Last night, Sony released the Playstation 4 in a loooong two-hour press conference. I watched the whole thing for two reasons: 1. I hate myself. 2. This was unquestionably a BFD for Sony. The PS3 lost—big time—to the Xbox 360 over its seven-year run, and they need this next-generation console to do well, or else all our pleasant memories of that beautiful PS1 ding-ding-ding sound will be just that, memories.
After two hours of keynotes and demos, though, I'm not sure if it'll be the game-changer they're striving for.
The pros? The games looked great—showing both action that assaults the senses and characters rendered so well they're reaching that Tracy Morgan-uncanny valley territory. The PS4's controller makes the Playstation 3's look like a dog chew toy. And the lineup of games will be surprisingly robust for a launch.
The cons? We don't know the cost. (Although we do know it'll run on more generic hardware than the PS3, so it shouldn't be too expensive to produce.) We don't know how many of the online functions will work. And we don't know what the hardware even looks like. That lack of a reveal was actually kind of stunning last night. You kept waiting for the big reveal, and then... nada. (Ever have an XVideo stops buffering at 20%? That was it.)
Anyway, here are five big takeaways from the event:
5. You can pause the system at any time.
This was, weirdly, the feature that got me the most excited. Everyone knows the incredible frustration when you're playing Grand Theft Auto, you're in the middle of a 45-minute mission with NO save options, and you're called away by some pressing real-life matter. You don't want to just leave the game on pause all night, and if you have a roommate who's also a gamer, you can't. So you're screwed.
The PS4 will allow you to suspend/resume the game by just pushing the power button. That's it. When you come back, the game will be in the same spot you left it. No more desperately looking for a save opportunity while your kitchen burns down.
4. The controller is very cool.
Featuring a touch screen, motion sensors, and a built-in sensor bar camera. That's a lot of technology for one small package. Sony was also smart enough to not screw up a good thing and kept its popular design.
3. You can stream old games online.
When you turn the system on, that dashboard above pops above. It'll feature a full library of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games to stream (no way to play hard-copy PS3 games on the PS4, unfortunately), and Sony promises that you'll be able to play them as soon as they start downloading.
Another related big perk: The PS4's system/game updates will run in the background of any game you're playing at the time. If you had a PS3, you're well aware of how fucking common and miserable those updates were, so this is a welcome time-saver.
Speaking of online capabilities, you'll be able to "spectate" on the PS4, or watch your friends play online. For anyone who loves to sit on the couch and watch their buddy climb trees and collect feathers Assassin's Creed, this must just be a dream. Relevant:
I hope I'll be able to turn off all of these social features on the #PS4. If I wanted to be social I wouldn't be playing videogames.— Andy Levy (@andylevy) February 20, 2013
2. The inside is more of a PC than a PS3.
I'm just throwing this in for anyone who cares: "PS4 uses the X86 CPU and has 8GB of memory and a local hard drive. It uses APU technology and GDDR5 memory, which is typically reserved for 'top of the line, high end graphics cards.'"
Main takeaways: The graphics card is PC-based, and, as one designer said last night, it has a "massive hard drive." More than a few people have expressed disappointment in those details today, but these people are cynical assholes.
1. Finally, let's look at those games.
(Best graphics I think I've ever seen, no bullshit.)
Killzone: Shadow Fall:
Infamous: Second Son:
Many more games will be announced in the next few months, of course; above is just a collection of the highlights from last night.
So what do you guys think? Buying the PS4 this November/December? Excited that this announcement means the PS3 will probably take a massive cost cut? Leave your thoughts... below.