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First Impressions: PS4

The PlayStation 4 is here at last. It’s been a long wait, but all of a sudden Sony’s slick black box is sitting under my television and I couldn’t be happier.

As soon as you lay your eyes on PS4 you can tell that Sony is really focused on the gamer. It’s a stunning looking machine, complimented by the controller, the quality of which you can feel from the moment you place it in your hands. The machine itself has the same level of workmanship, feeling very solid, but at the same time very sleek and well designed. It’s probably a bit larger than you’ll have expected, but whether you’re sitting it up or laying it horizontally, it’s sure to compliment your entertainment centre.

Praise of the design aside, it’s when you turn the PS4 on that you really begin to appreciate it. On comes the light at the side of the machine and almost immediately it is followed by the orchestral sounds of the PS4 OS. On day one you’ll go through a simple to follow menu in order to set up your PS4 for your own preferences and you’ll have to download firmware v1.51, which in all honesty takes no time at all. Once these pleasantries are out of the way the real fun can begin. If you’ve already got an account on PSN it’s simply a case of signing in, otherwise you can set one up. From here you’ll be met with all the menus you need to get started, whether you want to jump into the store, start up a game or check out what your friends are up to.

The Menu

The menu system on PS4 could not be simpler, there are two main levels the first of which allows you to visit the store; view notifications; friends; messages; join a party; check your profile or adjust your settings. Everything here explains itself really, although it’s probably worth going into notifications in a little more depth since this is certainly a new feature on PS4.

Notifications are quite similar to those on the PS Vita. Using this option allows you to check invitations from friends, check for game alerts (such as updates etc), keep an eye on your downloads and also the progress of your uploads. If you have any notifications then you’ll see a number at the top of the home screen to inform you of them.

Moving on to the main menus, here is where the more visual experience begins. First up is the What’s New menu, which gives you a visual view of any new information Sony may want you to know, any trophies you earned and also a brief view of what friends are up to. What’s interesting about this menu is that clicking through on any of the information Sony provides allows you to view videos, Like on Facebook and even view more information using the much improved PS4 browser.

Elsewhere on the picture menu is an option for Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and TV, the latter of which is home to Apps such as BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, Netflix, LoveFilm and more. Any games you have installed will also appear on the menu, although everything you download is also present in the Library menu.

Perhaps the option which sticks out the most is LIVE from PlayStation. Here you are able to watch what other people are broadcasting and even join in by commenting . Streams here include those from both Twitch and Ustream. It’s a beautifully integrated system which is a joy to use and explore.

Sharing and Streaming

As well as being able to watch others, one of the main new features of the PS4 is to stream your own gameplay. All you need to do is click the Share button on your DualShock 4 then choose whether you’d like to use Twitch or Ustream. You then simply give your stream a name and if you wish you can even send out a tweet to gather viewers, although if you have a channel on Twitch and have subscribers it should tweet them every time you start a new broadcast. If you have the excellent PlayStation Camera (I’ll get to that soon) then you can also put yourself into the stream, allowing you to provide commentary on any live stream you are showing, which our own site will definitely utilise in the near future.

What I love about live streaming is that you can interact with your viewers, so for instance if users are commenting you can view their comments on-screen and reply to them in real time using either your mic or through the PlayStation Camera. This is a really brilliant feature and if you have been paying attention to the news then you’ll know that people are already making great use of this feature.

As well as live streaming, the new Share button allows you to take screenshots wherever you are in the system, be it on the menu or in a game. These can then be uploaded to places such as Twitter pretty much instantly. You can also upload recorded video footage your games, so if you are not a fan of live streaming, you can still show off your skills to the world.

PlayStation Camera

Obviously the Playstation Camera is an optional extra, but part of me feels Sony has missed a trick by not including it with the system because quite frankly it’s brilliant. Not many people have mentioned this, but as well as giving you the ability to stream yourself on your live streams, the PlayStation Camera also allows for voice commands and facial recognition.

When you first start the system with the camera attached it’ll set up the options so that it automatically recognises you and sign you in. My favourite feature though is actually the voice commands, which believe it or not actually seem to work just as well, and in some cases even better than Kinect. Simply by saying ‘PlayStation’ you are given the option to go to the Home Screen, Take a Screenshot, Log In and more. It’s not quite as feature packed when it comes to options as Kinect but the accuracy at picking up your voice is quite impressive.

The Controller

Sony has really went all out to promote the work that went into designing the DualShock 4 and rightly so, as it’s a stunning piece of kit. As soon as you hold the DualShock 4 in your hands you won’t fail to be impressed. It just feels so well designed, so comfortable and perfect for gaming of any sort. It’s not often I’m blown away by a controller, but believe me, the first time you play Resogun and the AI’s voice comes out of the tiny in-built speaker, you’re mind will wander with the possibilities.

Other new additions to the controller include the aforementioned Share button, the Options button, the latter of which provides quick access to menus and the like and of course there’s the clickable touchpad, which allows for swiping, tapping and dragging in a space which is big enough to utilise these movements. There is no doubt that developers will find some innovative uses for the touchpad, as Guerrilla already has by allowing players to access a quick select wheel, for instance. Time will tell how much developers will make use of the touchpad, but it’s there and it’s responsive, so I’m hoping that they do.

