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PS4 A-Z

PS4 A-Z

AMD

Just like Microsoft, Sony has partnered with US computing giant AMD for both the CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) of its new console. The move towards PC-standard x86 architecture should make it easier for developers to hit the ground running with PlayStation 4 software – teams have previously had to spend years learning the unique tech of each new console before they could get the most out of it, a process likely to be greatly accelerated this coming generation. The AMD GPU in PS4 is capable of a reported 1.84 teraflops (that’s 1.84 trillion calculations per second), although PC gamers disappointed by that number would do well to remember that with its optimised hardware, PS4 will be able to outperform PCs clocked at potentially as high as double that computation rate.

 

BlurayBlu-ray

We were never going to see a backwards step to DVD or a premature leap to a disc-free console just yet so, unsurprisingly, Sony will once again use Blu-ray discs as its primary format for PlayStation 4. The big news, though, is that the drive will read significantly faster than that of the PS3 – 6x speed as opposed to the paltry 2x speed of PS3 – meaning that the access speed will finally just about catch up to the increased storage that made the medium so appealing in the first place. Microsoft will be following suit (hardly surprising after Xbox versions of multiformat games like LA Noire and Final Fantasy XIII shipped on multiple DVDs due to space limitations) and as you might expect, PS4 will still be able to play Blu-ray movies as well as games. Games from any country, for that matter – the console itself will be region-free.

 

Mark Cerny

While most consoles are left in the hands of hardware engineers, Sony struck upon an ingenious idea for PS4 – a console created for developers, by developers. Many external and contracted studios were approached in designing both the innards of the machine and the controller, but head of the pack has been Mark Cerny, a Sony veteran whose CV spans 30 years of development on such classics as Sonic 2, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Jak & Daxter. He’s lead architect on PlayStation 4, tasked with making sure it’s a console that lets devs make the games they want to make. “The idea was very familiar and accessible architecture for year one but then a very rich feature-set that the programmers can learn and explore for year three or year four,” he told us. “What we’re seeing now is the benefit of that accessible architecture. We have games that are coming over to the platform that otherwise would have stayed on PC.”

 

DualShock 4

The new controller might just look like a stretched DualShock 3 but there’s far more to it than that. Improved triggers are now curved so your fingers will never slip off them again; analog sticks offer a little more resistance, while lipped edges again help prevent slippage and improve accuracy; a Move-style light bar allows player tracking or feedback such as low health warning flashes; the centre touch pad allows extra Vita-style inputs, and even clicks in as an additional button. And all that before we even come to the decision to replace Start and Select with Share and Options buttons, or mention the return of Sixaxis motion control. It’s an awesome, feature-packed controller – the best just got better.

 

PS Eye

We’ve been seeing pictures of the Eye camera since E3, but the thing that really struck us after seeing it in the real world is just how small it is. After seeing the monstrosity that is Kinect nod ominously every time a 360 is switched on in the office, this diminutive little fella – which is barely larger than a chocolate bar – is sleek as hell by comparison. While the revised Kinect set to ship with every Xbox One just wins out in terms of performance, the Eye wins out by being a) discrete and b) entirely optional, plus it’ll still be capable of more or less all the same functions as the Microsoft device. The PS Eye’s potential has been showcased with The PlayRoom, a tech demo packed with interactive toys and games that show off what it can really do. It’s pretty darn impressive.

 

FreeToPlay

Free-To-Play

The ‘freemium’ revolution has been changing the face of mobile gaming for a good few years now, but we’re only just starting to see the phenomenon creep onto console. Games like Tekken Revolution, Dust 514 and Treasures Of Montezuma Blitz have been growing more common on both PS3 and Vita – titles that are free to download and play but which offer paid content that generally speeds up progress – and it’s only set to become more common on PS4. Heavy hitters like PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe are already confirmed to be free on PlayStation 4, and plenty more will follow suit. The model has been successfully employed on everything from MMOs to fighters and, while some slip into pay-to-win territory, there’s no harm in trying each of them out and seeing how you get on…

 

GDDR5

It’s just four letters and one number, but it makes all the difference in the world. Sony’s decision to run with this newer, quicker type of RAM than is used in Xbox One was a bold one to make so early in production, but the speculative move – which basically relied on the memory reaching the point of being cost-effective by the time the console went into mass production – paid off. As a result, PS4 wildly outclasses all of its next-gen competition on a technical level, although developers are still getting used to having that much RAM to play with – early devkits reportedly only had 4Gb of RAM, with the first many heard about the final machine having twice that coming when Cerny said as much at the reveal event. You get an amazing amount of tech for £349, basically.

