With Christmas and Black Friday fast approaching, it's time for our annual console buyer's guides packed with useful advice, cheap console bundle deals and the best games bargains for the hottest software. Now we're ready to give the PS4 its dues.
Sony's console has been flying off the shelves this past year on the strength of its beefy specifications, best-in-class controller, affordable pricing, nifty features and the promise of more quality first-party exclusives. Unfortunately we'll have to wait until next year for big hitters like Bloodborne and Uncharted 4, but the PS4 makes up for it with canny third-party deals, superb indie games and an impressively varied lineup of software big and small.
In this guide we'll discuss the hardware, software and then the cheapest way to get up and running.
PS4 Bundle Deals!
For those who want a taste of both new and old, GAME are currently running a PS4 bundle with The Last Of Us Remastered and either Far Cry 4 OR Grand Theft Auto 5 for £349.99. Bargain. Thanks to preparationiskey @ HUKD!
- Click here to buy a PS4 with The Last Of Us Remastered & GTA V for £349.99 from GAME >>
- Click here to buy a PS4 with The Last Of Us Remastered & Far Cry 4 for £349.99 from GAME >>
Argos are also running some straightfoward PS4 bundle deals at the moment, the best of which includes the console with Grand Theft Auto V and Far Cry 4 for £359.99. Scroll down to see the special offers. Thanks to Jabbypans @ HUKD!
If you want to make sure you don't run out of games to play, you can net a PS4 with five decent games for under £400 at ShopTo, including Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Wolfenstein and Minecraft. Thanks to preparationiskey @ HUKD!
- Click here to buy a PS4 with COD: Advanced Warfare, Minecraft, Battlefield 4, MGS V: Ground Zeroes & Wolfenstein for £399.85 at ShopTo! >>
Dragon Age fans can also get Dragon Age: Inquisition with a new PS4 console for £329.85 at ShopTo.
Finally, if you're in the market for a standalone glacier white console, you can grab a bargain at Gamestop for £299.97. Note that their customer service leaves much to be desired, though. Thanks to ahmadfirdausazmi @ HUKD!
Naturally we expect Black Friday to be bountiful for cheap PS4 bundle deals, but this is the level you want to match or beat! Also be sure to keep an eye on Amazon, who recently offered several bundles at £329.99 and may do so again come the end of November.
PS4: The Basics
The PS4 has remained largely consistent since launch (check out our massive PS4 hardware guide from last year here). Sony have sort of coasted this year, but they've been able to because the console itself is a streamlined beast. It's a no-frills games console at heart, designed to really do one thing, and do it better than the competition: allow you to play the hottest new games. The PS4 emerged rather early as the leading platform in terms of third-party performance, and indeed that ties in with Sony's goal for this machine. As a general rule, and it's worth noting that there have been a few exceptions and that the margin of difference is slender, the PS4 has been the go-to console for third-party games this year.
The console benefits from sleek looks, usually quiet running (although Assassin's Creed Unity has made the cooling fans howl more than any other game in twelve months), and a controller that might actually be the best of its kind this generation. The PS4's interface could be better, but again, it fits in with the no-frills approach Sony took to the hardware -- everything is designed to get you up and running with a game as quickly as possible. That being said, the extra functionality that Update 2.0 has borught to the table is very welcome indeed, although it remains to be seen just how much of a game changer Share Play will be, given that several leading titles have restricted its use.
The key things to look out for will be console bundles dipping below the £300 mark. Don't worry about the PlayStation Camera, Sony pretty much wrote it off when they chucked it out of the box at launch, and nothing save for LBP 3 really uses it. In a manner typical of the PS4, it'll be all about the games you can get with your console purchase. Looking out for a PlayStation Plus subscription deal is crucial too. Most game will require PS Plus for online play, but you'll want to invest if only for the Instant Game Collection, which has been dishing out several free notable indie games a month on PS4.
Controllers & Peripherals
The DualShock 4 is hands down the best current-gen console controller on the market right now. Improving on the awful DualShock 3 in practically every respect, it's both comfortable, practical and convenient due to its ergonomic design, great triggers, onboard rechargeable power supply and ability to plug in any headphones via the 3.5mm jack. The touchpad and light bar may be a bit of a gimmick, but developers are starting to use them in increasingly imaginative or plain humorous ways, not to mention the in-built speakers. Read our full review for all the details.
