Hands-On With The Playstation 4: What You Need To Know

Our first impressions of Sony's new video game/multimedia system.

Sony's Playstation 4 is finally hitting stores everywhere on Friday, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. The Playstation has been the choice of hard-core gamers for the past few years, and now, Sony is aiming for total living-room domination with its latest system.

In advance of the release, MTV News had the chance to be hands-on with the system, play a few games and preview everything the PS4 has to offer:

Social Monster

The biggest takeaway from our time with the Playstation 4 is that the system is a monster of social interaction, but thankfully not in an annoying way. Immediately on booting up the machine, you'll get a Tumblr dashboard-esque view of everything going on with your friends, what they're playing, snapshots and generally what's happening online.

Built into nearly every aspect of gaming are ways to share directly to Twitter and Facebook, as well. Yet somehow, the whole social aspect doesn't come off as overly aggressive. It's there if you want to interact and fades into the background if you don't.

Don't Cross The Streams

Also a huge, cool new facet of the system: built in functionality with Twitch.tv and Ustream, two social video streaming platforms. You can stream live directly from your living room with the click of two buttons, or interact with other gamers across the globe. You even have the option to join their games directly from the video screen (if available). Or if the game they're playing looks cool, download it directly from the Playstation Store in no time.

Instant Play

Probably the number one aspect of the system that completely bowled us over was that not only is every single launch title available online on the Playstation Store for download on Friday, but you don't have to wait to play. The first option? You can buy the game at work, and the always-on Playstation 4 will download your game for you at home, ready to play when you get back.

The second, more amazing option? You can purchase a game, choose whether you'd like to play single or multiplayer (if available), and the system will download a small chunk to let you jump in immediately. While you play, the rest of the game (including the single or multiplayer mode, whichever you didn't choose) will download in the background. Think of how iTunes movies or TV let you watch while downloading, and you'll get the gist.

Face Time

Using a Playstation camera (sold separately), you can actually log in to your Playstation using your face. After following a few simple instructions on screen, the Playstation will recognize you and boot up your account the next time you try to access your machine. Not only that, but if you and a few friends have accounts, you can all log in at the same time and play multiplayer games together on multiple accounts.

Oh, and don't worry, parents: we asked if any enterprising kids could wear masks of their mother or father to log in using their accounts, bypassing parental controls. Turns out that unless it's a very realistic 3-D mask that should be pretty much impossible.

Children: you have your work cut out for you. Start buying 3-D printers now.

Getting Siri-ous

Voice commands are ubiquitous now, and Playstation 4 is stepping up its game. The system (again using the separate camera) will allow simple commands, like "Playstation Blu-Ray" to boot up your Blu-Ray player, or "Playstation Killzone" to turn your apartment into a kill-zone. Also to play the game "Killzone." As of now, things don't get more complex than that, but we asked if functionality like, "Fast Forward" or "Next Chapter" for movies is in the offing. While that's not available now, it is in the works for later software updates. Soon you won't even have to pick up a controller!

Taking Control

Speaking of which, anyone familiar with the Playstation controller won't be too surprised. There are some nice additions, like a touch-screen button on top, a small speaker in the controller, and improved vibrations. But for the most part, if you've played a Playstation before you should be able to jump right in.

(Don't) Quit Playing Games

Also, this thing plays games. We demoed a few of them: the already released "Lego Marvel Super Heroes" and "DC Universe Online" both have vastly improved graphics, and continue to be fun iterations of their respective universes. As for new games, we played a bit of the racing game "Need For Speed Rivals" and the Parkour meets zombies epic "Dying Light." For those, the graphics (on, granted, top of the line televisions) were stunning, and the gameplay engaging. More on those Friday, as well as numerous other launch titles once the full review embargo lifts.


If you're looking for a machine ready to play all the latest movies and TV shows, this might be a good Apple TV, Boxee or Roku replacement (though far more expensive). There's the Playstation Store, which has all the latest movie releases gorgeously illustrated with full screen images and previews, and next day viewing on most TV shows. But the PS4 also comes loaded with a number of Apps: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more are all available.

Lookin' Good

Also, it just looks frickin' nice. The trapezoidal design of the PS4 is specifically made to hide cords and connections: the back sticks out farther on the top than the bottom, making the power cords look like they come right out of the machine. And In the front, a small recessed slit hides any controller connections. Oh, and those in a hate/hate relationship with big boxy power cords, rejoice: the Playstation just has a simple, straightforward power cord, so no clunky box in the middle cluttering your living room.

Final Impressions

This is a powerhouse of a machine, and if you have a really good TV and sound set-up, you'll be able to take full advantage of everything it has to offer. If you're a movie buff looking for a great Blu-Ray player with social aspects built in, or a gamer looking to plow through a ton of games without ever going outside, this may also be the system for you? As for everyone else? Bow before the inevitable, and embrace your new Playstation master.

Playstation 4 will be released on November 15, 2013. Look for more coverage of games and the system leading up to the release, here on MTV News.