Tonight, starting at 3pm Pacific Time, Sony officially announced the Playstation 4. Over the next two hours, they proceeded to promise a console that highlighted ease of development, social integration, and, of course, amazing software. Check below for some highlights from the event.
It took a while before Sony showed off any games for their new console, but that time was well spent. A brief moment was spent on the system specs, which are: A Supercharged PC Architecture, an X86 PCU, an Enhanced PC GPU, 8GB of Unified Memory, and a Hard Drive of unspecified size. More important than the specs, though, was the way in which Sony approached designing the console. They claim to have asked developers' input, which in turn has made a console that is supposedly very easy to develop for, something the Playstation 3 could not claim to be.
Along with all of this fancy technology comes an increased focus in social media. The new controller featured a touch screen in the center of the design which is meant to make many of these social functions much easier to take advantage of. Sony claims you'll be able to livestream games, upload gameplay videos, spectate other peoples' games (even if you are playing a different one), and you can even take control of a friend's game and help them out with a level. It's even possible, using technology developed by streaming service Gaikai, to play your PS4 games using your Vita, which should make the handheld more appealing to the many that have not yet adopted the technology. As of tonight, all of this sounds as easy as pressing a button, and, if executed properly, could be a major step forward for online gaming.
But what about the games themselves? Sony unveiled five exclusives, Knack, Killzone: Shadow Fall, DRIVECLUB, Infamous: Second Son, as well as a new game from Braid creator Jonathan Blow: The Witness. While all three games were certainly beautiful to look at, it looked like something that one would see in the top-end PS3 games these days, at least to the untrained eye. Killzone: Shadow Fall showed the most gameplay, and was possibly the most impressive of the exclusives, though it didn't seem like something that was going to turn any heads over the next few months. The rest showed very little gameplay, though most claimed to be actual real-time footage. There needs to be more of an indication of how these games play, and how this new technology enhances the act of playing the game, not just telling your friends you are playing it.
The event then took a turn to talk a little more about the technology powering the system. Naturally, David Cage from Quantic Dream took the stage to show off some of the more powerful aspects of the technology. He always impresses, though the actual games he creates needs to stack up with how they look before people really start paying attention. We also got a new look at what is possible with the Move Controller from Media Molecule themselves, and it looks promising. The video they showed was awesome, and it proves that there is truly untapped potential left in the peripheral that many still consider to be a gimmick.
Sony then started talking about third party developers, claiming that almost all of them will be developing for the Playstation 4. Capcom came out to show off promising footage of a new IP, titled Deep Down for now. Square Enix showed the Agni's Philosophy tech demo once again, and promised a Final Fantasy announcement at this year's E3, and Ubisoft showed off Watch Dogs, which once again looks like the best game in the whole bunch.Once again, none of these games stood out as system sellers, nor do they look much better than what can be seen on current consoles. Some of what was shown wasn't even gameplay, just tech demo, which was disappointing.
Sony ended the event with a bit of a coup. They first announced that Blizzard would be developing for the PS4, starting with releasing Diablo 3 for both the PS4 and PS3. Following Blizzard, Activision came on to reveal that Destiny, the new game from Bungie, would also be releasing for both consoles. With the knowledge that the PS4 won't be backwards compatible, it's easy to suspect that many of the games seen today, and many more, will be released on both systems.
There was an exceptional amount of passion involved in Sony's Playstation 4 event. The developers loved talking about their games, and Sony seems to believe in what they are attempting to accomplish in the next generation. There are still many months to go until their projected Holiday 2013 release is upon us, which is plenty of time for Sony to unveil more information that will be more impressive. It's also enough time to see what Microsoft will announce, and to see how these games start to shape up as we get closer and closer to release. As it stands now, Sony hasn't even shown us the console, or a price point, so there's still much to learn about the Playstation 4, though it had a great first showing.