E3 2013 Impressions: PlayStation 4

While Microsoft’s presentation had me feeling a bit more optimistic about the Xbox One, it still left a lot to be desired. With the ever growing list of negative features and functionality, they really need to go above and beyond to make people want to buy this thing. At this point, I’m not convinced, but I do see myself owning one at some point, once there’s a solid foundation of exclusive titles to justify the purchase. In the meantime, my money is going to Sony and they’re PlayStation 4. In fact, I pre-ordered a PS4 shortly after Sony’s E3 presentation on June 10th.

PlayStation 4 Hardware

Yes, I might have jumped the gun, but I have a really good feeling about the PS4 and am thrilled with the way Sony have been conducting business and treating their supporters as of late. While Microsoft is clearly on the defensive, Sony is embracing the gaming community with open arms and delivering exactly what we’ve been asking for. Or rather, avoiding the things we’ve been very vocal about not wanting. With several direct digs at Microsoft during the closing segment of their E3 presentation, Sony made it clear that they’ve been listening, that they care, and that they’re going to deliver the experience that we, the gaming community want.

Here’s are the highlights from Sony’s presentation…

I love that Jack Tretton is clearly having a hard time containing an ear-to-ear grin. He knows they’re on the right track, and the thunderous applause he received verified that. While I’m on the topic of the console itself, here’s what we know now about it and the changes coming to the PlayStation Network, and PlayStation Plus subscription…

  • We finally got a look at the hardware, and I’m quite fond of it. It’s simple, but has a nice angular design. Mostly matte finished, with a shiny strip on the top left (when it’s laying down). Actually quite similar to the Xbox One, but looks like it would be smaller in size. No buttons, inputs, or the disc slot are visible on the front, which I absolutely love.
  • No new restrictions on game licenses, meaning you can trade-in, sell privately, or lend any disc based games.
  • Online connection is not required, and there is no online authentication.
  • PlayStation Plus membership will carry over to PS4, and will remain active on other PlayStation devices (PS3 and Vita).
  • PlayStation Plus membership required for multiplayer gaming. I assume the PlayStation Store will still be accessible with a free account.
  • PlayStation Plus subscribers will continue to receive free games on the PS4, including several of the titles shown during the presentation. Driveclub will be available for free on day one for PS+ subscribers.
  • PS4 will have some form of backwards compatibility via cloud based streaming which will be launching some time in 2014.
  • Games will be region free, meaning you could import a game from anywhere in the world and it will work on your console.
  • $399 price point at launch – $100 less than Xbox One.

As for the games shown…

  • A couple of highly anticipated titles are still on the horizon for PS3, which were shown in trailer form; The Last of Us, and Beyond: Two Souls. The former is currently sitting at a staggering 96 on Metacritic with nearly 70 critic reviews.
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall
    A new trailer was shown, which was entirely game-play. It looked quite different from previous games; lots of lush foliage. This is the game I’m most looking forward to at launch. Killzone 2 and 3 are still the best looking first person shooters of the current generation, if you ask me. I want to be wowed when I fire up my next-gen console, and I know I won’t be disappointed by a new Killzone game.
  • Driveclub
    Not a whole lot is known about Driveclub at the moment. It looks like a casual racing game with lots of social tie-ins.
  • Gran Turismo 6
    Another exclusive driving game, but for the simulation fans.
  • Infamous: Second Son
    New trailer, which reveals a bit more about the lead character, his abilities, and the world he lives in. The trailer isn’t overly exciting, but I know the game will be great. The first two Infamous titles are in my top 10 PS3 games. Looking at a Q1 2014 release.
  • The Order: 1886
    Announced on stage with a full-length trailer. Set in the Victorian era in London, it has a sort of futuristic (for the time period) steampunk feel to it. PS4 exclusive, but no release window mentioned.
  • There was a great segment that focused on indie games where they had a number of developers on stage demoing their games back-to-back while they were announced. It was awesome to see Sony shine the spotlight on indie developers like that.
  • Some other big multi-platform games were shown as well, including: Assassin’s Creed IV, Batman: Askham Origins, Watchdogs, and a first look at game-play in Bungie’s Destiny.
  • Also, a recorded message from Square Enix which revealed Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV. As far as I know, both are multi-platform releases.

PlayStation 4 ControllerFrom where I’m sitting, the only real negative point is how the PlayStation Plus subscription currently works. And that’s that it’s tied to a single account, and would require multiple paid accounts on a single console in order for multiple people to be able to play online. Other features like free game downloads are available to sub-accounts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this changed before the PS4’s launch. Right now it’s not really a concern, as multiplayer gaming is free across the board on PS3.

Update: June 12th, 2013 at 11:35am
It’s been brought to my attention by Anthony in the comments that Sony’s President of World Wide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has confirmed via Twitter that only one PS+ account is required for online play on the PS4, by any number of accounts.

So, there you have it. Neither PS4 nor Xbox One have had their full list of launch titles announced, or even firm release dates set. But we have at least a couple confirmed exclusives for each at launch, with more early on in 2014.

Which side of the fence are you on? Or still perched atop, undecided?