Last week Sony announced its successor to the popular Playstation 3 (PS3), the Playstation 4 (PS4). Within the two hour presentation sony unveiled many of the new features of the Playstation 4 platform, games, and some possibilities with the new system. Some of these are technical features, while some are just possibilities given the right software.
One of the biggest changes is in the architecture. The PS3 used IBM’s cell-processor. The same processor-family that can be found in biggest rival of the PS3, the Xbox 360. IBM announced the end-of-life of the cell processor in November of 2009. Sony has moved from the cell processor to the x86 architecture. This is a big move for Sony.
The PS4 will be based on AMD’s “Jaguar” processor. “Jaguar” combines the CPU and GPU onto a single chip. This combination gives processing speed a boost by allowing faster transfers between the graphics and processor, which will result in smoother game play.
The processor will contain 8-cores, besting many of today’s current PCs. The processors will be accompanied by 8GB of GDDR5 memory. GDDR5 is what is used in many of today’s high-end graphics cards, including the AMD Radeon 6670 all the way to the AMD FirePro W9000 professional cards. The memory will be shared between the main system and graphics processor.
The PS4 will also utilize a hard drive for storage. Sony has not indicated how big the hard drive will be nor whether it will be an SSD or a traditional spinning drive. I would presume it will be a traditional hard drive, purely for price. Additionally, Sony has not indicated whether the hard drive will be a desktop 3.5″ or a laptop 2.5″ hard drive. The only difference would be for space and heat concerns. I’d presume Sony will utilize a 2.5″ hard drive.
Sony also did announce that the PS4 will still utilize Blu-Ray as its disc drive mechanism. While they did not provide any information during the presentation about how fast the Blu-Ray drive will be, they did provide a tech spec page. Within the document, Sony indicates that the drive is a 6x Blu-Ray Reader. This will mean faster load times from physical games.
Even though some specs still need to be clarified, based on what we know now, the PS4 will be a pretty awesome gaming machine. One slight disappointment was that Sony did not reveal the final design of the PS4,
Even though Sony did not unveil the final dimensions of the PS4 console, they did unveil the new Dual Shock 4 controller. The new DualShock 4 controller looks similar to previous models, but it is rather enhanced.
The new DualShock 4 still contains the familiar D-Pad, Triangle, Circle, X, and Square buttons as well as the dual-analog sticks that have become common place. There are a few new buttons now as well. The first of these is the ‘Options’ button. It was not mentioned as to the function of this button, but I presume it to replace the ‘Select’ button on the DualShock 3 and prior controllers.
The second new button is the ‘Share’ button. The Share button is the basis of the new Social aspect to Sony’s Playstation Network. With the Share button, a player can immediate upload and share a clip of the game that they are playing. This will allow the player to show their friends just how good they are at a game.
The last new items on the DualShock 4 is the Lightbar, touchpad, and headphone jack. The Lightbar is used in conjunction with the new light sensor to detect where the player is within the room.
The touchpad takes up a majority of the top of the controller and will be utilized for interacting with games. For a Role Playing Game it may be to select an item. For a First-person shooter it may to select where to drop a set of bombs on the enemy. The touchpad will make an interesting addition to the Playstation 4.
The headphone jack is a necessary item to have on any next-generation console. Not only for the convenience of listening to the game with a good set of headphones, but also for the new social features, which will be outlined later.
The new DualShock 4 controller looks to be an exciting improvement over the DualShock 3. The new touchscreen will add a new dimension to the game play.
Sony has added a new ‘Playstation 4 Eye’ to the PS4 accessories. The PS4 Eye now includes two cameras to be able to put determine where the user is located using the DualShock 4’s light bar. There are also four microphones in the new PS4 Eye to be able to determine exactly where the source of sound is located.
Sony has decided to upgrade its Playstation Network to be more than just a network of gaming friends, but also include friends from your real life. In addition to PSN, Sony has teamed up with Facebook and Ustream.
The inclusion of Facebook seems quite straight forward. You can connect to your real-life friends on Facebook and challenge them to matches and boast about how much better you are than them.
