Sony’s gaming division is probably feeling pretty good about the first year of the PlayStation 4, but the console that everyone can’t wait to buy isn’t without issues.
After 12 months on the market, GamesBeat is grading all of the big aspects of the PlayStation 4. This includes games, other software, the hardware, and more. When Sony first launched the system it promised a console “for the gamers.” We’re gonna see if it delivered on that pledge.
Let’s start with what’s most important: the games. 2014 is ending in a flurry of new releases, and PlayStation 4 is home for some of the best — but Sony’s console actually had a rough first 12 months if you’re looking specifically for unique experiences that you cannot get anywhere else.
Here’s a rundown of games you can only get on PS4:
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous: First Light
Killzone: Shadow Fall
That list expands to include MLB 14: The Show and The Last of Us: Remastered if you start to include games that are available on both PS3 and PS4.
Above: Ellie from The Last of Us.
Sony’s got plenty of big releases ready to go starting in 2015, but until then, the company is gliding on hype and third-party support.
Typically, it’s exclusives that separate game consoles from one another, but Sony has built its reputation on third-party games. Since launch, PS4 has almost always had the better version of multiplatform releases. Games like Battlefield 4 at launch ran at a resolution of 1080p (that’s 1,080 horizontal lines on PS4), but Xbox One got a version with only 900 lines of resolution. Occasionally, games even run at a higher framerate on PS4 than Xbox One.
Here’s a list of just some of the games that have a better resolution or framerate on PS4 than Xbox One:
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
The Evil Within
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Wolfenstein: the New Order
If you just look at those games, it’s tough to tell the difference with the naked eye, but developers are consistently squeezing more power from Sony’s device than Microsoft’s. And if you’re picking between the same game on two systems, why wouldn’t you go with the one that looks better even if that’s just on paper?
This doesn’t mean the PS4 handles every game without any problems or even better than the Xbox One — just most games. Last week, Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed: Unity on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It has a serious framerate problem on all platforms, but it’s actually worse on PS4. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare also maintains a higher framerate on Microsoft’s system.
A lack of exclusives drags the PS4 down — but many of the best games on the market are multiplatform, and Sony’s system plays them better than the competing hardware.
In order to play online multiplayer games on PS4, you need a subscription to Sony’s premium membership service. But Sony does a good job of making PS Plus seem like a good deal.
If you’ve had a membership to PS Plus since the PlayStation 4’s debut, you would own 22 games as part of the program’s Instant Game Collection. These include the brilliant launch shooter Resogun, beloved four-player fighting game TowerFall: Ascension, and the space platforming shooter Velocity 2X.
That doesn’t even include the Instance Collection games you get for your PS3 or Vita.
Sony doesn’t just have the PS4. It also has a powerful handheld gaming machine with an amazing screen. Combining the Vita and PS4 unlocks one of the best features of both systems: the capability to stream games from the PS4 to the Vita so that you can play console games on the go.
Above: Remote Play between PS4 and Vita.
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment
This is one of those features that’s easy to doubt until you lose three hours playing Destiny under the covers of your bed.
I had issues getting Remote Play to function properly between a PS4 and PlayStation TV, so this is going to depend on the strength of your router and your Internet. But when it works, it’s quite a useful feature.
Apps and more
PS4 has Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Netflix — and it just got YouTube at the end of October. It also has NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB.tv Premium, NBA Game Time, and NHL GameCenter Live. On top of those movie, television, and sports options, Sony Entertainment Network has recent on-demand movies that you can rent or buy.
In addition to having all of the apps, the user experience on programs like the Netflix app are easy to use and navigate. It’s nice to have everything in one place without having to put up with any headaches like a broken interface on one app or another.
The only issue here is that Sony doesn’t have a PlayStation 4 remote control, but that’s likely coming soon.
Between the 22 games from PlayStation Plus and Remote Play, Sony has built a smart system that gives gamers exactly the things they want or will use.