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Opinion

PlayStation 4: Our First Impressions

Will there be a second date?

Even in long and committed relationships, first impressions can colour your view for a considerable amount of time. Combine that start to a relationship with a significant financial outlay and you have got a potentially explosive mix.

[We’re talking about technology, of course. What did you think we meant? – Tef]

We have already given you our thoughts on the PS4 games we played on launch day so it is time to present those all-important first impressions of the PS4 as a system. Have our relationships got off to a rocky start or was it love at first sight? Read on to find out.


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For myself, the PS4’s compact heftiness brought a reassuringly solid feel to the physical console, a sense that there is no wasted space inside, designed very carefully to fit within its exterior, much like a TARDIS. I’m amazed that the PS4 Mk. I is already down to the size of the PS3 Slim and yet somehow retains a built-in universal power supply. There’s a niggling worry about heat displacement in the back of my head, but I’ll trust the engineers for now.

Gone are the glossy curves and ostentatious chrome bling that adorned my launch day PS3, replaced with an understated design that effortlessly fades into the background when appropriate. I was concerned that the light bar on the top/side of the PS4 would prove distracting and so have been pleasantly surprised to find that’s not the case at all.

However, I am not convinced by the central placement of the two front USB ports and would have preferred them to be on the right/bottom, but now that the DualShock 4 charges via a micro-USB port rather than mini-USB, and can be charged from a small USB power brick just like my phone and tablets, those USB ports won’t see much use aside from SingStar mics, Rockband dongles and my Rocksmith lead.

The DualShock 4 itself is a very welcome replacement for the controller design we’ve been stuck with for almost twenty years. It has quickly become clear that my thumbs will take some re-training from heading for the old Select and Start button positions.

I do not have any strong feelings about the UI just yet though I am really hoping that it will scale much better than the old PS3 XMB did. That’s something that only time will tell. I wish it was easier to switch between the various top row apps though, and maybe tapping L1/R1 to switch between them would be better than having to back out to the central screen each time.

The speed with which you can switch between a game and the UI is a huge improvement and on the whole, based on my first impressions, I think that this will be the start of a long and happy relationship. But then I thought that when I met my ex-wife, so my judgement may not be all that good…

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Stefan’s relationship with the PS4 definitely did get off to a rocky, or indeed rattly start:

Well, as some of you all are aware, I ended up with a PS4 that had something awry on the inside that prevented the disc drive from working properly. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be able to get a next day replacement from Sony, and have now been able to embark on disc-based games, but gave me the opportunity to have a good explore around the hardware and software rather than playing silly video games, and it’s fantastic.

There’s definitely a good few kinks to work out on the software side, but the hardware design and feel is impeccable. The DualShock 4 just sits in your hands very nicely, though I’ll have to figure out if I can still use my preferred 2-finger claw grip, and it’s all very tight and responsive. It’s a pity that the battery inside doesn’t seem to last anywhere near as long as the one even in my ageing DualShock 3…

The software is very responsive too, with almost no hiccups when hopping around it. I think it just wants some things to be reorganised, making it easier and clearer when jumping between friends, conversations and parties, or bringing your captured video and screenshots to the forefront with a more prominent location in the menus. It took me a while, but I also stumbled upon the ability to hide your empty trophy lists, tucked away in the Settings app.

A great start, and it’s only going to get better!

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For Aran it was clearly a case of love at first sight once his PlayStation 4 was divested of its cardboard clothing:

For me, everything about the PS4 is almost perfect. First that hardware design is a thing of beauty, with the console’s light bar not distracting like I thought it would. It was ridiculously easy to set up and now holds a prime location in my console set up.

The DS4 was something I had some concern about when I first used one at EGX. It felt alien and I’ll be honest, I had a bit of trouble navigating it at first but now the controller feels natural, though the touch pad feels incredibly sensitive. They’ll need to sort that out.

The console itself is so easy to use. Within minutes I had already become used to quickly jumping between different apps and games. The streaming service was a breeze to set up, so look out for me streaming a variety of game content through Twitch, and install speeds for downloads is incredibly quick too.

And then there’s game visuals. The trailers can’t do justice to seeing them in action right in front of you. Resogun is such a visual feast, so bright and sharp, while Shadow Fall sometimes renders cityscapes that look almost real. If this is a launch game, can you imagine what we’ll get in the years to come?

