Alight, so I’m sure you all are tired of hearing me go on and on about the PlayStation 4 – but I’m not done just yet. In my last hype article (for a while, at least) I wanted to share some of my favorite features of the PlayStation 4 with you all now that I own one and have been playing with it for a couple of days. These things really wowed me and I’m hoping they either wowed you too or at least make you want the console more than you did. The PS4 is an amazing machine capable of great power and hopefully lots of responsibility to go with that power. I have been having a blast with my new console and every time I turn it on I seem to find something new about it that is super cool and mind-blowing (note: it’s pretty easy to entertain me, so keep that in mind). So here are a handful of my favorite things, in no particular order.
Those of you that have a PS3 know just how annoying it can be to sync your trophies with the server and even view them at all (especially while playing a game). With the PS4, all of that annoyance is a thing of the past. For one, you can view your trophies while playing a game with no arduous loading and syncing, it’s super simple. You can also view them with no lag or wait times while it loads them up and it only takes about 10 second or less to load them fully. My favorite part of the new trophy system though is the breakdown while looking at your trophies for each individual game. What I mean by this is that when I go to a game like Bioshock Infinite to view my trophies it breaks down the game into separate categories based on DLC. So I see that I have 67% of the trophies in the main game, below that I see that I have 0% in the Clash in the Clouds DLC, and 23% in the Burial at Sea DLC. This makes it so much easier to see what trophies you need for each specific DLC or just the game alone. There is also a little side section on each trophy that shows you how rare it is. It’s a really awesome upgrade from the old system.
This one is pretty obvious, I mean it’s next-gen so you’d assume there are better graphics and your assumption would be correct. To be more specific though I really find the lack of graphical transition between cutscenes and in-game graphics most stunning. While playing Killzone: Shadowfall I noticed that most the in-game graphics and the cutscene graphics are basically the same. I mean there is literally very little (if any) noticeable difference. The entire game is gorgeous, not just the cutscenes. I am really looking forward to playing more next-gen games and exclusives in particular as I assume this graphical feature will only improve in time.
Playing Games While They Download/Install
The ability to play a game while it downloads/installs makes the whole “you have to install every game” thing a non-problematic issue. I insert a game into the console and in seconds I can play it just like I would with the PS3, except it’s actually still downloading in the background smoothly. The multitasking that the console is capable of in general is fascinating. I was able to download 2 games at the same time while watching Netflix with no quality change or lag. It’s all really neat and I’m almost worried that I’m doing something wrong half of the time since I’m not used to things this amazing, but in reality it’s all right and it’s all great.
The Dualshock 4
So the new Dualshock 4 controller is nothing short of brilliant. The overall layout is a great improvement over the Dualshock 3, the sticks are more widely spaced so your thumbs don’t hit each other and the buttons are very responsive and smooth (not slippery though). One of my favorite parts so far is the triggers. They are so much better than those of the Dualshock 3 and make playing shooters fun and easy, not annoying and awkward. The touchscreen thing in the middle is also really neat and to be honest I was worried about it to begin with. I thought it seemed like a stupid idea but to be honest it’s really innovative. It acts as a touchscreen and a button, for example in Killzone: Shadowfall you use it to change what the OWL does by swiping up/down/left/right and in Battlefield 4 it’s used to access the Battlelog. I also really like the light on the top for various reasons but mostly because I don’t like the dark so it acts as a nightlight at times (I know, I’m lame). There is also a speaker on the Dualshock 4 that blew my mind when I picked up an audio log in Shadowfall and it played through the controller in great clarity. Overall, it’s as much a work of art as the console itself.
I suppose this could have been part of the Dualshock 4 section, but I felt that it deserved its own little section because of how amazing it is. The share button allows you share video clips and screenshots on Facebook and/or Twitter in a few seconds. The PS4 is always recording your gameplay so that when you want to share up to the last 15 minutes of a game you are playing with your friends it’s a breeze. Taking screenshots and sharing them is also super easy and a ton of fun. It all works really flawlessly, I expected some issues with connecting or quality but there is none of that. I’m personally looking forward to using some of my screenshots in future video games reviews that I write. You can also stream with this button to Twitch.tv, which is great for a game streamer like myself.
By loading speeds I mainly mean the ability to get in-game much faster than you previously could with the PS3. The PS3 was notorious for its slow as molasses load screens that you just had to sit through while progressively getting more and more annoyed with life. When I play The Last of Us it takes about 5-10 minutes just to load into the game, for example. On the PS4 I was able to select the game and pretty much start playing from where I left off (or join a multiplayer match) instantly. It took only a few seconds to load up the main menu, which was awe-inspiring considering how long it would take on the PS3.
Part Chat and Cross Game Chat
This is a new feature for Sony – the ability to get into a party with friends and chat it up while either playing together or separately (or not at all I suppose). It works really well and when you compare it to the party chat available in the Xbox 360 you’ll see an improvement. People don’t get dropped from the party left and right and lag is not an issue as it can be with the Xbox 360. I also thought it was particularly cool that there is also a text section, so if your microphone dies or you don’t have one you can text chat and let your buddies know without having to send a separate message. Overall it’s a really cool feature, one that lets players stay social and keep in touch with friends while also doing whatever they want.
The messaging system has been improved upon as well. It reads more like text messaging on a phone now, which makes it easier to use the text dictionary and to use the keyboard in general. It’s more responsive as well which allows for more speed when messaging people. There is also a new notifications menu that is kind of like a the mothership of all types of notifications. Here you can see your messages, your friend requests (which are now separate from the messages, by the way), your name requests, your downloads, what trophies your gotten, etc. all from the same menu. The messages have their own separate menu as well, so you can access those either way. This makes it easier that ever to stay in touch with your console and your friends.
The main menu (I don’t know if it has a more specific name) replaces the cross media bar (XMB) of the PlayStation 3. It’s a really cool menu that is so easy to navigate due to it’s surprising simplicity. There is so much that it can do yet you will never feel lost or overwhelmed by extra menus and options. I was really happy with its layout and accessibility. I can see how many notifications or messages I have, what games I have been playing or want to play, how many friends are online, how many people are in my party, and all kinds of other stuff without having to scroll around or slide over anywhere. The only downside is the lack of themes or color changing, but I assume that maybe at one point they will add some customization in. Even if they don’t, it’s still really nice.
Standby mode is a new mode in which you can allow the console to go on standby in which it will consume less power yet prepare for the next time you turn it on. Basically, it stays ready for you so that you don’t have to wait for the system to load if you just want to head to the store to get some soda real quick. It also keeps the USB ports running so that you can charge controllers while it’s in this mode. I really find this useful as I hate to keep turning my system off an on throughout the day when I go out to make lunch or leave the house for a few minutes to run an errand. It’s a simple little feature that I see myself getting a lot of use out of.