The partnership with UStream seems a bit odd at first. However, when you take into account the new ‘Share’ button on the DualShock 4, Ustream is a perfect fit. With UStream you will be able to share your video of the game your playing, straight to Ustream.
Along with sharing video, you can also have your friends watch you play a game. This has always been available if they’ve been right in the room. But now with the PS4, your friends don’t have to be in the same room. They can be at home watching you play. If you happen to get into a sticky situation, you can ask one of them to jump in and assist you with the game and they can actually play the part for you.
General Game items
One of the biggest areas of anticipation with any new console is the new games. Sony has some good things coming, as well as some less than ideal ones.
One of the biggest initial shocks is that the PS4 has no native backward compatibility. You cannot play Playstation 3 games on a PS4. This is simply because attempting to virtualize a cell processor with the x86-architecture is just not feasible. Fret not, Sony has a possible solution.
Sony’s ultimate goal is to be able to allow you to play all of your PS3, PS2, and PS1 games via the online service, Gaikai, that Sony acquired in 2012. It has yet to be seen exactly how well this arrangement will work for PS3 games. For PS2, and PS1 games, this could be a big step in backward compatibility. Now onto the new games.
According to an article in Forbes the price of the PS4 games will remain at $60 for most titles. This is a good thing. Many gamers already expect to pay $60 for most games, any increase may have turned off many players. I know I would have been one of them who would not pay for more games.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
“The game is set in a near future, thirty years after the events of Killzone 3. The world is a very different place; two rival factions known as the Helghast and the Vektans live side by side in a futuristic city, divided by a vast wall.
Tensions are high, and the cold war they are embroiled in is about to go hot. In the midst of this all stands a Shadow Marshal, you. The most special of the special forces, tasked with maintaining the delicate balance.
From responding to bold attacks, to quiet infiltrations or all out combat, you will be required to adapt and think on your feet as you have to face a variety of escalating events that could destroy your home world.”
Killzone: Shadow Fall continues the saga of the Killzone franchise. It looks like an interesting near-future sequel to Killzone 3.
Drive Club is a “real club racing” simulation. It combines the experience of a real driving club with the Playstation 4. It allows groups of individuals to compete in real time, or asynchronously against other driving clubs. Drive Club will also allow you to challenge other players in user-created simulations. It could be as simple as a 3 lap race, to an all-weekend drive. It’s really up to the club.
The Witness is a 25-hour puzzle game that is an exploration-puzzle game set on an uninhabited island from the creator of Braid.
Infamous Second Son
“Surrounded by a society that fears them, superhumans are ruthlessly hunted down and caged by the Department of Unified Protection. When Delsin Rowe discovers his powers he’s forced to run, searching for other superhumans in order to save those he loves from the oppressive D.U.P. now hot on his tail. The choices he makes along the way change the future of everyone around him.”
There is no video for this. But Blizzard did announce that Diablo III would be coming to the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. In addition to the already available game, a new feature, a four-player co-op mode for the game.
Destiny is the latest creation by Bungie, the creators of the Halo Franchise. This is the first Bungie game available on the Playstation in over a decade.
Watch Dogs is a game where the user plays as Aiden Pearce. The player can hack into various electronic devices tied to the city’s central operating system (ctOS), and control just about everything electronic. The game is based in Chicago.
What was left out
Sony did not disclose everything regarding the Playstation 4 at its media event. There are still some things that are not yet know.
Sony did not indicate what the price point for the new console would be. It has been speculated that the price will be anywhere from $400 to $600. I would presume that the price point closer to $400 is more likely than $600. Sony will have to announce this at some point.
Hard Release date
We do have a general release window of ‘Holiday 2013’. This could be anywhere from September 2013 to December 2013. If Sony hopes to really capture the Holiday market, I would presume it may be a November release. However, if Sony chooses an early December release date, the only saving grace would be ubiquitous availability. If there are enough consoles, the release date won’t matter as much.
While there are still many things left to be determined with the Playstation 4, Sony has introduced the world to a big part of their vision. I am sure we will be seeing many of the details flushed out throughout the year. With the next-generation console race in full swing, it will be interesting to see what else Sony has in store for the year. If you’re a gamer you are already most likely wanting more information about the Playstation 4. As Sony announces new information we will try and bring it to you.