What It Could Be Like To Play Games On PS4

What It Could Be Like To Play Games On PS4

Yesterday, Sony dropped a massive FAQ full of PS4 tidbits and details. While it's certainly interesting, it's also very long. You might not have the time or energy to read it all.

So based on this FAQ, we thought we'd try a little thought experiment: let's zip ahead to November 16, the day after the PlayStation 4 launches, and try to figure out what it'll be like to play Sony's next console.

It's Saturday morning. You wake up, stretch your legs. Put on some coffee. Oatmeal. You think about going for a run and maybe getting something productive done, but then it hits you... you have a PlayStation 4.

So you walk over to your television. You look at your shiny new gaming console, which you decided to put next to your Xbox 360 and PS3, because none of the games you've bought over the past 5-6 years will work on this new beast. It looks good. Sleek.

You turn on the machine. Your controller is already charged, because unlike the PS3, the PS4 can power up your DualShock overnight. The latest system update finished downloading while you were asleep. You didn't have to connect to the Internet to play any games, but the day-one system update enables a lot of features, like online multiplayer and Remote Play, so you figured you'd just get it over with.

The suspend/resume feature isn't working yet, but at least you can leave your PS4 in stand-by for charging and downloading. Eventually, you'll be able to put games in sleep mode and just pick up where you left off, like you can on the Vita or 3DS.

You put in a game. Maybe Killzone or Knack. Definitely not Watch Dogs or DriveClub. They're delayed until next year. Let's say... Knack. (Here's a full list of all the PS4 games you can get at launch.)

There's a little graphical flourish... some music. You've gotta install the game, and you can't use an external device, so you put it on the PS4's built-in 500 GB hard drive.

You can't decline the installation. It's mandatory. (Sony hasn't yet told us just how long it'll take — or how much of each game you'll have to install before you can start playing. We'll keep you updated when they let us know.)

You can't play music on the system while you wait — or at all, unless you subscribe to Sony's Music Unlimited program — so you use a pair of iPod speakers instead.

You start playing the game. It looks good. Immediately, things feel different. More... next-gen. You can stream gameplay on platforms like Twitch and Ustream (but you can't share it to YouTube yet). You can press the Share button on your controller to export the last 15 minutes of gameplay, which is automatically recorded as you play. You can trim that video right on your console.

Just to see what the online services are like, you pop in Killzone and set it up. You register for a PlayStation Plus membership so you can play the game online, where you can now have up to 2,000 friends. (Don't kid yourself: you'll never have that many friends.)

You toggle your online account to display your real name and Facebook photo, so people don't have to remember your PSN handle, xxsephirothgoku4000.

As you play online, you use the mono headset that came with the system. You can't use wireless stereo headsets — at least not yet. You can't send your PS3-playing friends any voice messages, so you send them text messages, bragging that you have a PS4 and they don't.

The DualShock 4 feels pretty good in your hands. It's got a touchpad that could either be awesome or a major distraction, depending what developers do with it. There's a light sensor on the back that can interact with your games, too.

So... once Knack is ready, you start playing it on your TV for a while. Just for kicks, you pull out your Vita and test out Remote Play, which allows you to play PS4 games on the portable machine. It works well, so long as both systems are on the same WiFi network. You can watch football while playing PS4 games in your lap.

And that's your day-one PS4 experience. This whole scenario is, of course, contingent upon the system working as advertised. If there are problems we don't know about yet — like, say, the PS4 catching on fire whenever you turn it on — then November 16 might turn out a whole lot differently.

As details of how Xbox One will work at launch become more concrete, we'll run this thought experiment for Microsoft's console as well.


    Jason really doesn't seem to be a fan of the PS4, at least not by the tone of his last few articles. This isn't a "hurrr bias!" thing, they'll do the same with the Xbox - but it seems that the articles are becoming more about talking down the new consoles rather than being excited about the possibilities of both.

    I can't recall being able to background a game install on the PS3 and load up a music list either. Is that something you could do on the 360?

      With The Last of Us, you could start playing when it hit approx. 60% downloaded, apart from that, installs cannot happen in the background.
      That Last of Us process is also taking over the console as you can do nothing while it is downloading and installing at once.

      This article is quite the depressing outlook on possibilities and also contains a few inaccuracies.
      You can use wireless headsets on day 1, just not several existing ones see this for reference http://www.turtlebeach.com/console-compatibility.

      “You’ve gotta install the game, and you can’t use an external device,”
      You couldn’t do this on PS3, so not sure why you would be expecting to do it on PS4, and “gotta”, really.

      “You can’t decline the installation. It’s mandatory.”
      Again, as it was on PS3

      “And that’s your day-one PS4 experience”
      Good luck with that, take Mad World of constant rotation, go get some sun in your eyes and have a pleasant walk.
      If your glass was any more half empty, it would be a whirlpool.
      I for one will know I will be enjoying my PS4 with BF4 with lots of my mates from around the world.
      Cheer up Jason.

