Sony held a lavish event in New York City today and announced the release of the PlayStation 4, a machine that promises to revolutionize gaming for a new generation with an emphasis on social interaction and a different style of play. Introduced repeatedly as hardware that was developer-led and consumer-inspired, Sony calls the machine, "A significant shift of thinking of PlayStation as a box or console to thinking of PlayStation as a leading authority on Play."
We'll be back with a list of specific specs, games, etc. in a more detailed fashion and the images you really want to see but here's what we know right now as it was announced.
Naturally, all first impressions are visual and so the presentation started with graphic capability. The build of the machine is PC-inspired with an X86 CPU, Enhanced PC GPU, and 8GB Unified Memory. A demonstration revealed how much the graphic processor will be able to do on its own without taxing the CPU. Sony also showed off a demo using the Unreal Engine 4 and a game trailer for the first game announced for the PS4, "Knack." It looks a little like "Ratchet & Clank" and a little cartoony but also graphically advanced. The trailer was all cut scenes but actual gameplay was seen later on a Vita through Remote Play and it looked interesting if not breakthrough. Don't worry. We'll get to more games later.
Next, Sony revealed the DualShock 4, the new controller for the system. Overall, it looks familiar with face buttons you'll recognize and the same black style with just a few more bells and whistles. There's a headphone jack and a "Share" button. We'll get to that but it's one of the main new developments in the PS4. There's a light bar to identify players in the same room -- you can be Mr. Brown, your buddy can be Mr. Pink -- and it was designed in tandem with a stereo camera that can track the controller.
What else do we know?
The system will have a suspend/resume function not unlike your smart phone. No boot up or shut down. Games can be suspended and picked up right from where you left off.
The processor will be strong enough that games can be downloaded in the background, which will be essential for major new games as you'll be able to start jumping into the action before the entire download has finished.
The background processes will be primary to the main focus of the Sony PS4 presentation -- the concept of "Share." Sony is encouraging you to make gaming less solitary. You can seamlessly upload videos and screenshots of your gameplay, which is always being recorded. But that's nothing. You can browse live game video of what your friends are playing or even famous people. So, yes, you'll be able to watch Chad Ochocinco play "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 6". And make fun of him while he's doing it. Photos for avatars, sharing gameplay, the system was clearly heavily built around social networking.
Smart phones & tablets will interact between apps. You can use your smart phone to browse game video of possible opponents in a fighting or multiplayer game. The entire network builds off your personal preferences, using it to enhance future gameplay. Friends buy a game, you know immediately, possibly even updated on a smart phone app.
All games will be demo-able and test-able. You can instantly experience any game. Test it. "Try it for free, share it if you like it, buy only what you love."
What else does the "Share" button do? It allows you to broadcast live, 100% realtime gameplay. Your friends can look over your shoulder virtually. They can post comments on your screen about how much you suck at "Battlefield 4." Or even be helpful in a part of the game, with someone able to take over your controller and assist through a particularly tough level. Friends can drop in special items and give you help. It is a social gaming experience. You can also broadcast gameplay live via UStream.
"Remote Play" has been built into the architecture of the PS4. PlayStation Vita is the ultimate companion device for the PS4. You can broadcast games right from the PS4 to the Vita. The long-term goal is to make every PS4 game playable on the Vita.
Sony promises a future with all PlayStation games playable through the PS4, Vita, tablets, etc. "Everything everywhere." Fastest gaming network ever made. This is in the future, not launch. PlayStation's cloud services will be rolled out in phases.
Here's what you really want -- The Launch Games
The Sony Exclusives
"Killzone: Shadow Fall" -- Wow. Just wow. "Killzone" helped launch the PS3 and so it makes sense to use a new Guerrilla Games title to sell the PS4. In the stunning demo, you're coming in on a helicopter for a landing on a war-torn planet. You land and are led by a soldier to a meeting. The shadows, the detail in NPCs -- it all looks amazing. An attack commences, people scream. The smoke, the fire, the ash, and even the sound design are stellar. And then, unlike most trailers, we get gameplay and it looks incredible. Fluid. Smooth. Environmental details are amazing. The cracks in the pavement. The leaves on the trees. A sniper scope shot. For the right audience, this game alone will be reason alone to buy the PS4. Get wise Sony and bundle it.
"DriveClub" -- The developer promises that this team-based racing game has been in development for nine years and waiting for the technology to catch up. The gameplay isn't specifically about races, it's about challenges. Much like the best squad-based FPS. Use your app on a phone to challenge people around the world and then use the new network to watch players around the world try to race it.
"Infamous: Second Son" -- The great Sucker Punch will bring a superhero-based exclusive to the PS4. We didn't see much of it, just cut scene & intro footage but there's every reason to believe this could be one of the most groundbreaking PS4 games. Sucker Punch has been a pioneer in the past.
"The Witness" -- The creator of the landmark "Braid" delivers a PS4-exclusive in this game in which you explore a mysterious island and solve puzzles but promises something much deeper (as anyone who has played "Braid" can attest is possible in a game from this team). A game that promises no fat, no filler, no redundancy. A game in which the everything is there for a reason and every puzzle has an idea inside of it. 25 hours of gameplay and PS4 will be the only console. Yeah, we're super-excited too. More than any other game debuted. It may not be the most visually captivating but it seems like it could easily be the most intellectually.
Quantic Dream, the amazing studio behind "Heavy Rain" and the upcoming "BEYOND: Two Souls," then didn't show off a specific game but how they can use the engine in the future. The detail of an elderly gentleman was used to show how Quantic can convey emotion and it's incredibly lifelike. If we had to pick a developer who will really push the capabilities of the PS4, Quantic Dream would be near the top of that list. The great Square-Enix ("Final Fantasy," "Hitman," "Tomb Raider") also did a similar "capabilities presentation" later in the show although it was more like a game trailer that, once again, made clear that developers are taking this machine's capabilities seriously.
How much does it cost? When will it be out? We'll get you that info soon. Stay tuned to About.com and make sure to "Like" us on Facebook for more immediate updates.
The Third-Party Games
"Deep Down" -- Capcom led off this portion of the show with the announcement of the legendary company's support of the PS4. They've been working on a new engine for the PS4 with the code name "Panta Rhei," exploiting the true potential of the machine. They showed off their new IP running on the Panta Rhei and it looks breathtaking. The medieval-looking game (complete with dragons!) has amazing attention to detail and depth of field that simply isn't capable on the PS3. In terms of pure visual presentation, this is easily one of the most impressive PS4 titles yet announced.
"Final Fantasy" -- It's happening. That's all we got. And we were asked to be excited. Maybe you are.
"Watch Dogs" -- Ubisoft brought this long-anticipated (and E3-presented) title to the PS4 presentation and it looks as good as the early screenshots that we've seen. The game is an action-heavy experience that could easily be the next major IP but, once again, it's the attention to detail here that's breathtaking - the sound design of a street performer playing sax, the train overhead, the coat you're wearing, and the detail in the pavement. Ubisoft was also big on the social aspect of the system, which suggests that it won't just be Sony pushing the "Share" concept.
"Diablo III" -- The legendary PC company Blizzard Entertainment announced that they've entered into a strategic partnership with Sony to "take over the world" and this is where their plan for world domination begins.
"Destiny" -- Activision closed the show to announce their support for the PS4 by promoting that Bungie ("Halo") is working on a new game for the system. Ambitious and remarkable, it's amazing to have Bungie on a Sony system.
How much? What does it look like? When? Stay tuned to About.com for all the specs.