All the news from Sony’s PlayStation 4 Event

The PlayStation 4 – Hardware

Sony set out to introduce its PlayStation 4 to the world tonight at its “See the Future” event in New York City, and the company delivered in spades. According to Sony’s Andrew House, “We believe that PlayStation 4 represents a shift from thinking of a box or console. PlayStation is the best place to play.” Though Sony revealed the PlayStation 4′s launch window as “holiday 2013,” there are still no pricing details nor images of the console itself. Sony, you’re still teasing us, you sly fox you.

Lead architect Mark Cerny took to the stage to describe what powers the PlayStation 4. At its heart, the PlayStation 4 is powered by a “supercharged PC architecture,” with an x86 processor, enhanced PC-style GPU, and a beefy 8GB of GDDR5 unified high-speed memory. The console is outfitted with 8 CPU cores, which can provide close to 2 teraflops of computational performance. This raw horsepower can allow the rendering of 30,000 polygons in real time. By comparison, Heavy Rain on the PlayStation 3 utilized 15,000 polygons.

In addition to the PlayStation 4′s architecture, we also got a look at the new controller that will presumably ship with the console. Unsurprisingly called the DualShock 4, the new controller has a touchpad in the area that is normally taken up by the Start and Select buttons on previous DualShock controllers. In order to identify players, Sony has designed a light bar. This will come in play with the console’s built-in 3D camera, as it allows the camera to track the different controllers that are using the bar.

If you’re not a fan of lengthy boot times, and why should you be, the PlayStation 4 will let you suspend and resume play by pressing the power button. In addition, a secondary chip has been implemented for the sole function of managing uploads and downloads, even if the power is off. On the download side, you can play digital titles as they’re being downloaded, while on the upload side, the console has always-on video compression. This will allow users to upload video of their gameplay sessions, and then share the footage, as well as any images of their gameplay sessions, to other gamers.

The PlayStation 4 – Software

That social element of uploading your gameplay sessions extends to chat, where the PlayStation 4 will allow gamers to watch others playing games, and also “reach out” to play on a friend’s system. Owners of the PlayStation 4 will be able to use smartphones and other personal devices in order to use companion apps and browse videos. Facebook and Ustream were two specific third-party services touted as being able to use this functionality, though whether other third-party services will be implemented is still up in the air.

Gaikai CEO and co-founder Dave Perry took to the stage to announce what the company has been working on with the PlayStation 4. One such contribution is having an instant notification as soon as a friend of yours buys a title. In addition, Perry announced that you will be able to try a game ahead of time. “With Gaikai and the PlayStation Store, you’ll be able to instantly experience anything you want. Try it for free, share if you like it, and pay only if you like it.” One example Perry gave was the ability for users to broadcast themselves in real time by triggering the new “share” button on the DualShock 4. Before you ask, yes, video trimming is built right into the PlayStation 4 interface. Perry also stated that developers can enable “director” status. By having such a status, an individual can change the gaming environment of the player using the console. This can include everything from changing maps to including power-ups.

The PlayStation Vita was also brought up. Developers now have the option to implement second screen functionality. In other words, this functionality will allow PS4 games to be played on a Vita system. However, as far as backwards compatibility goes, the PS4 will not be backwards-compatible with current PlayStation 3 games. In addition, going against recent rumors of Gaikai streaming PS3 titles, Perry stated that PS3 titles won’t be streamed, though Gaikai is currently “exploring” the ability for PS3 titles to eventually become streamable on any device.

The PlayStation 4 – Games

“But what about the games?” Sony might not have shown off too many games, but I’m sure the company is waiting until E3 to show off more. In the meantime, Sony started things off by showing Knack. Developed by Japan Studio, one of Sony’s in-house developers, the short demo of Knack showed hundreds of objects flying in the screen at the same time with no visible hiccup or dropped framerate. Visually, Knack resembles an animated movie, yet still looked quite snazzy. Knack was also used to show off Remote Play on the PlayStation Vita, and though there appeared to be some lag, the game still looked absolutely delightful.

