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Today was a highly anticipated day for the gaming world as we got finally got a first glimpse of the next generation of consoles in Sony’s eyes. Sony hosted their Playstation Meeting at New York, NY to officially announce the Playstation 4. Personally, I’m happy that Sony kept the name traditional. The current launch window for Sony’s newest console is this holiday season as expected and they had lots to show to get gamers excited. Their presentation was filled with lots of hits and some misses, but the games surprisingly had more presence than the console itself.
Mark Cerny was the first on stage to talk about the some of the Playstation 4’s specs and the new Dual Shock 4 controller. The PS4 will have 8 GBs of unified GDDR 5 memory, an enhanced PC GPU, and a x86 CPU, but more will be revealed in the future. It is not surprising that Sony is sticking with the Dual Shock layout since it is still an amazing controller, but they did add some new functionalities and buttons. Off the bat when you see the new controller for the first time, you will notice the touchpad. The touchpad is a nice touch, but I didn’t notice much uses of it in the game demos, which I’ll talk more about later. The new button Sony is focusing heavily on is the share button. The share button is the key to the Playstation 4’s new social features as you can upload photos, videos, and even live stream your game with the press of this one button. Sony’s mentality with the sharing aspect is definitely on the right track and I hope we get to see more of it in action in the coming months.
Cerny also announced a game he has been working on for the Playstation 4 called Knack. This game also demonstrates the potential of the PS4’s power in the trailer linked above. Dave Perry from Gaikai was next on stage to talk about his company’s involvement with Sony’s new system. Gaikai is helping Sony with the connectivity process on various mobile devices like the Vita, smartphones, and tablets. They are basically encouraging that gaming will in your mind every time even when you’re not playing in your living room setup with the connectivity features that are announced. The main reason Sony partnered up with Gaikai is their streaming services and they delivered just by their ideas and announcements today. One feature is being able to predict your purchases and pre-download your games, but all games that are released digitally can be tried out for free before you decide to purchase. In addition, PS4 games can be played right away even while it is downloading thanks to Gaikai’s streaming technology. This is another feature I need to see it in action before being sold on it, but the idea alone is already crazy for console standards. Gaikai has also announced Remote Play with the Vita handheld for all PS4 games. Knack was being demoed off showing how the functionality works.
One of the big questions about the Playstation 4 was how backwards compatibility will be handled. Is the same as the Playstation 3 or there is a different method to play older Playstation games? Turns out that Gaikai announced that the PS4 can stream games from all the Playstation consoles prior to this new one. It is not the approach people would expect because you can not simply just insert a PS1, PS2, or PS3 disc and it will work on the new console, but I can see this streaming method being the future for backwards compatibility. Also, Perry announced that cloud services for the PS4 will be released in phases as more details about will be revealed later.
With the Playstation 4’s controller and current feature set out of the way for now, the games took center stage and there are a good amount of them were shown off. Guerilla Games started things off with a new Killzone game called Killzone: Shadow Fall. Right away from the first minute or two of the gameplay demo, this is not the Killzone you remember from the PS2 and PS3 with a completely different setting. Whether or not this demo will have the same impact as the infamous Killzone 2 demo had when Sony first announced the Playstation 3 remains to be seen, but Shadow Fall does look amazing on the PS4 so far.
Next up was Evolution Studios, the folks behind the MotorStorm franchise, with a new racing IP called DriveClub. DriveClub has a heavy focus on team racing and takes advantage of the PS4’s social features. The demo itself didn’t really grab me right away, but considering Evolution’s past experience in the genre, I still have faith they will deliver in their vision. Sucker Punch comes onto the stage with Infamous: Second Son, a new Infamous game with a new character. This new protagonist has different powers compared to Cole from the last two games, so it will be interesting if the gameplay has changed significantly as well.
The games how shift to an indie focus as Jonathan Blow, the creator of the hit downloadable game, Braid, came to the stage to show off his new game, The Witness. It is an open world puzzle game where Blow describes as the solutions to these puzzles are found in a non-verbal approach. It is definitely a concept that started off from Braid, but taken steps further in a beautiful looking island. David Cage from Quantic Dream was next to show off their technology to showcase facial emotions as an old man’s face was used for their tech demo. His development team believes that the PS4 is capable of achieving their vision of showing emotions beautifully well in games. Media Molecule’s tech demo for Sony’s new system revolved around the Playstation Move controller, which is still a viable peripheral in Sony’s repertoire. They showcased sculpting by just the Move and recording your dreams. With a new camera coming to the PS4, the creative possibilities with the Move have increased tenfold and it is no surprise Media Molecule is leading that charge.
Third-party companies also had some presence at Sony’s Playstation 4 reveal event. Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono was first to announce a new engine they have been working on code named “Panta Rhei.” He also premiered a trailer for a new game tentatively called Deep Down, which looked like a combination of Dragon’s Dogma and Dark Souls. Square-Enix was next in arguably the most disappointing part of the whole event because they showed off a trailer that we already seen last E3. However, they did say that a new Final Fantasy game is coming to the PS4 and we will find out more at E3 this June. Speaking of E3, the game everyone was talking about last year, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, had a new gameplay demo at the Playstation Meeting and the game keeps on getting better. Ubisoft did clarify that Watch Dogs is still coming to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but the PS4 version is the best looking version to go with.
The most surprising third-party game publisher/developer that appeared today was definitely Blizzard. It was only a matter of time when Blizzard finally returns to working on consoles and thanks to a new exclusive partnership with Sony, they are for the Playstation 4. They announced that Diablo III is coming not just to the Playstation 4, but also the Playstation 3 this fall. It was a bit anticlimactic at first, but at least it is a start for potential future games by Blizzard. Despite that, Diablo III on the Sony consoles will have four player co-op on one screen and it will be shown off for the first time at PAX East next month. Lastly, Activision and Bungie came out to talk about Destiny, the new game that was finally revealed last weekend for the Xbox 360 and PS3. They are confirming that Destiny is also coming to the PS4 alongside the PS3 with exclusive features.
Sony’s Playstation 4 reveal event was definitely impressive as they answered some questions about the new console and show off a solid lineup of games coming out in its first months. However, there are a lot of questions left unanswered such as where was the console reveal itself? What about pricing? Sony surely didn’t want everything revealed right away and it looks like they are saving those answers for E3. Another unanswered question was the disc format, but it is likely going to be Blu-Ray again, but who knows if DVDs are playable in the PS4. Assuming we are slowly in the digital era now for movies, TV shows, and games, I won’t be surprised if the drive is blu-ray only. Despite some misses, Sony did a great job presenting their vision of the next generation to the gaming world. The social, streaming, and connectivity features are amazing on paper, but personally I would like to see them demoed off to prove that they are able to execute it. Most importantly, Sony got gamers excited for a new generation of consoles and we will see Microsoft has up their sleeve for the next Xbox now that most of the Playstation 4’s details are officially out there. Are you excited for the Playstation 4 after today? Let us know in the comments below.