It was pretty easy to figure out the PS3 was going to have a successor at some point. A highly successful console it may be, Sony do need to keep up with the next generation of games consoles. Nintendo have already launched their effort with the Wii U, and with Microsoft’s Xbox 720 in the works it’s only natural for Sony to announce the PS4. They did this last week on the 20th February to big fanfare. There are some big, exciting changes and they’re revealed here to give you all the know how!
The PlayStation 4 is the second eighth generation console to be officially confirmed and there is a lot resting on it from the off – already it has an intended release for the fourth quarter of 2013 so Sony are clearly confident in their console’s abilities. Despite this the PS4 itself hasn’t been revealed as it’s still in the final stages of its design and development! Yet, from Sony’s announcement, it’s clear their latest machine will have technology similar to the hardware most PCs boast, a move which will make it cheaper to develop games for Sony’s console.
Apparently the console itself utilises a semi-custom accelerated processing unit, and will make the move away from Cell architecture and will be the first Sony console to feature compatibility with the x86 architecture, apparently this means specifically the x86-64 which is often used on PCs. For those of you with no idea what this means – the graphics will essentially be more realistic and impressive. The graphics processing unit consists of 18 computer units to produce a peak performance of 1.84 TFLOP/s. This is powerful indeed and will aid the graphics, and physics simulation, of the games.
There will be plenty of memory, too, with 176GBs of bandwidth and 8GB of system memory, 16 times more than the PS3. To go with this the console will feature an 802.11 b/g/n wireless network connectivity, Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, an extra connection for the PlayStation 3 Eye ( a motion detecting digital camera introduced for the PS3), and the ubiquitous Blu-ray/DVD playing abilities. Sony have also recently announced their high-definition movie service 4K will also be coming to the console.
Expect new applications and services to boot, with the release of the PlayStation App which, naturally, will allow owners of the console to turn their smartphones and tablets into a second screen to enhance gameplay. There is also the plan to debut the cloud based gaming service called Gaikai – this is where you’ll be able to download new games and new content for ones already owned. These new concepts suggest Sony intend to focus more than ever on social gameplay, a natural move for the console industry following the success of MMORPGS such as Blizzard’s hugely popular World of Warcraft on the PC.
Effectively following the standard set by the very first PlayStation, the Dualshock 4 does boast a touchscreen in the centre of the pad, sharing buttons, and colour-coded sensory bars. A small light on the back of the pad will often change colour during games, indicating which player you are, your health, and your environment; this will allow games to understand, and determine, depth, location, and other concepts whilst you’re in a game. The controller allows for motion detection courtesy of a three-axis accelerometer and there’s an inbuilt rumble function. Elsewhere there’s a stereo connection allowing for headphones and microphone and a mono speaker inbuilt, which again highlights the shift towards social gaming.
PlayStation Move controllers will also be available for the console.
The First Games
Future projects for the console remain unclear, but for the PS4’s launch there is an impressive list of popular franchises and new titles. Perhaps the biggest names include Killzone: Shadow Fall (pictured), Deep Down, Watch Dogs, Diablo III, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. What’s important in this list is Blizzard’s Diablo III, which indicates the firm are going to be teaming up with Sony on the console front. The firm responsible for the all conquering World of Warcraft would be a huge asset for Sony (and likewise for Blizzard), and this could be a sign of the upcoming merger of the PC games market with consoles.
Elsewhere there are, unsurprisingly, hints at a new Final Fantasy from Squaresoft, whilst Battlefield 4 and Star Wars 1313 are also expectations.
The PS4 WILL NOT be able to play PS2 or PS3 games. Sort of. This may seem like an unusual move by Sony, but the Japanese firm has stated that, eventually, by using Cloud and the PS4’s online streaming abilities, the entire PlayStation catalogue will be available for download. Eventually. This is a great idea, it’s just a shame they didn’t have it ready in time for the console’s launch.
Er, but what about…?
What the console turns out to look like isn’t of major concern; we should imagine it will be sleek, black, and stylish. Of bigger concern for most fans will be the price. The PS3’s (pictured above) launch announcement came with the price tag of a disturbing £425. Given that the Wii U’s launch tag of £300 drew gasps in a recession struck world (Nintendo aren’t planning a price cut, either, as the console is already sold at a loss!), the PS4 is likely to follow suit with a similarly “high” price tag. There were calls from UK retailers on the 1st of March 2013 for a £300 PS4 price tag – whether Sony will heed this is just a matter of waiting to see.
And we will wait and see! The PS4 is a very exciting prospect which will no doubt leave millions of fans desperate for the launch day.