What we know: So there are many rumors of a new controller from Sony, and it’s highly plausible considering there’s been a new DualShock revision with every new PlayStation, so it only makes since that there would be a new DualShock 4. However, the new controller is rumored to have some unique changes. First off is the touchscreen / touchpad in the center of the controller. There have been rumors of it being a fully function screen like the Wii U’s tablet controller, but most point towards a touchpad similar to the back screen of Sony’s PlayStation Vita. As a result the Start, Select, and Home buttons have been moved to a currently undisclosed location (although prototype renders and designs show “Select” closer to the D-Pad, “Start” closer to the face buttons, and the Home button at the bottom of the controller.) The D-Pad has been revamped from the spaced pentagon shapes to a smoother full-bodied concave design similar to the Vita. The analog sticks also have concave spaces covering the top of them, as a placeholder for your fingertips to sit for improved control. The L2 and R2 triggers are rumored to have improved, however, no details on those have been confirmed. Speakers have been built into the controller for audio feedback, and a light bar can be seen atop the controller, which is likely for motion controls similar to PlayStation Move.
My thoughts: It’s nice if it works, but if not it shouldn’t matter too much because the DualShock 3 should still work with the PS4. That being said I’m interested in seeing just what this new controller does for gaming. The design is very DualShock like in the prototypes, which is fine by me since I’ve spent 3 console generations playing on DualShock styled controllers, but overall the prototype looks like it’s solid attempt at improving on a well-established formula especially the analog sticks.
My most desired and anticipated changes are the L2 and R2 triggers, how Move functionality will improve gameplay or offer new methods of play, and the use of the touchscreen / touchpad. The L2 and R2 triggers on the DualShock 3 aren’t awful, but they could be better. Actual triggers would be a nice replacement, but keeping them wide like the current designs will make them ideal for most PlayStation gamers. PS Move hasn’t blown people away, but thanks to this new controller it give Sony and gamers a second chance to buy and play the few PS Move exclusives that the core want. The touchscreen / touchpad is the real unknown I want explained. Will there a benefit beside clicking and scrolling through pages, which the analog sticks and “X” button are more than capable of? As a PlayStation Vita owner, two of the best use of the back and front touchscreen / pad are for interacting with the game world in games like ModNation Racers, Little Deviants, and Escape Plan and playing doing combos via touch in fighting games. If developers can build upon those kinds of ideas then I’m game. But beyond that touch controls aren’t really required, and I fell that this is nothing more than what Sony did with the SixAxis motion controls. However, if it’s a true touch screen I could see it functioning as a way to manage your PS4 content on the go. Game Profiles could be downloaded to it, save files, gameplay videos, firmware update notices, music, and other minor things that we don’t necessarily think of as important, but are beneficial to have updated so you can always start gaming as soon as you start your console. Although the controller will need Wi-Fi and memory built in to function realistically, that’s not really a problem (just shove 1GB of memory in there). I also hope the controller is a bit bigger than the current DualShock 3 so it can fit a decent sized 3” screen on it, and hopefully the Select, Start, and Home buttons will be moved to the bottom of the controller similar to Razer’s Sabertooth controller for the Xbox 360. On a smaller note make the speaker decent sounding, unlike some other controllers.
What we know: Gaikai is planned to be one of the major driving forces of the PS4. It’s rumored that the PS4 will have full backwards compatibility ranging for PS1 classics to the latest PS3 titles thanks to Gaikai. That begs the question of what does that mean for the PS3 (massive price cut). Sony also plans on adding a big focus into social networking for the PS4. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube video uploads directly from the console have all been talking points over the past few months regarding the PS4 becoming a more social gaming console.
My thoughts: All of that sounds great I know, but I also think there’s going to be a big surprise. Don’t be shocked if the cost of PlayStation Plus goes from $50 a year up to $10 a month subscription, or if there’s 2 versions of PS+ (PS+ & PS++). Sony is planning to improve upon the service exponentially, and keep you trapped in the worlds of Sony and PlayStation. Gaikai is likely going to stream all PS1, PS2, PSP, and possibly PS3 content and those servers are going to need money to support them, and with $120 a year per PS4 owner, those servers should be taken care of. But before you cry fowl there’s more. Gaikai will likely fully replace PSN. Going forward Sony is likely to offer 1-hour full game trails for every release on the PS4 allowing gamers to sample everything before they buy anything (1 point for Sony). On top of that Gaikai will allow PS4 owners to stream the games and content to any PlayStation Certified device with many more devices to come in the following years. Imagine playing all of your PlayStation Content on the go with either a Vita, your Smartphone, or even potentially on a PS3 or PSP (2 points for Sony). Moving past Gaikai, Sony will likely include their Music Unlimited service into the service as well, giving you access to a huge library of music (2.5 points for Sony). Finally Sony is rumored to be in the works on creating its very own Internet TV service (Video Unlimited 2?). The service is said to be in the making with a possible release sometime this year. Sony Pictures already owns a few TV networks, shows, PlayTV, and Crackle so with a major push this service could be worthwhile if included in your PS++ subscription. The PS4 is likely to act as the personal DVR for “Video Unlimited 2” service as well similar to PlayTV. Finally I expect a huge improvement to PlayStation Home. Yes, Home is here to stay, since it’s a moneymaker for Sony. However, I think it’s going to change drastically. I think PS Home will become the place for smaller games and “freemium” games to launch in the world of PlayStation. Home will be a complete free-to-play game world with spaces for developers who create those kinds of games. Home will support itself with micro-transactions and will be more gamer focused than it currently is, along with a streamlined art-style.
