PS4 release date and everything you need to know
The Sony PlayStation 4, or PS4 as many call it, is already out in the US and will finally be released tomorrow, 29 November in Europe. So if you are in the UK and about to get your hands on one, you might still be wondering what to expect.
The months have flown by since it was first unveiled during Sony Computer Entertainment's New York press event in February and we've had plenty of opportunity to find out more since. There are few secrets left, especially as we've now fully reviewed the machine, but it's worth rounding up exactly what we know in a simple, handy guide.
READ: PlayStation 4 review
What's inside the PS4?
The Sony PlayStation 4 features 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, we don't think that super GPU equates to 4K visuals, it's been confirmed that the PS4 does not output games at UHD, only photos and home movies. Ultra High Definition support for video content has not been ruled out, but don't expect it any time soon.
There is a hard drive on board for storage, with 500GB at your disposal. Whether there will be larger hard drive versions in future, Sony is yet to reveal, but it has confirmed that you can upgrade the HDD yourself.
The PlayStation 4 console looks angular and sleek, with a fairly aggressive slanted design, and it's like the sort of thing you'd find on a Lamborghini. Either that, or a slightly lop-sided Bourbon biscuit.
There are no rounded tops or curves here, everything is flattened. The new console will sit vertically or horizontally, so will either fit into your existing TV stand, or become a monolith showpiece in its own right.
The PS4 console sticks to the black and blue colouring that we've seen before from PlayStation, but we've no doubt that there will be special editions in the future. It is, like the Xbox One, finished in two tones, partly glossy and partly matte.
There are smart functions on board 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 is a physical optical drive in place, with support for Blu-ray and DVD although they will need a firmware update performed when you switch on the console for the first time. We think that's mainly to lock them to the region the console is in use.
In terms of communication, the PS4 has 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 are also USB 3.0 connections.
Although Blu-ray and DVD playback is locked to region, the games side of things is region free, so you can buy games in any country and still play them on your machine at home.
How do the controls work?
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 also now combined into an Options button.
Aside from a design difference, there's a capacitive touch panel at the top of the controller. 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 headphones directly into the controller, 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. This should be a great aid when in social games or playing multiplayer games in the same room. This light bar can 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 it is all about. You can share game footage to uStream or Twitch, connect with friends, as well as get involved with spectator playing and so on.
Sony has also demonstrated applications using the existing PlayStation Move controllers, so there will be support for some of the hardware you might already own.
PlayStation 4 Eye?
Yes, it's actually called the PlayStation Camera. The new PS4 camera features dual lenses with an 85-degree wide-angle field of vision. The new camera unit will be able to locate gamers in the room, as well as 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 camera also supports the Move controllers.
What's this about 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 at some point in the near(ish) future, 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 them from the PlayStation Store. Again, you won't have to wait for games to fully download, 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.
Talking of background downloads, the PS4 is 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 the PS4 does play pre-owned titles. The second-hand games market will be happy.
Cloud gaming and the ability to play PS3 games on your PS4 will launch in 2014, with the US first to get the service.
Is it more social this time around?
Much has been made of the social and connected gaming experience, and you are able to share your gaming sessions, with "always on" video compression and decompression to give you seamless sharing. A partnership with uStream ensures that it will host PS4 gaming action, Twitch too.
There is a "Share" button on the new DualShock 4 controller that lets you scan back through the last few minutes of gameplay - up to 15 minutes in total - and then let you upload that content whilst you resume playing. You'll can also hook-up with Facebook to make sharing simple via existing social networks.
There is also be that 3.5mm headphone socket on the new controller to make chatting during gaming easier, but you also get spectator modes and, eventually, the a feature will be added to bring about 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.
Do I have to pay for multiplayer?
Multiplayer online gaming is obviously part of Sony's PS4 strategy. However, unlike on the PS3, multiplayer gaming is not a free service. It is part of PlayStation Plus. You essentially need to subscribe to PlayStation Plus if you want to play games online with your friends.
Certain free-to-play titles may allow online multiplayer without a subscription, but for the vast majority of titles, you will need to sign up to PS Plus. Think of it as Sony's answer to Xbox Live Gold - Microsoft has been charging for its service since time began (almost).
The difference here is that you also get a host of other features with PlayStation Plus, including free game downloads as part of the Instant Game Collection feature. This has already allowed PS3 and PS Vita owners to build up substantial games libraries while only having to pay for the subscription, and Sony has implemented the same for PS4.
Exclusive content and discounts on full-price titles will be offered to members too.
A PlayStation Plus account costs £5.49 a month or £11.99 when purchasing a three-month pack. Opt to pay a full year's subscription at once and you can get it for £39.99.
In the US the prices are $9.99, $17.99 and $49.99 respectively.
The subscription will also be active for PS Vita and PS3.
Are there PS4 apps for PS Vita, iPhone, iPad and Android?
Expanding the PlayStation experience wider, Sony has included wide compatibility with other devices. The PS Vita is at the forefront of these experiences, naturally, with a Remote Play feature. Remote Play lets 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.
Sony has updated the PS Vita to a new firmware in preparation. There is now a "PS4 Link" icon on the home screen.
Other devices get a look-in too, including the likes of the Sony Xperia Z, as there is a PlayStation App for Android and iOS devices. This allows you turn your favourite smartphone or tablet into a second screen for things like maps and other forms of interactive content, which sounds similar to Xbox SmartGlass.
You'll can also browse and buy games from the mobile app. And, as we've mentioned, with background downloads, you can 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.
What does the interface look like?
Very much like it does on the PS3 but simplified massively and adding greater social context, not only from other players, but also in what is actually available for games - like DLC and extras. The idea here is a faster, speedier interface that lets you play games as quick as it can rather than filling your time with unwanted information and splash screens. For more information you can read our PS4 user interface explored: Hands-on with a simple, speedy experience feature.
What games are available for launch and beyond?
Sony has announced that there are over 140 games in development for its new next-gen console, the PS4, with 100 of those promised for the first year.
"SCE World Wide Studios (SCE WWS) is currently developing more than 30 PS4 exclusive titles, 20 of them, including 12 new IPs, are planned to release within a year of the launch of the PS4 system," confirmed the company in a statement to Pocket-lint.
Exclusive PS4 titles include Drive Club, Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, the latter two being available at launch, and inFamous Second Son, which will be available first quarter 2014.
Sony has also previously unveiled the next blockbuster title, The Order: 1886, from acclaimed studio Ready at Dawn, which will be available some time in 2014.
Other titles to look forward to include Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV from Square Enix, Watch Dogs from Ubisoft, Bethesda Game Studios' The Elder Scrolls Online, and Mad Max.
Of course, Sony is also promising Bungie's Destiny on the PS4 as well.
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. However, we've yet to see hat feature in action.
The launch title line-up has changed somewhat since the original announcement, but currently lists the following 23 games:
Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios
Flower, Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, and Sound Shapes.
Third party titles
Angry Birds Star Wars, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Call of Duty: Ghosts, DC Universe Online, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, Just Dance 2014, Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Madden NFL 25, NBA 2K14, Need for Speed Rivals, and Skylanders Swap Force.
Blacklight Retribution, Contrast, Super Motherload, Trine 2: The Complete Story, and Warframe.
How much does it cost?
The PlayStation 4 costs £349 in the UK, 399 euros in Europe and $399 in the US. That's £80 cheaper than the Xbox One in the UK.
Where can I get even more information about the PlayStation 4?
Easy. Head over to our PlayStation 4 hub and everything we write about the console will automatically be published there.