Written by Derek Smith
November 29, 2013
Next-Gen is officially here! With both Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles launching, I was able to get my hands on a Playstation 4 on launch day, and I have been putting some serious hours into it. With that, I’ve been able to get a good feel of what the PS4 has to offer. There is so much in this console and I am thoroughly excited in the future of this generation in gaming.
Overall, I am very pleased with the overall design of Sony’s new console. It is very sleek in appearance and much smaller than its predecessor. It’s easy to tell that Sony has taken plenty of notes on the downfalls of the PS3’s launch with the countless overheating issues by taking care of that with better ventilation out of the back, while supplying with plenty of fans that are still very quiet while at work. With 500 of storage with the option of upgrading/switching out the HDD, they’ve made it mandatory to install your games upon first entering your disk. This is completely understandable because these games are very demanding in being maintained by the system and by installing the game, the PS4 is making sure it gives you the highest playing experience possible. Even though the game has to be installed, you can still play the game while it’s downloading into your hard drive. Even if you wanted to wait, my PS4 downloaded my game within minutes. No more waiting 30-45 minutes for your console to sluggishly install your game. It felt nice to put in the disk, run to the kitchen and by the time I got back, it was ready for me to pick up my shiny new controller and give it a whirl.
Speaking of the controller, the new Dualshock 4 controller has to be my favorite part of the new console. I instantly fell in love with how many improvements were made from the PS3’s Dualshock 3. On one hand, they’ve increased the size of the controller where it fits in your hands much more naturally. As a guy with big hands, I didn’t like the Dualshock 3 very much because the bottom of the controller barely made it halfway down my palm. It also wasn’t as wide as its new successor. With the Dualshock 4, the handle is much larger in width and length, making it easier to hold in your hand. There is also a type of textured grip on the handle, compared to where it used to be a simple plastic. This feels MUCH nicer to hold to where the Dualshock 3 was joked about to being made like a “toy”. The L2 and R2 buttons are also more concave, fitting to your fingers very naturally. The touchpad has also been a nice addition to the controller. This new feature is there for developers to use it however they please. For example, Ubisoft did a great job in using it in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. With the touchpad also doubling as a button, you simply pressed it to bring up the in-game map, and used the touch pad to navigate with ease. You could then click a location to lock onto it, or pinch/spread two fingers to zoom in or out. Navigating with the touchpad was much quicker than using the thumbsticks. This made it more enticing to use the touchpad completely, instead of just using it to bring up the map. You will also notice that the “start” and “select” buttons have been done away with, and have been replaced with “Options”[basically what the start button was used for], and a “Share” button, which allowed you to seamlessly stream or share your gameplay with your friends (more on that later).
As for the Playstation Camera, I did not purchase it with my console so I don’t have any particular thoughts on it.
Interface and Features
With the culture of gaming vastly changing over the past 8 years, the PS4 has been designed to be socially focused. By that, Sony wants to make it as easy as possible to communicate and share experiences with your friends. The new home menu interface is similar to the PS3’s, but at the same time, a lot cleaner and more compact, making it much easier to navigate more quickly. It’s divided into two rows that categorize everything on your console. The first row is compiled as a profile/settings row with your profile, friends, the Playstation Store, Trophy collection, and settings. The second row is home to your games and other applications such as Netflix or Hulu Plus. All games that you have installed will automatically be shown on this row so that you can review your recent progress or check on any DLC that has either been announced or is currently available in the PS Store.
The friends list has been updated with some nice touches this time around. When you become friends with someone, you will see them by their PSN tag and their avatar picture that they have on display. What has been added is another, more personal step you have the option of taking called a “name request”. This feature, if accepted, shows yours and your friend’s personal name, along with your Facebook profile pictures, if you both have chosen connect your PSN account to Facebook. This is a nice touch because I can be more personal with those I know and trust, while keeping others at arms-length. It’s also nice to know that my personal identity is kept safe from the YoloSwagGangster_99’s of the world unless I accept not just a friend request, but a name request as well. A bummer I found is that notificaitons of friends going online or offline have been taken off. Even though I preferred that feature, I understand that with the new limit of 2000 friends, that would get obnoxious if you happened to have that many on your friends list. Even still, I wish Sony would at least give us that option of having those notifications.
Another feature which I have truly enjoyed so far is the sharing capabilities of the PS4 via the share button on the left side of the touch pad. I found myself playing Battlefield 4 and a friend of mine called me and during our conversation he was curious on how it was, so I simply pressed my share button and within seconds, I was streaming my gameplay via Twitch and my friend opened his Twitch app on his smart phone and continued to watch my stream. The only issue I found with this feature is that the video steam would sometimes lag behind my audio feed by, at most, 20 seconds. I don’t know how much of this has to do with the console, rather than Twitch’s servers for the PS4. I would also experience these problems by watching my friend’s stream from their PS4’s. I imagine this issue will be resolved soon, as all console launches come with their own share of bugs. Twitch will do nothing but grow from here on, with as much potential that it currently has.
I also was impressed by the PS4’s ability to suspend my gameplay if I wanted to take a break and watch something on Netflix or Hulu. I simply pressed the PS button, selected Netflix, and my console asked me if I wanted to suspend my current game of AC4, after selecting yes, I watched a TV show for a bit, then after I finished, I went back to the dashboard and selected AC4 and was instantly placed back where I left off. This left me very giddy as the transition was buttery smooth and convenient.
Overall, I have been more than pleased with Sony’s new console and I would recommend it to anybody. With the small percentage of defective consoles currently being reported, I would say that the Playstation 4 has been a very successful launch, by selling over 1 million consoles in just North America alone. As a former Xbox guy, the PS4 has easily swayed me over onto Sony’s side for this current generation. If you’re looking for a console this coming Christmas season, the PS4 is an easy choice for anyone looking to enter the next generation in gaming. With the new social features and application intertwined into a great console, the future of the PS4 looks very bright.
I give the PS4 a 9.5 out of 10