Next-gen is here, as you'll no doubt know having watched our magnificent PS4 unboxing video. So we all sat down to have a little chat about our thoughts on each of the big three consoles that'll be adorning the shelves this Christmas, and deliver our thoughts as consumers and critics on the major platforms up for grabs.
First up, it's the PS4...
Much has been said about the key titles slipping into next year, leaving early PS4 adopters with only Killzone: Shadow Fall standing out as a must buy exclusive. It’s a good thing I bloody love that series then isn’t it?
Everyone seems to forget about the third-party titles around launch. For either console, players are going to be throwing their cash at Battlefield 4, COD: Ghosts, FIFA 14 and Assassin’s Creed IV. These games will keep PS4 gamers going until next year when the likes of Infamous: Second Son and DriveClub (PS+ Edition at least) arrive. Add there’s the new Uncharted to look forward too.
The above third-party titles have seen a drop in sales as gamers wait for the next-gen versions, so it looks like plenty of you are going next-gen as soon as possible. I can’t see either console bombing to be honest though, so I wouldn’t be expecting a price-drop by March (or even summer) when the other titles turn up to the party. Some of the older game’s prices may have dropped by then, but can you avoid spoilers for that long?
I’ve been glad to see Sony’s core message always stick to gaming in the build-up. I’m buying a games console after all. Sure, I’ll use LoveFilm or Netflix, but there’s no need to make a song and dance about a last-gen feature every five minutes.
Although there’s no reason to buy the camera this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how Sony uses it. The damn thing has eye-tracking in it and Sony rarely mention this, so it’d be nice if they start putting the camera to good use next year or at least make it sound like attractive piece of hardware to us and developers.
Overall, it’s a no brainer that I’m ordering a PS4. The exclusives work better for me, I’ve always preferred the DualShock controller, PS Plus has been fantastic value so far (Contrast on launch day too) and the money I’m saving over an Xbone will pay for some extra games.
In the run-up to November, the PS4 was certainly my personal choice for my next console purchase. The clear cut message Sony had put across during its reveals and press conferences was a strong one filled with interesting and varied games – something I’ve stated several times on our podcasts. The thing is though, as the days drew ever closer to the release date, I kept asking myself “Do I really want to spend £400+ (taking into consideration I’ll want games with my console) on a new device? Am I really that interested in what’s on offer to take the plunge at this early stage?”
The answer was ultimately a simple one – nah, I’ve got other things to play / other shiner things to buy.
That’s not a slight on the hardware though. In fact, my impressions of the console and its controller from my hands-on experiences at GamesCom were incredibly positive. The Dualshock 4 is by far the more comfortable version of Sony’s controller that they have ever made, and OS appears to be as slick affair in everything it does. We know that developing for the console is a much easier process as well, meaning developers will (hopefully) have little to no trouble in bringing our favourite and brand new franchises to live.
But the honest truth is that despite the fact Killzone: Shadow Fall looks to be another fine entry in the series, and despite the fact most of the third party titles are reportedly superior console versions, there wasn’t anything within the launch window that screamed for my attention, and when you take into consideration I have a rather extensive backlog of games for my PC and PS3 (damn you Steam sales and PS+) I can’t help but feel my free time could be spent in a much cheaper fashion on devices I already own until the big guns from studios like Naughty Dog and Santa Monica are nearer to reality.
I mean, seriously – I’ve got Star Citizen’s dogfighting Alpha test and WildStar’s Winter Beta to look forward to. Hell, I’m also getting in on SWTOR’s Starfighter expansion when that hits, and I’ve still got Far Cry 3 and Ni No Kuni to play. Do you honestly think I’ve got time to get involved with this Next-gen nonsense?
Come back to me next year when I’ve got through my backlog, and then we’ll talk.
Of the two next-gen heavyweights, Sony’s new machine probably has the weaker of the two line-ups especially when you look at launch exclusives. With Knack appearing as a very limited experience, and whilst Killzone: Shadow Fall looks pretty; it seems under closer experience to also be rather shallow – especially in single-player. It’s really just Resogun flying the Sony flag. That’s not to say of course that purchasing Sony’s machine would be a mistake. There’s plenty of cross-format games good enough in Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals for those willing to upgrade to next-generation early.
But the real stand out games (as with all new consoles) will come later, and the question to ask yourself is whether the console is something needed right now. The games don’t certainly suggest you do – but then again there’s that magpie-like trait we all have in our penchant for something new and shiny. Plus the general feeling is that Sony’s vision for their machine is about the core games, and the social aspect of them, which from a personal perspective tends to sit better with me than Microsoft’s offering.
Ultimately then, the PS4 will be a slow burner for most. There’s no doubt that there’s some good experiences to be had, but it’s likely that a lot of other people will be having those same experience on current gen versions. But there’s a feeling with launch window titles like DriveClub and Thief that good experiences will come to the machine after a time, but this Xmas might not feel as next gen as it should.
The PlayStation 4 is obviously a superb machine. Sleek looks. Powerful hardware. The foundation of an ecosystem of big-hitters, breakaway boutique games and free to play hits. At a price that's almost too good to be true.
All dressed up and ready for action... but where are the games?
For me, Sony's console lacks clout at launch. Killzone: Shadow Fall, Resogun and a handful of multiplats - including F2P games I've already played to death and beyond on PC - are all Sony's machine brings to the table until Spring 2014, and it's not enough to secure my business yet. Though I suspect that the PS4 will fly off shelves and know that it's the cornerstone of a fantastic new generation of games, I simply can't get excited about it right now. Come on Santa Monica, come on Naughty Dog, let's go Media Molecule. I know you're up for it.
Greatness awaits - I feel it in my bones. But it's still waiting as far as I'm concerned. Once the indie scene is thriving and Sony's first-party army deploys in full force, I'll be taking the plunge and hitting it hard.
For me, the thing that the PS4 has in its corner is long-term potential. The launch lineup is not stellar by any stretch of the imagination and I've gone on record on this site saying that if I could only buy one console this Christmas, it would probably be an Xbox One.
But Sony set the groundwork for this Christmas push earlier this year by getting dev kits out to third-parties as quickly as possible and giving creatives time with their console. It's for that reason that preview material over the summer was seen almost exclusively on PS4, and why early reports suggest that developers are having an easier time making games look and feel "next-gen" on Sony's platform. If Sony can show that the likes of COD and FIFA and Battlefield and Assassin's Creed run better on PS4 than anywhere else, they won't need a massive first-party library in these opening months (although it would help).
Killzone looks the part, for sure, though whether or not it manages to take the FPS genre to the next level is another matter. To us critics, that is what will be expected of next-gen titles, but I rather expect spectacle to pave the way for forgiveness when it comes to a lack of innovation for early adopters. The less said about Knack the better, but the perks of PS Plus will surely balance that out, and you could do worse than Resogun and Contrast as freebies, even if the latter did prove pretty disappointing. For everyone who, like me, accused Contrast of squandering its potential, there've been others who've enjoyed it utterly.
The PS4 is the console with the most potential, I feel. The unique titles to come (exemplified in that Uncharted tease), the cross-platform interplay with the Vita, the seemingly more accessible development platform, the visible extra grunt -- all of these will stand Sony's console in good stead going forward, as will that price point, which undercuts the Xbox One nicely. But that being said, there's still nothing in the PS4's lineup that screams "buy me now!!" to me.
So those are our thoughts, but what about you? Will you be buying a PS4 this winter? What are ytou excited for? As always, let us know in the comments box below.