Next up, Sony showed off Killzone: Shadow Fall. Admittedly, I was surprised when Guerilla Games took to the stage and announced another Killzone game, though, visually, the game looked jaw-dropping. Lens flares and explosions were stunningly showed off, with fantastic depth of field simulation, which makes the demo for Killzone 2 look archaic by comparison. Sure, the PlayStation 4 might not be delivering photorealistic graphics, but there is still quite a noticeable leap over hardware currently available. Sony also showed off the PlayStation 4′s sharing functionality. Sony uploaded the on-stage presentation for Killzone: Shadow Fall, which looked mighty impressive, might I add.

Evolution Studios was next, showing off its latest project, Driveclub. Dubbed a “team-based racer,” “Driveclub isn’t just about cars or locations, but about people,” said the presenter from Evolution Studios. “Collaborative racing with friends, on teams.” According to the presenter, for players who play together, in-game mechanics will reward those players. Driveclub will also implement smartphones and tablets into the fold by allowing players to pick cars and tracks from these devices.

Next up, Sucker Punch announced the long-awaited next entry in the Infamous franchise, called Infamous: Second Son. Exclusive to PlayStation 4, unsurprisingly, Infamous: Second Son will return to the brooding world of prior entries in the series. Seeing as several of these people with superhero-like abilities were shown, could there be a multiplayer component? We’ll have to wait and see until more information is revealed.

Developer Jonathan Blow followed suit with quite the enigmatic trailer for The Witness. The game has been in development since 2010, and, at least initially, the 3D puzzler will be exclusive to PlayStation gamers.

Interestingly enough, David Cage was up next, and presented a very impressive tech demo of the PlayStation 4. He showed off an ultra-realistic 3D model of a human head. Cage pointed out that 350 polygons could be utilized in 1999, and that number rose to 1,500 in 2005. Heavy Rain, according to Cage, utilized 15,000 polygons, with the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls utilizing 20,000 polygons. By this year, with the PlayStation 4, 30,000 polygons can be utilized.

Media Molecule, developer of LittleBigPlanet, was up next, and though no game was announced, it hinted at what could be done using the PlayStation Move with the PlayStation 4. Alex Evans from Media Molecule showed off a 3D sculpting application, which allows users to sculpt 3D objects in real time. According to Evans, “The point is that it’s fast to create.”

Yoshinori Ono of Capcom was next in the fold, and after showing a retrospective, of sorts, Ono unveiled a new gaming engine. Dubbed Panta Rhei, Ono took the opportunity to show off Deep Down, a working title for a new game being developed by Capcom, utilizing Panta Rhei.

Square Enix followed, and, much like Media Molecule and David Cage, didn’t really announce any new games. It, too, opted for a tech demo, though it hinted that we will hear about a new Final Fantasy game at this year’s E3. I only hope that it’s not Final Fantasy XIII-4.

Ubisoft, on the contrary, did not get the tech demo memo, as it showed off Watch Dogs running on the PlayStation 4. Though it closely resembles what we’ve already seen at E3 2012, at least we now know that it’s officially headed to PlayStation 4. According to Ubisoft, “Once you can invade anyone’s lives, anything can happen right in front of you.

Chris Metzer of Blizzard surprisingly showed up and announced a strategic partnership between Blizzard and Sony. In addition, Metzer announced that Diablo III is headed to both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Finally, Bungie wrapped up the show by taking part in a Sony keynote for the first time in the company’s history. It announced that Destiny will be released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. In addition, there will be exclusive playable content for PlayStation gamers.

Conclusion

The PlayStation 4 will arrive in holiday 2013 with an unknown price tag. Sony will assuredly release more information during E3. If that’s the case, then it would be doing the same move it did with its Vita console. Announced as the NGP back in January 2011, Sony not only dubbed it the Vita during E3 2011, but also released pricing details and launch details. Now the ball’s in Microsoft’s court. How will Microsoft respond to the conference? Only time will tell.