10 first impressions of the PlayStation 4 games console from a new PS4 owner

The PS4 games console from Sony

The PS4 games console from Sony

First published in Leisure latest news
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , web manager

So, I was lucky enough to be able to get a PlayStation 4 as a post-Christmas treat for myself.

It’s going to be a few more weeks at least before I’m fully familiar with my new machine but for now I want to share with you some of my first impressions of Sony’s new games console.

1. People have salivated over the PS4’s design and I must admit I can see its two-tone black plastic look does have a certain aesthetic appeal, but I think it looks, well, weird too. Looking a bit like the lovechild of a computer base and set-top TV box, the console looks a little awkward to me. It’s obviously there to accommodate the disc slot and other sockets, but the deep indent around the perimeter of the machine makes it looks a bit like one unit’s been glued to the top of another. I’m not a big fan of the sharp pointy corners or the slanted front and back either, although the look doesn’t matter too much to me as my PS4 sits inconspicuously in a dark space under my TV – and, most importantly, all the bits inside the console work like a dream.

2. The power and eject buttons are well hidden and almost invisible on the front of the PS4. Each time I use of them of I have to look carefully to find it. The buttons are close together and it seems to only take a light brush with the finger to press them - I’ve had a couple of instances when I’ve accidentally turned the machine off while trying to get a disc out.

3. The PS4 moves along noticeably more speedily and smoothly than the PS3. It begins when switching it on, extends to getting into games (you can begin playing while a game is still installing) and continues into the games themselves where everything including menu navigaion, load times and actual gameplay seems zippier and slicker than before. It's also been very easy to get around the new-look homescreen and find everything I've needed. The user interface is much livelier than the PS3's was, with more information about games and notifications.

4. The PS4 is a lot quieter than its predecessor was, at least so far. The new console's gentle PC-like hum is in sharp contrast to the louder growl which my PS3 had developed.

News Shopper: PS4 Dualshock 4 controller

5. The new DualShock 4 controller feels more comfortable in my hands. It feels chunkier and sturdier, like the old DualShock 3 controller has been in the gym to tone up a bit and undergone some surgery to improve its shape. The thumbsticks are tighter with more resistance, and they're also less slippy. The new concave trigger buttons feel more like, well, triggers. Those familiar friends the D-pad and face buttons have been improved slightly but not massively. There is a built-in speaker and headset jack on the controller, with a light bar and touch pad also being added. None of the games I've played so far have really utilised these last two new features, or motion controls, so it will be interesting to see how they're used by developers going forward. Hopefully their integration into games won't be reduced to gimmicky afterthoughts like the PS Move features all too often were on PS3. I've only got one DualShocxk 4 controller so far as the £49 asking price for an additional one is steep to put it politely.

6. Another new feature of the controller is a share button which allows players to upload such things as videos and screenshots for other people to see. Beforehand I didn't think I'd use it, and now after getting my PS4 I know I won't be using it. Sure, it seems to be proving very popular so far but to me it's just a pointless feature. I can't think of anything I'm going to do that I'll be desperate to share with others, while I've tried watching other people's contributions and they've been tedious to say the least.

7. I've not done any online gaming since getting my PS4. It's not for the want of trying but because a £5-a-month PlayStation Plus subscription is required. I think this is a rip-off. When I've paid hundreds of pounds for a console followed by £50 a pop for several games I feel I've paid enough to be able to enjoy the full PS4 experience. I don't think I should be forced to pay more to access certain features, such as multiplayer.

News Shopper: Fifa 14 on PS4

8. Although none of the early titles have really pushed the boundaries, it's clear already that games look prettier on PS4 compared to PS3. Shooters Battlefield 4 and Killzone showcase some dazzling visuals while attention to detail in sports sims such as NBA 2k14 is markedly improved. Better animations, sharper graphics, enhanced physics and extra flourishes around the broadcast presentation are just some of the ways in which the PS4 version of Fifa 14 is a class above its PS3 brother.

9. They may look lovely, but the number and variety of games available for PS4 so far is disappointing. There are three shooters (the aforementioned two along with the mediocre Call of Duty: Ghosts), a clutch of sports games (including two basketball games due to EA's inexplicable decision to pitch its relaunched NBA Live series against 2K Sports' vastly superior offering), a few beautified versions of games that were already available such as Assassin's Creed IV and Need For Speed: Rivals, some oddities like the less-than-amazing platformer Knack and ... not much else really. Some of the much-talked-about exclusives such as Driveclub and Infamous: Second Son aren't arriving until later this year, and they can't come soon enough. I'm yearning for more games, partly because I think the PS4 roster badly needs some bolstering but mainly because I can't wait to see the potential of Sony's new hardware being fulfilled.

