Updated PS4 Impressions

Infamous is almost here!

PS4_4cont

Not pictured: Game that actually uses 4 controllers.

I’ve already had my PS4 for a tick over three months, which is a little difficult to believe, and have been spending a decent amount of time with it. The console has more games and features than it did when I first wrote about it on this blog and it’s about to get arguably its first bona fide “next-gen” exclusive title, Infamous: Second Son, so here’s how I feel about the console now. Just don’t ask me about the Xbox One, because I’ve barely touched mine since Christmas (outside of the excellent Titanfall beta of course).

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WHAT’S CHANGED

Since I wrote that first comparison piece late last year, the PS4’s UI presentation hasn’t changed all that much. The console has had some minor system updates to minimise game crashes and such, but aside from a much-welcome compatibility patch that now allows me to use my official PS3 wireless headset with my PS4, things are more or less the same. By far the biggest difference between now and then is the range of games available to PS4 owners. It’s not as if there’s necessarily “something for everyone” just yet – there is a glaring lack of fighting games and RPGs at the moment, for example – but they will come, and I for one have found plenty to enjoy in the current slate of offerings. Playstation Plus subscribers already have five free games since launch: Resogun, Contrast, Don’t Starve, Outlast and Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition, at least three of which are genuinely excellent. Killzone: Shadow Fall has undergone almost a dozen patch upgrades since it came out to improve the single and multiplayer experience, while Battlefield 4 has been updated almost to the point where it works. Assassin’s Creed IV now has story DLC that works as a standalone product, the release of Thief presents a solid option for fans of stealth games and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition has added some impeccable polish to an already excellent game.

If you didn’t play last year’s Tomb Raider, the PS4 version may just blow you away.

Sure, we’re still in the post-launch dry spell that every console seemingly has to endure, but at least this one isn’t as bad as what the Wii U went through just after its own launch, and the number one reason for that is a reasonably steady stream of quality indie games to enjoy this time around. The PS4 is also home to a number of constantly evolving free-to-play titles. Warframe, Daylight Retribution and DC Universe Online are always adding new content and have been critically well-received. Plus, if you’re not in the mood to play any games, you can always just watch others stream them live, often with entertaining commentary, right there on your PS4. It just takes two taps of the X button. Just, uh, don’t enter any Outlast streams if you aren’t a fan of scary games. Trust me.

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WHAT I THINK SHOULD CHANGE

My concern over multi-user local Trophy support lingers from my last PS4 post. Skylanders: Swap Force is another local co-op game I have been playing that lacks the ability to give out PSN Trophies to both player accounts, which is just baffling to me. It is explicitly stated in a matter-of-fact way on the official Playstation website that local co-op games should offer Trophies for everyone logged in, yet I have now played three separate games in which that is not the case. Luckily the PS4 version of Dead Nation supports the feature, so I’m hoping to see more consistency moving forward. And yes, I realise not everyone cares about Trophies, but they are a major part of the Playstation brand nowadays nonetheless.

Why no double Trophies? Why, Sony?

The ability to take and share screenshots instantly on the PS4 is amazing (especially for people with blogs) but aside from Facebook and Twitter there is no straightforward way to share them with friends outside the Playstation ecosystem. To get screenshots onto this page, for example, I needed to set up a private dummy Twitter account and link it with my PSN ID, then log into my primary Twitter account on a PC and pull them down from there. Additionally, the only way to access your bank of saved screenshots at the moment is to take another screenshot, meaning useless shots can pile up quickly. The system could use some streamlining.

Getting this shot here involved jumping through some hoops.

The deliberately simplistic general layout of the PS4’s user interface could also use a reshuffle, though I’m almost certain this will happen eventually anyway so there isn’t much point harping on it. The level of settings customisation you can do on the PS4 is nowhere near what the PS3 is capable of and the more games I install onto that conveyer belt display, the more cluttered everything looks.

That line of games is getting longer and longer.

Finally, the PS4 supports four controllers but, aside from sports games, there is precious little to play with four players in one room at the moment. I was raised on Nintendo games, so this hurts me. The sheer processing power of the PS4 means it shouldn’t have to make too many sacrifices to accommodate four inputs, so I’m hoping for far more in that department in the future. Luckily…

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WHAT’S COMING

As much as the PS4’s lot has been steadily improving, it’s about to get a whole lot better. In just over a week the gorgeous-looking Infamous: Second Son will hit, representing the console’s best chance yet to land a genuine exclusive title that doesn’t divide critics. Beyond that, the PS4’s only significant exclusives that look likely to make 2014 are The Order: 1886 and DriveClub. Both are shaping up nicely, but they aren’t the only reasons to get excited about the PS4’s immediate future. The imminent release of enhanced PC ports Towerfall Ascension, Diablo 3 and Samurai Gunn mean hours of potential local multiplayer fun, while A Realm Reborn: Final Fantasy XIV looks like it might just have its definitive version on PS4. Every month there will be a new quality freebie on PS Plus, and of course there are plenty of non-exclusives to get really keen about this year. Watch_Dogs, Batman: Arkham Knight, Destiny and Evolve will lead that formidable charge. Bring it on.

This isn’t really related to anything; I just wanted to show it off.

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