So If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months you probably heard about the Playstation 4, coming this holiday season. You might also be aware of the Playstation meeting streamed live to the world where the new console was officially revealed and as of last week so has the new release from Microsoft, Xbox One. So now that the immediate fallout from those presentations is over here’s our two cents, a quick round up for anyone who happened to miss them as well as some general next-gen chat.
So seeing as they “came out” to the world first lets talk about Sony’s Playstation 4. The highly anticipated Playstation meeting started with all that you expect from these type of event’s actually, the same was also true of Microsoft and Xbox as well. Initially plenty of bullshit to swim through (mainly for developers/investors i’m guessing). The inevitable “Come to the dark side we have cookies” speech partnered with plenty of punchy buzz words like “synergy” and “Dynamic” aimed at the industry and the customer as though we were all autistic 12 year old boys, but I digress.
The playstation meeting started out with heavy duty pimping out of the PsVita, trying to get people excited with the promise of something new later this year (maybe at E3 ?). They suggested that it will function like WII U remote for the new console, and also allow for swapping games from the television screen to vita and back. But with nothing much more to say than that came across more like, “Please Please buy one!” Then it was on to looking at new controller for PS4 unsurprisingly called the Dualshock 4, equipped with a touch pad, headphone jack, Share button (more on that later) and new integrated movement software like that currently used in the PS3’s move controller. This new addition to the main controller is to work in partner with a new stereo camera which will track its 3D location, so we get to flail some more in the future, woohoo…
Playstation went on to talk about how digital copies of games will be playable during download and you will be able to power down and power up the console returning to the game at the point of departure. Both seem nothing but good. After that it was onto the industry’s new favourite, social networking. Playstation has new partnerships with facebook and ustream to add to the “community” in gaming, more than anything this made me wonder how bad Twitch TV must feel having missed out on this to ustream. The new PS4 will also allow you to live stream to Youtube, although how long you can share/record footage was unspecific. There is a new functionality which allows you to Jump in to take over other peoples games. This obviously could be helpful for you and me but I think its probably aimed more at Indy developers, twinned with the other function allowing you to watch someone else’s gameplay.
Finally lets talk about the most important thing, games. Unfortunately PS3 and PS network games will not be transferable to PS4 and if you want to play them on the new console you will have to re-buy copies probably through their cloud system. As disappointing as this is within a year of launch no one will care about backwards compatibility, and in the mean time why not just hold onto your old console. So on to the new games, we got see footage from Killzone, Infamous, the witness and a new capcom IP deep down(working title). And unlike other people(who will be mentioned later) we got lots of new gameplay footage. All of it looked very pretty particularly the witness and Killzone and Infamous left us gagging to play them more.
As well as that we got a very interesting presentation by Square Enix who essentially said nothing but “something new is coming at E3” maybe a new final fantasy? But lets not hold our breath after the latest installations of that franchise Square will have to do a lot to bring me back on board. One of the shocking occurrences was the arrival of Chris Metzen from Blizzard, upon who’s arrival the room collectively flipped a shit. However it was to be a disappointment, no project titan or anything new in fact it was, as many had theorised was coming, the announcement of the port to console for Diablo 3. Funnily enough blizzard was to dog us again at pax east with a “new game” announcement, which turned out to be a free to play World of Warcraft card game.
However the biggest shock to me from Playstation was the arrival of representatives from Bungie (Halo developers). Announcing a new IP called “Project Destiny” in partnership with Activision, it is to be a “shared world first person shooter” which will have exclusive content for Playstation. Sounding close to Halo, one of the few draws for Xbox over Playstation made me feel kinda sorry for Microsoft. The disappointment concerning PS4 would come from the fact that we never (and still haven’t) seen what the console actually looks like, which is more than a little worrying and an uncertain release date of “the holiday season”. But as we will see Playstation was not the only ones peddling some disappointment.
Xbox definitely didn’t have the problem of not showing the console, in fact its large, very large imagine a VHS player from the 90’s and you get the idea. Also if the opening minutes of the presentation were anything to go by its important to know It’s always watching you…
What was instantly noticeable from Xbox was that they took a very long time to even mention the word game, instead Xbox started clearly with the intention to show off its new functionality. This included a new vocal control system that recognises a user and opens a personalised home screen upon command as well as allowing to do many other things vocally which were formally control based. The aforementioned home screen shows games, music and film you own and supposedly remembers what you last played from that and where you were within them.
