Everyone is perfectly aware that Sony had their big PlayStation Meeting of 2013 this week, with their big announcement, the PlayStation 4. While the ever-turning cogs of the rumor mill have prevented a new PlayStation from being any kind of surprise, the mammoth 2-hour conference yielded its own surprises. Here’s the five that stood out for me.
1. Blizzard Making an Appearance
I’m not much of a PC gamer myself, so any non-PC gamers don’t take me as an authority on the subject, and actual PC gamers, don’t assume I’m pretending to be. However, I was always under the impression that certain things would never come from PC to console -either because the certain aspects of the game would have to be completely redesigned or removed entirely to be able to function on such vastly different machines. I don’t know much about Diablo III, so I’ve taken to watching some game-play videos to understand a little more and from what I can see it’s so heavily-reliant on the mouse and keyboard set-up that it require a complete interaction face lift.
Good thing? Bad thing? Well, not being a fan of the series, I couldn’t hope to predict how it will fair. What I do find interesting though, is that Blizzard is willing to do this. The partnership will most certainly not be solely for Diablo III (why would they waste such hype on one game only coming to the console, specifically a game that’s been out and readily available elsewhere for months now). This revelation may suggest that the PS4 is absolutely capable of running the kind of games we’ve only seen on PC before now- potentially seeing an influx of console MMORPG’s (eh, Bethesda!?).
2. The DualShock 4 looks completely different
Okay, so this isn’t an actual surprise, I’ve seen it coming a long time now. There are so many issuses with the DualShock 3 like the fact that technologically the design itself is essentially prehistoric and it’s not the most comfortable controller to hold for extended play, and that alone can be a deal breaker for some. So this has been a lifetime in the making. The surprise? I don’t absolutely hate it, well…not now anyway. At first viewing I thought it looked absolutely horrid -it looked clunky and different to the point that it didn’t even look like an official Sony controller any more, but rather one of those VGA/Mad Cat cheap replacements.
Upon reflection I can now see that it’s the change the controller needed. The new analogue stick design for ease of use -decreases the chances of that horrible thumb cramp you get- the triggers seem more shaped for your finger to rest in nicely, rather than just rest on top -reduces chances of your finger slipping off in that crucial moment). The textured underside is almost definitely a welcome addition in terms of the increased comfort and grip over extended periods of time.
My only actual issue with it is the track pad and ‘Share’ and ‘Options’ buttons. This share thing is something they’re really pushing so I get that it has it’s own set button, but why has Start become Options? I’m a tradionalist, this feels like a personal strike against me (but I’m also pretty melodramatic and paranoid, so that may not be true). As for the track pad, well from what I understand it’s sort of going to work like that of a laptop track pad [sidenote: I despise the laptop track pad] which will make browsing the web easier than using the analogue sticks. While this is true, the only reason a track pad works is because the button layout compliments it. You now how the same set up as a laptop but have removed the two mouse buttons usually located directly underneath it. To where? I presume it’ll be Cross for opening links and such and Triangle to open up extra options for whatever you’re clicking. I may just be nit-picking but I can’t imagine comfortably holding the controller, using the track pad and Cross and Triangle…or any two buttons really. We’ll see how it develops though.
3. No Kojima.
PlayStation and Kojima, for me anyway, have always went hand in hand. With no Solid release date for Ground Zeroes I’m pretty much expecting it to be Holiday release, meaning it will almost definitely appear in the PS4′s roster, but I’m curious that without any extra teaser what that means for the title itself. Being the guy that I am, I think this could be linked to the ‘Phantoms Pains’ rumours that the two games are the one and the same thing. Meaning that if they were the same thing, Kojima’s lack of presence could be to not throw in a game which had arguably the most-talked about teaser of 2012 in as a side note for a major console announcement.
