It's what you do with it...
Sony is keen to emphasise that PS4 will be able to do much more than 'better graphics' and 'bigger worlds'. It is connected to almost every other aspect of our digital lives, and it wants us to take our gaming experiences with us wherever we go. But all this tech and potential is nothing without the creative minds to actually use it.
That's why we've pulled together this list of leading current-generation developers and imagined the ways they will use the power of PS4 to change the way we play games. We're not talking about the teams or individuals who will make more realistic hair, or unprecidented boob physics, but the ones who will use the myriad features of this cutting-edge console tech to truly change the way we play our favourite games.
Hideo Kojima - Mind games
Despite being an industry veteran at the distinguished age of 49, the Metal Gear Solid creator is still at the cutting edge of game design. What could he bring to PS4? We think hell be most interested in the streaming technologies brought to PS4 via the Gaikai deal. So, expect him to build smart little touches into forthcoming Metal Gear outings. Imagine the return of a psychic character like Psycho Mantis. Pads are wireless now, so switching ports to beat him - like in the classic Metal Gear Solid - simply wouldnt work. But what if you could use PS4s remote play tech to fool him?
You could take control of your character using PlayStation Vita or iPad, or even invite a friend to play your game over PSN so that Psycho Mantis can no longer predict your movements by reading your mind And what about the Codec? Will the next Metal Gear send Codec messages direct to your mobile phone? Its another chance for Koj to break the fourth wall and remind us all that even though hes touching 50, hes still the master.
Media Molecule - DIY gaming 2.0
Weve already had a taste of what the next-gen might bring to Media Molecule games thanks to LittleBigPlanet Vita and the forthcoming Tearaway. Its all about the creation tools, and in the case of PS4, the way the will interact with the camera and Vita. Right now you can take photos on your Vita and use them as textures in your LittleBigPlanet creations. Its a fun feature and, surprisingly, it has spawned very few levels plastered with pictures of the creators private parts. However, the PS4s camera will let you scan in 3D objects, which opens up new possibilities for the inevitable LittleBigPlanet 3.
Imagine being able to scan in any object in your house and use it as an object or texture in the game. No more tinkering for hours trying to build a boat in the creation mode just get a toy boat, scan it in, and change the textures on it. Viola! Youre ready to make a pirate themed level in a fraction of the time it took in LBP and LBP2. Were also betting that the ability to link Vita or even iPads screen will allow you to use touch controls in creator, making precision work even easier. Youve already seen the power that PS4 will bring to Media Molecule games thanks to the conference demo, but were more excited about the accessibility.
Visual Concepts - Non-stop sports
Modern sports games like NBA 2K13 let you get as deep and involved in stats and strategy as you want. Some choose to ignore the depth and just spam the Heat, while others micromanage their players and teams more than real coaches. And its these players who will truly win out when Visual Concepts deliver the inevitable NBA 2K14 for PS4s launch. Why? Its all down to the next-generation DualShock.
Both the Wii-U pad and Kinect have given us early proof-of-concept for how multiple inputs can be used to manage sports games without spoiling the flow of the action. The PS4 pad offers a built in microphone, allowing players to actually call on-court plays and make substitutions in real time: Bring on Kevin Martin, Double-team LeBron, Kobe, stop bickering with Dwight etc etc. However, the track pad could also be used to draw up custom-plays during a time-out, letting you create player runs with touch-screen precision, as opposed to awkwardly drawing them with the thumb stick. Even better - use your Vita to draw up plays, then track player stats while youre playing. In theory, you may never need to access the pause menu again.
David Cage The humanity
Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls creator, David Cage is constantly on the search for emotion and realistic representations of humanity in his games. At the PS4 conference, you probably saw his next-gen pensioner, who well probably see in Quantum Dreams first PS4 game - grumbling about weekly bin collections and asking his Grandchildren how he can get some Internets in his house. However, its not the visual capabilities of the next-generation that will excite creators like Cage the most. Its the PlayStation Eye.
We bet the French auteur is salivating at the prospect of using the Eye to track player emotion, and maybe even recreate it in game. At a basic level he could use it for simple gestures like waving at the screen. Imagine being Ethan Mars and waving at Jason to say hello. Now imagine the Eye being used in conjunction with the microphone to record player voice so you can wave and shout Jason at the screen and have the game react to that. Thanks to both the power of the console and the proprietary tech attached to it, David Cage will come one step closer to real human interactions in his games.