Verbal commands supposedly allow you to swap from live TV to and from any game your playing, or film your watching etc. There was also a cool demonstration of the connect technology allowing you to command the console minority report style with gestures (but i’ll believe it when I see it working for myself). Xbox one is also supposedly capable of running multiple programs alongside each other like a PC, they showed watching a movie alongside a Skype call to demonstrate this. All these features look very swish even sci-fi but how much actually works and wasn’t pre-rendered is unknown. But also all it really demonstrates is lots of functions available elsewhere and seems more like a fancy cable box than a gaming system.
Next we were promised game information after the long look at Xbox One Cable box features, but what we got was instead was first a technology rundown(full specs comparison between PS4 and Xbox One can be seen in a table at the bottom). The new Xbox will not only utilise the Connect but it will now be integral to it and will also have “smart glass” technology to utilise Smart Phones and tablets in concert with the console. It will also have a blue ray player and its high end graphics will require a high end television to appreciate, both seemingly money in the back pocket of Sony, but none the less good news.
The new connect 1080p HD camera is supposedly capable of seeing weight disposition, shoulder and wrist rotation, plus other cool stuff. But with the new console never really turning off and it always watching you definitely has an air of Skynet. This fear was not alleviated by the somewhat weird brag that the 300,00 servers for new Xbox live was more computing power than the entire world in 1999. The global map shown of all the servers there seemed like a plan for world domination at the same time as being a laughable statistic that was like “remember a very long time ago, well we’re better than that now.
Now that they were done with the cable box features and the new connect/Skynet camera they would finally start talking about games…well sort of. Starting with the statement “Introducing Andrew Wilson from Electronic Arts” had many gamers reaching for a razor blade and unfortunately Andrew did nothing to alleviate those worries. From the first mention of the new “special relationship” between Xbox and EA we felt dread reminiscent of when the same term was used to refer to the relationship between the Bush administration in the USA and the Labour party one in the UK. We felt like screaming so your going to ruin Xbox and Star Wars, thanks EA (In case you didn’t know they just bought the rights to Star Wars games from Disney).
The EA presentation went on to show Lots of pre-rendered footage with no actual gameplay even when it was promised on stage. There will be Special Fifa 14 content for Xbox if your a big fan of that franchise, but otherwise nothing of note. The comapny Remedy came in with a new IP called Quantum break. Again there was no gameplay, this time we were to be confused by weird live action footage of a young girl and a ship crashing into a bridge (God know what it’s actually about).Coolest information for me, ironically like at Playstation came from Halo developers. Not a new Halo game but in fact a new live action Halo TV series directed by none other than Steven Spielberg in concert with 343 industries. Which will apparently only be available on Xbox, however I imagine the way the internet is it will be pirated within a second.
This was to be followed by an even weirder alliance than that with EA, another “special relationship” with the NFL. That’s right with the National Football League(American football if you didn’t know), What this is about is unknown to me but definitely suggests a target market of the frat douche bag, which explain the lack of gaming talk throughout. Infinity ward came in to seal the deal on the frat house market with the exclusive Xbox release of Call Of Duty Ghosts, with dogs and arm hair according to the again pre-rendered footage with no gameplay.
since the Xbox One presentation it has also come out(although slowly and inefficiently) that Xbox one will have to hook up to the internet at least once a day for a few hours. Although you will still be able to play single player games should your internet die, supposedly. Also no more borrowing or lending of games say Xbox, as you must install all games to the live account and must pay a fee to add to a second account. Clearly an attempt to break the second hand game market and Microsoft will get a nice new cut of any of their used game sales. Apparently retailers will have to agree to Microsoft terms and conditions to sell and when you trade in a game it will be wiped from your Xbox account, part of the must go online every 24 hours functionality no doubt.
Unfortunately the bad news hasn’t stopped there, it appears there will be no self publishing for Xbox one by indy developers a function that seemed key to the PS4(which is good for them as some of the best new games are indy titles). Evidently we were not the only people thoroughly disappointed with Xbox, after the event Microsoft stock dropped 2/3 of a percent and Sony’s went up 9%. This has been followed up by a salvo of Xbox press releases screaming “we’ll do better at E3” which comes as the second most interesting news under the fact that there will be no Nintendo conference at E3 at all this year.
If you want to check out the full conference it’s view able in the list of links below, along with a couple of humorous bits that other people have released concerning the new consoles.