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The PlayStation 4, as its name suggests, is the fourth and latest video game console released by tech giant Sony. Launched on November 29, 2013, the PlayStation 4 (typically abbreviated to PS4) is directly comparable to Microsoft's Xbox One, and from a technology perspective superior to the Nintendo Switch.
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Built for HD gaming, the PS4 is currently the most popular console on the market by a significant margin. It boasts a diverse library of over 1500 titles encompassing everything from blockbuster action games to complex strategy games to sports and kids titles. And thanks to its popularity, the PS4 serves as the target platform for the vast majority of new release games. Only a handful of Nintendo- and Microsoft-exclusive games are unplayable on Sony's system.
The PS4 is also the console of choice for smaller independent games (often called indie games). Indie games are typically cheaper and more innovative than bigger-budget games, pushing the boundaries of what games can be. Thanks to Sony's willingness to support indie developers, PlayStation 4 owners have access to over 50% more indie games than Xbox One owners.
The PlayStation 4 comes in a few different models, each with its own pros and cons. Which model is best for you depends on your particular gaming needs.
The original model of PS4 is the one you're least likely to find in stores, as it has been superseded by the newer Slim model.
If you can track one down, you'll have two variants to pick from: one with a 500GB hard drive, and one with a 1TB hard drive. Both versions come in standard black or white, as well as a few limited edition colour schemes themed around games like Call of Duty and Star Wars.
Both versions come in standard black or white, as well as a few limited edition colour schemes themed around games like Call of Duty and Star Wars.
Introduced in September 2016, the PlayStation 4 Slim is now the standard PS4 model on store shelves. It's 40% smaller and 25% lighter than the classic model, with rounded edges instead of the classic's hard lines. Other than the removal of the optical audio port, the Slim is functionally identical to the classic model, and also comes in 500GB and 1TB versions. You can check out our full breakdown of the PlayStation 4 Slim's specs for a closer look at its technical differences.
PS4 Slim retails for around $399.00 for 500GB and $499.00 for 1TB, but you can regularly find cheaper deals on console bundles. Check out our PlayStation 4 buyer's guide for the best deals on PlayStation 4 Slim.
Released in November 2016, the PlayStation 4 Pro is a console built for those wanting the best PlayStation experience money can buy. The Pro sports more powerful internal hardware capable of making games look and play better than on a regular PS4. 'Better' will mean different things from game to game, but typical enhancements include higher framerates, extra graphical effects, and support for resolutions up to 4K. And even if you don't own a 4K TV, the Pro uses a technique known as supersampling to improve visual quality on 1080p TVs too.
The PS4 Pro retails for around $559.00 and comes with a 1TB hard drive. For a deeper dive on the Pro's capabilities, check out our full breakdown of the PlayStation 4 Pro's specs. For the best deals on PS4 Pro, take a look at our PlayStation 4 buyer's guide.
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Unfortunately, due to the way Sony designed the PlayStation 3 hardware, you can't simply pop a PS3 game disc into your PS4 and have it work. The PS4 uses an entirely different system architecture, which means that PS3 games have to be reprogrammed to run on it. This is why remasters and enhanced editions of PS3 games have been so popular this generation, with the likes of The Last of Us Remastered and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection sprucing up classic PS3 titles for the PS4 with sharper graphics and faster performance.
Of course, having to rebuy games you already own just to play them on PS4 isn't the most appealing of solutions, especially when Microsoft offers free Xbox 360 backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. Sadly, while Sony does provide another option in the form of its PlayStation Now game streaming service, it's not currently available here in Australia, and it's unclear if it ever will be.
On the bright side, an increasing number of PlayStation 2 games are making their way to PS4 digitally via PlayStation Store. Many of these games are upwards of 15 years old, making them difficult to track down in their original disc-based form. Being able to download them straight to your PS4 is a whole lot easier than hauling out your dusty PS2, searching for your old games, and praying it all still works.
For more information on playing older games on PS4, read our guide to PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility.
PlayStation 4 Pro comes with 1TB of storage and a wireless controller.View details
The last two console generations have seen the internet play a bigger and bigger role in gaming. Regular patches and always-online games are now commonplace, making a high-speed internet connection crucial to getting the most of your PS4. While the PS4 doesn't require an internet connection, you won't have access to its full range of features if you're offline, and certain games may be unplayable.
