There was something interesting about today. It was supposed to be a day of excitement and surprises, but somehow, it wasn’t. Today, Sony had a press conference that was rumored to reveal the PlayStation 4, and sure enough it did, but it was lacking something very important: The PlayStation 4. What we instead got was a two-hour tease in which lots of information was revealed, and yet lots of information wasn’t.
The event started off with a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo about the raw power of the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation 4 will have 8GB of memory, a new CPU, new GPU, and a whole other slew of technical upgrades that, when referred to by their names, probably make no sense and mean absolutely nothing to the majority of us. All we really need to know is that it will, in fact, be far superior to the PlayStation 3 in every way, shape, and form.
Now it’s not to say that there wasn’t anything positive to come out of the press conference today, there was actually a lot of that; however there just wasn’t anything mind-blowing. Still, there are plenty of new features to be happy about that were announced.
The one thing we did actually get to see was the new controller, the “DualShock 4”. It’s a more refined version of the DualShock 3 with a larger D-Pad, enhanced rumble capabilities, and reduction of input lag. It’s ergonomically designed to fit more comfortably in your hand, and it has the addition of a touch pad for more precise input. It will also have a new peripheral that looks a lot like Microsoft’s Kinect, but functions more like the PlayStation Move. In case you were wondering, the PlayStation Move will also be making a return to the PlayStation 4, although there’s not much information on how yet.
The controller will also have a new “share” button, which is crucial to a new feature: the implementation of an always-active “theater mode” video recording function. If you’ve played “Call of Duty” or “Halo”, you’re probably familiar with the popular “theater modes” which allow you to take clips of gameplay and share them with everyone. The PlayStation 4 will have this capability integrated directly into the console itself, allowing you to instantly create video clips or take screenshots at the press of a button.
The hardware itself isn’t the only thing getting an upgrade; it turns out the PlayStation Network is looking forward to a major overhaul too. Sony is making full use of its recent acquisition, cloud gaming service Gaikai, to create a PlayStation Network that is all about instant access and personalization. They’re looking to create a new social network that is specific to gaming. You’ll still have your usernames and gamer pictures, but if you want to keep closer contact with real-world friends, you have the option to make more accurate profiles, with a real picture of you and your real name, available to certain people. It’s likely this will be through integration with current existing social networks.
With this always-connected world, you’ll have the option to live-stream your gameplay in conjunction with the new theater mode, and have it available online courtesy of a partnership with UStream. You’ll also have the option to let friends leave live comments that will pop up on screen as you play. If you find yourself stuck, you can actually forfeit control and have a friend remotely connect and play for you to help you through a tough jam.
As far as the ‘instant’ part goes, it starts from the console and works its way up. There will be a new power-saving sleep mode which will allow you to instantly hop back into gameplay at any time. Just press the power button, and the console goes to sleep, remembering exactly where you’re at in your game. When you come back, hit power again and you’re right back in the action where you left off. No more waiting for the console or game to boot up. Gone, also, are the days of waiting for game demos to download. If you’re shopping the store and you find a game you want to try out, simply press a button, and you’re instantly streaming the demo straight to your console. If you decide you like the game, you can purchase it, and start playing it immediately while the rest of the game downloads in the background à la Steam.
Speaking of games, about half the conference was dedicated to the announcement of upcoming titles. Much like the system, it was severely lacking in the “surprise” department. A few sequels that were announced include “Killzone Shadowfall” and “inFamous Second Son”, two PlayStation exclusives that weren’t really expected to disappear any time soon. Activision also briefly took the stage to announce that Bungie will be bringing its upcoming new IP, “Destiny”, to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4; however that was something Bungie had already touched upon a few days ago during their own official announcement. They did say that PlayStation exclusive playable content was planned, though.
The first original announcement was that of “Driveclub”, the product of Evolution Studios, which is 10 years in the making. It focuses on team-based racing through in-game auto clubs. You can join up with your friends and take on other auto clubs in challenges and races, all happening in real-time. The highlight of the game, however, is the car models. All of them are painstakingly recreated in excruciating detail inside and out. Think Forza’s AutoVista times infinity, and applied to every vehicle in the game.
Next was “The Witness”, a new title from the creators of “Braid”. It’s an open-world puzzle game that takes place in an extremely compact universe, in which you are always 20 seconds from a different area with a completely unique theme. The intension was to cut out any useless and repetitive gameplay while still creating a large amount of game time that is made up entirely of unique experiences. It will be exclusive to PlayStation Network.
Capcom unveiled their brand new engine they’re designing around the PlayStation 4’s capabilities, which is code named “Panta Rhei”. Alongside the development of that, they’re creating an original IP under the working title “Deep Down” which takes place in medieval times and focuses on dragons, knighthood, and the like.
Square Enix also took the stage to debut their “cinematic demo”. That’s right, not a game… just a pretty video of what they want their games to look like. Then, as a brief afterthought, they mentioned they’ll be announcing another Final Fantasy game at E3, right before walking off stage. Perhaps they’re as tired of the series as we are.
Ubisoft looked to steal the show with an update on their original IP, “Watchdogs”. After shocking and pleasantly surprising viewers of E3 last year with their completely out-of-the-blue announcement, Ubisoft looked to build upon the excitement with another gameplay demo. This is clearly a more refined version of the build we saw at back at E3, and the game just keeps looking better and better. Despite being short, it gave a closer look at the level of control you’ll have over the so-called futuristic “Smart City” in the game. It also gave a little more insight into the character you’ll be playing as who appears to be somewhat of a vigilante.
Now if anything from the press conference could be considered “surprising”, it would be the appearance of Blizzard Entertainment onstage. They announced a strategic partnership which will start with them bringing over “Diablo III” to both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. They will make their formal debut at PAX East in a couple of months.
All of this will be coming “Holiday 2013”. We still don’t know what it looks like, but it’s coming. All-in-all, Sony really dropped the ball on useful information this time around. There’s no formal announcement of price point, nor did they discuss any of people’s biggest concerns such as whether or not they’ll be able to play second-hand games (don’t worry, this was since confirmed as not-true by a Sony Exec) or if they’re going to be required to have an ever-present online connection. Hopefully they’ll have a little more information come E3, but if one thing is for sure, they already missed their chance on the element of surprise.
Anthony Ortale writes news and reviews on behalf of Examiner.com. He does so much gaming in his spare time, it’s practically a full time job! If you like what you read here, please subscribe to his articles! You can also follow Tony on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook! If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to email Tony any time at email@example.com, he’d love to hear from you!