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10 Things You Need to Know About the PlayStation 4 | PCMag
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Today gamers all over the globe will finally get their hands on Sony's next-generation video game console. With its cheaper $399 price point and stronger emphasis on gaming, the PS4 looks to undo the shortcomings of its predecessor while aiming to undercut its biggest competition, the Xbox One.
The PS4 launch lineup covers everything from light-hearted platformers like the cartoonish Knack to gritty first-person shooters like the cold-war influenced Killzone: Shadow Fall to the superhero MMO DC Universe Online. Beyond that, other hot upcoming exclusive titles include the open-world, super-powered action game Infamous: Second Son, coming next February, and the alternate Victorian-era, supernatural shooter The Order: 1886, coming sometime later in 2014.
Many multiplatform games, like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 also receive slight performance boosts on the system thanks to its hardware being more powerful than Microsoft's console. Players can even upgrade certain last-gen PS3 games like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition into PS4 versions for $9.99. Meanwhile, owners of the downloadable PS3 games Flower, Flow, Escape Plan, or Sound Shapes can nab their upgrades free of charge.
Sony has been riding a wave of good will for the machine after debuting it earlier this year. While Microsoft floundered with poor messaging about the Xbox One's stance on used games and being always-online, Sony played the good guy, swooping in with a console that stood up for gamers' rights. However, with the next console war upon us, Microsoft isn't going down without a fight and Sony had better be ready to really compete.
1. No Backward Compatibility
Keeping support for PS1 and PS2 games is partially what drove up the cost of the PS3 so the functionality was ultimately removed. It makes sense then that the PS4 is launching without support for PS3 games. Eventually PS4 players will be able to access certain PS3 games through online streaming, but if you're still getting through GTA V or The Last of Us, you may want to hang onto that PS3 a little longer.
2. New, Easier Processing Architecture
The PS3's cell processor claimed to offer unbelievable power, but in reality its confusing and complicated multi-core infrastructure made it a nightmare for developers. The PS4 on the other hand, packs an AMD x86 chip and Radeon graphics making it more like a PC. A more accessible chip means developers should have no problems making quality content for the machine.
3. It Needs an Extra Stand to Sit Vertically
The PS4 sports a stylish trapezoidal design in contrast to most consoles that are just black boxes. Laying it flat is no problem, but if you want to display it vertically you'll need to buy a special stand that goes on sale in December.
4. The Controllers Feel Great
Any issues players may have had with the DualShock 3 are completely remedied by the new DualShock 4. Along with new features like the touch pad and tracking light, the updated controller feels great in the hands and even works with select PS3 games via Bluetooth. The buttons are responsive, the analog sticks are just the right distance apart, and the triggers are a joy to pull.
5. The Share Button
Along with its more powerful hardware, the PS4 sets itself apart from past consoles with its robust online connectivity features. By simply pressing the share button on the DualShock 4, players can upload videos of their playthroughs for the Internet to gawk at. With the PS4, Sony plans to stay at the forefront of the huge, emerging world of online video streaming.
6. The Camera Comes Separately
While the Xbox One Kinect camera (arguably) justifies the extra $100 in price, the PS4 camera ($60) must be bought separately. It's not needed for all games, but some, like The PlayRoom augmented reality app do require it. It also provides system level features like the ability to shut down the console through voice commands.
7. Second-Screen Play
PlayStation Vita owners can stream most PS4 games to the handheld device for easy off-TV play. With this set-up Sony approximates the two-screen model of the Wii U. While the Vita lacks the extra triggers of the DualShock 4, players can use its back touch panel to replicate that functionality.
8. Reduced Media Functions
With its support for MP3s and DLNA, the PS3 could make for a great media server. Unfortunately the PS4 has stripped out most of those features. Following fan outcry, Sony has said most of the functionality will return soon, but to some it's disappointing not to see it at launch.
9. The Indie Push
While Xbox Live Arcade brought many smaller developers to the 360 last generation, Sony is heavily courting the indie scene this time around. Promising independent games like Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Ray's the Dead, and Transistor are all making their console debuts on the PS4. Fans of Jonathan Blow's time-bending platformer Braid will also find Blow's next intriguing puzzle game, The Witness, on the PS4.
10. Online Multiplayer Isn't Free
Microsoft started the trend of paid, subscriber-only online multiplayer with Xbox Live Gold, and now Sony is getting onboard too. Unlike the PS3, PS4 players will have to pay for a PlayStation Plus subscription to access online multiplayer for their games. Now Nintendo is the only major console maker left without a similar paid service.
Software Analyst Jordan Minor really just wants to use his fancy Northwestern University journalism degree to write about video games. He was previously the senior editor for Geek.com and a PCMag intern before that. He’s also written for Kotaku, The A.V. Club, and Paste Magazine. He’s the reason everything you think you know about Street Sharks is a lie.