The PlayStation 4 is set for a bumper round of sales this Christmas. Here’s what Sony’s console needs to stay ahead of the curve
Over a year on from its release, the PS4 looks set for another bumper round of sales ahead of Christmas. Sony’s console has maintained a market edge on the Xbox One until recently, due no doubt, to its array of groundbreaking features and the fact that most third party titles are better represented visually. Still, there’s always room for improvement and there are a couple of aspects we’d like to see tweaked.
Longer battery life on the DualShock
We love the DualShock 4 controller. Out of all the new gen control pads, it offers the sleekest, most intuitive interface on a console and it sits perfectly in our paws. It may not offer the immediate feeling of the Xbox One rumble triggers and its touchscreen interface isn’t as huge as the Wii U control pad, but it feels neither as unwieldy as the latter and it boasts more options than the former. There’s only one thing we’d like to change about it – its rubbish battery life.
The DualShock 4 isn’t as maddening as the Xbox One controller – at least you can recharge it off the PS4 with a USB cable – but the length of its battery life while unconnected leaves a lot to be desired. If Sony were to release a controller than offered a lengthier period of remote play, we’d certainly sign up for it. If it came in another colour other than black, it may just seal the deal.
More customisation options on the homescreen
The eye-wateringly beautiful images that graced the backdrop of the PS3 are legion – mainly because players were allowed to put their own personal stamp on Sony’s last generation console. Menus screens could be filled with an action panel from a Batman comic, the sight of a collapsing star or a sunrise on a coastline. Anything you wanted, really.
The PS4’s homescreen is soothing enough, but players aren’t able to tinker with it all that much. The PS4 firmware update earlier this year allowed players to change the colour of the backdrop, but that’s about it. Like Microsoft’s console, the PS4 could do with more homescreen customization options. Really, after the options on the PS3, the fact that these are missing feels genuinely puzzling.
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Faster game downloading
If the new generation’s big business model actually wants to move beyond boxed product then the time it takes to download full games needs to be addressed. With some full titles clocking in at upwards of 40GB, players face a very long wait before they’re able to play titles they’ve purchased from the PSN Store. Oh, and having a fast internet connection doesn’t necessarily mean the downloads will move any faster.
As bad as that sounds, the PS4 further hobbles players with its Play-As-You-Download feature. When Sony first unveiled this at the PS4 reveal in New York back in 2013, it looked like a fantastic step forward. The idea that players could still enjoy their games uninterrupted while the PS4 downloaded patches and content in the background sounded amazing. In reality, however, players find themselves running into error messages early on in their games that inform them that their title hasn’t finished downloading yet. As it stands, the best way to install a game is to buy it from a shop, slip the disc into the console and then wait a whole 4 minutes for it to land on your hard drive. Until the PS4’s download speeds improve, box copies are here to stay.
See also: PS4 tips and tricks 2014
More titles that use the SharePlay Feature
The PS4 SharePlay feature is easily one of the console’s most exciting features. Not only can players use it to watch and aid their mates and others they follow, they can even enjoy titles they don’t actually own – albeit for an hour at a time.
Sounds great right? Well, the catch is that some publishers have moved to block the SharePlay function on certain titles. The likes of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, FIFA 15, Rayman: Legends, Minecraft and Child of Light were all quietly blocked on SharePlay’s, although publishers issued rather reasonable statements for this action – and one or two of them restored it. Still, it feels a little bit weird that one of the PS4’s most touted and groundbreaking features didn’t operate across the board as advertised.
See also: PS4 FAQ – Key things you need to know about the PS4
To say that the advent of the Oculus Rift has had a sizable impact on gaming is an understatement. What once seemed the province of science fiction and cyberpunk, Virtual Reality, is now firmly on its way to becoming part of the gaming experience. It’s here that Sony has planted a rather sizable flag in the ground as at the time of this writing, the PS4 is the only gaming console that plans to offer VR to its audience in the form of Project Morpheus.
So where is it? While Sony has shown off its VR headset at a couple of events – it made an appearance at both EVE: Online Fanfest and E3 this year – the publisher and platform holder has been rather cagey about its details. We don’t know when Sony plans to release it, whether the PS4 is scheduled for a sizable Firmware upgrade before the release or even what the retail pricepoint will be. The only things we know is that it’s lighter than the Rift, that it’ll also work with the PS Vita and that Sony has made vague mention that it’ll be released “sometime after 2014”. Here’s hoping that it won’t be too long “after 2014” that Morpheus makes an appearance. We can’t wait to get our hands on it.