The cold was starting to creep into my bones. It was starting to near midnight in Sacramento, California and I was at my GameStop picking up the next generation console from Sony. The line was about 100 deep and we were all waiting with baited breath to get in so we could get our mitts on the coveted console. As the line started to move people were discussing everything from hoping they could get online to how big the required installs were for most of the new games. I finally approached the register and received my prize.
The Sony PlayStation 4 was launched on November 15, 2013, in North America at midnight and was touted as being the next step in our gaming evolution. With over a million pre-orders just in North America alone it’s looking to be one of the more successful launches in recent memory as well. That being said there have been a myriad of issues reported that people are claiming to be popping up such as freezing, blinking red lights, no video, bad connectors, etc.
The unboxing after waiting in line was your typical affair. The unit was smaller than I heard with no external power supply (brick). It came with one of the new controllers and a micro USB 3.0 connector to power it. It also came with a power cord and HDMI cable to get it powered up and connected to your display of choice. The final thing I came across was what I assumed was half a headset. I say this because the included mic is actually just one ear bud with a mic and switch attached to a single cord that plugs into the controller (think 360 controller/mic setup). Needless to say, once I got home and rummaged around in the dark to set the system up, it was 2 AM and time to go to bed because I had work in 3.5 hours. The console itself has an HDMI in the back, Ethernet, optical, and two USB 3.0 connectors in the front. I tried connecting right before bed and was unable to connect to the PSN (under maintenance). This was the only time I’ve encountered this issue.
Once I came home from work on Friday I fired it up and crossed my fingers. After waiting all day and hearing the issues that had plagued other gamers I was a touch anxious. She came alive right away with the familiar PS logo and launched right into its initial patch for day 1 launch (330 mb). Once that was completed the unit restarted and was ready to play with. The PS4 main menu is pretty much the same layout albeit more streamlined. It definitely has more a user friendly feel to it and seems easier to navigate. The newest addition is that of the party system with cross chat functionality. Anyone who has had a 360 is familiar with this. For those uninitiated, that means you can create a party with your friends and chat with them regardless of what game you’re playing. Now, me personally, it gets irritating to be in a firefight on BF while talking to someone racing in NFS, but that’s a personal preference. It is nice, though, to get a chat going while someone is finishing up a level on another game while you wait for them to join up on you in a lobby. I didn’t invest in the new camera so I don’t have any hands on experience with that (waiting for something other than Playroom to use that on). One nice thing is that main PS4 menu seems to act as more of a portal so that if PSN is down you can still connect to the servers of the individual games.
Now my launch line up consists of Killzone: Shadow Fall, CoD: Ghosts, BF4, and Resogun. Now I had purchased a disc for PS3 that needed to be upgraded (BF4 for PS3), a digital download (Ghosts for PS3), and the actual disc for KZ on PS4 to see what, if any, issues occurred installing or upgrading. To be honest I had zero issues installing and upgrading anything. The biggest issue for me was the amount of time it takes to install almost 50 GB for the next gen games… that’s it. Killzone actually negates this to a degree by asking you which mode you want to play first, campaign or multiplayer. The system will then install your second choice in the background so you can play your initial choice right away.
I’ve played the system for over 6-8 hours each day during the weekend and never once had any sort of heating issue, display problem, freezing or anything. The only issue that I came across during the whole process was a strange whirring noise the system made on the BF4 disc when it was done installing the game. Since the BF4 disc is only used to upgrade the game to PS4 I can attribute that to the fact it’s an incompatible format for the PS4 and was trying to read and reread the disc to figure out what it wanted to do with it. Once you actually start the game, or simply eject the disc, the noise ceases. It does not make this noise for PS4 discs at all or if there is no disc in the drive.
All in all it has been uneventful launch for this gamer, but that is not to say there aren’t defective units. Sony is saying failure rates are as low as .5% and Amazon users are saying 8-9%. If you purchased a defective unit I’m sorry, and I’m sure Sony will have something in the works for you to get you back up and running, just follow the proper channels. Just remember before we start yelling about failures and how the Xbox fans are laughing about any issues that have arisen, that the 360 had a really rough launch with almost a 50% hardware failure rate and it still continued to garner support.
Now we’ll be doing reviews for all the launch titles, but I have to say everything I’ve played designed for PS4 has been beautiful. Killzone especially has earned its rightful place as a launch title. Resogun is also a nice entry into the launch list by Housemarque as well a game called Warframe that’s free for Plus members. Keep in mind as the Xbox launches, and the fan boy war rages on, that we’re all gamers and have diverse tastes. There’s no reason to bash one over the other. Simply follow your games and enjoy the company of other gamers on your platform. There’s no such thing as a perfect system… except maybe the Dreamcast.