Well, I'm flying back from Sony's "pick up a PlayStation 4 and see some games, some of which aren't out at launch" event. Overall, it was effective: There's a PlayStation 4 sitting in the overhead bin above my seat and the backpack at my feet has enough software crammed into it to ensure a good little livestream from the office later this week.
Over the course of the day or so I was in New York with Brad, I picked up a few little bits and pieces that aren't enough to fill a page, but they may be of interest to you.
First up, you may be one of the people who downloaded a firmware update for the PlayStation 4 when Sony pushed it to their servers last week (or was it the week before?). I've been led to believe is that this early file isn't the final launch day firmware, so you may want to hold off on using that firmware to update your PS4 via USB. My guess is that applying it won't break anything, but it'll probably still require you to pull an online update anyway.
OK, then there's the PSN Terms of Service. This week, a screenshot of the PSN TOS showing something that looks like Sony wants you to get permission from them to sell your games back used started going around. What gives, right? Adam Boyes shot me an answer: Jack Tretton's on-stage appearance at E3 this year, where he said the PlayStation 4 supports used games, serves as Sony's permission. So, in theory anyway, go nuts, sell your games if that's your thing. Seems like a weird bit of legalese to me, but one has to wonder why that phrase would make it into the Terms of Service in the first place.
The early reviews of Call of Duty: Ghosts--including mine--mentioned that the PlayStation 4 version of the game suffers from occasional frame rate issues. For me, it usually showed up whenever there were a lot of particle effects on screen, but it'd pop up at random, too. I'm told that Infinity Ward is working on a patch to correct the performance issues. As our review currently doesn't apply to the PS4 version of the game--I want to play that and the Xbox One version on real multiplayer servers before assigning it a number--I'm going to see if that patch makes its way live this week and see if it helps. Currently, I'd call it a toss up between the Xbox One and PS4 versions--the Xbox One version has a smoother frame rate, but I'd rather play the game on a Dual Shock 4. Getting that frame rate pegged would definitively swing things in the PS4's direction, even over the PC version, which is sort of a mess. Of course, we're talking about minor differences in a game that has much more significant issues than mere frame rate, so you probably shouldn't take any of this as a ringing endorsement of the release without reading my review first.
We got a chance to look at a PlayStation 4 that was connected to the internet as a part of a larger UI demo and, overall, it looks pretty good. The same icons you've seen on the PS3 show up across the top, and there's an activity feed that keeps track of what your friends have been up to, from trophies to livestreams. Selecting a game on the recent apps menu gives you a filtered feed for that specific game.
My favorite new tweak to the PS4's trophy system is the addition of rarity, which will show you what percentage of players possess a trophy. It's a lot like Giant Bomb's old achievement rarity system, so you're welcome. Actually, I think Valve does it, too. Anyway, they break up the rarity with words like "rare" and "ultra rare" and so on. Trophies still need to sync, though, which seems a little old. Word is that it will be faster than the PS3 trophy sync, but I wonder if that's just because there aren't as many PS4 games to sync up to their servers at the moment. The system will also show all of your PS3 and Vita trophies, too. There's a lot of Facebook in the PS4 interface. In fact, that appears to be the only place where you can share video clips you've recorded on the PS4. That seems like an oversight or a "let's do this for launch and we can add YouTube later" situation. The system also has Twitter integration and can update some social feeds as you unlock trophies and that sort of thing. Don't be that guy. Uncheck those boxes.
Oh, hey, did you know that the PS4 makes the same beep noise that a PS3 makes when you fire it up? I'm not sure how I feel about that, I'm all about new noises and animations when new consoles launch, but the PS4 feels a bit muted in that sense. That speaks to their focus on getting that thing up and running quickly, rather than waiting for a bunch of flashy and eventually tiresome animations to complete. But if I was putting out the PS4, I'd hide the PS1 and PS2 startup sequences in that firmware and show them when the system clock matches up with those consoles' launch dates.
Remote Play seems to work. We spoke with members of the Assassin's Creed IV team while demoing the game on a Vita and they claim it only took them a day or two to get Remote Play working. For the most part, the experience was fine on the Vita, though I saw a few video glitches. Since the Vita is missing some of the Dual Shock 4's control options, one set of triggers is mapped to the left and right sides of the rear touch panel and the bottom corners of the screen are used for L3 and R3. This seems like a fine way to solve the control issues. I can't really see myself using this feature too often, but if you're one of those people who has to fight with others for control of a TV in your household, this could be a nice way to compromise.
Early reviews of Resogun--which may start hitting as soon as tomorrow--may be from a non-final version of the game. The version we played during our Quick Look was provided for review purposes, but we later got a note mentioning that the final game had re-tuned its difficulty. A Housemarque representative reached out after that Quick Look went live to mention that the final version of the game would be v1.06 (viewable on the credits screen). The version provided is v0.77. We'll hold off on a review of that until we see what's available for download on retail servers. Likewise, I'm about halfway through the Killzone campaign right now, and I've played a bit of multiplayer, but it was in a loud, party-like setting that wasn't long or quiet enough to judge that part of the game. So until I can play that against real people (I'm looking at you, Taco Bell PlayStation 4 winners), I'm not going to post a review. Should happen by launch day, barring any unforeseen hiccups.
But, then, that's what console launches are all about, right? Unforseen hiccups? The past year, from console announcements to console release, has been a wild one. I'll be happy when both machines are out and we can start seeing the machines as you'll see them when (if?) you decide to bring one into your home. I'll land in about four hours, at which point I'll drop Brad off and drive one of these PS4's home, plug it in, and see what happens.
We'll have Interview Dumptrucks with Adam Boyes and Hideo Kojima up this week.
Oh, and Octodad: Dadliest Catch is pretty amazing.