The PS4’s got a lot going for it: it’s cheaper than the immediate competition, has a growing line-up of exclusives and seems to be ticking all the right boxes with developers. But what are its top ten selling points? Its key features that set it apart? Its – crucially – selling points?
10. Remote Play
The PS4 having remote play might not be its most impressive bullet point, and certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but having spent time with the Wii U’s off-TV functionality it’s hard to go back to being forced to use the television. All gamers have different circumstances, but for me being able to play a full PS4 game on my Vita without lag is hugely appreciated.
News that the PS4 will support four Vitas at once is superb, too.
9. Proper Online
The PS3 suffered from comparisons with the 360 over its online functionality, something it has struggled to shed. Despite Xbox Live costing a set amount each month and the PS3 essentially being free to play, the 360 has always had the edge with regards to messaging, jumping into games with friends and – of course – cross game chat.
But the PS4 seems to have learned from earlier lessons, and the new console seems far more capable with regards to getting people online and into games with the minimum of fuss. The PS4 will certainly let you jump immediately into a friend’s game, but you can also view them playing it, and even offer advice if they’re stuck.
And yes, there’s cross game chat…
8. Third Party Support
Sony’s approach to third parties during the PS3 era was, at least according to Mark Cerny, appalling. Sony were applauding themselves for having better tech than the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft, and as a result most third party games looked better on the Xbox 360.
That changed as the generation wore on, but the fact remains that this generation Sony are far more open to third parties, involving them at a much earlier stage with key decisions that should translate into far closer parity and hopefully just a little PS4 bias here and there.
7. Broad Focus
Whilst Sony have appeared to concentrate on the core gamer for their PS4 exclusives with Killzone Shadow Fall and – potentially – The Order 1886, the likes of child-friendly Knack and the family hook that will be Playroom show that the platform holder is ensuring it’s not late out of the gates this time with ensuring everyone has something to play.
Even driving launch time DriveClub is specifically designed to get gamers of all abilities playing and contributing, regardless of any specific skills.
What does this mean? Well, more games for starters, and a wider market – if Sony don’t spread themselves too thinly – means a larger install base, which in turn is more appealing to publishers. Look at the Wii U – it’s struggling, and publishers are pulling out.
6. Indie Support
Sony’s push for indie games on the PlayStation Vita of late will be echoed onto the PS4 – this is evident from Sony’s pre-E3 briefing, where they rolled out no less than eight indie developers to demo their games live on stage. The PS4 has at least one advantage over the 360 here, too – indies can self publish, and hopefully that’ll mean plenty of smaller titles over the life of the system.
News recently that Sony were sending out PS4s to universities went down well too, an indication that the console could be used for younger developers to cut their teeth on. After all, students are some of the AAA developers of the future.
5. Connected User Interface
Simple, social, immediate, integrated and personalised were the five key points of Sony’s February reveal event, and they’ve been echoed across everything the PS4 does. We’ve seen snippets of the user interface since it was first shown, and although it’s clearly something Sony are keen on keeping largely under wraps just now we’ve seen messaging, the ability to connect with others based on similar interests and a consistent design approach, something the PS3’s XMB has lacked.
Just now everything looks and feels different: the friends list, the PSN Store, the main interface, each has its own style. On the PS4, there’s much stronger unity between apps, even if they’re all apparently rather ‘Metro’ looking.
4. Share Button
The Share button is crucial to the PS4. A long press takes a screengrab, but a quick tap [via] opens up a menu which can then export the latest few moments of gameplay to YouTube. The fact that it has its own button is one thing, but Sony have continuously made reference to the system, even going as far as to apparently demo it real-time when Guerrilla first talked about Killzone Shadow Fall, sending a good chunk of gameplay directly to the internet for everyone to download.
Then there’s the live streaming, which will pick up on the recent surge in so-called e-sports. The PS4 will be able to push out what you’re playing to others, who can – at some level, in some games – interact with what you’re doing. The example given was that the spectators could influence the crowd in a fighting game, but the uses are vast: how about the next Tony Hawk’s game having real judges.
3. Play Whilst Downloading
For someone on a relatively poor internet connection, it’s normally a case of leaving a fairly big game to download for a day then coming back to check up on it. The PSN’s never been the fastest for me, but I’m never in a rush. However, others are, and the ability to start playing a game whilst it’s still downloading is a superb idea, even if it’s limited to – as with Killzone Shadow Fall – offering the user the option of grabbing the single or multiplayer portions first.
With better servers and a wider range of options, this PlayGo idea could be brilliant. The download sizes can often be bloated with textures, songs and cut-scenes from much later in the game, so giving the player the ability to start a game then let the download carry on ahead could be an amazing addition.
2. PlayStation Plus
DriveClub’s PS Plus version is just the start of PlayStation Plus on the PS4, and we don’t need to remind you just how amazing it’s been for the PS3 in the last twelve months (but click here for a few shocking statistics). With Plus on PS4 you’ll get access to games included in the package, which will be three indie games to start with as the library grows, online multiplayer (Sony are paywalling online for the first time with the PS4) and – presumably – the usual great discounts.
Plus will carry across from your current PS3 or PS Vita subscription (and you’ll keep access to those machines too) and won’t go up in price, at least not yet. Plus has been a revelation for the industry, with gamers super happy at lots of ‘free’ games and developers and publishers keen to raise the profile of titles that might otherwise have gotten lost.
1. The DualShock 4
The DualShock 4 is a massive improvement over the already rather splendid PS3 controller. It’s sturdier, has far better grips, the analog sticks are indented and feel far smoother in motion and the subtle texturing on the underside really helps to keep the thing where it should be.
And then there’s the touchpad – it’s subtle but potentially extremely useful. I didn’t like how it was being used in Killzone but there’s time to refine the interface. It works superbly with PlayRoom and as a way of introducing the console to gamers familiar with touchscreen interfaces it’s a nice stop-gap and a most welcome new control device. It can be a gear stick, an Angry Birds catapult, a mouse pointer or a targeting aid.
Refinements everywhere mean that the PS4’s DualShock 4 is my personal favourite thing about the new console. But you don’t have to agree with me, let me know what you think!