Sony has also been in talks with Google and have developed a very close relationship with the software giant, thus rumors of Android being the PS4 OS, access to the Chrome web browser, and Google TV being exclusive to the PS4 have begun to manifest. Android OS running on PS4 is possible, but unlikely considering how much effort Sony has put into stopping their systems from being hacked lately with firmware updates and proprietary hardware in the Vita, but Chrome and Goggle TV would be welcomed additions and a great countermeasure to Microsoft’s rumored Windows 8 based console. Add in all the preexisting services the PS3 already has like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more and the PS4 will be a strong centerpiece for your entertainment hub. The one thing I hope Sony does offer is a 3-tiered PSN service. The same free service they currently have with the PS3, the same PS+ service they have on the PS3 for $50 a year, and this extended version for $10 a month so that everyone can still enjoy PSN.
What we know: According to an inside source, Sony is planning to have the PS4 support 4K resolution playback. The source goes on to say since 3D has failed to push consumers to upgrade their TV’s, manufactures have decided to shift their focus to 4K and Sony wants to be at the front of that push. Their plan consists of selling 4K capable Blu Ray players (Done), display and release 4K television sets (Done), and release the PlayStation 4 with 4K playback (still waiting).
My thoughts: The PS4 should be more than capable of playing back 4K photos and video content; however, 4K gaming is going to be a bit more demanding. With the specs of the high-end PS4, 4K gaming is possible but at a cost. If you expect Killzone 4 to be running in 4k on the PS4 then you’re going to be highly disappointed unless you don’t mind playing at 10 fps. $1,000+ PC’s sporting i7 CPU’s, GTX 680 GPU’s, and 16GB of RAM can only maintain 4K gaming at 30fps with medium settings in DX11 on games like Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3. The high-end PS4 is not a $1,000 console, and it’s not going to be able to do run current-gen 4K games at all, especially with an expected graphical performance boost up from the PS3 to the PS4. There’s a reason Sony’s target was 1080p at 60fps, because it’s easier to maintain a high degree of graphical quality at 1080p while keeping performance solid. However, 4K gaming is possible especially with PSN quality games like Super Stardust which set a technical benchmark in the tech world by running 720p at 120fps on the PS3 and in 3D (60fps per eye in 3D). Super Stardust 4K at 120fps in 3D should be possible with the given specs of the PS4. But for many of you I’m sure that’s not enough, which leads to the final possible attempt / solution. PlayStation 4K Remakes. Sony has found a new source for adding exclusives to their library and keeping gamers satisfied while they work on bigger titles, HD Remakes and HD Collections. The trend will likely continue into the PS4’s lifecycle, but instead of PS2 games being boosted up to 720p @ 30fps / 60fps, PS3 titles will be boosted up to 1080p @ 60fps or 4K at 30fps for the PS4. This is huge for two reasons:
It allows gamers to experience the full story and worlds of many of the gaming trilogies developed over the PS3’s console generation such as Uncharted 4K, Crysis 4K, Mass Effect 4K, Resistance 4K, Bioshock 4K, and more.
It allows former exclusives franchise to be ported to the PS4. Gears of War 4K, Left 4 Dead 4K, Alan Wake 4K, Lost Odyssey 4K, Blue Dragon 4K, Infinite Undiscovery 4K, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom 4K, MadWorld 4K, Bayonetta 2 4K, ZombiU 4K and more.
If you wanted those games, but didn’t want to buy another console PS4 4K remakes will be your last hope. Of those Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, Alan Wake, and Bayonetta are likely to make the shift.
What we know: Absolutely Nothing.
My thoughts: The PS4 may have one of the best launch lineups and Year 1’s of all time. Overall 2012 was a mediocre year for PlayStation exclusives compared to others, but 2013 is going to be an amazing year for PlayStation with titles like Ni No Kuni, Sly Cooper, God of War, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Soul Sacrifice, Tearaway, Killzone Mercenaries and more all coming to the PlayStation 3 and Vita alone. Then you have the PlayStation 4 launch which brings even more games and a greater level of excitement.
The thing is many of Sony’s studios and developers have been mum and have not released games since 2011, which will be 2+ years of development time. Sucker Punch (inFamous), Guerilla Games (Killzone), Polyphony Digital (Gran Turismo), Naughty Dog Team 1 (Uncharted), Media Molecule (Little Big Planet / Tearaway), Evolution Studios (Motorstorm), and Sony London (Move, Getaway, Home) have all not had a full PS3 retail release since 2011 and beyond. That’s a bunch of PlayStation, and it only makes sense that they’re all working on PS4 projects. Add to that projects that have been MIA from the PS3 for years now such as Final Fantasy 13 versus, Final Fantasy 14, Agent, The Last Guardian, and add to that the annual 3rd party franchises that release during the holiday season and you begin to realize just how big of a launch the PS4 should have. The following is a list of titles that should be on the PS4 Year 1.
Possible Launch Titles
Killzone 4 / Guerilla Games New IP
Motorstorm 4 / Evolution Studios New IP
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 5
Assassin’s Creed 4
Need for Speed / Burnout
Star Wars 1313
Gran Turismo 6 Prologue
Little Big Planet 4
inFamous 3 / Sucker Punch New IP
Sony London New IP
The Last Guardian
Final Fantasy 13 versus
Final fantasy 14
Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeros / Phantom Pain
Quantic Dream New IP Singularity / Kara PS4
PlayStation 4K Remakes (GTA 5, Crysis Collection, Uncharted, and more)