As you may know, the DualShock also integrates a light bar with PS Move like functions, although I’ve yet to use this feature enough to comment. All I can say about this is that it doesn’t really intrude in your gameplay. There are those who worries that the light mat reflect off the screen, but for me at least, this seems to be non-issue. Once again it’ll be interesting to see how developer make use of the motion control function, although others are already using the light bar in innovative ways, such as a measure for damage and for player selection.

The DualShock 4 really is fantastic. The thumbsticks are perfectly placed, the triggers now feel much easier on the fingers and the entire controller just feels so more more comfortable to hold. It really is a stunning piece of design and that’s the highest praise I can possibly give it.

Remote Play

Another feature which is optional but will no doubt be made use of is Remote Play. Those with a Vita can easily connect the handheld to the PS4 and use the screen to navigate menus and play games. I’ve tried this with Resogun and it was a great success. Not only does the action flow nicely, but during my play time there was no lag and the graphics looked absolutely wonderful on the PS Vita’s OLED screen.

I did encounter some lag later on in the menus when I was sitting in a different room, which did result in the Vita disconnecting, but in general over a few hours playing around with the feature I didn’t encounter too many issues.

Initial Thoughts on PS4

The above article is literally the work of around five to six hours spent with the PS4. There is no doubt plenty I’ve missed, such as the fact trophies now sync within seconds, or the fact the downloading now feels seamless. I’ve not really played around with the PlayStation Store enough to say if it has improved, but the little time I did spend with it provided no issues whatsoever.

On first impressions I have to say that I am extremely blown away by the PS4. The menus feels so smooth and everything loads so quickly. Sharing, playing and downloading is so simple and getting used to the system itself is child’s play. I’m pretty sure that anyone who has opted for the PS4 will feel just as impressed as me. Nothing feels broken, it all just feels, dare I say, ‘for the gamers.’

In my short time spent with PS4 so far, Sony has done a lot right and not a lot wrong. Much like Xbox One, I couldn’t say the system is perfect but I’ve been nothing but impressed so far. PS4 will no doubt evolve to become an even more impressive machine over time, but for now it’s certainly off to a fantastic start. 

Edited On 27 Nov, 2013

( 13 )
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
Fanboy... Naaa i'm only messing Joe good read that and it's made me now take into consideration picking up a camera, well this article and also the jimmy fallon article.
forcefullpower's avatar
forcefullpower 3 years ago
Just make sure mine turns up on Friday :)
DARKST4R's avatar
DARKST4R 3 years ago
Everyone can be considered a fan boy really? Lol we all have a preferred platform for games even if u own all of them? There's always a system u play more slightly then the others. But had listened to all the podcasts so far u can clearly tell who favours which console (not naming names to systems) haha but that's fair enough. But back to the review side of things. Good job joe, I envy u getting your console before us lol but u have made me more excited for Friday..
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 3 years ago
Yeah there are good and bad fanboys/ girls. There is nothing wrong with liking one more than another its the ones that will do and say anything to put the competition down and will defend their preference as though it is their firstborn
markholland's avatar
markholland 3 years ago
The PS4 is my first choice, but ill be picking up an xbone in the new year as ill need to keep up with the goings on in Halo. I do wish that the games were made for 60 fps game play, but as developers get more practice i'm sure they'll start making some progress in this department. As a pc gamer ive been rather spoiled this last year or so!
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 3 years ago
Hey was only joking when we called me a fanboy people :D Anyway I hope you enjoy the article, that's what's important to me :D
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
Wow I hope this didn't stem from me joking around with Joe from a few previous comments I saw from another article the other day.
DARKST4R's avatar
DARKST4R 3 years ago
Exactly give developers the time and enough resources there pull that elephant out the hat everyone seems to ask for lol give it time and the consoles u see before you now will be completely different, if u need a example think of 360 at start and where it is now... But @markholland is correct! The way forward is 60fps at full 1080p, no less.. Systems now are 4k compatible that's what I really want to see... And that's where we are leaning towards. I own a 4k tv and only game out off all that stands out on upscaled 4k res Is forza 5 the lower 720p games even with the upscaler from the xbox one on a 4k panel don't look so good. And @joe I was only just playing and simply just saying ;) haha I just find it funny everyone calls you a ps fanboy all the time
Boness's avatar
Boness 3 years ago
Excellent stuff, I'm currently downloading the 1.51 update from the playstation site. I will be popping my new 1tb sshd straight in and letting the good times roll
Anonymous user's avatar
MARTIN 3 years ago
I noticed that Need For Speed Rivals PS4 is not in stock yet. Will I still receive this preorder on release day being as all other PS4 releases are in stock??
Mangaman1's avatar
Mangaman1 3 years ago
@joe.so how come your allowed to get your ps4 early? Lol Only joking.sounds great...roll on fri
Steersy's avatar
Steersy 3 years ago
slightly off topic but here is an interesting article on what the Dying light Devs are doing with the Dualshock 4. http://www.polygon.com/2013/11/11/5093440/dying-lights-smoothness-of-ps4-makes-for-a-comfortable-experience
shoz's avatar
shoz 3 years ago
Nice! Shall get mines once everything's a bit calm

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