Only time will tell, as Ground Zeroes is expected to appear at the Game Dev Conference in March later this year. One thing is for sure, for me specifically, is that Kojima’s non-presence stood out for me more than most of the developers who had been there…that and Yoshinori Ono speaking English, I’ve never seen someone smile so much when speaking a second language. I love that guy.
4. We didn’t see the console, nor did we get a price…and I’m sort of okay with that.
This is what seems to be driving many enthuiasts round the bend. Not seeing the actual machine and specifically not even being given a ballpark figure for how much the behemoth will cost. Having said that, I totally get why. We’re looking at a November release for the PS4, probably something similar as well for Microsoft’s 720. the big difference, Microsoft has not let a single thing slip yet. Throwing everything into this one conference at the start of the year gives Microsoft too much time to gather their senses and offer a rebutle. You can be sure they were watching last night, hoping that Sony would make an error in judgement and announce something that they could turn against them -blocking used games for example, the first to announce this will be the first to suffer it seems at this stage.
It’d be out of the ordinary for them to give you everything at once, especially this early on in the year. The conference was designed to have you salivating, to want more. Big surprises like price, the actual console design and other features such as backwards compatibility and used-game barring will be let slip later in the year once they get to see a little of what Microsoft are going to do next. Why do you need to know what it looks like so urgently? Would you really base whether you would buy it or not on what it looks like? The original PS3 looked like a George Foreman Grill and the 360 looked like a diet PC tower, they seemed to sell pretty well.
Besides, the console war is playing out like a game of chess. Sony have strategically made the first move, revealing everything and nothing. Whether this will be a good or bad thing for either Sony or Microsoft in the end, once again only time will tell. Regardless, most comments sections I’ve been reading seem split right down the middle, with one half firing out fury-fueled responses to the lack of the machine itself and it’s pricing. Which neatly leads me on to my next point.
5. Level-headed commentors are in abundance, and they may have sold me on it.
I am, without question, what would be referred to as a Sony fanboy. I have played multiple consoles over my last 20+ plus years of being alive and while many have impressed me, Sony has consistently done it machine after machine (even the PSP, to a certain extent). However, the closer it drew to the announcement, the more I was convinced that I almost certainly wouldn’t be buying the PS4 on day one. Even during the conference, no mention of backwards compatibility, used games, no console unveiling and that fact I hated the controller in that first instant, I was dead set on not even buying one at all, which is huge for me. However, it was in the comments sections of Facebook, Youtube and multiple news sites where I was changing my mind. Intelligent people explaining things like to make it backwards compatible would mean charges us extra for the machine, whereas you can just save the money and instead just keep your PS3, different users explaining the benefits of the cloud features and the plus of that previously-ridiculous looking controller.
Then I was sold on it, because then I processed the details logically. I wanted a new, comfortable controller and they were providing, It’s been winding me up how little HDD space I have left because of games I have saved on my PS3, they’re providing solutions for that too. Then I realised, my original 60GB PS3 (R.I.P. Matilda) was backwards compatible, yet I traded in all but two games -Fahrenheit and Shadow of the Colossus- which meant I trade it roughly 60/70 titles. I played and completed them both once and then traded them in too. As for used games, I only buy them when I can’t find the game I want brand new. I like my download codes to work, my discs to be mint. The more I read the more I realised, of all the bad stuff they may do with the console, none of it actually matters at all. I might be the first person in history to see someone disagree with me entirely in a comments section and reply, in all caps with: “GOOD POINT…FAIR ENOUGH.”
So there you have it, their big announcement. It met some people’s expectations, shattered others and exceeded a few more folks’. What was my reaction? Well the last 24 hours have changed me from unconvinced to considering a pre-order. I’m now on my third time watching the conference and can honestly say that with every replay I’m starting to feel like there is literally no other way to go for me. Not that there ever was for a Sony fany boy of course, but you see where I’m coming from.
Agree? Disagree? Indifferent? Don’t care? If you’ve got soemthing to contribute let me hear it. Variety is the spice of life and I know no variety like a comment section.
[Written by contributor Dan Connor]