 

HDMI 1.4

One can only get so excited about a marginal upgrade in cable technology, though this switch does allow for several notable enhancements. For one thing, 1.4 is capable outputting at higher resolutions than previous iterations so as long as your TV/monitor supports it, PS4 will be able to output at resolutions up to 4K (3840×2160, so four times the current top-end of 1920×1080) but only for movies and photos, not games. Enhanced HDMI tech can also carry surround sound and even Ethernet signals, which could at least get rid of a bit of clutter from around the TV.

 

Instant-On

Tired of turning the PlayStation 3 on and having to sit through the launch fanfare and warning screens every time? Then you’re in luck. PlayStation 4 will have a low-power sleep mode that can be activated rather than putting it on standby or switching it off entirely, the benefit being that the machine will be able to resume operations almost instantly as soon as you wake it up. This doesn’t just apply to the dashboard, either – games will be able to take advantage of this as well, just as they do on Vita. Run out of crumpets? Never fear – send Killzone to sleep, pop to the shops to get your crumpet on and when you get back, you’ll be straight back in the game at the touch of a button. Lovely.

 

Jaguar

No, not the rubbish old Atari console. Jaguar is the name of the CPU chipset on which the one used in the PS4 is based, an AMD APU (that’s a combined CPU and GPU on a single board, acronym fans) more traditionally used in mid-range laptops and tablets. Why has Sony opted to use modified tablet tech in a supercomputer? Well, the low power consumption and heat generation make this kind of chip particularly well suited to console use (especially after overheating caused so many problems this generation), plus by using a bunch of them in tandem, the optimised PS4 hardware will be able to squeeze far more power out of them than a multi-purpose PC or tablet ever could.

 

KillzoneKillzone: Shadow Fall

Guerrilla’s shooter is no stranger to being on the next-gen frontlines. Back when PlayStation 3 was looming large on the horizon, that Killzone 2 trailer was what sold many gamers on the console. As with MotorStorm, it was target footage rather than gameplay that people were buying into and the games themselves ended up looking significantly less impressive. Cue a huge media backlash, so it’s hardly surprising that Sony tried a different tack with PS4. Coming straight out of the gates with hands-on gameplay was brave so far ahead of launch, but there was no bullshit this time around – what was shown back in February was the game early adopters will be playing later in the year. Bring it on.

 

Live-Streaming

With people making a living from their YouTube channels and many gamers just as happy to sit back and watch a few rounds of Call Of Duty rather than play it themselves, it should be pretty clear that streaming is big business these days. No longer will this solely be the domain of those with expensive capture cards and/or complex editing software – PS4 will be able to stream games straight out of the box. Once you enable the feature, others will be able to watch to play live and even interact with you directly or comment on your game or performance. Game streaming will also be big news, allowing others to jump into your game remotely (again, provided you let them) to help with a tricky section or just to try it out, while also potentially covering up the lack of backwards compatibility by allowing older PSone/PS2/PS3 games to be streamed from the cloud.

 

Move

Chasing the Wii generation might not have been the most original move on Sony’s part, though there have been at least a handful of games that made the motion control wand something worth owning. Now, that same technology is built into every DualShock 4 controller, the PS Eye capable of using the light on the pad to help plot and track the holder in 3D space. It’s not quite so obvious as pointer-based motion control, sure, but that’s probably why Sony hasn’t elected to retire its magic wand just yet – original Move controllers will also be compatible with PlayStation 4, so don’t be afraid to grab one now and get used to it.

