PlayStation 4 – What’s Next?

Something big from the land of the rising sun is descending on New York city this coming Wednesday. No, it’s not a giant rampaging lizard about to lay siege to Manhattan, but what is almost certain to be the announcement of Sony’s next generation console.

So what can we expect from the PlayStation 4 or Orbis? Well, VGleaks have a full rundown on what are rumoured to be the specs of the new console. We won’t bore you with talk about teraflops and other technical gobbledygook, but by the looks of it what we are getting is a pretty high spec machine that will be significantly more powerful than the current consoles and even the recently released Wii U. The architecture of the PS4 looks to have much more in common with PCs, as Sony appear to be using PC components rather than their own expensive to produce, custom-made chips. The PS3 was notoriously difficult to code for, but the more PC-centric architecture should mean that developers will be able to get to grips with the PS4 far quicker, and should mean an end to the shoddy ports that have blighted the PS3’s lifespan.

An apparent prototype of the new DualShock controller for the PS4. Note the touch screen pad and Move light bar.

The PS4 will also reportedly sport a redesigned Dual Shock controller that has an added touch screen, much like the tech used in the PS Vita. There has been a couple of prototype controllers that have leaked onto the net, which show the touch screen, the addition of a Move style light bar for enhanced motion controls, a larger d-pad and the addition of what looks like a headset port.

Sony have made a very big push on PS+ recently, with the Instant Game Collection giving a lot of value to subscribers, and they have also recently acquired cloud streaming service Gaikai. So what will these services bring to the PS4? I feel PS+ will be integral to the new console, with a lot of online features exclusive to the service, and subscribers will perhaps get full backwards compatibility of PS1, PS2 and PS3 games through Gaikai’s cloud-based service. The architecture of the PS3 and its next gen brother, are so different that the only cost effective way to bring backwards compatibility to PS4 would be via the online streaming service. The addition of Gaikai could also breathe new life into the much maligned Vita, with PS4 games getting streamed to the Vita along with perhaps tablets and smartphones, much like the features of the Wii U controller. It may also be that Sony offer a competitively priced PS4 bundle that includes a Vita to accelerate uptake of the handheld.

The new PlayStation will apparently utilise Gaikai software technology.

A shiny new console is nothing without a good selection of games, and Sony’s own studios have been very quiet recently, with nothing on the horizon for the later half of the year at all, which can only mean they’re beavering away on next gen titles. Hopefully we may catch a glimpse of Gran Turismo 6, Uncharted 4, Killzone 4 or even something new at the unveiling. Third parties like Ubisoft and EA will no doubt have games lined up, with perhaps Watchdogs, a new Assassins Creed and Battlefield 4 being shown off.

The PS+ Instant Game Collection should give gamers plenty to play until the PS4 has picked up a head of steam, and I can see them offering a selection of the previous generations titles as part of the subscription, along with newer PSN titles. I wouldn’t expect them to offer access to free PS4 retail titles for at least a year, so this sounds like the likelier option.

The new PlayStation may be more powerful than it’s predecessor, but can it do this?!

The PS3 launched for £425 in 2007, and its huge price tag lost Sony a lot of gamers to the much cheaper Xbox 360. We can’t see them making the same mistake again, and a report in The Times suggests that a price point of around £300 is being mooted for the new console, which would be mighty tempting indeed. It has been suggested that the PS4 will be released towards the end of 2013 in the US and Japan, with the European release at the beginning of 2014.

Whatever the big announcement is, we don’t have long to wait to see what Sony are up to, and with Nintendo struggling with the Wii U, they need to come up with something special to capture gamers imaginations. We’ll be sitting glued to our computer screens tonight to see whether the PS4 is more of an evolution or a revolution.

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Written by Kevin M

I’ve been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70’s. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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