        Agreed, but there's nothing wrong with pointing out things to improve upon. Ultimately, I'd rather have software and back-end limitations at a hardware launch, than the hardware itself on launch day. At this point we have no idea of the format it uses on hard drives.

      It's something you can do on the PC. :) Expectations don't exist in a vacuum.

      Yes, PC’s not a console, but thanks to the latest console architecture and specs, the consoles might as well be PCs with a custom OS and attractive form factor. There's precious little else difference.

      The consoles aren’t competing against each other or their past versions, they're also competing against what we know and have experienced as possible. Because we've been using it elsewhere and want to know why we can't, here. You can claim that 'that's not fair', but that really begs the question, 'Really? Why not? We know it's possible.'

      If you travel to a place where everyone has access to flying cars which shoot lasers and come pre-installed with 80s metal playlists, then go back home and walk into a dealership only selling bog-standard 2014-era cars, you're going to be a little disappointed that the dealer is talking about leather seats and mileage when you really just wanna ask, "Yeah, but which button makes it fly and shoot lasers?"
      "Oh, we don't do that because it's hard for us to make money off."

      There's very few good reasons for consoles not to be able to perform most functions of a modern PC other than that the manufacturers don't want you to. See the most recent news about the PS4 not playing any music that you didn't purchase from the special Sony app. It's not that it doesn't play music... it does! But only the stuff you buy through their app. That makes their reasoning pretty fucking clear.

      Last edited 01/11/13 12:00 pm

        Eh, I can't install Office or Firefox on my (eventual) PS4 either. Or crack it open and swap out a vid card.


          Sure, the office use thing is a red herring and irrelevant.

          But when you start comparing apples with apples - ie: gaming experiences with gaming experiences, then yeah, you might start making some fairer comparisons.

          (Also, cracking device open and installing new hardware is apparently what Sony WANTS you to do with your hard drives instead of using external drives. More similar than you'd think!)

            Not really.

            Playing an MP3 while a game installs isn't exactly a gaming experience either. It's a multimedia experience while your bit of hardware is multitasking.

            You could make similar claims about why PCs are awful - I can plug Killzone into my PS4 and get into the game - with no installs - inside 15 seconds.

            I can play half the game while the other part is still downloading if it's a digital purchase.

            Haven't seen a new PC game that allows either to happen.

            I can tilt an iPad and the game controls differently. Can't do that with my keyboard.

            They're different things, so expecting parity simply because they contain processors and videocards is a bit of a stretch.

              Once my games are downloaded from Steam, they install pretty much instantly. You might just have a slow PC.

              But the point is, how many of those are functions of the hardware? If there were popular motion-control peripherals which had ports of tilt games to the PC, we'd expect a similar experience to what we get from our ipads. When the hardware is so similar for a console and a PC the only thing that separates out functions like multitasking is the OS, and drawing comparisons is natural.

              Why CAN'T I dick around on youtube or email or a chat program or listen to music or whatever else it is you really do have available to you, while waiting on an install or download on the console? Because the OS doesn't allow it. There is no hardware getting in the way of that, it's just a design decision, which the PC shows us very clearly isn't actually a physical limitation of any kind.

              When the difference between capabilities is a corporate/marketing/design decision instead of a technical limitation, it's definitely worth asking why.

      One the 360 you can download games in the background while doing anything else, playing games or using apps. It'll pause the download however if you play a game with an online component like multiplayer or persistent leaderboards.

        PS3 lets you background download too. But not install in the background. Does the 360?

        Last edited 01/11/13 11:05 am

          The 360 downloads the executable files so the moment it finished downloaded you're good to go, there's absolutely no installation process at all. What's the installation process on the PS3 like? Does it take long?

            Half of forever. Usually. It is a bit painful.

              Yeah, my friend recently bought a PS3 solely for The Last of Us and, as a 360 user, he was totally shocked at the amount of updating, installing and crap he had to deal with on a regular basis. He said he'd never call the 360 interface/dashboard clunky again. The 360's issue is things taking time to load, often times you're starring at a spinning circle or looking at your game library with blank game covers slowly loading in.

              Fortunately, both next-gen systems seem to have really slick and forward thinking interfaces, and both systems have a generous amount of horsepower dedicated to running the OS. I know nothing is perfect, but it'd be nice to just have that shit work and not get in the way and be a chore to use. Here's hoping.

      Yes. You could listen to music while doing most things on 360. You can stream music over a network or from usb/hard drive while updating games, playing any games etc.

    I think you're understating the waiting we'll all be doing, PS4 and XBOne players alike, thanks to Day 1 updates, installs then day 1 game updates; multiplied by how ever many games you decide to pick up. I'm fulling expecting the first 2-3 hours of time being stuck doing the initial setup and downloads.

    And I think I know why this is such a problem now and something we didn't mind when we were younger - instruction manuals. I don't know how many times I'd sit anxiously waiting for a game to install and using that time (while listening to the cool install music) to read the manual, enjoying the print smell and getting immersed in the experience I'm about to have.

    In a few weeks time - I'll plug it all in and turn it on and then I'll go eat my wheaties, or play something on Steam while I wait. And when it's all done I'll simply say "finally".