The PS4 has once again sparked an intense passion for gaming and I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Dom works long, unsociable hours so trysts have been taking place in the early hours of the morning. He kept it short and sweet, and had this to say about a PS4 feature that I’ve yet to experiment with:

So far I’m loving the interface, and whilst the voice control is limited at the moment I can see it becoming an excellent addition to the system, particularly when you’ve filled the hard drive with games!

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I’m sure many of you know those first dates that can be summed up by the words “frustrated excitement”. All that anticipation, all that desire and ultimately unfulfilled. That’s what Tuffcub’s PS4 launch day was like:

7AM – Woke up, bright and early ready for delivery by Amazon. My Studio PC is sat in a large bow window facing the road so I could see and hear everything, and not miss the delivery.
7.05AM – Van pulls up! Woo! Turns out to be the neighbours moving out.
7.30AM – Another van. Turns out to be road workers, replacing pavement.
9.00AM – Another van, man pulls PS4 out of the back. I run outside… and it’s not mine. It’s the house the other side of the road. Bah!
11.00AM – Road workers bash the fibre optic cable, cutting my internet access.
11.01AM – Swear loudly at workers, start to panic.
2.00PM – Access restored! Hurry up PS4!
4.00PM – PS4 arrives! Plug in, start Killzone and..
4.05PM – The entire street – and just my street – has a power cut.
5.00PM – Give up, go in to central London and drink.

So my first impressions are this: The PS4 comes in gorgeous box. Really, it is, a masterpiece of cardboard design. It’s also very heavy and quite hard to locate the power button the first time you look for it.

For our final impressions, we turn to Peter, who found those existing relationships keeping him from spending time fostering a new one:

I waited until about half three for my console to arrive and then I had to temper my desire to run around the house shouting “ohmygoditcameitcame!” because my mother-in-law was here. Then I had to record a video showing how to change the hard disk for a bigger one, and when I finally got to plug it in and the PSN was down so there wasn’t a lot I could do. I just needed to link my PSN account (colossalblue, by the way, if you’re adding) to the temporary account it creates during set up, but couldn’t.

The following day was my wife’s birthday and we spent Sunday at my parent’s house and putting up Christmas decorations. So for my first three days, I snatched blocks of 10 or 15 minutes to play a little bit and then stop. Today, I’ve been playing FIFA all day, streaming, sharing, playing online with people and marvelling at it.

It’s a really lovely user interface – at least while it’s relatively empty – and the hardware itself is making the games look and sound fantastic. Resogun is stunning, FIFA 14 is so smooth, Killzone is beautiful, if a bit tedious as it gets going. I love it.

Now leave me alone so I can get back to my PS4!


What were your own first impressions of your PlayStation 4? Do you have any funny or sad PS4 launch day stories to share?

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30 Comments
  1. BrendanCalls
    Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc - YOHIMBÉ!!!
    Since: Forever

    My best impression so far has come from Resogun. Really addictive, BF4 is good. The one thing I am really really missing is having a 2nd controller and a bit of local Co-Op.
    Generations can come and go, online is here to stay but nothing will ever beat sitting next to a friend in either competitive or co-operative multiplayer. Roll on Xmas, when I can spend my money on a controller and a few new games :-)

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:10.
  2. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Mine was largely like TCs except when mine arrived at 4pm, instead of a power failure it was a PS4 failure!
    No HDMI output! I tried everything, looked at videos and pictures about the bent metal issue that a lot have had but it’s not that. Had to call Sony who are sending a replacement machine out via courier tomorrow.

    Pretty gutted but at least it is only a few days. Looks nice at least!

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:13.
  3. cam the man
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Couldn’t be more pleased with the PS4, no long wait times hurrah!
    Like most folk enjoying Resogun, and also Killzone now I’m not dying every few minutes.

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:31.
  4. threelions_66
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    In terms of games, I have FIFA and Killzone. FIFA is as good as I expected but I’ve been a touch disappointed with KZ so far, given more time I hope I enjoy it more.

