Things just got very exciting over in the world of PlayStation. Sony has announced the next generation of PlayStation which, as predicted, will be known as PlayStation 4, or PS4, at its Future of PlayStation event in New York on 20 February.
So the next-gen is coming, but what exactly will it be like? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the PS4 based on the news so far.
The Sony PlayStation 4 will feature a single-chip x86-64 AMD Jaguar 8-core processor and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. It's closer to PC architecture, with a PC-like graphics processor in the form of a 1.84 teraflops AMD Radeon graphics engine. However, don't think that super GPU equates to 4K visuals, it's been confirmed that the PS4 will not output games at UHD, only photos and home movies.
It has been confirmed that there will be a hard drive on board for storage, although the capacity has not been detailed. We guess there will be different capacities at different price points.
From what we've seen, it's incredibly powerful, with some sensational demos given at the launch event in New York, but there's been no grand reveal of the new design of the PlayStation 4: we don't even know what it's going to look like. We're guessing that it will be shown at E3 2013 in June.
What we have heard is that you'll get smart functions like instant resume of games, so you won't have to spend time waiting for the console to boot and load your saved game. You should just be able to wake it from standby and resume gaming.
There will be a physical optical drive in place, with support for Blu-ray and DVD.
In terms of communication, the PS4 will have an Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 on the wireless front and HDMI, analogue AV out and an optical digital output. There will also be USB 3.0 connections.
Streaming and connected play
Much has been made of the streaming and downloading capabilities of the PS4. Although the PS4 won't be backwards compatible with PS3 game discs, you will be able to stream older titles to the console, with Sony saying it's looking at making the library of more than 3,000 PlayStation 3 titles available as part of its long-term strategy.
But in terms of PS4 games you'll be able to download and sample games from the PlayStation Store. Again, you won't have to wait for games to fully download, with Sony saying you'll be able to start playing as soon as you have the first part of the download, with the rest of the game downloading in the background, thanks to the incorporation of Gaikai's cloud technology.
Talking of background downloads, the PS4 will be able to update games in standby mode, although we assume you'll pay a price in power consumption if you choose to do this.
One final bonus is that Sony has now confirmed that the PS4 will play pre-owned titles. The second-hand games market will be happy.
Much has been made of the social and connected gaming experience, so you'll be able to share your gaming sessions, with "always on" video compression and decompression to give you seamless sharing. A partnership with Ustream announced that will host PS4 gaming action.
There will be a "Share" button on the new DualShock 4 controller that will let you scan back through the last few minutes of gameplay, and then let you upload that content whilst you resume playing. You'll be able to hook-up with Facebook to make sharing simple via existing social networks.
There will also be a 3.5mm headphone socket on the new controller that will make chatting during gaming easier, but you'll also get spectator modes and the ability to call in help from friends who have completed games, letting them take over control if you're particularly stuck on a particular game element.
PS4 on Vita, iPhone, iPad and Android
Expanding the PlayStation experience wider, Sony has also announced wide compatibility with other devices. The PS Vita is at the forefront of these experiences, naturally, with a Remote Play feature. Remote Play will let you pull content from your PS4 onto the portable PS Vita over Wi-Fi, so you'll be able to keep gaming away from your TV. It's a bit like the Wii U controller.
We've seen this sort of promise before and never really found it to be as ambitious as we wanted, but Sony is stating that the aim is to make "most" PS4 titles compatible with Remote Play on the PS Vita.
Other devices get a look-in too, including the likes of the Sony Xperia Z, as there will be a PlayStation App for Android and iOS devices. This will let you turn your favourite smartphone or tablet into a second screen for things like maps, which sounds similar to Xbox SmartGlass.
You'll also be able to browse and buy games from the mobile app. And, as we've mentioned, with background downloads, you'll be able to buy a game whilst sitting on the bus and find it ready to play when you get home.
As an extension of the social gaming, you'll also be able to use your mobile device in spectator mode to witness other gamers playing.
