So… as expected the PlayStation 4 was officially revealed at Sony Computer Entertainment's much hyped PlayStation Meeting 2013. Craig, Aaron and Dustin provided coverage direct from the livestream and press announcements and I'm following up with a report from the event itself. Even though not every question was answered, the 2+ hour event was an impressive introduction into Sony's next generation PlayStation experience.
Beyond a small montage showing off previous generations of PlayStation games and hardware, as well as a few minutes dedicated to the PS Vita, Sony essentially announced the PlayStation 4 right at the start. It was clear that this was a PS4 event first and foremost, and they announced the console, revealed the logo and showed off the slick DualShock 4 almost right away. The PS4 logo seems like a slightly updated take on the new PS3 logo, which is certainly not a bad thing.
We didn't get to touch a DualShock 4, but from what we saw on it on stage it looked like a solid combination of a DualShock and the Xbox 360 controller, except with a few neat features. The analog sticks looked great, the D-pad seems to be tweaked somewhat, the touch pad, while small, looked potentially useful, and the triggers definitely appear to be an improvement. The triangular sensor bar is an interesting addition and we can't wait to see what developers will be able to do with it in conjunction with the new PS4 Eye camera (which we assume will be packed in). The new "Share" button is definitely designed to make gaming a more social experience, and is something we will touch on a bit later.
A few developers used the controller on stage and that was as close to seeing it in person as we could get. It seems as if Sony has listened to feedback and has made an effort to put together a controller designed for gamers. We'll know for sure when we finally get our hands on one.
As someone who enjoys discussing the technical aspect of gaming consoles, it was impressive to hear Sony and a handful of developers actually discuss hardware specs to an extent. Yes, the discussion of the CPU, GPU, co-processor and 8GB GDDR RAM went over the heads of some in attendance, I was more than excited to hear them at least touch on the PS4 innards. Needless to say, 8GB unified memory is above and beyond what everyone was expecting (4GB max was thrown around) and is potentially a pretty expensive component due to how fast/advanced it is. But developers will absolutely love it and Sony clearly listened to their feedback when engineering the hardware. The fact that the system has a co-processor to deal with video streaming, compression and the OS is an nice surprise and should allow for super efficient multitasking. I'm personally totally thrilled with the ability to suspend and resume a game, portable style, at any time.
The PS4 was also designed with a multi-screen strategy in mind so the PS Vita, smartphones, tablets and the PC will all play nicely with the PS4 in one way or another. David Perry took the stage to talk about the advantages of Gaikai and the PlayStation Cloud which will take the PS Network to the next level as "the fastest gaming network in the world" (in their words). Gaikai technology will be in place to allow super fast remote play from PS4 to PS Vita, in a similar fashion to the Wii U and GamePad. The expectation was that nearly every PS4 will be playable on the PS Vita one day.
Gaikai and the advanced video streaming capabilities in the PlayStation 4 were touted as allowing gamers to "remote play" their friend's games, or just spectate and communicate in real time. PS4 owners will have access to stream and test out PS4 games via the PS Store almost instantly, and it was implied that a large quantity of previous content, from PS1 though PS3 will be able to be played on multiple devices including the PS4. This may not happen on day 1, but it's a forward-looking feature that could allow them to stand out if it works as advertised.
Sony pushed the social aspect of the PS4 quite hard and showed off how easily it was to share video (live and recorded) and nearly every action performed on the console with your friends. They are looking to allow more meaningful interactions with friends (including the usage of real names), while still offering the option to remain anonymous behind a PSN ID when interacting with other gamers. The social stream followed the ideas introduced by the PS Vita and essentially took them to the next level. The console will be tightly integrated into a number of social networks including Facebook and Ustream as well.
The games and demos that were on stage did most definitely impress overall. The playable Killzone: Shadow Fall was pretty easily one of the best looking sci-fi FPS games we have seen thus far. There was just a touch of aliasing going on in the distance on some surfaces (when displayed on a 20' wide screen at least) which proved that it was indeed a real time demo. The scale of the city was crazy impressive, with lighting, effects and textures that were well above most of everything we've seen on consoles this generation. The real time Watch Dogs demo by Ubisoft was an absolute crowd-pleaser. Yes there were brief bits of screen tearing, but the game looked incredible and ran smoothly. Evolution Studios didn't have a new MotorStorm, but instead revealed a new racing title named Driveclub which looked rather fantastic. It's a team based, challenge oriented, first person driving game with layers and layers of social integration. Featuring exotic locales and insanely detailed vehicles, it was an eye catcher for sure.
Mark Cerny (who was announced as the PS4 lead architect) hopped on stage to demo Knack, a unique new IP in development at Sony which while looks to push the social gaming aspect, and Blizzard dropped that Diablo III console bomb finally, which sounds like it'll hit both the PS3 and PS4 before any other platforms. Sucker Punch joined in on the fun and introduced inFamous: Second Son, which was an unexpected surprise. Jonathan Blow also was in attendance to announce and show off The Witness, which is looking quite excellent so far. Capcom and Square Enix pledged their support and had some impressive things to say about the console and had footage of some demos. Unreal Engine 4 was confirmed as well.
Activision and Bungie wrapped up the show with some additional footage of Destiny, and news that the PS4 and PS3 versions will ship at the same time, and both versions will be receiving extra content.
At the end of the evening, Sony busted out the PlayStation 4 is coming Holiday 2013 news, which was exactly what we were hoping for. Of course they left a few details up to speculation such as the console price, hardware configurations and options, and the design of the console itself. We expect a hardware design reveal to happen at the E3 and a price announcement to potentially happen after that. With the aggressive RAM configuration and the confirmation of a HDD on board, in addition to the DualShock 4 and the new camera (assuming it's packed in), we doubt they'll be able to hit a sub $399 price point. The PS4 sounds like a premium piece of hardware so far and it will likely come at a premium price point (starting at $399 most likely), so hopefully gamers and developers will appreciate Sony's next generation vision.
We'll have a lot more coverage of the PlayStation 4 soon, so make sure to stop back for additional thoughts, media, announcements and whatnot.