The day has finally come; the PS4 has launched in North America and next-gen has quickly become current-gen. There will be debates for weeks, months and, possibly, years about whether the PS4 or Xbox One is the better console. We’re not here to start that argument; that is a conversation that begins at least 5 years from now. The biggest question I’ve heard tossed about from prospective PS4 purchasers is an honest one, fueled from fear, uncertainty and doubt. One that views subjectively through the looking glass with no definitive answer; only a bunch of yes’ or no’s based on certain criteria.
“Should I buy a PS4 at launch?”
When it comes to the idea of launch, I consider it in terms of within the end of 2013, ideally ending between the year-end holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas. There are many factors for each gamer, with each set dependent on personal preferences and ideologies. When putting the question through the ringer, I try to provide answers based on someone who is interested in purchasing a PS4, but needs to be sold on it before making a decision. Let’s look at all aspects and come up with some answers.
When it comes to what’s under the hood, the PS4 will be the most powerful home console on the market. The PS4 runs off of a 2 quad-core AMD x86-64 Jaguar-based CPU model, 8 GB GDDR5 RAM @ 5500 MHz (which operates at a memory bandwidth max of 176 GB/s) and uses an AMD Radeon “Liverpool” GPU, which performs at 1.84 TFLOP/s. Already at launch there are multiple games running at 1080p and some at 60 FPS as well, which seems to be what Sony executives are counting on throughout the generation.
Additionally, you can switch the internal 500 GB HDD with a larger model without voiding the warranty, although the PS4 does not support external hard drive game installation at this time.
There are roughly 23 games available on the PS4 at launch. Here is a list of them all, including genres, summaries and launch prices. There are only 2 physical retail console exclusives; Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall. Notable upcoming exclusives include a new Uncharted game, as well as The Order: 1886, Infamous: Second Son and MLB 14: The Show, among others to be digitally released.
Knack is a character action game that puts an emphasis on gameplay and its difficulty over flash and narrative. Despite its basic controls, on Hard difficulty it can be quite challenging, and at times unforgiving. Reviews for the game, however, are quite negative. Criticism usually pertains to its lack of innovation, polish and depth of play.
Killzone: Shadowfall, to reviewers, continues to the tradition of previous Killzone games and acts like a slightly-unimpressive first-person shooter in a futuristic dystopian world. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the PS4 at launch. Resogun, the side-scrolling shooter utilizes the hardware capabilities to near peaks to present some of the most explosive and visually-pleasing particle effects. Additionally, 8th generation updates to NBA 2K14, FIFA 14, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts all run at 1080p on the PS4.
There are plenty of games to pick up, with many indie titles being updated, ported or exclusively added to the PS4. Free-to-play games not held back by PS+ subscriptions allow you to jump into the console and enjoy digitally-downloaded content without cost, meaning beyond the console you don’t have to spend another dollar at launch. However, the variety is not that great, and many excellent 1st party studios will be releasing their games starting Q1 2014 and beyond.
DualShock 4 Controller
What a magnificent controller.
I am lucky to have gotten my hands on one of these bad boys, and does it ever fit your hands perfectly. The biggest criticism of the PS3′s DualShock 3 controller was its size. Unless you had really small hands, the layout just seemed too close and cluttered, as well as the controller being fairly light. No complaints whatsoever with the DualShock 4, in that regard. It is much larger, but not “Xbox Hueg!!!1!” like the original Xbox controller that came with Microsoft’s first console in 2001. The grip on the sides of the controller just feels right.
The touch pad works both as a mouse within the OS and for game purposes. In FIFA 14, clicking on the pad changed controls back to the goaltender, for example. D-pad buttons moved around with great fluidity around the track. The options button combines the classic start and select buttons into one, because it only makes sense at this point. Double-clicking on the PS button quickly takes you in and out of games to perform other tasks, like browsing the web or using another app.
The R1/R2/L1/L2 felt really great to press. Another DS3 downfall was the convex-angled L2 and R2 buttons, but with the DualShock 4 they are now much flatter and harder to accidentally press.
As someone who has also handled the Xbox One’s controller, the one slight downfall given to the PS4 controller is with the analog sticks. The rubberized sticks, while operating well and gliding to their paths with ease, still feel slightly cheap. Flattening out the tops was a brilliant move, however.