The PlayStation 4 FAQ that hit earlier this week was absolutely massive. There’s a ton of information to wade through in there. Much of it we already know, and a lot of it is common sense stuff. Blu-Ray and HDMI are hardly news, for example.
There are a few surprises, though, and we’ve assembled some of the most interesting stuff. Comparisons to that other console launching this month are inevitable and in no way indicative of a preference for one or the other. A few of these tidbits might’ve slipped out previously, but there are just too many to keep track of.
What PS4 software features have been announced, but won’t be available at launch in North America?
Below is an overview of certain features that have been announced that will not be available when PS4 launches in North America.
- Share controller via the internet to assist a friend
- Suspend/Resume mode
- Wireless Stereo Headsets support
Of those three features, the second and third are the real surprises. Suspending and resuming games was a highly touted feature from the beginning and it’s interesting, especially in terms of feature parity between the two competing consoles, that it’s missing.
The lack of support for stereo headsets is especially startling because of how prevalent they’ve become as the current generation of consoles has progressed. Serious multiplayer gamers, a quickly expanding group, play with stereo headsets almost exclusively.
Will I be able to play background music while I play PS4 games?
Yes, the Music Unlimited streaming service will allow you to listen to music while you play PS4 games. A subscription to Music Unlimited is required.
It’s not a surprise that PlayStation 4 doesn’t support local custom libraries – users are moving away from locally stored media. It is a surprise, though, that Sony expects players to use and pay for their music service. It might be such an underused feature that Sony feels it’s not worth finding a friendlier alternative. I’d love to be able to stream my sweet Kavinsky and LazerHawk playlist off Spotify while I play Drive Club, for example.
Will I be able to purchase digital games on the same release date as their retail Blu-ray versions?
Ultimately, the decision lies with publishers on whether to make digital versions of games available on the same release date. However, we anticipate that most PS4 games will be available for purchase digitally via PlayStation Store on the same day as their retail Blu-ray counterparts.
With Microsoft pushing so hard for day one digital on Xbox One and Sony way ahead of them on PlayStation 3, it’s strange to see Sony behind the curve on day one digital releases. With that said, content purchased for your PlayStation 4 can be used on up to two PlayStation 4 systems; “you can use content you’ve purchased on up to two PS4 systems simultaneously,” the FAQ says. “Simply sign into a friend’s PS4, and the content you’ve purchased will be available as long as you remain signed in.” I’m not sure exactly how simultaneous that is, unless they just mean the data can exist on two hard drives at the same time.
Are users able to record, distribute or stream any gameplay video?
No. Users may not be able to record certain areas within the game. Developers can select the area of restriction, and what will be restricted will depend on game titles. In these cases, recording will be temporarily suspended during the scene.
I’m not aware of Microsoft putting any limitations on when users can record games, but it seems likely that the policy is the same; this would likely remove cutscenes from recordings, and maybe even multiplayer lobbies. Once Sony removes HDCP from their game streams, though, anyone can use an HDMI video recorder to get whatever they want out of a game, making it somewhat of a moot point, except from a convenience point of view.
Does PS4’s graphical user interface have a name like the PS3 system’s “Cross Media Bar”?
PS4’s GUI is called PlayStation Dynamic Menu.
This isn’t a surprise in the dramatic sense of the word, but Sony’s kept many details about their new GUI as deep under wraps as possible. Get ready to replace CMB with the PSDM. In addition, the PS4 won’t use dynamic themes, and the menu will feature more granular filtering of notifications.
What accessories will be available at launch for PS4?
In addition to the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller and PlayStation Camera, North American accessories available at launch will include the PS4 vertical stand ($14.00 MSRP), which enable owners gamers to securely place the PS4 system in the vertical position, and the DUALSHOCK 4 charging cradle ($29.99 MSRP), which enables two controllers to be charged away from the PS4 system.
While we don’t have any photos, having a first party cradle right at launch will be handy for those of us who aren’t fans of USB cords littering the living room.
When playing disc-based games on PS4, do I need to install data to the hard drive?
Yes, all PS4 Blu-ray Disc games must be cached to the hard drive to ensure a smooth gaming experience. However, certain titles may not require you to wait for the game data to be fully cached before starting gameplay. In order to start playing disc-based games, users will need to insert the game disc into PS4 just like on the PS3 system.
We already knew that some games would require installation when news came out that games requiring installation would usually let you play while you install, but this gives confirmation that games must be installed to the hard drive whether the game was purchased at retail or online. Sony also confirms in the FAQ that while the system doesn’t support external drives, the internal drive is replaceable. Since the drive included is a 5400 RPM drive, hardware geeks will want to get a Hyrid or SSD in there to ratchet up load times and storage capacity.
Will PS4 require a system software update at launch in North America? How will system updates work post-launch?
Upon the North American launch, PS4 will require a system software update to add several new features. After you connect to the internet, PS4 will automatically start downloading v1.50 in the background. During this background download process, you’ll be able to play Blu-ray Disc games offline.
Background downloads of system patches are working right away and, despite the day-one update, your first game won’t be Progress Bar Watcher 2013.
Is there a way to rename my Online ID on PS4?
No. But PS4 does give you the option of allowing your friends to see your real name in addition to your Online ID. You can also choose to import your Facebook photo to be used as your PSN profile picture if you wish.
Microsoft already went on record to say that Xbox One will eventually support real names on Xbox Live, but it looks like Sony will support it right from the start.
Will non PS Plus members be able to play free to play online games on PS4?
Certain titles built on a free-to-play model will not require PlayStation Plus for multiplayer functionality in North America. This list currently includes Blacklight Retribution, DC Universe Online, and War Frame in North America.
Microsoft has been pretty coy about how it’ll handle free-to-play games. Like it or not, F2P is a thing and isn’t going away anytime soon. While PlayStation Plus costs money, it’s good to see Sony embracing F2P games without putting them behind a paywall, allowing them to be enjoyed in the manner they were designed (a slow, almost imperceptible drain of your bank account).
There are tons more tidbits in the FAQ, some of which we’ve talked about separately. To see the whole thing, check out the link below to the PlayStation Blog.