Sony adds Remote Play streaming to the latest PS4 system software update - this and all the PS4 news you need
Sony’s latest system update for the PS4 has finally arrived0 system update, and it brings with it a whole host of extra features, including the handy ability to stream games to any PC or Mac via Remote Play. In a similar move to Microsoft’s Windows 10 streaming for Xbox One, the 3.50 system update (codenamed Musashi) finally lets you free up the TV and stream games to a Windows or Mac device instead. You’ll need to be running either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 on PC, or OS X 10.10 or OS X 10.11 on a Mac, but as long as you have one of these operating systems in place, all you then need to do is download Sony’s Remote Play app and connect your DualShock 4 controller via USB.
At the moment, the following resolution and frame rate options are available: 360p, 540p and 720p at either 30fps or 60fps. By default, the resolution is set to 540p and a 30fps frame rate, but you’ll be able to alter these manually in the Remote Play settings.
Other big new features include the ability to appear offline (in case your game needs your full attention or you want to watch a film without interruption), and notifications when other friends appear online. To receive these notifications, simply visit their user profile, press Options and select ‘Notify when online’.
You can also now schedule gameplay sessions with friends in the Events tab and create invitations for the next time you want to go out on a new Destiny mission, for example. Likewise, Musashi now lets you share events with the wider online community as well, where strangers will be able to register for your event. You don’t need to create these apps while your PS4’s turned on either, as the PS app has also been updated to let you create user events while you’re on the move.
22/03 – PS4.5 or PS4K coming soon?
A rumour has surfaced, from an unnamed developer source quoted on Kotaku, that the PS4 may be getting a major update sooner than anyone expected. The developer talks of a new version of the popular console with ‘increased graphical power and games running at 4K resolution’. it goes on to say that the PS4.5 would include an upgraded GPU to support 4K resolutions in games and superior PlayStation VR experiences. Kotaku says that vague details or this ‘exploratory’ hardware have come from multiple sources.
It’s an intriguing story and one that a few years ago would have been laughed off as obvious nonsense, but things are changing in the world of consoles. Traditionally developing a new console was expensive and risky, early hardware sold at a loss and the way to make the big bucks was keep the hardware standard running for as long as possible, with games consoles the pot of gold really is at the end of the rainbow.
Launching new hardware mid-cycle simply divides your player base, so developers didn’t want to write games for the small number of people that had bought the new hardware and it inevitably failed – Sega’s 32X and Mega-CD addons being the best examples.
However, with the move to PC-based architectures and far superior software development tools, creating a game that runs at one resolution on one piece of hardware and a higher reoslution on another is now far more possible. Microsoft, for example, is releasing games, such as Quantum Break, across both the Xbox One and PC platforms simultaneously. Both such moves could herald a change to a more platform-independent view of games development.
Despite that, and the recent advancements in graphics chips announced by AMD with its FinFET Polaris technology, I can’t see any living-room friendly games console running today’s 1080p 30fps titles at the full 4K resolution (2,160×1,080) at the same frame rate. It takes a monstrous gaming PC to achive that at present, and even given advancements over the next year or two, it’s still going to be a large, hot and expensive device.
That said, some sort of compromise resolution, between the two, and then upscaled to 4K would help boost graphical fidelity considerably, and that extra power would be handy for running PlayStation VR at higher frame rates for smoother experiences.
Still, none of that persuades me that Sony is about to unleash an upgraded PS4 console. More likely is that the next PlayStation may come sooner than we think and have more in common with the current model than previous iterations – think more along the lines of iPad versions than PlayStation versions. Hardware generations might be shortened down to around five years, with current hardware continuing alongside the new release.
All that said the current model could do with a 4K update of sorts, and a new console (with the same graphical power) equipped with 4K-capable HDMI ports for streaming Netflix and an updated optical disc drive for 4K blu-ray movies seems like a smart idea.