Ubisoft Montreal - All connected
The Animus is the greatest feature of the Assassin's Creed series. Not only is it a great way to justify a franchise that hops around the most interesting places and periods in history, it also neatly explains away traditionally gamey elements like the HUD, map-markers, health bars etc etc. The Animus is essentially simulating a game, within a game. Expect it to truly evolve in the next-generation by busting out of your console entirely
Given the always on technology of PS4 (also rumoured to be in the next Xbox) what would stop The Animus messing with your mind while youre not even playing? It could randomly switch TV channels to grab your attention, or load up web-pages in your browser to point you towards secrets hidden deep inside Assassins Creed V. It could message your mobile phone, or even send you emails telling you not to trust certain characters. Thanks to the broad connectivity of PS4 and all your other personal devices, Ubisoft could use The Animus to create the ultimate ARG. Sadly, it wont be able to erase personality-vacuum, Connor, from Assassins Creed history.
Infinity Ward - Stats entertainment
Three things in life are certain: birth, death, and a yearly Call of Duty game. However, the last few COD outings have felt a little stale, even though they continue to outsell every other game out there. We hope Activision are looking to Infinity Ward and Treyarch to rejuvenate the series in the next generation, and - aside from the obvious boost in visuals and processing power for particle effects - heres how we think theyll do it.
First off, there are some easy ways to make the game feel more connected. Expect Call of Duty Elite to sit on your phone or tablet feeding you real-time stat information during multiplayer games. Who is killing you, with what, and how often have you been tea-bagged etc. However, we think theyll push beyond stats to keep players immersed in games minute-to-minute. Expect to be able to call in drone strikes using your tablet, or keep track of enemies by placing cameras and having the feed come directly to your phone. And, finally, theres no excuse for a lack of communication in team-based games because everyone will have a mic built into the controller. Everyone even that whiny 12 year old who likes to sing Jay-Z songs while repeatedly headshotting you from the corner of the room. Aaaand, mute.
Ubisoft Annecy - Spy games
Heres a strong, cold fact for you: Splinter Cells Spy vs Merc multiplayer is one of the best online concepts youll ever play. Were super-excited about its return in Blacklist. However, were more excited about how future Splinter Cells will use next-gen tech to make it even sneakier. PS4 is all about integration of media and gadgets - and thats where Spy vs Merc shines too.
On a basic level, expect to be able to tag Mercs with spy bullets and track them using a second screen (like your phone). Sure, youll be able to taunt them via the PS4s in-built mic too. However, where it might be super-clever is in the Gaikai screen-sharing department. Imagine being able to use a gadget that forces your opponent to share their screen with you, effectively letting you see what they see. Spies would be able to eavesdrop on their Merc enemies without them knowing, and plan strategy more effectively. If youre one of the few who experienced the tense multiplayer of Spy vs Merc in Pandora Tomorrow or Chaos Theory, youre already composing an email with the subject header Dear Ubisoft Annecy
Telltale and BioWare - Decisions, decisions
Terrifyingly, Sony has said that the PS4 will start to predict the type of games that you like and actually download new content pre-emptively. While that seems like a potentially infuriating marketing tool (You played Red Dead Redemption 2, so we downloaded Barbie Horse Adventures 3: Ponygeddon for you) it does offer the makers of episodic games, like Telltale, new ways to get their excellent stuff onto your machine.
To start with, expect your PS4 to know when youll want the next episode of The Walking Dead. Itll predict how far you are through a certain episode, and make sure that the next one is already on your machine, should you want to buy it and continue the story. As the tech gets more sophisticated, though, whats to stop it downloading small patches or pieces of content that dynamically alter the game youre playing? Ok, this maybe applies to developers like BioWare more than Telltale, but what if your next-gen console could download DLC that reflects the choices you make in Mass Effect 4 or Dragon Age 3? "Your Commander Shepard slept with the six-armed purple gas alien would you like to download the Party in the Purple Alien Sex Nebula DLC?". This predicative download system could revolutionise the consequence of choices in games.
Ok, those are our thoughts -- now it's time for you to consider the true power of next-gen. What will your favourite teams be cooking up for PS4 -- or, if you prefer -- Xbox 720? More Halos from 343? Game-changing Horse Armour DLC from Bethesda? Even more men-on-screen in Dynasty Warriors? Let us know below.