PS4 Unveiling

On January 31st, 2013, Sony teased that a major announcement would be revealed on February 20th, 2013 with the tagline “See the Future”. The majority of the net immediately jumped on the idea that this would be the first look at Sony’s Next Generation Console. This was followed by an explosion of rumors regarding features of the upcoming console. Everything from a touchpad controller to an interactive full-wall projection screen were claimed by “anonymous sources”. Now, confirming initial suspicions, Sony has held a Press Conference in New York City unveiling the PS4 to the world.



To the surprise of many, Sony neglected to show the physical console at any point during the conference. This has inspired a number of complaints to the tune of “Why have a PS4 reveal and not show the PS4?”. That said, I have to agree with Sony’s direction– it’s more important to show off what the console can do and what developer’s will be bringing to it. They did take the time to talk about the hardware and software of the upcoming system.

Sony was very sparing when addressing the system’s specifications. They did specifically note that the PS4 would have 8 gigs of system memory (RAM), a dedicated hard disk drive, and a CPU using the X86 architecture. On the otherhand, they glossed over specifics on the motherboard and GPU simply stating the former as “supercharged” and the latter as “enhanced”.

The one area of hardware that Sony was forthcoming with was the new controller: The Dualshock 4. The controller greatly resembles the former Dualshock 3, being almost entirely black in color with the same circular surfaces for the D-Pad and face buttons as well as the parallel analog sticks situated on the lower portion of the controller. Sony claims to have made some base improvements in the “feel” of the analog sticks and trigger buttons as well as decreasing the controller’s wireless input latency. In addition, not only will Sony be keeping the rumble feature, but enhancing it.


Likely the most noticeable difference in this controller’s design is the addition of the black touchpad taking up real estate in the center of the controller. This appears to be a little more than a cheap attempt by Sony to cash in on the recent popularity of touch devices. Personally, I don’t think this attempt will pay off as the current trend is not simply touch devices, but touch displays. Sony’s touchpad lacks any visual display and seems to be little more than a trackpad, a device lamented by many.

While we’re talking about Sony cashing in on current trends, the controller also possesses a “light bar” which communicates with a supposedly to-be-included “stereo camera,” effectively appearing to copy both the Wii/Wii U’s sensor bar and the Xbox 360’s Kinect in one fell-swoop. Other changes include the addition of a peripheral(?) headset jack (in a similar location of the 360’s), a small speaker between the home button and touchpad, and the reallocation of the start button as an “options” button and the select button as a “share” button. Lastly, the controller’s entire shape has been smoothed out and appears to be somewhat more ergonomically sound.


The PS4’s “main screen” (the OS’ GUI) appears quite different from the existing PS3’s home screen. It vaguely resembles a more streamlined/less busy version of the current 360 desktop. It’s hard to say whether this is an improvement without actually messing with it. PS4 will supposedly have a great deal of focus on social gaming, as you might have guessed from the aforementioned share button. Firstly, the system will be pushing a “friend’s network” which appears very similar to, and may in fact be driven by, Facebook. This seems like something of an annoyance due to the proliferation and preference for handles and anonymity amongst the gaming community.

However, the largest focus appears to be on streaming. Users will be able to stream their games live, apparently to Ustream, using the share feature as well as view, comment on, and perhaps even interact with other users’ streams. Perhaps the most interesting prospect of this, which was specifically mentioned, is the ability for your friends to literally take control of a game session and assist you. It was also mentioned that the technology will exist for developers to program certain interactive portions into a game. The example given was the ability for a friend/viewer to spawn a power-up. I think this sounds like a great idea and, if nothing else, could certainly make it simple for myself and others to compose video reviews of PS4 titles.

Another proposed advantage of the Gakai-backed streaming PS4 network is the ability for “virtually” all Playstation Store titles to be try-able for free. These trials would be streaming downloads of the actual game and not a demo/light version. The idea being to institute a try then buy market. A related feature, which I hope can be disabled, is that the PS4 will attempt to “get to know you”. It will supposedly track your gaming likes and dislikes (and perhaps other likes and dislikes?) and use this information to build a profile on you. It will then use this profile to predict games you would want to try and pre-load them on your system. And thus, Skynet is born.