10. I knew it was the case, but the final realisation that my big pile of PS3 games were not going to work on my new PS4 was still a sad moment. There are good and clear technical reasons why the two systems are not compatible with each other but it's still a shame that many top games such as Grand Theft Auto V will have to sit unused or be sold. The PlayStation Now backwards compatibility streaming/emulation service will be along in the not-too-distant future but I fear this will either try to make me repay for games I already own (or have owned) or will come with a prohibitive subscription charge.

So, there are a few aspects of the PS4 which I’m not thrilled about so far, and a few areas where I think Sony has got off to a slow or unsuccessful start with its new hardware. But overall I've still been really impressed with much of what I've seen. The PS4 is clearly a massively powerful games machine, which offers huge promise for the future. With a lot of improvements made, it's a giant step forward from the PS3. The most exciting thing is it's just going to keep getting better from this point.

If you've been lucky enough to also get a PS4 tell me what you think of yours in the comments below. Or if you're an Xbox One player, tell me why that console is your preferred choice.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for a round-up of the games I've played so far which I'll be doing shortly. And also stay with us for the year as we'll be reviewing the big PS4 games as they come along.

Comments (14)

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4:28pm Thu 9 Jan 14

highoctane says...

Just want to point out that the yearly subscription is only £40 and since no one is going to get a month subscription it would be more accurate to say £3.30 a month.
Just want to point out that the yearly subscription is only £40 and since no one is going to get a month subscription it would be more accurate to say £3.30 a month. highoctane
  • Score: 2

4:37pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Simon Bull says...

Thanks very much for the clarification highoctane. I take your point although I do disagree about nobody taking the monthly subscription. This is is something I would do if I was going to sign up to PS Plus as £40 is quite a chunk of cash to pay at once and I'd prefer to take it month by month in case the service turned out not to be very useful. I'm not a big online multiplayer fan at the best of times, even less so when I'm paying for it, so I'd need there to be a lot more than just this to PS Plus to convince me to join.

Even at the lower cost of roughly £3 a month, I still think it's a swizz people are being asked to pay before getting online features. New games currently cost £50-55 and it seems greedy to make players then pay even more on top for full access.
Thanks very much for the clarification highoctane. I take your point although I do disagree about nobody taking the monthly subscription. This is is something I would do if I was going to sign up to PS Plus as £40 is quite a chunk of cash to pay at once and I'd prefer to take it month by month in case the service turned out not to be very useful. I'm not a big online multiplayer fan at the best of times, even less so when I'm paying for it, so I'd need there to be a lot more than just this to PS Plus to convince me to join. Even at the lower cost of roughly £3 a month, I still think it's a swizz people are being asked to pay before getting online features. New games currently cost £50-55 and it seems greedy to make players then pay even more on top for full access. Simon Bull
  • Score: -2

4:39pm Thu 9 Jan 14

bellboy007 says...

In regards to the online fee - if people are willing to pay for it, then Sony will inevitably charge for it. They missed a trick with the PS3 as the XBOX 360 had had chargeable subscription from the start which didn't seem to put people off when wanting to play online. Therefore Sony didn't really have a choice in charging for online services this time around, it would've been like literally throwing money away.

What I really object to is the emergence of ridiculous DLC and recently these microtransactions that seem to be worryingly increasing, now that is a total rip off. Take Forza 5, you've just forked out 400 quid for console, 50 quid for the game to only get half the game because the best bits are locked away from the start, forcing you to buy credits to unlock the best cars. Just INCLUDE it in the game from the start!
In regards to the online fee - if people are willing to pay for it, then Sony will inevitably charge for it. They missed a trick with the PS3 as the XBOX 360 had had chargeable subscription from the start which didn't seem to put people off when wanting to play online. Therefore Sony didn't really have a choice in charging for online services this time around, it would've been like literally throwing money away. What I really object to is the emergence of ridiculous DLC and recently these microtransactions that seem to be worryingly increasing, now that is a total rip off. Take Forza 5, you've just forked out 400 quid for console, 50 quid for the game to only get half the game because the best bits are locked away from the start, forcing you to buy credits to unlock the best cars. Just INCLUDE it in the game from the start! bellboy007
  • Score: 1

5:27pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Simon Bull says...

Hi bellboy007, I agree with you on micro-transactions. They seem to be filtering over into console games after becoming rampant (and unfortunately successful) in mobile games over the past couple of years in titles such as Real Racing 3. Again, as per the early part of your comment, I'm guessing games publishers see them as acceptable and an easy way to make money if players are willing to pay the fees.

