So it finally happened. Sony announced the PlayStation 4 at an event tonight in New York City (after making us wait outside for over 30 minutes like a bunch of wild animals). It’s an announcement we saw coming from miles (and miles) away, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is always exciting to see the next generation of home consoles arrive, or at the very least the hype machine officially pulling away from the station and targeting our wallets like a freight train.
I think the phrase “hype machine” is an apt description of the event as a whole, honestly. To expect that Sony would pull back the curtain on all the juicy details of their new system – hardware specs, price, etcetera – would have been naïve and foolish. Well, they could have at least shown us what it looks like. But alas, no dice there.
Tonight's event in NYC was meant to solely drive hype, and that’s exactly what was accomplished; we got quite a few segments of publishers and developers talking about the potential of Sony’s new platform, supplemented by some demonstrated experiments, but little else. All in all, it was exactly what you should expect from a press conference that announces new video game hardware – all the positives with none of the negatives (although the confirmation of no PS3 backwards compatibility is troubling and maybe deserves of an article in and of itself down the road).
Holy buzzwords, Batman!
It’s worth mentioning that for many, including myself, the recent Aliens: Colonial Marines fiasco has kind of sullied video game hype-driven events like yesterday’s PS4 unveiling. It’s becoming harder and harder to fully trust what these publishers and developers are pushing as reality when we know how easy it is to fabricate a demonstration to check all the right boxes for gamers.
I think the Killzone: Shadow Fall demo is a perfect example of this. Don’t get me wrong; I think the demo shown at the PS4 event was gorgeous (you can see an edited down trailer below). However, I have a hard time buying into it being real gameplay, even though I was explicitly told that was the case. Remember back to Killzone 2’s reveal alongside the announcement of the PlayStation 3? That was all fabricated – that was not the final product that hit shelves. So now I take all hands-off demos with a grain of salt. And that’s a little sad, because I truly want to be wowed as if I were a little kid again.
I'm not buying it. Not for a second.
Most of the other titles showcased at the PS4 unveiling were suspect as well, with Mark Cerny's Knack feeling like the only honest gameplay on display. The trailer for InFamous: Second Son was simply a CGI affair, or at least looked like it. And while DriveClub had some ambitious talk behind it, all we got to see of gameplay was a first-person perspective view of someone getting into a exotic car and buckling his seatbelt. Not exactly riveting stuff.
The announcements of Diablo III, Watch Dogs and Bungie’s Destiny coming to PS4 were somewhat deflated since all three titles will be available for current generation consoles, too. And lastly, telling us a Final Fantasy game is coming to the PS4 sometime in the future is like saying the sun will rise in the morning.
The only title that really impressed me was The Witness, an indie game in development by Jonathan Blow’s new upstart studio. Seeing Blow, best known for creating the incredible indie gem Braid, get in bed with Sony for The Witness is a bit surprising, but in the best of ways. Having someone like Blow fully back your console is a huge boon for Sony, as it shows other independent developers that Sony is still committed to publishing games that fall outside the realm of AAA titles.
Dat sizzle reel
There are still a lot of unanswered questions that linger about the PlayStation 4. As previously mentioned, we don’t even know what it looks like; we don’t know how much it will sell for; and we still don’t have a confirmation one way or the other if the system will require an internet connection at all times to operate. The answers to these burning questions will come in time – maybe a few days from now, maybe a week, maybe at E3 or maybe right before the system launches his holiday season. Until we have more details, we need to check our expectations and remain cautiously optimistic. Sony is clearly shooting for the stars with the next iteration of the PlayStation, but all the talk in the world doesn’t mean bull if you don’t deliver on the promises you make.
As it stands right now, we know about as much as we did going into the event – Sony has a new system coming out and everyone should be hyped for it. The reveal was roughly what I expected, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a bit disappointed that Sony didn’t shatter my expectations. I still don't feel a need to upgrade from my PS3, and I think that says quite a bit.