It’s always worrying when a company requires a day-one update just to reach a level of basic functionality with their product. Unfortunately, such is the case with the PlayStation 4. Although Microsoft is demanding gamers connect to the internet upon initial installation of the Xbox One, this old news has been just that: Old news. We’ve known about their day-one requirements long before the console was mere weeks from reaching shelves across the world. However, Sony has remained silent on the matter. Whether this was done to gain momentum with the slew of positive news, or simply a last-minute struggle to include promised (and required) features — likely due to incomplete console preparations prior to launch — it’s something we’ll have to deal with come November 15th.
According to the PlayStation Blog, as soon as you activate your PlayStation 4 console, a system software update (1.50) will need to be downloaded and installed. The update is approximetly 300 MB, and includes the following features:
- Remote Play
Users will be able to access PS4 titles displayed on their living room TVs and play them on a PS Vita system over Wi-Fi networks by using PS4 Link. Interestingly enough, I suspected this feature to not be available at launch. It’s something that’s been promised for a while, and delivered with rather underwhelming capabilities. Hopefully we’ll see better results with the additional allotted time.
- Second Screen
Users can use the PS4 Link application for the PS Vita system, and PlayStation App for iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets, to use these devices as second screens in supported titles. Understandable limitations. I wouldn’t expect the issues with this feature to be weeded for several months, so more time is never a bad thing.
- Record, take screenshots, and upload gameplay effortlessly
The PS4 system provides dedicated, “always on” video encoding systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. Users can share their epic triumphs by simply hitting the Share button on DualShock 4, take screenshots or scan through the last 15 minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game—the video uploads as the user plays. Well, this feature requires an internet connection to use, so what’s the harm, right? Well, it’s one of the features I was looking forward to the most, so a required update has me believing that it’s incomplete in its current state.
- Broadcast and spectate gameplay
The PS4 system also enhances social spectating by enabling users to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to game fans around the globe, using Ustream and Twitch live internet streaming services. Again, this feature requires a connection, so it’s no biggie.
- Play as you download
This feature enables users to play supported digital titles as they are being downloaded. This is the one feature that grabbed me the most. Possibly because I’ve recently started downloading some of my games rather than purchasing boxed copies. I don’t mind this being excluded from the console until the update since it also requires a connection to function, but I’m still worried it won’t work as promised. Sony has advertised it as a speedy and easy to use feature, so it’s hard to imagine a world where disappointment won’t follow its initial run. Well, at least on paper — but hopefully I’m wrong.
- Multi log-in
A maximum of four users can log-in to a single PS4 system simultaneously. More basic functionality limited without a connection.
- Party (Voice chat)
By using the Mono Headset bundled with the PS4 system, users will be able to chat with up to eight friends enjoying different applications or games. I’m not sure whether I’m sad about this one or not. I guess you need friends for this to matter.
- Face recognition and voice commands
Users with PlayStation Camera will be able to register their facial image onto their PS4 system, and login to their system using facial recognition instead of DualShock 4. I guess this is forgivable, what with all the technology required to make this work. Maybe. I don’t know.
- Background music player
Users can enjoy gameplay while listening to music in the background with Music Unlimited, a cloud-based digital music service. I don’t listen to music while playing games, so this is useless to me regardless of its availability. However, I don’t find it strange as it’s a cloud based program.
- Online Multiplayer
PlayStation Plus members will be able to play PS4 titles online with other players via the network. PS Plus makes it easy for members to join available online multiplayer matches in a variety of ways, including the ability to easily join a game from a live stream broadcast or Party voice chats. Again, understandable. It’s a new system for Sony, and I’m glad they’re working out kinks even after the product has been boxed. However, with that newness comes a world of possibilities. Some good, sure, but most are bad. Hopefully they’ve taken enough time to create something sturdy.
- Blu-ray Disc and DVD player
Users can enjoy not only gaming on their PS4 system, but also Blu-ray and DVD video contents. When using for the first time, users must connect to the internet to activate this feature. The fact that this isn’t something that will work without an update scares the crap out of me. It’s essentially what the device is built to do at its very core, and its exclusion shouldn’t even be a thing. Perhaps this is a registration issue? I don’t know, but hopefully finding out won’t involve angry letters to Sony customer service.
Several advertised features will not be available at launch at all (and will instead be included in a later update), including the suspend/resume mode; a feature that allows players to enter a low-power state and promptly return to the game with the push of a button. It seems strange that even the Blu-ray Disc player itself won’t function without an initial online connection, and really makes me question whether this new generation of consoles is ready for a November launch. Rather than focus on the gaming experience and perfecting the consoles functionality, companies are relying too heavily and far more frequently on updates and patches. It’s one thing for a game, but the device that’s meant to play them?