Whether it's mobile or console, I much prefer to pay a reasonable price to get a full game with no add-on charges once I start playing. If the developer later comes back with a decent sized chunk of DLC which enhances the game then fair enough, I may buy it, but micro-transactions used to unlock what should be standard features is a concept which stinks.
Hi bellboy007, I agree with you on micro-transactions. They seem to be filtering over into console games after becoming rampant (and unfortunately successful) in mobile games over the past couple of years in titles such as Real Racing 3. Again, as per the early part of your comment, I'm guessing games publishers see them as acceptable and an easy way to make money if players are willing to pay the fees. Whether it's mobile or console, I much prefer to pay a reasonable price to get a full game with no add-on charges once I start playing. If the developer later comes back with a decent sized chunk of DLC which enhances the game then fair enough, I may buy it, but micro-transactions used to unlock what should be standard features is a concept which stinks. Simon Bull
  • Score: 2

5:28pm Thu 9 Jan 14

caged_animal09 says...

i haven't got a problem with a payed service, IF, it makes the network more stable thus, more enjoyable, i get there a business, i also get its about turning a profit, as long as the money ive spent becomes apparent in the experience, nobody can complain about 40 pound, even the way things are with the economy, 40 is manageable by most, but sony has to return the favour. the end of the day, this is our hobby, what we love to do, so if thats not worth spending your hard earned cash on, what is?
i haven't got a problem with a payed service, IF, it makes the network more stable thus, more enjoyable, i get there a business, i also get its about turning a profit, as long as the money ive spent becomes apparent in the experience, nobody can complain about 40 pound, even the way things are with the economy, 40 is manageable by most, but sony has to return the favour. the end of the day, this is our hobby, what we love to do, so if thats not worth spending your hard earned cash on, what is? caged_animal09
  • Score: 0

7:46pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Truthbetold288 says...

Well it's clear that Sony has done a great job with the PS4, more than great in fact.

I support the PSPlus subscription because if they carried on with free online multiplayer the quality would have remained crap and inferior to the beautiful gaming of Microsoft's XBOX Live.
Note: I'm a serious Playstation fan since 94 but XBOX 360 really done well compared to the PS3 even though I still loved every minute of gaming on my PS3.

So not to be too harsh, but you obviously seem like the type of gamer who doesn't really care about quality and just want free stuff, much like a leecher. £40 for the whole year is very reasonable for the quality of gaming we're receiving now compared to before.

But all in all, I agree with a lot of the things you said such as the game roster.
Well it's clear that Sony has done a great job with the PS4, more than great in fact. I support the PSPlus subscription because if they carried on with free online multiplayer the quality would have remained crap and inferior to the beautiful gaming of Microsoft's XBOX Live. Note: I'm a serious Playstation fan since 94 but XBOX 360 really done well compared to the PS3 even though I still loved every minute of gaming on my PS3. So not to be too harsh, but you obviously seem like the type of gamer who doesn't really care about quality and just want free stuff, much like a leecher. £40 for the whole year is very reasonable for the quality of gaming we're receiving now compared to before. But all in all, I agree with a lot of the things you said such as the game roster. Truthbetold288
  • Score: 2

11:41am Fri 10 Jan 14

Simon Bull says...

Hi Truthbetold288 - thanks for your comments, I'm glad you agree with a lot of what I wrote!

On the subject of online multiplayer, I do very much care about quality but what I care most about is value for money and not feeling like I'm constantly being squeezed for cash. Like I said above, I feel I've ALREADY spent plenty of money by paying £350 for a console followed by £50 to £55 for EACH new game so I don't agree with being subjected to FURTHER charges to access all features like online play.

It's obviously a personal thing though and different people will have different takes on it. If the comments here are indicative of the overall feeling then it seems most people don't have a problem with paying extra, which is fair enough.
Hi Truthbetold288 - thanks for your comments, I'm glad you agree with a lot of what I wrote! On the subject of online multiplayer, I do very much care about quality but what I care most about is value for money and not feeling like I'm constantly being squeezed for cash. Like I said above, I feel I've ALREADY spent plenty of money by paying £350 for a console followed by £50 to £55 for EACH new game so I don't agree with being subjected to FURTHER charges to access all features like online play. It's obviously a personal thing though and different people will have different takes on it. If the comments here are indicative of the overall feeling then it seems most people don't have a problem with paying extra, which is fair enough. Simon Bull
  • Score: -1

12:08pm Fri 10 Jan 14

razorray says...