Recent PS4 news
09/03 – PS+ Update
The rather-good Alien Isolation is now on sale on the PlayStation store for just £10 for PS4. We enjoyed the game when it was first released at around four times that price, as it so brilliantly captures the atmosphere and tension of the original Alien film, without all the gunblazing hoo-hah of later iterations. It’s an incredibly-detailed recreation of the film’s original look and setting, with the low-res mono monitors from the 1979 film, alongside cramped environments and a lot of padded corridors. There’s only one alien but that’s enough to ratchet up the tension to an incredible degree, with you improvising various tools and weapons to stay alive. Here’s our full Alien Isolation review.
Beyond the game itself, we wonder if this is the beginnings of a move by Sony and publishers to reduce the prices of older titles down to a level where people pick up titles on a whim that they wouldn’t usually consider. Steam has done incredibly well out of these kind of discounts, but obviously you have to be careful that you don’t eat into the sales of launch titles by giving people a good reason to wait and see if the price drops. Still, we applaud the idea of having a library of older, cheaper titles on the service at low prices.
In other free and cheap games news, there’s some great stuff this month on PlayStation Plus for PS4, with Broforce and Galak-Z: The Dimensional making an apperance. The latter is our fave, as an unabased love letter to arcade shooters of old and classic anime series, such as Macross. The game may work in two dimensions, but the graphics are a luscious kaleidoscope, packed with detail. It’s not easy but there’s incrediblyt satisfyiong moments where you can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
25/11 – PS+ Update
It’s that time of the month again: Sony has revealed what will be making the cut for December’s PlayStation Plus free games, as well as what will be getting pulled from the service. PS+ subscribers have their pick of six games this month, but only two are available for the PS4; the remaining four are restricted to the PS Vita or PS3.
Gauntlet: Slayer Edition – Exclusive to the PS4, this reimagining of 80’s classic Gauntlet sees players fighting with their friends through hordes of monsters as a warrior, valkyrie, wizard or an elf in the search for treasure. Just remember not to shoot the food – an eager trigger finger can leave your party with no healing items to fall back on in a pinch. Serious fans will appreciate the free Gauntlet PlayStation Plus theme on the 1st of December too.
King’s Quest Chapter One: A Knight to remember – Are you sensing a pattern to this month’s releases yet? Your second game is another reboot of a 1980’s classic, this time the brutally difficult King’s Quest point-and-click adventure game series. Rather than a straight up remake, this episodic series is more of a reimagining, taking characters and themes from their 2D roots and adding a more accessible 3D world.
PS3 owners can get hold of snowboard racer SSX 3 and jokey, sci-fi FPS Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, while PS Vita owners can download Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken and Freedom Wars. If you’ve been putting off downloading any of November’s PlayStation Plus titles, now could be your last chance; The Walking Dead Season 2 and Magicka 2 (PS4), Mass Effect 2 and Beyond Good and Evil (PS3), Invizimals (PS Vita) and Dragon Fin Soup (PS4, PS3 & PS Vita) will be leaving the line-up on the 30th of November.
27/10 – Paris Games Week
Sony had a pre-Christmas treat ready for European gamers at Paris Games Week in October. It was the first time Sony held a conference during the show, but we got more than just a slew of European release dates for games already announced at international trade shows earlier in the year. There was a big focus on PlayStation VR (previously known as Project Morpheus), and the much-anticipated multiplayer mode for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was finally revealed. The event was one of the first large-scale tests of the new Events app within the PS4 dashboard, which only went live last month.
We were in attendance, and you can read all the coverage over at our Paris Games Week news hub.
21/10 – Official UK and EU price cuts
If you still haven’t made the jump to the next console generation, bought an Xbox One at launch and instantly regretted it, or want to catch up on the Nathan Drake Collection before Uncharted 4 arrives next year, now looks like the perfect time; Sony has just announced an official price cut, bringing the PS4 down to £300 in the UK. That’s a £50 drop from the previous price, and it follows hot on the heels of a similar reduction on the other side of the Atlantic. It also brings the PS4 on par with the Xbox One, which dropped down to £300 in April this year. Not that Sony was hurting for sales being the more expensive console; according to retail figures the PS4 continuously outsells the Xbox One on a monthly basis.
