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Check Out the PS4's Interface

A video demonstrating the PlayStation 4's interface has been doing the rounds. Let's take a closer look at it.

News by Pete Davison, .

The video above hit the Interwebs a couple of days ago, but in the rush surrounding E3 there's not been a lot of time to properly digest it. Let's take a closer look at it and figure out what's actually going on with the PS4's interface and social features. Obviously there's a degree of "bullshot" in this for demonstration purposes, but we can get a reasonable idea of how it's supposed to work, at least.

Social Feed

The first thing we see in the video is Our Hero -- named Will, apparently -- browsing what appears to be the PS4's home screen. This takes the form of a social feed with a somewhat Windows Metro-like tile-based design. From the feed, Will can see what his friends have been up to, including trophies that have been attained, content shared from games and promoted material from the PlayStation Store. It looks like it's possible to "Like" entries on the social feed, and game-related entries provide a link to start the game itself.

Within a game itself -- Knack is the one used for the purposes of demonstration -- it's possible to look at a player's profile, view videos and other content that player has shared from the game and then return to gameplay. The PS3 allowed you to look at a player's profile, but doing anything more complicated than that usually required you to quit the game you were playing and return to the XMB, so it looks as if PS4 has much better multitasking in place.

Voice Chat

There's cross-game voice chat at last -- the demo shows one of Will's friends calling him up and telling him that he's having trouble in Killzone and wants some help.

Selective Downloading

Will's friend asks him to download Killzone, and we see an interesting part of the store interface -- the facility to selectively download parts of the game and be able to begin playing before the whole thing is downloaded. In Killzone, for example, it's possible to download either the single-player or multiplayer mode first and continue downloading the rest of the game in the background. Will's Internet speed is frankly rather unbelievable, however.

Text Chat

As well as voice chat, the PS4 supports text chat. Notifications pop up on screen during gameplay. The interface for entering text looks fairly similar to that seen on the PS3, complete with auto-complete options.

Joining Multiplayer Sessions

Once Will has finally downloaded Killzone at the insistence of his rather pushy friend Brian, the PS4 interface allows him to view information on the game he's about to join, including number of players, how long it's been going on and other pertinent information. The interface also shows the players who are currently present in the game session -- players on the user's friend lists are displayed with their real name and photograph, while others are shown with their username and avatar.

Mobile Access

Will's friend Sarah, it transpires, has been communicating with Will and Brian via a mobile device. It's not immediately apparent exactly what type of device she's using from the video, but if Sony has any sense they'll make these features accessible to Android and iOS users at the very least.

The mobile app for accessing PSN appears to include the facility to view all the content from the social feed (such as gameplay videos); send and receive messages to either individuals or groups; purchase new games from the PlayStation Store; and start them downloading remotely.

Thoughts

This social connectivity all looks good and will doubtless be a lot of fun to people who enjoy that sort of thing -- particularly with the fact that many features can apparently be accessed away from the PS4 via mobile and tablet devices. A unified solution for a "gaming social network" is a great idea; presently, Web-based services such as Raptr perform a similar role, but aren't tightly integrated into the console OS itself so can do little more than share achievements and trophies automatically.

My one concern is how obtrusive all this might get. Personally speaking, sometimes when I play a game I do so in order to escape from the noise of the social Web and the rest of the world for a while. I really hope that Sony provides some sort of "Do Not Disturb" functionality for when I want a bit of peace and quiet from notifications, messages and voice chat, because sometimes I just want everyone to shut up so I can play my damn game. I doubt I'm alone in that feeling.

Overall, though, so long as players have control over their experience, it looks very much like Sony is headed in the right direction with the PS4's implementation of PSN. It remains to be seen what the end user experience is like, but this early preview certainly has me intrigued by the possibilities.

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Comments 5

  • Avatar for novo1858 #1 novo1858 4 years ago
    Looks pretty interesting, really fresh, and seems to continue and evolve with the current aesthetic of PSN.

    I do find it interesting how consoles gaming becomes more and more like pc gaming every year. What they were doing seemed interesting only because I haven't really seen that on a console before... but its no different than what I did gaming on-line with friends on my PC last night.

    One thing a little disheartening about all new console and gaming hardware is the mass standardization of technology. Everything is like a PC and a PC is like everything else. Sure it makes development of games faster, more uniform and easier to port to other platforms... but I SINCERELY miss the feeling of playing a genesis games vs. a SNES game and feeling and hearing distinct differences in hardware. This afforded games on different platforms unique styles and sensibilities and not just an Artificial difference of exclusivity.
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #2 pjedavison 4 years ago
    That's a great point. You could always tell a Genesis game from a SNES game -- the SNES one would have (arguably) slightly better music and gratuitous Mode 7 everywhere; the Genesis version would have that distinctive tinny FM music and that "wobbly backdrop" effect developers seemed so fond of at the time.

    This continued up until about the PS1/N64 generation, I think, where the differences between the systems were largely due to the vastly different system architecture and storage media used. From the PS2 era onwards, differences started to get less distinct, and we're at a stage now where it's honestly quite hard to tell if you're looking at a PS4 or Xbox One game.

    At least you can usually spot the Wii U version. :)
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  • Avatar for Dreamcaster-X #3 Dreamcaster-X 4 years ago
    Yeah you used to be able to pretty much look at any game & decipher what system it was on by "it's look". I miss that too but I understand the need for a more unified architecture given game development costs have soared.
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  • Avatar for chrisbaker25 #4 chrisbaker25 4 years ago
    I hope they change those UI sounds, or at least give us the option to turn them off, they sound as loud and annoying as the ones used in the current PS Store.
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  • Avatar for novo1858 #5 novo1858 4 years ago
    @pjedavison Yeah for me, that's the one big thing I think Nintendo has going for them recently. They just have a completely different aesthetic and tone than the rest of the pack. That difference tends to flow through from their OS, to their games; and as long as they keep that up I'm happy.

    P.S. I love mode 7 effects soooo much, and Ohhh man, don't get me started on that robot farting synthetic bass slap of the genesis...makes me purr.
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