I really like the PSN subscription because of the instant game collection, I have saved lots of money overall when I factor in how much I would have paid for the games I would have purchased anyway. My kids have a large library of games now on PS3 and Vita on top of the new games we are getting on the PS4.
I really like the PSN subscription because of the instant game collection, I have saved lots of money overall when I factor in how much I would have paid for the games I would have purchased anyway. My kids have a large library of games now on PS3 and Vita on top of the new games we are getting on the PS4. razorray
  • Score: 3

12:39pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Mike1995 says...

highoctane wrote:
Just want to point out that the yearly subscription is only £40 and since no one is going to get a month subscription it would be more accurate to say £3.30 a month.
if you bought the playstation online thing from game with ps4 it was £30 so that is £2.50 a month.
[quote][p][bold]highoctane[/bold] wrote: Just want to point out that the yearly subscription is only £40 and since no one is going to get a month subscription it would be more accurate to say £3.30 a month.[/p][/quote]if you bought the playstation online thing from game with ps4 it was £30 so that is £2.50 a month. Mike1995
  • Score: 0

11:50pm Fri 10 Jan 14

DJThreeOfour says...

My PS3 had a lot more features like Bluetooth connectivity etc, it also allowed you to play old title from the PS1 and PS2 system, also their PlayStation Plus service sucks, with a PlayStation 3 you get a free game once a week, on ps4 their only treating you to one free game a month, with ps4 you are obligated to be a plus account member while you are getting less for your buck
My PS3 had a lot more features like Bluetooth connectivity etc, it also allowed you to play old title from the PS1 and PS2 system, also their PlayStation Plus service sucks, with a PlayStation 3 you get a free game once a week, on ps4 their only treating you to one free game a month, with ps4 you are obligated to be a plus account member while you are getting less for your buck DJThreeOfour
  • Score: -1

12:29am Sat 11 Jan 14

Efcscotty says...

I would like to disagree with all the people who are complaining about the ps plus service which is a good value for money you get at ps4 games and for me I get 1 ps4 game two ps vita games and 3 ps3 games for £5 a month it's hardly expensive also considering Xbox is a more expensive console and charges you for Xbox live . And at least with ps plus you are gonna get some decent titles once a few more games come out and it will become economically fine for Sony to add better games too the ps plus service like they do each month on ps3 and usually on ps vita
I would like to disagree with all the people who are complaining about the ps plus service which is a good value for money you get at ps4 games and for me I get 1 ps4 game two ps vita games and 3 ps3 games for £5 a month it's hardly expensive also considering Xbox is a more expensive console and charges you for Xbox live . And at least with ps plus you are gonna get some decent titles once a few more games come out and it will become economically fine for Sony to add better games too the ps plus service like they do each month on ps3 and usually on ps vita Efcscotty
  • Score: 1

9:14am Sat 1 Feb 14

Pizzimperfect says...

Point number two makes me seriously doubt you. You have to look hard for the power and eject buttons each time, and you've accidentally touched the wrong one? You sir, need strong glasses. It's not brain surgery.
Point number two makes me seriously doubt you. You have to look hard for the power and eject buttons each time, and you've accidentally touched the wrong one? You sir, need strong glasses. It's not brain surgery. Pizzimperfect
  • Score: -1

3:28pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Danneh2014 says...

The ps plus service is well worth the money you get free games for christ sake i have tons of games since a paid the 40 pound fee even with free multiplayer its worth all the games they have given me would have cost hundreds of pound and i got them all for 40 and plus microsoft have been charging since the first xbox they dont give you nothing in return accept recently a few ancient games that have been out for years. To sum up everyone should stop complaining abouy something that is clearly good value.
The ps plus service is well worth the money you get free games for christ sake i have tons of games since a paid the 40 pound fee even with free multiplayer its worth all the games they have given me would have cost hundreds of pound and i got them all for 40 and plus microsoft have been charging since the first xbox they dont give you nothing in return accept recently a few ancient games that have been out for years. To sum up everyone should stop complaining abouy something that is clearly good value. Danneh2014
  • Score: 0

11:46am Wed 5 Feb 14

Simon Bull says...

Pizzimperfect wrote:
Point number two makes me seriously doubt you. You have to look hard for the power and eject buttons each time, and you've accidentally touched the wrong one? You sir, need strong glasses. It's not brain surgery.
If you doubt me you must also doubt countless other people who have also mentioned exactly the same thing about the buttons being almost invisible.
[quote][p][bold]Pizzimperfect[/bold] wrote: Point number two makes me seriously doubt you. You have to look hard for the power and eject buttons each time, and you've accidentally touched the wrong one? You sir, need strong glasses. It's not brain surgery.[/p][/quote]If you doubt me you must also doubt countless other people who have also mentioned exactly the same thing about the buttons being almost invisible. Simon Bull
  • Score: 0

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