Thanks to Assassin82 @ HUKD! If you don't want to set up a new account or the voucher expires, Base are currently charging £38.99, which will save you £1.
In terms of peripherals, we have to mention the PlayStation 4 camera. This nifty device allows you to livestream and engage with a small number of supported games, not to mention enabling some slightly broken voice commands. To be honest we wouldn't recommend picking one up at this stage, but nevertheless, here's the cheapest place to do so.
Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII & Chanchi32 @ HUKD! If you don't want to set up a new account or the voucher expires, Amazon are currently charging £38.92, admittedly not much of a bargain. Ooh, £1.07. Don't spend it all at once.
For those of you who don't know, PlayStation Plus membership is mandatory for playing the majority of games online (some F2P titles are exempt), meaning that you'll need to purchase a subscription annually or per month. This might seem like an annoying imposition, but cheap PS Plus deals abound, while the service does come with some additional benefits.
Weekly discounts and deals are all well and good, but the Instant Game Collection is the star of the show. Sony provides a selection of games on PS4, PS3 and Vita to freely download and play as much as you like for the duration of your subscription.
Also bear in mind that you can buy PSN credit for store purchases, which can effectively grant you money for nothing.
Share Play is a brand new feature that allows a PS+ subscriber to 'share' a local mulitplayer game with another PS+ member over the PlayStation network as if they were in the same room. The video above and our in-depth article explains how it works. Publisher-specific restrictions and an hour limit might arguably make Share Play more of a marketing tool than a unique selling point, but damn, it's still seriously cool and one of the most 'next-gen' features on any console to date.
As mentioned, the PS4 is currently thin on the ground in terms of 'must have' killer apps compared to the Wii U and Xbox One, but that's not to say it doesn't have any games. Far from it, because there are still some great first-party titles and cheap PS4 deals waiting for your attention. Let's take a look at the biggest games of this Christmas.
The biggest PlayStation exclusive of this Christmas may also be available on PS3, but the PS4 version includes extra creation tools, user-generated trailers and upgraded graphics. This massive content offering includes all of the tools and player-made levels of LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 at launch, plus a new campaign starring Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie. Reviews are mixed yet all very positive - stay tuned for ours.
- Click the links to pre-order LittleBigPlanet 3 on PS4 for £37.95 /PS3 for £32.95 from The Game Collection (via Rakuten)
Make sure to use voucher code SPEND40. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
inFAMOUS: Second Son
"In many ways, inFamous: Second Son is a lot like its sales rival Titanfall -- it doesn't do much that's new, but rather refines and polishes and balances everything that came before in expert fashion, providing new little twists and expanding in areas that had the scope for it to deliver a blockbuster experience that rarely lets you down." - 8/10 review
inFAMOUS: First Light
"Infamous First Light packs a whole bunch of content in at a decent price, and fleshes out Second Son's most interesting character in fine fashion, with a sibling story that tugs at the heartstrings thanks to another great performance from Bailey. It's an extension, perhaps, more than an expansion -- more of the same sort of thing, but with a slightly different flavour -- but given how much fun Second Son was, that's no bad thing." - 8/10 review
The Last Of Us: Remastered
The Last Of Us is generally hailed as a tour de force, and though Matt would have liked more agency and less action in our 8/10 review, we still agree that it's absolutely brilliant. The Remastered version contains all the DLC of the PS3 version, plus uses the cutscene assets as the basis for a noticeably prettier gameplay experience! Better yet it's nice and cheap at Gameseek, under the £30 mark.
"The fact that DriveClub is still mostly a wreck for ALL of its online functions is frankly embarrassing and the lack of a large public beta was remarkably short-sighted. Once you've wrangled the handling model, there's a solid driving game underneath it all with fun tracks to tear down at terrifying speeds as you zoom through the incredibly detailed environments. But if the netcode isn’t fixed soon, this’ll be an abandoned rusty roadside wreck by Christmas." - 6/10 review
To be honest, we'd suggest not buying DriveClub at all. Wait for the delayed PS+ edition and try before you buy. Still, if you absolutely must buy it... (thanks to adammissous @ HUKD!)...
I'd also suggest looking at the wealth of great games on PSN, from Resogun and Transistor to Velocity2X and Fez!
Make sure to keep an eye on the latest console bundle deals, PS4 deals and cheap game deals on the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Stay tuned for our 3DS and Vita buyer's guides throughout the week!