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PS4 FAQ: 10 things you need to know before you buy

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It feels like we have been waiting a mini-age for it and now, but the PS4 has landed (in the US at least). Eight years after the black, monolithic PS3 console entered our lives, its successor has launched in the US with a PS4 UK release date set for 29 November.

The console, DualShock 4 controller and PS4 launch games have been covered extensively, but what are the less obvious things you ought to know before you hand over your cash? We answer your PS4 questions in our PS4 FAQ.

1. You can't use DLNA or play MP3s, but you can stream music...

The PS4 can play standard Blu-ray discs and DVDs but currently does not support MP3 playback or streaming via DLNA. A post-launch update will apparently rectify this, but there is a way you can replace the rattling of gunfire with a more soothing soundtrack. Using Sony’s audio streaming service Music Unlimited you can manually turn off game audio and replace it with something from Sony's extensive music catalogue, though you will have to pay for the privilege.

2. The PlayStation app for PS4 will actually be useful

Available to download for free on iOS devices like the iPhone 5S and Android tablets like the Nexus 7 2, Sony has updated its PlayStation app with the arrival of the PS4. It's currently a pretty useless app, but with the PS4 you can use your phone or tablet as a keyboard (while on the same Wi-Fi connection), access the PS4 manual and system guide, watch friends gaming live and get Smartglass-style second screen integration. Best of all, you can remotely download games so when you get home, they are ready to play.

3. You can play PS4 games on your PS Vita (but not the other way round)

Remote Play using the PlayStation Vita was introduced on the PS3 with just handful of games, but with the PS4 you should be able to play almost every game on the Sony portable. It will only work inside your home, before you get any ideas of walking down the street playing next-gen FIFA 14. Once you've downloaded the PS4 Link app to your Vita you can play games you’ve purchased on the PS4 straight on your PS Vita. For controls assigned to the unique Dualshock 4 features like clickable buttons, they will be replaced by either the Vita’s touchscreen or rear controls.

Ps4 remote play

4. You can play PS4 games before they have finished downloading

Ideal for people who can’t stomach those achingly long download times, the PS4's new PlayGo feature will let you start your game before it’s been completely downloaded. For example, if you are downloading a digital version of Call of Duty: Ghosts, you will be able to choose whether you want to play the campaign or multiplayer mode. Depending on what you choose, the PS4 will proceed to download the data you need to get playing.

5. Online gaming is no longer free

On the PS3, online gaming was a free-for-all, but on the PS4 you will need to pay up if you want to get spanked at Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty by an 11-year old from the other side of the world. PlayStation Plus subscriptions cost £5.49 per month or £39.99 a year and you’ll require just one to cover all PlayStation consoles. Existing PS Plus memberships will carry over to the PlayStation 4 and to entice you to sign up, Sony will be offering a new game each month. A subscription also adds the ability to download game updates when then console is and on standby and get access to 1GB of cloud saves game data.


6. PS3 games will be compatible on PS4 (digitally)

Are PS3 games compatible with the PS4 you ask? Well, not in the sense that you can put a PS3 disc copy of GTA 5 into your PS4 console and start playing it. The PS4 will use its OnLive-style cloud gaming service Gakai to stream PS3 games to offer some form of backwards compatibility. There had been talk by some GAME employees over Twitter that current PSN titles purchased on PS3 would transfer over to your PS4, but that was dismissed by Sony via its official PlayStation Europe account. The streaming feature, meanwhile, is due to be launched some time next year. It's not available at launch.

More: PS4 Backward Compatibility - Can you play PS3 games on PS4?

7. You can stop your kids from playing Call of Duty and violent films

If you are planning to share the PS4 with the entire household, Sony has now added the ability to add restrictions on content if you don’t want the little ones to be playing Call of Duty. This also covers setting content restrictions for what Blu-ray discs people can watch, what apps they can access and which websites they can land on in the web browser.

8. You can use voice commands without the PS Eye

One of the ways Sony has managed to keep the price of the console down lower than the Xbox One is by leaving the PS Eye camera out of the box. That's not to say you will have to immediately pay out around £55 for one as the DualShock 4 controller has a built-in mic and will offer some Kinect-style voice control for the PS4.

PS4 pictures

9. PS4 game updates and downloads can run in the background

One of our biggest gripes with the PS3 was having to sit through numerous game updates and software downloads, sometimes for hours. The good news is that Sony has introduced the ability to do all of this boring stuff in the background leaving you to get on with something more interesting than looking at a loading bar slowly making progress.

10. You can sell and share your games

One of the biggest talking points of the next-gen console war has been the stance Microsoft and Sony have taken on the pre-owned games market. Sony made a very big deal at its E3 2013 press conference about not abandoning second-hand gamers, brilliantly summed by this video. The recently updated version of the Sony Entertainment network terms of service appeared to contradict this, but Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida reiterated via Twitter that you can sell and share PS4 discs just like you can with the PS3.

Other PS4 features to look out for:
  •  You can log into any PS4 to access games, make purchases as long as you are signed in.
  • The PS4 is not region locked which means you will be able to play games bought in other countries like the US.
  • There’s a Suspend mode making it easier to jump in and out of games.
  • The PS4 uses a 2.5-inch laptop-style 500GB hard drive that can be replaced and upgraded. It’s held in place with head-screws so you will need a screwdriver to get access to it.
  • The PS4 will support USB and Bluetooth keyboards and mouse. For USB peripherals, simply hook them into the front-facing USB ports. For Bluetooth accessories, you can activate them in the Settings menu inside the Dynamic menu.
  • The 'Game DVR' feature will capture 15 minutes of gameplay and let you edit video and take screenshots
  • The 11 PS4 launch apps include Netflix, Crackle and Sony’s Music and Video Unlimited services
  • There’s a headset and a HDMI cable already packaged with the PS4 console
  • The Dualshock 4 controller can be charged when the console is in sleep mode.
  • The DualShock 4 controller can work with some PS3 games including GTA V, Tomb Raider and Skyrim
  • You don't have to always be connected to the internet to play PS4 games

Next read our round-up of the best games of 2013

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