 

Netflix

We picked Netflix to represent pretty much all of the streaming video apps on PlayStation right now, but it could have been Mubi, LoveFilm or any of the rest. Microsoft has spent the majority of its Xbox One stage time extolling the virtues of this kind of content, seemingly oblivious to the fact that live TV is all but redundant outside of live events and everything ever plays Netflix these days. PS4 will be no different, the PC-based architecture making it easier than ever for creators to get their apps and services on the console. Many should even be available on day one, making the switch from this generation to the next even simpler.

 

OctodadOctodad

The days of triple-A titles being the be-all and end-all of console gaming are long dead – the indies are here to stay. Games like Octodad should be all the proof you need that PS4 will be inviting the best and most interesting low-budget games in the business, but don’t expect smaller teams and lower overheads to lead to lesser games. Titles like Spelunky, Super Meat Boy and the unstoppable juggernaut that is Minecraft have given the world a taste for all things indie, with PS4 set to deliver on that front from day one. Open-world Metal Slug/Borderlands hybrid Mercenary Kings, stylish platformer Contrast or beautiful Bastion follow-up Transistor… whatever your taste, the indies have you covered.

 

PS+

The Instant Game Collection aspect of PlayStation Plus has made it a great value proposition since day one, and the service keeps on delivering more and more high profile games for nothing. News that PS Plus membership will now be required in order to play most PS4 games online (just like an Xbox Live Gold account on Xbox) might have come as a blow to some but, honestly, the wealth of freebies and discounts mean it more or less pays for itself. Also, a paid online service will be more reliable and better supported than the free PSN we have now – Sony will have a legal obligation to provide subscribers with the service they are paying for, after all. The deals will keep coming on PS4 too, with launch title DriveClub among those set to join the freebies, albeit in a streamlined form.

 

Quantic Dream

We know that the French team behind Heavy Rain and Beyond is working on /something/ next-gen – we just don’t know what yet. Its only activity on PS4 so far has been to create that incredible The Dark Sorceror tech demo for the big E3 conference but, if that’s anything to go by, the talented studio’s PS4 debut can’t come soon enough. If it can even come close to the staggering level of detail seen in the tech demo’s character models, special effects and lighting then it’d easily be the best-looking game on the system, not to mention a visual spectacle that no other console could match – just like this generation, it’ll be Sony’s first-party studios that really showcase just how much more powerful PlayStation is than the competition.

 

Remote Play

Using Gaikai’s game-streaming technology, one of Sony’s greatest USPs going into the next generation is that it is not only releasing a next-gen console in the PS4 – it’s also effectively relaunching Vita as a next-gen handheld. All your PlayStation 4 games will be able to be streamed straight to Vita and played on the go anywhere where you can get online, an amazing technological feat that reminds us how awesome it is to live in the future. Don’t be put off by Remote Play in its current form, either – both PSP and Vita already have the potential to remotely access your PS3 XMB and even play the odd game, but this tech will be coded into the hardware rather than the software on PS4, making it far more responsive and reliable.

 

Sharing

The fact that there’s actually a button on the new controller labelled ‘Share’ should tell you that this is one aspect of next-gen gaming Sony is massively keen to push. Facebook and Twitter integration in modern games tends to be a step too far, although things like Need For Speed’s Autolog shout the exact same boastful messages to an audience that might actually care. Your PlayStation friends and followers will be able to keep up with any screenshots you post or gameplay videos you record, commenting and counter-posting their own and effectively turning the network aspect of PlayStation gaming into a shared-interest social media arena. It’s all completely optional, of course – if you don’t want to share your gaming exploits with the world, nobody is going to force you to.

 

TheDivisionTom Clancy’s The Division

Good lord, The Division looks remarkable. Nothing else announced for PS4 so far has even come close to giving us that sensation of what next-gen gaming will be like, and it’s for that reason that the Clancy game has soared to the top of our Most Wanted list. And it simply wouldn’t be possible without the technological strides made by PS4. “It’s quite a leap from the current gen,” producer Fredrik Rundqvist told us. “If you’re in a contemporary setting – the type of scenario that we like to bring to gamers – the immersion and the realism are very important. Just adding more power to the machines, you can do more real physics, procedural destruction, you can do global illumination… you can do all these things to make it feel like a living, breathing world. You can’t do that to the same extent on current-gen.”

