A Day With The PlayStation 4

There was a time when I was working diligently on my CCIE studies, but it was slow going; I’ve been drawn to Battlefield 4 on the PS3 because I’ve found a few people to play with who are kind of cool to hang out with in game.  Then came the impending expiration of my CCNP, so I studied up a bit, took an exam, and passed.

So things went downhill from there … in the sense that I’m still kind of “celebrating” the recertification, but haven’t yet gotten back into studying properly.

About the PlayStation 4: It’s been on my radar since it was announced that LittleBigPlanet 3 would be PS4 only (turns out I misremembered this, according to Wikipedia).  It became more appealing when the spiritual successor to BF4, Star Wars: Battlefront, would be PS4 only (this is wholly true).  Then, there was a new free map added to BF4 … but it was only available on the PC and PS4 versions of the game.  The map was so big that it wouldn’t run on the PS3.  A glance at the PS4 specs indicates it has 16 times the video RAM, and more modern processors … allowing it to handle more than the PS3 can.  It looks like (having played a very little bit of BF4 on both) that not only are the textures more natural on the PS4, but the games usually run in full 1080p resolution (like Blueray discs) instead of 720p (as long as the TV can handle it).  Things in general seem both faster and smoother on the PS4 when compared to the PS3.

So I caved.

I had taken the day off from work and it arrived yesterday, along with the “PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset”.  A mini-review of the headset: I haven’t had much of a chance to test the mic in game … which kind of relates to a review of SW:BF that I should be doing shortly.  The tests in the PS4 Audio menu haven’t been promising.  Otherwise, it’s good for hearing stuff in game, but that’s about it so far.

Anyway, back to the saga of the PS4.

I got it all hooked up, then had to wait a half-an-hour (or more) for everything to download (I had gotten a special SW:BF version of the PS4 that came with the game).  It’s physically smaller than the PS3 and fits better in what passes for an entertainment system in my house.  It has a lot of the things that one expects from a console these days: Netflix app, Twitch.tv app, Amazon video app, Hulu, etc.  Mind you, some of these require things like money or a subscription.  Speaking of which …

On the PS3, you bought a game, you played it.  If it was multiplayer, no biggie, you played that way, too – you had access to the PlayStation Network.  There was this … “thing” … called PlayStation Plus (a subscription service), but it wasn’t required.  PS+ would get you some free games or other games a reduced price, but I don’t think any of the games I saw were really all that interesting to me.

The PS4 … well, I loaded up SW:BF, played a bunch of the single-player missions to at least get an idea of how the controls worked.  Decided to try out the multiplayer stuff, and saw an error message that said that PlayStation Plus was required for multiplayer play.  More on the ridiculousness of this in the SW:BF review, but that’s another $50 a year to play a game that, let’s be honest, wasn’t really put together as a single player game, and when released, didn’t have a whole lot of content.  I assume that BF4 on the PS4 requires it as well (and oh, by the way, they switched the fricking buttons around on the controller for shooting on BF4).

And just because the Microsoft consoles do the same thing (XBox Live) doesn’t make it right.

One thing that’s irked me for a while on the PS3 and will continue to do so on the PS4 is the two (only) USB ports.  It really needs four – to charge both my headset and controller, I find myself having to unplug the adapter for the headset (which honestly should just be bluetooth but I guess bluetooth stereo headsets are rare, expensive, and rely on the unit to have a slightly more modern version of bluetooth).

One thing they got right this time around was the ability of the unit to go into a “low power” mode instead of off, in which it can download updates and charge connected peripherals (like the power hungry headset or the not-quite-the-same-as-the-PS3 controller).

Worth it?

Well … I don’t know.  SW:BF is fun, but my K:D ratio is still below 1:1, which gets a little disappointing after a while.  I will say the single player stuff will bring me back from time to time, but being the spiritual successor to BF4 means that it too will suffer from weapon/extra grinds.  I did okay on BF4, though the bigger maps (PS3 users: your “Conquest” is “Conquest: Small” and it’s really fricking small compared to the larger sizes … and we’re talking no 12-per-side limit on players – more like 32) and difference in motion are going to take a while to get used to … and the fact that my “friends” are all on the PS3 means it’s still hooked up to the TV as well (not to mention that there’s no backwards compatibility on the PS4).

I’d say if you have no reason to get a PS4 (and at this point I’m not so sure that SW:BF is a good enough reason), then don’t.  Not yet, anyway.  If you’ve got a ton of PS3 games and are still enjoying them, unless you have sufficient money to buy the unit ($350 at a minimum), the games (some of which, to have properly, will run $110 – more on that in the SW:BF review), and the $50/year PS+ subscription if you play multiplayer at all … don’t get the PS4, because if the game exists on both, you’ll have to spend at least a little bit of money if you want to play your PS3 games on the PS4 (essentially, you will have to buy the PS4 version, which I didn’t really like but splurged on BF4 for the PS4 anyway).  Do I regret getting mine?  Not really, but I probably could have gone a bit longer and could have saved the money for something else.

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