PS4 exposed: red-hot next-gen action


Sony did not show the PS4 console, demoed the new touch controller, an “always on” interface, a quick look at the new UI, a bunch of games, confirmed Diablo 3 for PS4 (wow) and slated a “Holiday 2013” release date.

“The most personalized gaming experience available today… the most powerful platform ever,” said Andrew House, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. These were his final words before he revealed the Playstation 4 (but not the console).

The future of gaming

First up, the leaks were correct as usual. The new Dualshock controller has a touchpad and is now smaller than the PS3 controller, has a share button, a “light bar for player identification” (which can be tracked via a 3D camera) and a headphone port. 3D tracking is supposedly better for pinpointing gamepad movement, but we’ll have to wait for a review unit to test this for ourselves. The share button is the biggest feature of the PS4 controller, says Sony.

The PS4 has a new suspend/resume option and will jump straight into the game when the player pushes start. Games even download while the power is off.

There are persistent social features, with videos uploaded while gamers play. “Our goal is to make sharing of video as popular in PS4 as screenshots are today.” says Sony and with high-speed broadband anything is possible, in theory. Gamers can watch and jump into friends games, much like OnLive.

The PS4 also learns what you like. “Long-term vision is to reduce download times to zero… if we know enough about you we know what game you’ll purchase next and download it in the background.” Imagine that, Sony will take out gamers’ thought process completely. Sounds like a win. Plus, games can be played while they’re being downloaded. Neat.

This is a machine that is aware. When gamers buy a new game, their friends will instantly know about it. Thanks to the introduction of Gaikai streaming tech and the PS Store, everything should be instant. Game demos, videos, video chats, you name it, the PS4 will insta-load it. Sony’s goal? To become the “social platform of gaming”. The PS4 has the power to let friends take over a game at any point, if the gamer desires. Sony calls this “Director” and has joined forces with Ustream to make this all possible.

The PS Vita, Sony’s underperforming handheld becomes another controller for the PS4. It’s a streamlined two screen option, very Wii U. Ambition is high: “Our long-term goal is to make every PS4 title playable on the Vita.” Good luck, Sony.

PS3 games won’t be natively supported on PS4, but PS3 games should work on every device. Waiting on Sony to clarify the meaning of this. Essentially though, no backwards compatibility.

It’s a gaming console first

Sony demoed its Halo-beater (which it doesn’t), Killzone: Shadowfall. It’s not really about graphics, it’s about gameplay which is something Killzone never understood. But it looks sharp as hell. After the demo, the entire experience was shared with a few button presses.

Another title was Driveclub, a name which was trademarked ten years ago, says Sony. “Very simple concept about driving the best cars in the best locations, but doing it together.”

Collaborative racing with friends, but how is this different from before? We see now, challenges can be initiated anywhere and anytime, as long as the smartphone app is handy. No gaming though, just challenge setting, which is what Driveclub is about. The cars are designed with “obsessive love” and the design team went “borderline insane” designing the them.

Here’s something to excite: Infamous — Second Son. For once, it looks like a comic book came to life. Not much information though, but it’ll be a PS4 exclusive and most likely, fantastic.

And then Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, took the stage to introduce a nameless, but beautiful game. Hopefully there’ll be a demo reel later so we can upload the hotness we’re watching unfold.

Next up was Heavy Rain creator David Cage, who demoed the most amazing-looking and real-time rendered head. “We are now limited only by our imagination.” Groovy.

Seems like the PS4 will still support the Move controller, Sony’s ugly looking Kinect-competitior. Alex Evans from Media Molecule demonstrated a 3D modeling game/application/we’re not sure. It looked fun though, and creative.

“The point is that it’s fast to create, someones dream brought to life.” says Evans. Move controller, such an awkward beast, lets hope the PS4 uses it in some meaningful way.

Yoshinori Ono from Capcom is next up. “It feels good to finally be able to talk about this stuff.” says Ono and that stuff, is apparently a new rendering engine called Panta Rehi. Alright then. Ono then shows off a game called “Deep Down” which is a working title. Just take our money now, Sony.

Square Enix also showed off its new engine, with no real game to demo the power of the PS4. It assures us though that the PS4 is “a game developer’s dream”. One thing we can be certain of is a Final Fantasy game for PS4.

Ubisoft, creator of Far Cry 3 and Rayman demoed Watchdogs again, a different video thankfully. It looks so crisp, so next-gen, it’s startling. “Everything is connected… today I want you all to discover that everyone is connected. To invade everyone’s privacy without them knowing. Once you can invade anyone’s lives, anything can happen right in front of you.” says Ubisoft.

Invading lives, courtesy of the next-gen. This is very close to what we saw at E3 last year and now next-gen magic brings it to us in real-time.

Blizzard, the creator of World of Warcraft and Diablo III are next on stage. Apparently it has a “deep desire” to get back into the world of consoles. Well of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be on stage now.

Hot news.

Diablo III is confirmed for PS4 and PS3. “We have painstakingly optimized our control schemes.”

Activision meanwhile says the PS4 will support “many of our best titles with more in the coming months.” Bungie takes the stage. The creator of Halo and the upcoming Destiny has just confirmed that its new title making its way to PS4. Destiny, not Halo that is. Not much else outside of a short video. Bungie says Destiny is “the perfect fit for PS4.” It’s coming to PS3 as well, but this is all part of Bungie’s ten-year plan we discussed.

It’s done. No actual PS4 console was shown. The future was demoed though, and that’s what really matters, right? We expect that E3 will be the showcase for the console itself, today was more of a “here’s what to expect when you’re expecting” type of vibe. the PS4 is launching this year, “Holiday 2013”.

Images: All PS4 games and hardware via The Verge.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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