Yesterday as predicted, Sony gave a first look at its next-generation console, the PS4. And it looks like they’re approaching things a little differently this time. They commissioned Mark Cerny, best known for designing Marble Madness at 17 years old, to oversee development of the console. He started off his mini-keynote by discussing the evolution of consoles from single purpose machines to the multifunction boxes of today, and how other devices, namely smartphones and tablets, are stepping up to the plate. He also noted how exotic architectures are no longer as important as they once were, which could no doubt be interpreted an admission to the escalating complexity of the past two generations of the Playstation. More to the point, he was alluding to a focus on enhancing the overall gaming experience.
As rumored, the PS4 will feature an AMD APU consisting of 8 Jaguar CPU cores and a custom Radeon GPU solution. What no one expected, though, was the unified 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM, the type found on graphics cards, which should be a definite boon to developers who struggled with the split RAM of the PS3. Adding to what they dubbed a “supercharged PC architecture”, was a secondary custom chip for background processing of downloads, in addition to specialized media compression/decompression hardware for browsing live video.
Speaking of which, they made a lot of noise over the console’s new social and integration features, which include friend network integration, streaming demos, device integration (smartphones, tablets, PS Vita) and live game casting via ustream. Remote Play for the system was also demonstrated on PS Vita, which was running a demo of the first newly revealed game, Knack, at a reasonably smooth framerate.
The Dual Shock 4 was also given a brief glance. Gone were the Start and Select buttons, replaced by the rumored touch pad, as well as new Share and Options buttons, the former used for instant video uploading. The controller had a few other changes as well; the surfaces of the thumbsticks were now concave, and the perennially short handles were apparently lengthened a bit.
A few of Sony’s other 1st party reveals followed (Killzone: Shadowfall, Driveclub, inFamous: Second Son), with Jonathan Blow of Braid fame representing the PSN with the reveal of his latest, The Witness. David Cage of Quantic Dream, who recently puzzled practically everyone with his keynote at DICE, certainly stayed the course by discussing how today’s technology can convey more emotion and bring that to gaming… with a histogram of polygon counts. He then displayed a new generation facial model that resembled Khan from Star Trek gone bald.
Capcom, Square Enix, Ubi Soft, Blizzard, and Bungie represented the 3rd parties, with only the former having something really new to show off: their new development engine curiously titled “Panta Rhei” and the game “deep down”. Ubisoft showed off footage of Watch Dogs, Blizzard revealed, nay, confirmed Diablo III would be coming to PS3 and PS4, Bungie’s latest, Destiny, will follow suit, and Square Enix revealed… that their next reveal will take place come E3.
And with that, Sony’s inaugural PS4 presentation came to a close.