    The PS4 itself is excellent, the UI feels very intuitive and I’m impressed with how quiet it Is. My only issue so far is the L1 button sticks slightly on one of my DS4s, so changing player in FIFA is annoying

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:32.
  5. InNodWeTrust
    Member
    Since: Oct 2013

    Got mine from GAME in the trafford centre at midnight. Was sixth in the queue, they let the first 10 in at twenty to midnight. Got my PS4 Mega Bundle in bag and waited by the door for the midnight release. Got home at 00:08 and PS4 was setup by 00:15. Since then have been amazed by the graphics. Assassins Creed IV i must admit has the best graphics of all the games ive seen (I own a £1500 PC and i must admit i think my PC would have issues with the stormy sections in the game).

    Killzone is an amazing games though. Not used the Share feature though but its nice to know its there. Camera is the biggest hardware suprise as the voice commands and facial login works really well once setup. Now looking forward to Destiny,Driveclub and obv Watchdogs. If anyone wants to add me its OcelHrobka1991.

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:35.
  6. Ouninpohja
    Member
    Since: Oct 2010

    Still a PS4 virgin. as it hasn’t even been taken out of the Amazon packaging yet (I assume it’s a PS4 inside…)
    I was contemplating on cancelling my preorder until I’d done with GTA 5 but got tempted by the Shadow Fall gamer bundle at the last moment.
    Probably find it’s a dud when I finally plug it in :D

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:36.
  7. Zimsalabim
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    I’m with Tuffcub – BT decided to start ‘essential maintenance’ on our local exchange 5 mins AFTER installing 1.51, which sucked for the rest of the day, but at least it didn’t bork the console during the install. Now, I swear It’s all a MS conspiracy, but on friday morning, I just swore…

    Agree with comments here, but would say that AC4 looks pretty busy, whereas Killzone looks, well, pretty. Tough to get into the single player, but maybe I’m just uncommitted. Resogun ticks launch title boxes, but Contrast? Hmm. Jury’s out on that one, but at least it’s not Knack and it’s free, so I will give it a chance to impress.

    One thing on the UI – can’t list trophies in alphabetical order, so am I just thick or are touches like these too much of an ask, when more pressing issues (e.g. getting the launch patch out) took priority?

    Other than a noisy fan when running Killzone and it all looks good for the long haul – keep up the good work, SixthAxis.

    Zim

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:36.
  8. drdamn
    Member
    Since: Dec 2013

    UI/OS wise I think Sony seem to have done a lot of things right under the hood. Stuff we don’t see but expect to just work. Things like Play-go relating to downloads and game installs from disc, OS app switching, integration of components. It all works really nicely and quickly. So whilst a bit bare bones in terms of features the foundation is very strong and I’m looking forward to updates.

    Game wise I’m enjoying KZ:SF a lot (SP and MP) and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Resogun too (not normally my sort of game).

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:48.
  9. arrybags
    Member
    Since: Sep 2010

    Really enjoying Black Flag and Fifa. Haven’t played on NFS for a proper opinion. Killzone looks amazing but I am useless at FPS games so didn’t particularly enjoy the 90 minutes I spent on it.

    Am really addicted to Resogun though, combined with the free music unlimited trial, playing the new Arctic Monkeys album while shooting alien craft is so much fun!

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 16:52.
  10. AeroUSA
    Member
    Since: Feb 2012

    How loud do your fans run on Killzone? Mine gets loud enough to be annoying…

    Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 17:36.
    • Zimsalabim
      Member
      Since: Aug 2010

      While it’s NOT as bad as my fat PS3 before it croaked, nor 1st-Gen 360s, it is noticeable. I put my hand ’round the back’ and felt a noticeable throughput of warm air. If so inclined, you might call it a ‘persistent waft’.

      Yet on AC4, not half so bad…

      And then I got to thinking – this is a launch title, right? So it was developed on pre-release hardware and went golden some time ago. Therefore, I wonder if the game code includes some discreet hardware instructions to spin the fan during intensive cut-scene work, to mitigate heat build-up… Just a thought and probably off the mark.

      On another tack – how are you all getting on with seeing the controller’s bloody light-panel reflect all-shiny like, in your flat TVs?? I’m already searching out a roll of masking tape…

      zim

      Comment posted on 02/12/2013 at 18:20.

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