 

Unified Memory

Oh great, more boring science techno-babble. Hear us out, because this one is kind of important. Well, to developers at least, but it’s an interesting shift. Historically, consoles have had two separate memory pools – one for general operations and one for video. PS3, for instance, had just 256Mb RAM and 256Mb VRAM. What this means is that if it runs out of one but still has a surplus of the other, those resources go to waste and performance still suffers. With unified memory as in the PS4, that problem is eradicated by having a single memory bank – in this case 8Gb of GDDR5 RAM – which can be shared across all computational and graphical operations. It’s far more flexible and will ultimately lead to prettier, better games. See? Looks like you do care after all.

 

Vita

We’ve already made quite a big deal about how important Vita will be to Sony’s long-term strategy with PS4, but it really is set to be something special. Much is made of the supposed lack of games on the handheld but with every PS4 game set to be playable remotely, you’ll be able to play your next-gen games on the go and they’ll look /awesome/ on that slick OLED screen. It will also be able to be used as a second screen for console games (as the Wii U controller does) or even an alternative to the DualShock, albeit one with a few buttons missing and a fancy touchscreen.

 

WiiUWii U

It’s been out almost a year already, but the 12-month head start has done little to help Nintendo’s ‘next-gen’ console ingratiate itself with the gaming public, many of whom still don’t know what it actually is. Allow us to clear that up for you – it’s a HD console slightly more powerful than current generation hardware and its ‘revolutionary’ controller is a budget tablet with buttons. Don’t get us wrong, there’ll be some great games for it (Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101 and just about everything first-party) but from a hardware standpoint, Nintendo finds itself almost a full generation behind. Again. A slew of blockbuster games could perhaps save it yet, but it’s looking increasingly like we might have a GameCube 2 on our hands here – big third-parties like EA have already jumped ship.

 

Xbox One

How convenient that PlayStation 4’s two main competitors just so happen to be alphabetically consecutive. With similar architecture and components, Xbox One is clearly PS4’s closest rival. But between the inferior hardware, a higher price and that whole DRM gaffe that has forced Microsoft to pull more 180s than a shit Tony Hawk’s player, it certainly doesn’t look great. In fairness, it remains to be seen how much damage has actually been done – many casual buyers might not even have caught wind of the DRM debacle, after all. But with the hardcore, the fact that pre-orders for PS4 vastly outweigh those for Xbox One speaks volumes. Even now it /doesn’t/ need to be online, Kinect /isn’t/ always watching and you /can/ easily swap and sell games freely, it’s hard to trust a company that would consider any of that nonsense to be okay in the first place.

 

You

Without wanting to sound too cheesy, PlayStation 4 really will be a console that puts you at the heart of the gaming experience. Alright, so the fact that we just threw up a little bit there most likely means our cheese evasion was unsuccessful, but it’s true – everything from being able to play online using your real name to being able to share your experiences, triumphs and hilarious bugs with friends stands to make this the most social generation yet. Factor in things like the PS Eye – which can put you straight into supported games – and the ability to browse, follow and support an entire community of gamers is hugely exciting. And it wouldn’t be possible without you. Bleugh.

 

DayZ

It’s no great secret that Dean Hall, creator of the wildly popular ARMA II survival mod DayZ, has been in talks with Sony to bring the phenomenon to PS4. A standalone version is due to hit at the end of this year on PC, with the suggestion that a console version is likely to follow suit as soon as early next year. Nothing is confirmed just yet, but the fact that it is even being mooted makes it clear just how easy the transition from PC to PlayStation will be for developers in the next generation. Does this mean we can expect to see PC stalwarts like the Total War franchise or StarCraft II heading to console? Probably not just yet (mainly due to input discrepancies between mouse/keyboard and controller, mind) but the smaller games and indies will surely pave the way for the big boys to follow.

 




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