PS4 release date
Here's when things get a bit foggy. The launch event on 20 February was simply for the announcement of several key features. The PlayStation 4 release date will be "Holidays 2013", so at least we know it's coming this year.
Earlier rumours from a report by Edge magazine claimed that while Japan and the US would get the PlayStation 4 before Christmas, Europe will have to wait until early 2014 because of "complexities involved in European distribution".
That may still be the case. We'd expect some more clarity at E3, but until then, the exact availability for PS4 isn't known.
Sony has ditched the original DualShock design for the PS4 in favour of an evolved design in the DualShock 4. It's instantly recognisable as a PlayStation controller featuring the usual array of buttons, however there have been some additions to bring it bang up to date. The Start and Select buttons are now combined into an Options button.
Aside from a design difference, there's a capacitive touch panel at the top of the controller, as rumours had suggested. This will give you a new array of options when it comes to interacting with games. The motion controls have also been beefed-up, with a new six-axis sensor.
There's also the addition of a 3.5mm headphone socket so you can plug right in, with a bundled mono headset coming with console. You won't always need a headset, however, as there's a speaker in the controller too.
There's a light bar on the DualShock 4, so rather than a tiny illuminated red square, you'll be able to see who's who by the lighting on the controller, which should be a great aid when in social games or playing multiplayer games in the same room. This light bar will also be used to convey information during gaming - for example, turning red to show you're critically low on health.
Additionally there's the Share button. It might sound like a minor point, but the way that Sony has presented the PS4, social aspects and connected gaming run right to the core of what the new PlayStation is all about. As previously mentioned, you'll be able to share game footage to Ustream, connect with friends, as well as get involved with spectator playing and so on.
Sony also demonstrated applications using the existing PlayStation Move controllers, so it looks as though there will be support for some of the hardware you might already own.
PlayStation 4 Eye
Yes, it's actually called the PlayStation 4 Eye and that's not a dig at the ocularly challenged. The new PS4 Eye features dual cameras with an 85-degree wide-angle field of vision. The new Eye will be able to locate gamers in the room, as well as being able to identify the light bars from the DualShock 4 controller for accurate positioning.
Face recognition is included and, thanks to having four mics, the PlayStation 4 Eye is said to be able to locate where voices are coming from too.
The PS4 Eye supports the Move controller too.
The price for the PS4 is yet to be announced. When the PS launched it was an expensive bit of kit. But if rumours are true, it may not be quite as costly.
Early rumours suggested that the PS4 price tag would sit around $400. According to VGC, Sony wants the console to be "very affordable".
It is possible that this is the case, given the threat of affordable Android and PC gaming systems like OUYA and the Steam Box. However, new information suggests that there will be two models, at around $429 (£280) and $529 (£345). Nothing has been confirmed though, with common belief being that we will have to wait until E3 at the earliest to hear any more on pricing.
Much of the presentation of the Future of PlayStation was given over to games demos, so we have at least heard about a number of exclusive titles coming to PS4. We've also leant that the PlayStation 4 will be predictive, so it will be able to examine what you've been playing and know what you'll be interested in playing next. Even downloading it in the background in preparation to you buying it.
One of the first titles to be demoed was the next-generation of the stalwart PlayStation title Killzone. Known as Killzone Shadow Fall, the level of detail seen in the demo was staggering.
Another title that was demoed was Watch Dogs. Although we've seen this before, it's now confirmed as a PlayStation 4 title. It will be on other platforms too.
One new, non-sequel game that will be coming to PS4 is Bungie's first person shooter Destiny. The creator and original developer of Halo has confirmed that its new intellectual property is coming to next-generation consoles as well as Xbox 360 and PS3.
In addition, we heard from Blizzard, which is bringing Diablo III to the PlayStation 4 (and PS3), in what was termed a "strategic partnership" with Sony PlayStation.
There are, of course, plenty of other titles - like a new Final Fantasy game, the next instalment of Infamous in Infamous Second Son, and DriveClub - coming to the console and you can expect many more announcements in the coming months.