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Late night, come home, work sucks, I know! She left me roses by the stairs. Surprises let me know she cares… Well, maybe the PlayStation 4 isn’t quite leaving me roses (well, maybe a Flower), but it has surprised me in a lot of small ways that make the system feel fresh. Sometimes it’s the small features that aren’t a big deal when you put them on a list of bullet points, but they enhance the experience more than you’d expect.
Let’s start with being able to tie your real name to your PSN account. Most people would wonder why this is a big deal, but for a service that has just increased the amount of friends you can have it can be invaluable. I have had a lot of people on my friends lists and trying to remember who the hell they all are can be a burden. How am I supposed to remember that my friend Roger goes by the name Highfalutin69? Now you’re going to make this list larger and expect me to remember? “Nay,” says Sony as they ride in on in their white horse called “Name Request.” Now you can actually remember who you’re playing games with as long as they accept your name request. The system isn’t perfect and it would be great if a friend request could be made with a name request combo, but you can always improve things like this with an update. Tie this in with the fact that you can see what your friends have been doing in a Facebook-esque feed, and it’s quickly becoming a great social gaming platform.
Oh Playstation 4 controller, how you are a vast improvement over your predecessors! I never liked the DualShock 3 controller as I always thought it felt cheap and the triggers were just horrible, but Sony has improved that with this iteration from the DualShock family. We’ve all heard the hubbub about how much better this controller is and I want to talk about a feature that I would have described as “dumb” before I actually heard it in action. There is a speaker on the controller and I’ll be damned if some developers didn’t use this small throwaway feature in some interesting ways. Killzone Shadow Fall uses it to let you listen to the audio logs that you can pick up in the single player campaign, Knack uses it ever so slightly in giving you like “LEGO”-like sound when you’re picking up artifacts and gems, and Resogun uses it to give you direction and audio clues while going through the chaos. It’s a very underrated feature and I absolutely love it. I also want to give some honorable mention to the standard headphone jack on the controller as you can use any headphones for in-game audio or just multiplayer chat.
The last thing that should be mentioned is how good Sony’s digital future looks and a lot of that has to do with the strides they have taken when downloading a digital game. I decided to purchase Killzone Shadow Fall as a digital download so that I could test out this fancy download as you go thingamajig (technical term, by the way.) I couldn’t have been more pleased with how it worked as it downloaded the first level pretty quickly and I could start getting in on the action as it downloaded the rest in the background. This took a lot of the stress away from waiting for a huge game to download. It gives me confidence that I can easily delete and re-download games with ease as more are released and my hard drive gets full. It’s nice to see my games getting updated automatically when I’m not playing them along with all my saves getting backed up to the cloud. I’ve also noticed the download speeds have drastically increased over the last generation as I always had issues with PSN being slow. This is just the beginning for the Playstation 4 and it’s off to a strong start with its 1 million sales in the first 24 hours. I can’t wait to see how things continue to get better and evolve throughout this console’s life cycle.