The first game shown was Knack developed by the system architect, Mark Cerny. Judging by the trailer, the game will be a somewhat odd combination of cartoonish graphics and epic story. The game centers on the title character, Knack, who appears to be an amorphous life-form made of composite geometric shapes. He displays the ability to combine with more geometric shapes to create a larger body, which appears to be the main focus of the games’ combat and puzzles. Oh, and the world appears to be entrenched in a war between humans and goblins.

Next up was Killzone: Shadow Fall by Guerilla Games. Game revolves around the conflict between the Helghast and the Vektan, who are sharing occupancy of a city divided by a massive wall. We don’t get much else story-wise, however, we are shown an extensive gameplay demo that displays beautiful graphics and gruesome combat.

Following the next entry in the Killzone series, we have a game that I am personally very excited for– DRIVECLUB by Evolution Studios. As you might guess, DRIVECLUB is a next-gen racing game which will be heavily focused on team-based competition and social interaction. In addition to direct competition, you are able to set a time on any track, at any time of day, in any weather, and challenge others to beat it. The game features a true first person perspective including rendering the steering wheel, dashboard, etc. Along with this, the cars have been recreated in immaculate detail down to the material perimeters, and direction of each microscopic spec of paint.

The fourth game to be shown off was inFAMOUS: Second Son by Sucker Punch Productions. This game got little more than an announcement and a trailer. On the plus side, the trailer was supposedly entirely rendered with the ingame engine and still looks absolutely fantastic. The main character’s powers appear to be fire-focused as well as granting him teleportation. In addition, at least one point shows him using these powers in conjunction with a long chain– Ghost Rider style, which certainly appeals to my taste in super heroes.

In a change of pace, we were shown the open-world puzzle game The Witness by Jonathan Blow. Based on the short trailer, the game looks to me like a bright and colorful hybrid of Myst and Professor Layton. Will also supposedly focus on a smaller, more densely packed, open world choosing to highlight detail over scale.

During the brief interlude of game announcements/trailers, a pair of tech demos were shown. The first was a primarily graphics-driven demo by David Cage featuring a highly detailed render of a head. The second was a… somewhat odd tech demo by Media Molecule. They used the Playstation Move Controllers to mold items in real time in 3D and then put on a puppet show concert.

After the oddball tech demo, we get a pair of trailers from Capcom and Square Enix. The former is of a new game under the working title of deep down. The latter was of a untitled work in progress game (The next Final Fantasy?). Both looked very nice and appear to be pre-rendered cutscenes, not gameplay. Unfortunately, almost nothing was said about the games.

Ubisoft then took the stage to show off a new live demo of the upcoming title WATCH_DOGS. The game still looks very impressive and I think it’ll come down to unique features as to which console I will be getting it on. After that great look of WATCH_DOGS, Blizzard takes the stage to much hype. They then proceed to announce their return to consoles. And what form will this triumphant return take? Not the reveal of the much speculated project Titan, not a console extension/expand of the hugely popular MMO, World of Warcraft, but a console port of Diablo III. A game that anyone who wants already has and anyone who hasn’t isn’t likely going to buy it for a console.

And the last revelation of the evening is the coming of Bungie’s Destiny to the Playstation 4 with exclusive content. This game looks and sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to learn more about it.


Personally, I think Sony did a great job with this conference. Especially given their recent history of relatively bland E3 conferences, this felt more exciting and more geared to gamers over investors. While there was certainly some oddities and bumps, most of the game announcements were very positive. The focus on social gaming may not be something that everyone is into, but it certainly seems the direction that the industry is taking. I especially praise the focus on games over hardware as an extensive library was perhaps the greatest selling point of the Playstation 2. It is also important to note that after the conference that Sony stated online that their console WILL NOT require an always on internet connection to function. This would seem to imply that all of the online features such as streaming, sharing, and predictive downloads are optional. After seeing this, I am indeed looking forward to trying out the Playstation 4 myself and I’m certainly looking forward to some of the games announced.

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