PlayStation 4 – impressions after a few days of hardcore use
The next-generation is finally here and I’m so happy about it.
I’ve played around with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One devkits for better part of the last 12 months and various iterations of the Dualshock 4, but they dont really compare to having a final product that actually offers you something to play. When you have a devkit, you have nothing to play on it nor is the OS ready or connected, so really, not that much at all can be gleaned from them.
So I got a PlayStation 4 last week and spent the entire weekend in love with it. At first I placed the PS4 on the right side of my television, but then I opted to put into the place where the PS3 was on the left. Thus I moved the PS3 to the right and really, it’s gonna be retiring rather soon now. I did buy a vertical stand for the PS4, but I’m not using it so far. Feels safer to use it in horizontal fashion. You know it’s like stickers and your laptop. At first I dont put any stickers on my laptop so it feels more pristine, but years down the line, I put some cool stickers on it because I dont care so much about it anymore.
The packaging still has too much “paperwork” and “protective gear” so it lacks that Apple feel when you open an iPhone case, you see that sexy piece of kit immediately, but my PS4 was wrapped in plastic. Still, first world problems kinda complaint. The nicest thing is that the package and the PS4 unit is so light! I have not plugged in the camera at all because I dont like how it would look in front of my tv. I want to keep my tv stand as clutter free as possible, so I dont know what to do with the camera for now. It’s just waiting on the couch.
The PlayStation 4 is sooo compact and light at 2.8 kilograms. It’s elegant, super quiet and just gives a powerful feeling when you watch it and I watched it a lot. Also the power cable is totally standard, no power brick, no special bullshit cable either. That’s some truly great engineering and design from Sony, as is to be expected.
How I felt?
Fucking excited man! Carrying the console home, making sure the lights in the crib are right, everything around me should be right for this first virgin experience of the PlayStation 4. I really felt excited and even more so when I started using the machine and it felt like something new. I felt like calling people up and telling them how awesome it was to be excited about new hardware again as this console generation has gone on for so long.
To me next-generation is about the speed and immediacy of the experience. That is definitely delivered here.
I love how fast the PlayStation 4 UI is. When your games in the AAA console space are massive in size, having the load happen quickly is rather more complicated than on an iPad or iPhone where the the executables and assets are far less in size. Killzone Shadow Fall does really nicely here considering it weighs in around 40 gigabytes.
The PS4 boots up really fast. I did get really annoyed by the background music fast too, so I turned it off. I think the UI lacks style, but I’ll take speed over style any day and I think most people do. The UI is really clear, I like how the Settings, Profiles, Chat etc options are on the upper bar while the games and apps are presented below in much more visual fashion. This is a good decision. I hate how Apple’s pushed iOS into much more visual design territory, so you have to scroll through pages and pages of images to see a few apps…a text- based list would be better since it’s a lot faster to use.
Anyway, the PS4 UI is clean and simple. Changing settings is fast enough and jumping across the game currently running and UI is super fast. I really hope things wont slow down with future OS updates when more features come online. Also, checking out network related things, which is most features, is a lot faster than on the PS3. Things like Trophy syncing, listing friends etc could be annoyingly slow on the PS3 and all that is much faster on the PS4 at least for now.
Party chat seemed to work great and the audio quality was really good considering the supplied headset is understandably cheap, but it falls out of my left ear, so I have to keep in my tighter right ear, which feels odd. That’s my problem however. Anyway, the chatting works like it works on Xbox Live so seemingly all good.
There’s still a bit too many Yes/No options asked from the user. A bit too many button presses required to achieve certain functions and asking people to join your game is still a bit confusing. I do like the chat history which looks like it came straight outta the iPhone message software.
Game load times are fast, but will become faster for sure once developers can actually concentrate on building technology just for next-gen consoles and not have to worry about PS3/Xbox 360.
As soon as I booted the console and had it connected to the Internet, the firmware update download started. This installed in the background too until it asked to reboot the machine. Game updates are similairly smooth, but you dont have to reboot at least not with the updates I had. You dont have to separately install software after the download has finished anymore which was incredibly annoying on the PS3. The system still lacks a bit of elegance. I downloaded Assassins Creed IV and I got the Season Pass, DLC, the main game all as separate downloads. Would be nicer to just hide all that from the user and install a single thing that includes everything.
All in all, I’m really happy. The UI is fast, seemingly chatting over voice is easy in parties and joining into multiplayer is a lot better than on the PS3.
This is fast too. Thank goodness! Here the visual style works quite well as there is still enough information per page.
I really hoped Sony would have re-worked the Trophy system, because the current system is just boring and lacks the scoring element and fun of Xbox Gamerscore which is just a lot more addictive. I think Sony really missed a chance here. I’d love to see a proper overhaul.
So fucking good (that’s what she said) that I dont want another controller. I had toyed with the final controller a while ago, but having no games to play with it, you couldnt get a feel for it. Now that I’ve got to use the Dualshock4 in Call of Duty: Ghosts and Killzone Shadow Fall, I can say that the controller is awesome. The analogue sticks are great, closer to the Xbox 360 controller ones in terms of tightness and responsiveness. They are not slippery either. I cant really find any fault with the controller so far. The touch pad button is used in most games I got, like it brings up the map in ACIV and you can move around the map using touch controls which is intuitive. Killzone Shadow Fall uses the touch functionality really well with the OWL. Not an intrusive mechanic, but a fitting one.
Call of Duty: Ghosts opening level on the PS4. That 1080P just feels so good and nice. Definitely makes the game look better than on old gen. It really felt new and refreshing on a new console even if it isn’t.
Lack of multimedia
Initially I was very disappointed about the lack of DLNA support as the PS3 was my main means of watching downloaded movie files. MP3 support I dont care for so much anymore as most of us stream music anyway and I plug in my iPhone into my amp if I want to play MP3’s. It’s the sort of “cool to have” feature that you use a few times and then forget about it.
I think focusing the PS4 as pure games machine, at least for now, is smart decision from Sony. The PS4 is a pure games console, there’s no photos, no movies etc to complicate things and clutter the UI. I can understand the decision and kinda like it when I use the PS4 now. We got so many other devices to do these other things on such as the TV. I dont think storing photos on a console and watching them on it was something most people did anyway so cutting that feature out is completely fine. It’s about focus. Same with movie playback. It would be nice, but still, my TV now does the whole DLNA thing and a dedicated player is cheap and better. A single device is just not gonna do things as well in those aspects as you’d want it so Sony’s smartly just concentrated on making the PS4 a games machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if these multimedia features would appear in firmware updates, but I dont miss them now. Microsoft definitely has a chance here to offer better multimedia services than the PS4.
The video sharing was confusing to me at first. So if the machine records the last 15 minutes of gameplay, then why do I have to press the Share button to record video? Turns out, when you press it, that’s where it cuts the video and thus renders out the last 15 minutes. I didnt quite work this out right as I had one of those epic CoD moments and I was all like “motherfucker this is exactly what this video feature is made for!”, but I didnt get the clip at all. Frustrating, but mostly down to my lack of skills.
So what happened in that Ghosts match was that I ended up behind a flag in Domination only for the opposing team’s five players to spawn right in front of me. For once I blasted them all instead of dreaming of blasting them all and the amount of XP and then just failing to hit any of them! So no, I wasnt able to catch this on video.
Also, I cannot find a delete function for the taped videos and screenshots?!?