PlayStation 4 Review: The Experience

  • Posted December 6th, 2013 at 00:01 EDT by

Above all else, using Sony’s latest gaming machine is fun and enjoyable. Whether it’s getting my game on or kicking back to watch Netflix, I have never had any annoyance with getting to my entertainment destination. The DualShock 4 is the first truly comfortable PlayStation controller for me, and unique mechanisms like the touchpad and lightbar invite future potential. The visuals the PS4 can produce with many of its games still leave me smiling at how stunning and detailed they are.

PlayStation 4 is here, and already it’s reinvigorating console gaming at the beginning of its lifecycle. Nearly three weeks into owning the machine, I can’t fully imagine all the different ways developers will use its hardware and features to create true next-gen experiences. Some of us have a busy lifestyle, but PS4 can keep us engaged while away from the TV. The console's argument is clear: making gaming social and accessible doesn’t have to require watering down the games. Greatness awaits for PS4, which has an abundance of potential ready to be discovered on top of a rock-solid foundation. And I can hardly wait to see what it has in store for all of us.

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Timothy Nunes - Response 

Multitasking ability should be societal standard used to rate modern technology, because no one wants to be bound to just one thing at a time anymore. PlayStation 4, with the press of the PlayStation button, allows seamless movement between Music Unlimited, games, Party Chat, PlayStation Store, and all available social connections, and now that I have this kind of power in my hand, I can no longer validate anything less. Sure, the games need to be bigger, better, and prettier, but the console itself needs to have that extra something that keeps modern minds enthused. PS4 understands this and executes in spades.

Even if notifications are a bit wonky--as I stated in the Features section of our review--they help bind the social experience together, with a press of the PS button directing the PS4 to wherever that notification came from: Party Chat, game invitations, etc. Really, having one place to manage all incoming content is great, cutting down on having to sift through scattered, disjointed communication. Minimizing games takes no time, either, and there's no more looking at a transparent home screen that takes a long time to load when pressing the PS button.

Notifications have one major negative, however, that revolves around the Friends list. As of now (since we don't know if Sony plans on changing this), no notification pops up when Friends come online. In retrospect, the ability to have 2000 friends would be incredibly obtrusive if PS4 kept you alerted to the comings and goings of all. However, we all have a group of friends that we want to play with the most--and PS4 even allows us to send name requests, which allow the recipient and the sender to see each other's real name. With this in mind, being able to file friends into "Notification worthy" status would be great. Additionally, knowing on which system each friend is would be wonderful.

The constantly scrolling Content section of the main menu really feels disorganized. I include the Friends list when I say that I wish the PS4 allowed us more options for organization, such as the PS3's folder system. Luckily, the negatives that I've mentioned here are fixable with future updates, but reviews don't cover the future; we still have to deal with it, even if dealing with it is a small price for the excitement of the PS4 experience as a whole.

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Kyle Prahl - Response

For me, the console "experience" used to begin and end with the startup noise and shutdown beep. With PlayStation 4, I'm not sure when and where that experience begins and ends--or if it ever does. I can send friend requests and voice messages from my phone while setting up automatic downloads at my home console on the road. I can instantly jump between Assassin's Creed IV and Netflix as my entertainment whims demand. I can start a conversation with co-op friends on PS4 and continue our chat (and gaming!) with my PS Vita in another room. Others can spectate my gameplay whenever I dare, and I could wile away an afternoon viewing the action of others. My PS4 is never truly off, which means patches are installing, games are downloading, and a full suite of games and entertainment is always at my fingertips: on the best controller I've ever held.

The only thing about PS4's launch lineup of games that feels next-gen is the visuals, but framed by the connected context that defines PS4, playing these games feels like basking in a creative, cohesive vision for the industry's future. As if overnight, the PlayStation universe has changed. Enthusiasm drips from every surprising convenience. Every moment spent multitasking applications or accessing your profile, games, and PlayStation identity from unexpected places is a breath of refreshing innovation that feels like it will matter and change the way our lifestyle functions. But the most endearing and impressive part of all? Every one of these new conveniences, these new ways of sharing our pastime, these new ways of communicating the importance of our medium, is welcome and well-executed. Very little about the PlayStation 4 experience attains true perfection, but its undoubtedly closer than a Sony game console has ever come.

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We've reviewed the hardware, the user interface, the features, and the experience. There's only thing left to do.

Our final PS4 review drops tomorrow. In the meantime, give us your personal score and review in the comments below.

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Ernest Lin is a U.S. Editor for PSU and certified moé aficionado. Follow him on Twitter for ramblings on movies, anime, gaming, deals, and pop culture.
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