Join in us over the next few days as we look at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and try to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. Today, Kevin VanOrd tells you why the PlayStation 4 is the console to own in 2015.
The PlayStation 4 has had undeniable market success, so it seems pointless to regale you with tales of sales numbers and game attach rates. Needless to say, if you buy one, you will have no trouble finding a community for the online games you love, and you'll have all of the multimedia applications you should expect: YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, yadda yadda yadda. But it's the games that make the console, and the PlayStation 4 excels in a vital area: variety. The system isn't primarily for shooters, or for kids' games, or for action-adventures, or for retro platformers: it's for all of these genres and beyond. To own a PlayStation 4 is to gain access to scores of games, both past and present, that fulfill different needs--the need to compete, the need to relax, the need for emotional fulfillment, and the need to explore and discover.
The Right Side of the Great Resolution Debate
To own a PlayStation 4 is also to have access to the best-looking version of multi-console games. It goes without saying that the upcoming Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will look best on the PC, but where consoles are concerned, the PlayStation 4 version seems the obvious choice because it boasts a 1080p resolution, as compared to the Xbox One version's 900p. Whether or not you are swept up into the melodramatic console resolution wars raging across the Internet, it's natural to want your games to look their best. Not only does the PlayStation 4 allow you to play excellent multiplatform games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but it does so at higher resolutions than does the console competition. This is true of most multiplatform games on the PlayStation 4, as it happens. You may not think you notice much of a difference, but it's human nature to pamper yourself when possible--so why not pamper yourself with higher-resolution games when given the opportunity?
Sony delivered a fantastic array of interesting exclusives on the PlayStation 3, and that machine's successor looks to be no different. Break down the exclusives already released, and you discover racing (Driveclub), open-world adventuring (Infamous Second Son), and off- and online shooting (Killzone: Shadow Fall). Look towards the horizon, and the list grows when you add heavy-hearted role-playing (Bloodborne), explosive cinematic action (Uncharted 4: A Thief's End), and lighthearted exploration (Rime). The diversity isn't just impressive because these games come from different genres, but also because they strike such different emotional tones. The Order: 1886 looks like any one of the CW's dark-fantasy dramas come to life, while No Man's Sky's deep colors give it an otherworldly vibe. If it's hard to nail down the PlayStation identity, that's due in part to the varied choices lying before you.
There's another aspect to consider as well: the huge promise of games we've only seen bits and pieces of. We know very little about Wild, but promising an explorable area the size of Europe is an astounding claim that piques curiosity. The Tomorrow Children's unique mix of resource collection, creation, and creepy youngsters makes it almost impossible to describe at this early stage. And of course, there's always the hope that The Last Guardian might one day re-emerge as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Game-lovers are nothing if not a faithful bunch.
Let's Go Shopping
The PlayStation 4's digital shopping experience is so improved over the PlayStation 3 that it isn't even fair to compare them. Regardless, it is so easy to buy and download games from the privacy of your own living room that traveling to a local game retailer has become a last-generation memory. At the time of this writing, the most popular downloadable games in the PlayStation Store include Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, Dying Light, and Grand Theft Auto V. We used to wonder why console games weren't so readily downloadable, and looked to Valve's Steam service on the PC if we wanted to download big-budget entertainment at the moment of release. Of course, the PlayStation Store is still home to plenty of digital-only gems like Race the Sun and Secret Ponchos. But if you stick to the big guns from big publishers, why not just stay at home in your underwear and download Destiny instead of braving the crowds?
Of course, there's another bright side to the console digital age: free-to-play games aren't just for PCs and mobile phones anymore, and the PlayStation 4 excels when it comes to freemium choices. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and DC Universe Online grant us access to massively multiplayer worlds, while games like Warframe and Loadout cater to those of us with itchy trigger fingers. So long, retail chains. We've found a better way.
Put Away the PS3
If you've got the bandwidth and still want to play the PlayStation 3 games you've missed for some reason or another, put away the PS3 and put something else in its place. PlayStation Now allows you to play a good number of PS3 games by streaming them directly to your PS4. You might have played the popular games like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune that are available on PS Now, but what about the beautiful El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron? You might have already crossed BioShock Infinite off of your list, but you probably missed Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Why not rectify your oversight via PlayStation Now?
The library is limited, but poised to grow, and while Sony's statements have been vague, it's likely we will see pre-PS3 games added to the list, which would exponentially increase PlayStation Now's value. Right now, all of the PSOne classics are playable only on the PS3 and the Vita; adding them to the PS Now library would make the service a no-brainer.
Now's the time. If you don't already own a PlayStation 4, you're missing out on great exclusives, a cool streaming service, and the best-looking version of almost every multi-console game on the market.