PlayStation4 post release thoughts

Photo of PS4 via creative commons
Killzone artwork from SobControllers via creative commons

When the PlayStation 4 was released a month ago, I braced myself for some disappointment. The nine months between announcement and release built up momentum for the new machine, but I was concerned that like most new console releases, the day-one experience would be lacklustre. Four weeks on, it seems that I was wrong.

The biggest problem that any new console faces is building an attractive launch line-up. Launch-day developers have to build their game with incomplete tools and with the final hardware being a moving target. The result is either a sub-optimal final product, or a delay past the launch window to clean things up. The PS4 does not currently have a "killer-app" that will shift units by the millions, but it has succeeded in having a healthy selection of good games to please early adopters. Knack and Killzone are quite a bit of fun, and very pleasing to look at. But it's Resogun that's got me hooked: super-addictive highscore-chasing gameplay, with gorgeous, particle-filled visuals. The line-up is rounded out with a number of cross-generation third-party titles, as well as improved versions of several great games from the past several years, like Flower and Escape Plan.

The PS4 interface is an absolute pleasure to use. Sony has historically struggled in this area, with the PS3's XMB (XrossMediaBar) being merely "adequate", and it's clear that a lot of effort was put into the PS4's front-end design. The most impressive feature is sharing. The ability to instantly store screenshots and video in just one button-press, and easily share it out to friends, is a real game-changer. Also of note is the intuitive way in which multiple local players are supported. There are no player numbers: everybody logs in as themselves, jump into each other's games with ease, and earn trophies towards their own profile. Everything just works, and you never feel like the system is fighting you.

Finally, the controller deserves a special mention. People are often averse to change, and it’s hard to imagine how altering a controller design that's lasted 15 years could be anything other than disconcerting. But the bigger handles, grippier sticks and sensibly-curved triggers are so objectively better that even as a PlayStation veteran, I couldn't help but embrace the change. My only gripe is the touchpad: it feels very cheap and doesn't work well at all for anything other than directional swipes. Its usefulness was already going to be a hard sell, and the poor quality really lets it down.

There are a dozen other tiny nice things I could talk about, like the motion-based text input or the fluid video editing, but suffice it to say, the PS4 is an absolute joy. If you were on the fence about jumping in early, rest assured that the new-generation PlayStation experience is already fantastic and worth every penny.

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