Hooking your PS4 up to the internet will get you access to the PlayStation Network, allowing you to buy digital games from PlayStation Store, stream to and from services like Twitch and YouTube, voice chat with your friends, and engage in many other online activities. Unlike on PS3, though, most games require you to have a PlayStation Plus subscription in order to play their multiplayer modes online.
PlayStation Plus is Sony's online subscription service that gets you access to a number of premium features such as playing multiplayer games online, cloud storage for game saves, and discounts on games sold through PlayStation Store.
One of the biggest draws to PlayStation Plus, however, is its Instant Game Collection, which gets you up to six free games every month spanning the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita platforms.
These games are selected by Sony and yours to play for as long as your subscription is active. For more information on what the premium service offers, take a look at our guide to what PlayStation Plus is all about.
The PS4 launched at a hefty $549 here in Australia, but that price has dropped considerably over the years. Here's what the various PS4 models currently retail for:
|PlayStation 4 Slim||500GB||$399.00|
|PlayStation 4 Slim||1TB||$499.00|
|PlayStation 4 Pro||1TB||$559.00|
Of course, you don't have to pay retail price if you shop around. PS4 bundles including one or more games can often be snapped up for less than the retail price of the console alone. If you want to save yourself both time and money, though, check out our comparison of the best PS4 prices in Australia.
While the PS4 isn't drastically different from its Xbox counterpart, it does have a number of distinct features that help set it apart. These include:
Originally limited to Sony Xperia smartphones and PlayStation Vita handheld consoles, remote play lets you stream your PS4's video output to a second screen over your home network or through the internet. It effectively turns your Xperia smartphone or PlayStation Vita into both a screen and controller for your PS4 that you can use even when you're out of the house.Support for PC and Mac was eventually introduced in April 2016, along with support for connecting a DualShock 4 controller to your computer via USB.
Support for PC and Mac was eventually introduced in April 2016, along with support for connecting a DualShock 4 controller to your computer via USB.
Share Play takes the experience of playing with a buddy on the same couch into the online space by letting you invite friends into your games over the internet, even if the game doesn't support online multiplayer or your friend doesn't own the game in question.
It all functions the same as if your friend was sitting on the couch next to you, and they can even spectate and take over control of single-player games for you if you get stuck on a particularly tough section.
You will need a PlayStation Plus subscription to make use of Share Play, though.
The DualShock line of controllers hasn't changed tremendously since the original DualShock on the PlayStation 1, but the DualShock 4 that comes with the PS4 has a few unique features worth mentioning.
An integrated speaker allows for games to output a different audio channel through the controller, useful for simulating phone calls and other radio communications. A small touchpad between the analogue sticks enables a range of gestural input.
A gyroscope and accelerometer allow the DualShock 4 to utilise motion control, and a dedicated share button makes it quick and easy to take and upload screenshots and videos to social networks.
Here are some of the biggest console games and series available only on PlayStation 4:
For the optimal PS4 experience, you'll want to make sure the rest of your entertainment setup is up to snuff. First and foremost, a 1080p HD TV is a must for appreciating the PS4's visual capabilities. If you're picking up a PlayStation 4 Pro, you'll want to upgrade that to a 4K TV to take advantage of the Pro's extra power.
With so much emphasis on online connectivity, a high-speed internet connection is crucial for downloading games and streaming both to and from your PS4. Similarly, a generous data cap is essential given how big the latest PlayStation 4 games can be. You'll also need enough hard drive space to store all those games. Thankfully, recent firmware updates have added external hard drive support to the PS4, making it painless to expand your storage capacity by simply plugging in a USB hard drive.
Almost a console in its own right, PlayStation VR is Sony's virtual reality platform for PlayStation 4. Consisting of a small processing box and an adjustable headset, PlayStation VR hooks up to any PS4 console and enables it to play a variety of PSVR titles built to take advantage of the unique sense of immersion virtual reality enables.
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While PlayStation VR is less powerful than PC VR headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, it's also significantly cheaper, especially when you factor in the cost of a high-end PC necessary to run the Vive or Rift. For a more detailed assessment of Sony's take on virtual reality, check out our review of PlayStation VR.
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