Monday Impressions: Sony Meeting 2013 - The PS4 reveal
Last week, Sony jumped the gun and revealed the PlayStation 4, the successor to their 2006 console the PlayStation 3. The Sony Meeting was 2 hours long and didn't waste any time during the event. The console's big features and specs were covered, along with exclusive titles with third-party developers backing up the new system. It was a well thought presentation that focused heavily on the game developers and the gamers, but at the end of the day it just left more questions than answers.
I woke up around 6AM to watch the event live, and when 7AM hit, the first presenter gets on stage. With a small introduction, Sony announces the PlayStation 4, all our speculations were correct, now what is the console all about?
Better graphics and stronger specs is expected in new hardware, but what I got from the event was that Sony is focusing on making the console more developer friendly and more social. There was so much talk about the new share button found on the new DualShock 4 controller, making it one of the biggest feature for the console so far. The ability to share any video clip, screenshot, or even live stream your gaming session to friends and other players in PSN can all be done easy by pressing the button. Sounds cool, but how effective will it be? Also, did Sony take into account consumers with sub-par internet connection? The whole sharing aspect seems to require a decent connection speed to really utilize these features, so I still have my doubts with the whole social aspect of the PlayStation 4, and I really don't see that many people using it. We'll just have to see how fluid and easy it really is.
They also mentioned a feature where you get to play a game while downloading it, and the option to try out any game available on PSN on the fly. Sounds amazing, but brings me back to the same question - Is Sony considering all their consumers? With a bad internet connection, features like that will come out useless, making some buyers unable to fully maximize their investment. Sony is slowly moving into a more digital structure making online a must, to really enjoy everything. It is confirmed that you can still play games offline though, at least that hasn't changed.
8GB of GDDR5 is good news
When they were talking about the new console's specifications, the big news was the RAM. First rumored to be 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, Sony announced the PS4 having 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, a big upgrade if you compare it to the PS3's 512 GDDR3 RAM. This gives developers more room to breathe when developing games for the PlayStation 4. Many developers consider the PS3 the hardest hardware to work on, and it looks like Sony wants to change their image with game developers.
Another great thing to come out of the meeting was that Sony aims to create the PS4 as a center point for other products. The PS Move gets a new purpose for consumers who bought the motion controller, which I bet is gathering dust right about now. Media Molecule(LittleBigPlanet) is hard at work at a design tool that allows players to sculpt 3D objects with the use of the PS Move, and also allow them to make a puppet band presentation apparently. The presentation from Media Molecule may be the low point for some, but is actually a great avenue for potential. It's a great concept and from what we saw from LittleBigPlanet, there are tons of players that love to be creative. The PlayStation 4, the creative console they say.
The PS Vita also gets some love. The PlayStation 4 will feature remote play, giving the option to transfer any game you are currently playing on your HDTV to your PS Vita's small screen. This was shown during the presentation of Knack's gameplay, the first exclusive title for the PS4. If this remote play feature does get executed in most PS4 games, PS Vita will have a bigger purpose now. But that is if developers take into account in adding the remote play feature during development. It would require the effort from the game devs to implement the feature, so it's hard to tell if it will be available for all PS4 games.
After all the talk about the specs and the features, they shifted to the games. Sony showed a good mix of game engine demo's and exclusive game titles to really show the power of the new console. The Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games and Square Enix's Luminous game engine makes an appearance, reminding us that we are entering a new generation. A new Killzone game and a new inFAMOUS game were pretty obvious reveals, and it's good to see a game like The Witness included in the reveal line-up, showing the world that Sony does want to create more artistic games similar to Unfinished Swan or Journey. Destiny, Bungie's next big title, shows up with new gameplay footage, confirming it as a next-gen title. I Still don't have a firm grasp on what Destiny is aside from it being an FPS, but it's good to see it coming to the PS4. But among all the game announcements, the biggest shocker for me was of Capcom's presentation of Deep Down and Blizzard entering the stage.
The part where I said "WHAT!?" during the presentation
When I say shocking, I mean in a weird and bad way. Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, better known for his work at Street Fighter 4, goes to the stage. At first, I was thinking a new Street Fighter? It didn't makes sense that a guy who revived the Street Fighter franchise comes to a Sony presentation. But Ono quickly state's that he's not here to talk about Street Fighter. Apparently he was there to introduce a new game engine from Capcom called the Panta Rhei. To debut the engine, a new game called Deep Down was shown by Ono and looked amazing, but was questionable. Is this game really on real-time? Even with the UI at the bottom left, it was hard to believe something like that was not CG. Deep Down(still a working title, thank god) made me put my guard up. It looks amazing, but I didn't want to get too excited. I'm still not convinced that the Capcom's new engine can produce a playable product that will look just like that. I'd love to be proven wrong though, but for now I'm not buying it.
Then we have Blizzard coming to the stage, after the people at Bungie showed Destiny. I'm sure I wasn't the only one at the edge of their seat when Blizzard showed up. Blizzard? On a Sony press conference!? All I could think about is, if this comes out as a new title from Blizzard, It's going to be huge! But no... all we get was a game that's reaching a year old. Diablo 3 was announced for PlayStation 4 and PS3, and I just literally felt my jaw dropped. This felt like the worse possible outcome. Why bring in a game that is not fit at all for console gaming. I was really hoping for a new franchise from Blizzard, but they dropped the ball on that one.
But not all was lost. When Ubisoft took the stage, I knew what was coming. Watch Dogs is confirmed as a next-gen title. A new playable demo was revealed showing the game's sandbox gameplay. This is one title that just looks amazing. This is the game that gave me goosebumps and is definitely in my buy list for next-gen games.
At the end of the presentation, the console was a no show. They never showed the console itself, Just the controller. I guess Sony wanted to act first, but not go all in. Not even a price point was given, which is expected since Microsoft has yet to reveal their next-gen console. But we do get a release window - Holiday 2013. Sony gave us a taste, and with two console's now revealed, the console war has officially begun. I'm sure Sony wanted to redeem themselves after the horrible reveal of the PS3, and I think they did with this Sony Meeting. Some might say it's a bit too early, but I think the timing was perfect. A great start, and the amount of information was enough to satisfy and keep people interested for more.
E3(Electronic Entertainment Expo) is coming up, and I'm positive that's when Sony goes all in. In fact, that's when all three go all in. Microsoft has yet to reveal their console(reveal possibly before June), and Nintendo is definitely going all out with first-party titles during this year's E3. For Sony, I'm expecting the price and how the console looks during Sony's E3 press conference this year, as well as more title reveals. Also, for all you Final Fantasy crazed fans, Square Enix confirmed during the Sony Meeting that a new Final Fantasy title for the PS4 will debut during E3, so look out for that.
You can find our full summary of the Sony Meeting 2013 here. Or, you can watch the whole 2 hour press conference yourself below.