With the EU release of the Playstation 4 only eight days away, it is definitely time for gamers to get excited. After the mixed critical reception to the launch games however, I’m sure many people’s enthusiasm is waning – but luckily, there is much more to the PS4 than just its games. Here are the PS4’s most exciting features, and here’s how together they will change the way you game – forever.
1. Remote play – and beyond
Imagine you’re on holiday, the weather’s a bit pants and you’re yearning to continue where you left off in Killzone: Shadow Fall. In this gen it would have been a pipe dream to play your console games on the move, but with the PS4’s remote play option, all you need is a working Wi-Fi connection and a PS Vita and this dream will very much become a reality. The potential to play next gen games wherever you go is huge, and for me personally an extremely exciting feature – let’s just hope the streaming is as seamless as it looks.
You can also reap the benefits at home, and as anyone that owns a Wii U can attest, once you’ve got it,off tv play is something you soon can’t live without – so its exciting to hear that you can get the same experience on PS4. With PS4 including seamless transition from tv to your Vita it’s good news for tv sharing gamers everywhere – and heaven for those who just want to play some Knack in bed.
2. That Share button
If the sudden explosive rise of Twitch TV and Ustream gaming channels proves anything, its that we like to watch people play games. The beauty of the PS4’s share button is that you don’t have to invest in video capturing equipment, or even switch on a PC – you can just hit the share button and show off your mad skillz instantly over PSN.
There is huge potential here, giving everyone equal and easy access to streaming tools,opening the doors for a wealth of great user captured content. Given the accessibility and ease of use, who knows how the service could evolve – and the recent confirmation that the service won’t even require a subscription to PS Plus means we could potentially see the PS4 grow into the definitive game-streaming community.
3. Party chat
The only advantage the 360 really had over PS3 was that it boasted party chat for up to eight players, but with the news of party chat hitting ps4 – and without it being tied to PS Plus, it’s time to get excited.
Instead of being stuck behind a paywall, all PS4 owners will have access to cross game or party chat from the word go. Want to catch up with your mates while playing completely different games? Now you can. Meeting up with your friends on PSN will soon become an essential part of the PS4 experience, and it is just one more glowing addition that reinforces the community-focused approach of the PS4.
4. The new and improved PS Plus
One of the biggest changes from the last generation to the next,is that the PS4 requires you to have PS Plus in order to play online. For some this will seem like a step backward, but as any current PS Plus members can testify – the service is most definitely worth the cash.
PS Plus has really come into its own over the last year and a half, providing members with tons of great free games, discounts and heaps of cool content. With the PS4, Sony seem to be pushing PS Plus even further, with the launch package offering users the full version of Drive Club (well, eventually) three free indie games, and down the line presumably more of the great discounts we’ve seen this gen. If you’re even remotely interested in online gaming – PS Plus will very literally be a feature you won’t be able to live with out- and looks set to offer even more compelling content than it did this gen.
5. The ability to Play whilst downloading
How many hours have you spent watching that download bar slowly fill up, only to finally reach the end and be greeted with an installation bar? Well fret no more fellow gamers, because with the PS4 this will most definitely become an issue of the past.
The PS4 will not only let you play as you download, but will also remember what you have prioritised before. So if for example you are a big multiplayer gamer, it will download that first and let you jump straight into matchmaking while the single player campaign downloads quietly in the background. While not necessarily the most exciting new feature, the amount of time it will save is priceless. Anything that reduces waiting time and increases gaming time wins major points in my book.
6. The Unprecedented Indie Support
OK, while not technically a feature, the exciting indie support announced for PS4 will soon be something you need in your library. While the PS3 saw its fair share of indie classics, it seems like with the PS4, Sony have raised the indie bar considerably higher. Whether it’s featuring Jonathon Blow’s ‘The Witness’ at E3 or putting playable versions of Hohokum side by side with AAA titles like Killzone at PS4 events, it’s clear that with the PS4 indies are no longer a side feature, but are being put squarely under the spotlight.
Sony’s decision to lower entry barriers for indie developers and fully embrace the booming indie scene has resulted in developers flocking in the droves to PS4. While there will of course be many quality AAA games hitting the platform, it really is great to see Sony opening the floodgates for so many unique indie games, and ensures that the next generation will see games of all sizes and genres hitting the PS4 for years to come.
7. Connected user interface
To some gamers this may not really seem like a life changing feature, but the O.S integrated social features are crucial to the PS4 – and I think you’ll learn to love them. The interface looks leaps and bounds ahead of the XMB, with everything looking simple, clean and being fully connected to a social feed. The ability to message people and to connect with people with similar interests almost effortlessly is unheard of on a console, and pretty exciting.
The connected user interface is just another example of how Sony really want to create a strong community within PS4– and to instantly be able to connect and game with people that share your interests is another step towards that community. The fact that it looks clean and sharp is another bonus, and for something that you’ll be spending 5 years of your life staring at, that can only be welcomed with open arms.