The rest of Europe gets in on the action too, with the PS4 officially dropping down to €350 in Benelux, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
The new lower price should soon roll out to Sony’s numerous bundle packages too, with prices dropping accordingly for a console and game package, but at the time of writing it was possible to get one even cheaper if you shopped around; some UK retailers were already selling stand alone consoles for as little as £260 before the price cut.
07/10 – How to stop Destiny appearing on your home screen, even if you don’t own it
PS4 owners that spotted Bungie’s space-travelling multiplayer shooter Destiny had mysteriously appeared on their PS4 dashboards were recently clamouring for a way to disable “featured content”, a sotware feature Sony addded in firmware version 1.75 that lets the console download icons to your dashboard UI for games, apps and other content it thinks you’ll like.
You can switch this off if you don’t like the idea of Sony adding icons for games you don’t own. To disable featured content, log into your PS4, scroll across to the Settings tab, select System and then Automatic Downloads. Find Featured Content and uncheck the box.
01/09 – PlayStation Plus price increases for short term subscribers
Online gameplay got a little more expensive in September – at least, for those that prefer not to pay for a PS Plus subscription in one annual lump sum. Sony put up its monthly and quarterly subscription prices for players in the UK, with prices rising by as much as 25%. Effective from September 1, a monthly subscription to PS Plus rose from £5.49 to £5.99. The biggest increase hit the three-month pass, which rose from £11.99 per month to £14.99. The price of the annual subscription remains unchanged, at £39.99.
17/08 – Darth Vader PS4 revealed to coincide with Star Wars: Battlefront release
The PS4 always had a dark side. Two of them, in fact, but limited Darth Vader edition console will really bring a touch of evil to Sony’s console. Set for release in November to mark the launch of Star Wars Battlefront, the console will bear the image of Luke Skywalker’s devilish dad. The bundle includes a 500GB console, a controller that Sony claims has “been inspired by Darth Vader” (meaning a new colour scheme and a Star Wars logo printed on the touch panel) and the Deluxe Edition of Battlefront.
Everything you need to know about the PS4
The PS4 is much more than just a games machine; with a comprehensive selection of on-demand and catch-up TV apps available through the PlayStation Store, a surprisingly capable web browser, and (finally) a fully-featured, DLNA-compatible media player, it can become the centre of your home entertainment system. But what else do you need to know about it? We’ve got you covered below.
PlayStation Plus – what do you get for your money?
Sony’s subscription service primarily acts as a gateway to playing games online, but PlayStation Plus also provides a lot more. For an annual £40 subscription in the UK, you also get access to online cloud storage, which will upload your game saves automatically in case you ever log in on someone else’s console and want to continue from where you left off.
However, if you want to play any PS4 game online with other people, you’ll need to have an active PS+ subscription. This isn’t as big a deal for certain titles, most notably single player adventure games and titles aimed at younger audiences, but with big-name releases like Call of Duty, DriveClub and Bloodborne designed with online play in mind, and Destiny demanding an always-on connection in order to play, it’s soon going to be difficult to find games that will actually be playable without a subscription.
PS+ subscribers also get exclusive discounts on the PlayStation Store, with extra money coming off games that are already reduced for all users. This can typically range from 10% to as much as 40% depending on the title, although this changes on a monthly basis.
The biggest added value comes from the free games, which are rotated every month to continually grow your collection. As long as you keep paying, you can keep playing, and even if you don’t intend to play them right away simply adding a game to your library will let you download it at any time – even if it has left the free monthly rotation. If your subscription lapses you won’t be able to play, but start paying again and you’ll get that access back. Big name titles and indie games are frequently rotated in and out of the free list, so there’s sure to be something for everyone on offer.
Latest deals, PSN discounts & voucher codes
Sony is often generous with its deals of the week, mixing up discounts across genres and giving gamers plenty of choice, while saving them a significant amount of cash in the process. General sales are less common, but when there’s a big one you can be sure we’ll list it here.