far Cry 4, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Shadow of Mordor, Watch Dogs, GTA V, FIFA, The Evil Within, Alien Isolation
, to name a few. And stuff like Batman Arkham Knight
and The Witcher 3
are coming to the PS4 next year.
Should You Buy a PS4
It’s always hard to say if someone should buy a new console or not. It’s even harder for me. I’m the crazy guy who buys stuff at launch and doesn’t mind paying more or dealing with some issues. And the PS4 has some issues, but I don’t feel that any of them are big enough to be a huge concern. A few UI improvements and some software updates and the PS4 will be even better machine than it already is.
The real answer to if you should buy a PS4 or not is going to come down to one thing: Games.
As publishers are moving more and more towards the new consoles your older PS3 or Xbox 360 are starting to get left behind. The games you are getting are usually less impressive and sometimes delayed ports. So while you can technically play Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
on a PS3, you might prefer the smoother and nicer looking PS4 version. And stuff like Shadow of Mordor
is showing us what these new consoles can bring to the gameplay and mechanics of future games.
Honestly I think it is a great time to buy a PS4 or an Xbox One. There are a good number of games to play, more coming and both consoles are having some nice holiday season deals and bundles.
It’s a good time to join the future, even if the the future is a bit rough around the edges sometimes.