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What We Know About the PlayStation 4

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PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

Image © Sony

What the Heck is the PlayStation Orbis? When will the PS4 be out? How fast will it be and how will it connect with the PlayStation Vita? What will it be able to do that your favorite machine, your PS3, is not? Sony has been hush-hush, releasing almost no official information, but other sites around the web have started collecting details, rumors, and fan conjecture about what could be under Christmas trees everywhere and selling out in stores in eleven months. What do we do know? And is it the kind of news that should get Sony fans salivating or considering waiting for the PS5?

Specs

There have been development kits sent out to game companies, of course, and some of them have been released to sites like Kotaku. Keep in mind, all specs at this point are going to be remarkably speculative since there is no saying for sure that what a developer uses to make your PS4 game is the same machine that you will use to play it. A development kit may have fewer ethernet ports and a smaller hard drive, and even memory specs may be slightly different. Having said that, here is the information garnered by Kotaku:

System Memory: 8GB
Video Memory: 2.2 GB
CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer"
GPU: AMD R10xx
Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
Drive: Blu-ray
HDD: 160GB
Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels

Digital Foundry has some slightly different information (including half the system memory), which should make clear that we're in murky waters here. No one knows anything for sure. All this really tells us (and feel free to compare to the PS3 Specs) is that Sony is working, under the codename Orbis, on a machine that will be familiar to PS3 players but faster and more graphically capable. Big surprise, right? Digital Foundry suggests that the AMD graphics card will run 800MHz and include 18 "Graphics Core Next" compute units. It should look amazing.

Controller

For several incarnations of Sony machines, the controller has been largely unchanged but Kotaku reports that this could change with the PS4. Don't worry. The chances of Sony delivering something that will require a massive restructuring of the way you play games is slim to none. Not only are they going to want to sell PS1, PS2, and PS3 games to you through your PS4 for decades to come but they don't want to reinvent the wheel. What could they add without drastically changing the interface? It is perhaps smartest to look at what Sony did with the PlayStation Vita as where the company is heading. Two words: Touch screen. As everything in this world goes touch screen and the Vita has front and back screens, it is entirely believable to suggest that the PS4 will have some touch technology. It is also likely that the PS4 will have more motion recognition given the company's focus on it with both the Move and the Vita. CVG adds weight to this argument. Perhaps the most exciting suggestion at Kotaku is that the PS4 controller will house your user account instead of the machine. Imagine being able to take your controller and earn trophies when you play at a friend's house or bring unlocked items with you. It's also similar to the dynamic brought by the Vita, a machine that hasn't exactly been a hit but could be crucial to the Sony legacy in the way it influences the PS4.

Personally, I would expect a more complex controller but a machine that still works with the old ones and a new, souped-up mega-controller that won't shatter how you've come to play and love PS3 games but just give you more ways to play. Think about it like a next-gen iPhone -- familiar but with new bells and whistles.

Games

What the heck will you play on the PlayStation 4? What could be the games that launch this sure-to-be-pricy system and help decide if it makes or breaks the holiday season? One thing that seems likely is that you won't own any actual discs for the PS4. Some are reporting that Sony will make a hard push for all games to be downloaded and possibly even make them proprietary. Think licenses like PC games. If you thought Gamestop was in trouble now...imagine a world where a game can only be played by the first person to buy it. I have a hard time believing this will be complete. Perhaps future licenses can be sold at a discounted rate, not unlike online passes for a lot of games now. Sony knows games are traded, sold, borrowed, and they'd be crazy to kill that market, especially if Microsoft doesn't do exactly the same. One more piece of bad news -- numerous outlets are reporting zero backwards-compatibility. I also find this hard to believe. A PS4 with no backwards compatibility and propietary new games -- sounds like the kind of negative buzz that often precedes a new console and is proven untrue.

As for actual titles, it's silly not to presume that the annual "Call of Duty" release will have a PS4 version. Same goes for "Assassin's Creed." It's almost certain those two juggernauts will launch on the system. CD Project RED's ("The Witcher 2") awesome-looking "Cyperpunk 2077" has already been confirmed as being in development for the next-generation of consoles. What else? There would surely be a Sony-exclusive title or two with launch and the time seems right that "Uncharted 4" would be the most likely suspect for that prime launch position. They used "Uncharted" to launch the Vita and the synergy and timing are just too much to ignore -- "Uncharted PS4!" Another likely suspect given the timing since the last release -- "Battlefield 4". Especially if Activision is using the PS4 to promote a new "Call of Duty" game, it's hard to believe EA would sit out the right. A new "Final Fantasy" game? Maybe a new "Ratchet & Clank"? What about another "Arkham" game? I'm getting the chills just thinking about "Batman: Arkham PS4." Like most of this, it's just wishful thinking for now. Stay tuned and we'll keep you informed as more rumors and official news is announced.

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