We're a week and a half away from the PlayStation 4's November 15 North American release. Will it be the leading console this generation? Will people buy it at launch and then sell it in six months because people always do that and I still don't know why? Will it be able to distract us from ever looming ennui, wresting us into a fervor of consumption?
This guide will tell you, I bet. Like all good churches, I have all the answers.
Don't forget to check our comprehensive Xbox One guide, too, to compare the incoming hardware and make a more informed decision on which you should pick up, if any.
The PlayStation 4 will launch in 32 world markets: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Peru.
It will launch in North America on November 15, retailing for $399. It will launch in Europe on November 29, retailing for €399 (£349 in the United Kingdom). It will also cost $1,850 in Brazil because of dumb import taxes.
The PS4 won't launch in Japan until February 22, 2014, priced at 39,980 yen (~$400USD), though it includes a PS Eye Camera and the game Knack for free.
A day-one patch for the system will be necessary to enable a number of important features. You should be able to play offline games and tool around with the system while the 300mb patch downloads in the background.
This PS4 unboxing video will show you exactly what you'll be getting. If you don't want to read:
The PlayStation 4 comes with a 500gb hard drive, which you'll need. Games like Call of Duty: Ghosts are already clocking in at 50gb and you won't be able to store games on external hard drives at launch. Even if you buy games on disc, they will have to be installed onto the system.
Thankfully, the PlayStation 4 allows users to easily upgrade the hard drive to any other standard, 2.5 inch drive. Of course, unless you have a spare 1TB+ hard drive sitting around, that does mean you're dropping anywhere from $70-$200+ to double or even quadruple available space. If the PS4's buffering works well, allowing you to play games while they're being installed. it may be easier to uninstall and download things as you feel like playing them.
Getting to the hard drive to exchange it will be a snap for tech savvy users, but it is slightly more challenging than accessing the PS3's, though you will still be able to do it with nothing else but a Phillips screwdriver.
The console sports a blu-ray drive for games and movies, wireless adapter, two USB 3.0 ports, 8gb of GDDR5 memory, a custom 8-Core x86 AMD CPU, and more.
Those of you looking for a fully detailed spec sheet can click here. Tech enthusiasts may also want to watch this awesome video of Sony's engineering department director taking the console apart and pointing out its contents piece by piece.
The DualShock 4 is a nifty controller. It is retailing for $60 and is currently available. It's said to support PC gaming, but there have been mixed reports of its functionality as a PC controller. It's also been seen working on Mac and with certain PS3 games.
It features trigger-like L2 and R2 inputs, a clickable touch pad in the middle, speakers in the controller, and a light bar used in conjunction with the PlayStation Camera, though developers can also use its color options to convey in-game information.
The PS4 comes with a mono headset that is functional for chatting.
Existing bluetooth headsets will not be compatible with the PS4; USB headsets will see compatibility via a system update. Sony's PlayStation-branded Pulse headsets (wired or wireless) will see a system update that will patch in compatibility as well. A 3.5mm audio jack in the controller can be used to output all sounds, though Sony couldn't confirm all headsets would work with it.
Should you purchase the PlayStation Camera peripheral, its four integrated microphones can be used for chatting. Up to eight people can join a single party chat.
The following games (retail and downloadable) will be available for the PlayStation 4 at launch. If you own applicable games on PS3, you can "upgrade" to the PS4 versions for an extra $10.
Exclusive to PS4:
A few things worth noting. Many of the games not exclusive to PS4 are still not available on Xbox One, such as Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition. Also, Flower and Sound Shapes, which have seen updates in the PS4 versions, will be free to download for people who already won these PS3 and PS3/Vita exclusives. Trine 2 has also seen sizable improvements.
Additionally, some of these games are entirely free to play (including free to play online): DC Universe Online, Blacklight: Retribution, and Warframe. Both Resogun and Contrast will be free to download for PlayStation Plus users.
You should also check out this big list of PS4 games, which includes a lot of additional launch window games -- games that should be hitting the console in its early months. The information isn't entirely up to date; for instance, DriveClub has been delayed and will miss launch. Other exclusive games to look out for include Hohokum, The Witness, and inFamous Second Son. Some world premiere game announcements will be made on November 11, too.
PlayStation Plus is Sony's paid membership program. The biggest change regarding PS+ on PS4 is that a membership will be required to play games online (save for free-to-play games, such as those listed above).
While online play is locked behind the subscription service, most other key features are not, including, access to services such as Netflix, playing PlayStation 4 games remotely through the PlayStation Vita, etc.
If the primary user on a PS4 is a PlayStation Plus member, the other (up to) three users signed into that PS4 will gain all the benefits of PlayStation Plus and all content is share between users. PS+ users also get free games every month (Resogun and Contrast at the system's launch), the ability to auto-download game patches, store discounts, and more.
Using Remote Play, PlayStation Vita owners can play their PS4 games through the PlayStation Vita. The best way to do this is with both systems on the same wifi network and the PS4 connected with an Ethernet cable for the smoothest possible connection. As long as the PS4 is in standby mode, the Vita can remotely turn it on and begin play.
The PlayStation 4 allows for 2,000 friends, 20 times more friends than the PS3.
PlayStation 4 games will not be region locked.
You can stream and share gameplay to Twitch.TV and UStream (you can archive Twitch footage, not UStream), capture video and upload it to Facebook, or take screenshots and upload them to Facebook or Twitter.
The following apps will be available at launch:
The free PlayStation app will let you do things like buy games from your phone and start downloading them so they're ready for when you get home.
Two people can use the same account's content on two different PS4s at once -- play multiplayer with a roommate or sibling without having to buy another copy.
Sony plans to launch the Gaikai PS3 library in 2014; that is, PS3 games streaming to your PS4.
What are we missing? Chances are, Sony has already covered it in its own Ultimate PS4 FAQ, but let us know in the comments!
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