      When I was younger instruction manuals were for the trip home and when mum wouldn't let you play. Because there were no installs or downloads.

        Usually the bus ride journey was filled with manual reading, however when I picked up Metal Gear Solid I was so freaking excited, missed the bus and decided to walk home a few miles while reading the manual. Probably wasn't the best idea along a main road with no paths to be so distracted

        Im pretty sure I got a small poster in my copy of Super Mario Bros 3. Made my life!

      I totally agree. When you buy a game now, it feels like something is missing. Gta games were great for this, their instruction manual was more of a tour guide for the city. Gtav did not have a manual like this, instead opting for an online version. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned but having the lack of a tangible manual in modern games detracts from the overall experience for the 10% whom actually read them.

    I thought it only 'shared' to facebook atm.

    This is why I'm not getting one at launch, along with Year 12 of course. Would rather wait for the console to be cheaper, albeit it's already a very good price, the promised features to be available, and for my schooling to not be interfered haha

    Bah, I already have the day off thanks to a quirk in my long service leave (ie. not planned but it just so happened). So drop kids off at school, go to EBgames and wait. OK so it will take time to set up blah blah blah. I will only have two games for the first few weeks, sigh. None of these are issues for me, I am not going to run around flapping my hands and screening like a young girl at a One Direction concert but I sure as shit aren't crying into my shoes either.
    I point at you smelly Englishman and say your father was a goat and your mother smelled of elderberries. Day one will still be fun. I have never bought anything at launch so this is still going to be kind of special for me.

    Lets be realistic if you don't like fps games like Battlefield,Killzone or C.O.D. then there's not much point in getting a PS4 at launch.

    Now that Watch_Dogs and Drive Club are delayed and Assassin's Creed is a flogged dead horse the Xbox One line up is stronger with Forza and Dead Rising but still not good enough to take a gamble with as I believe The Xbox One will not be as successful as the 360.

    Personally I'm gonna wait till the launch dust settles before committing,unfortunately I don't see any price drops happening till 2015 barring a retail disaster.

    got to say, it really doesnt come across as appealing lol

    I'll just ignore this article of negativity from someone who isn't getting a new console on launch day and concentrate instead on my own excitement of unboxing a brand new console, turning it on and installing whatever needs to be installed (I can happily entertain myself with my PC or PS3 while I'm waiting) and then boot up Killzone.

    Sorry Jason, stop being a killjoy

      Did you forget that people who aren't getting one at launch are better than you? Not sure how you could have as they're usually pretty quick to remind you of that every chance they get.

      I'm pretty sure the day 1 patch for ps4 can be downloaded in the background.

        100% it can. It is only 300MB, so unless you are still on dial up, it wont take long.

          That's actually quite reasonable! I would've been expecting at least double that, and honestly probably closer to 1.2GB.

          Ahh yes the joys of being on a shitty rim....

        It might also be possible to download the patch on your computer first and put it on a flash drive. This is a reasonable choice to make if Sony do opt to do this as it means you just have to install the update, the servers won't get cluttered causing slower downloads on day 1 or worse, server failure which would just be a huge issue.

        If this is possible, it's going to be the choice I make.

    For me it will be one crazy weekend - I'll be helping move a companies servers from the 29th to the 30th of Nov in the CBD of Brissy from one sky scraper to another, getting my Sony X edition PS4 delivered to my Work on the 29th - will be upgrading my PS3 copy of Ghosts while asleep on the 29th but might pick up another title from EB while in the city (Killzone or Knack at this point).

    Work hard - Play hard :)

    Except with Sonys crappy servers it will take 3 hours to download. Especially with 100000 people doing it at the same time.

      I've noticed some MMOs update at crawl speed for tiny updates even when it's not launch/patch day, so yeah, that's a definite possibility.

    The best thing about the later launch in Australia, is that by then the Firmware will be available on the website to download and to prepare for a USB update, so this can negate any log jam of local users attempting to update.

    Sony did actually have the firmware online already this month for a few hours and a few people have already downloaded it.

      They said in FAQ that USB update option will be available. I expect it for US launch too.

    Oatmeal? Da Fuuuuuuuuk! Do you even know me at all? Im going to be all like:
    Get out of bed, PLAYSTATION, jerk off, PLAYSTATION, eat something terrible for me while KILLZONE.

      Is jerking off, and later eating something terrible, related?


    With the latest FAQ from Sony I've decided to skip the "next-gen" consoles and focus primarily on PC gaming. Each of the consoles are nothing more than transparent lock-in devices geared solely to creating new money streams for the company. Sony has a HUGE library or music titles on CD and mp3 but will not allow their use on the console. Instead you must pay for a streaming music service. Whats the point? I have a copy of the music I want to listen to. I'm not going to buy them AGAIN. FU next-gen consoles.

    Last edited 01/11/13 1:26 pm

    You get anywhere between 10-100's of hours from games, and yet people complain about a few minutes of initial setup? Can't please some people...

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