Friday, 5 January 2018

PlayStation Roundup: 2017

A new year is already upon us, and it does seem like the PlayStation 4 is finally beginning to wind down. A major price cut and the release of a couple of solid exclusives was enough to breathe more life into a tired machine, although the original version is starting to creak when it comes to new releases.

While Microsoft have doubled down with the new Xbox One X, the PS4 Pro is still seen by many as a stopgap, while there’s no real incentive to upgrade considering the difference in price. That being said, there’s no sign of a PlayStation 5 in 2018.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is probably the most successful of the PS4 exclusives that came out in 2017. It featured great visuals, an engaging story, and showed the true capabilities of the console. A sequel is all but confirmed, although we’ve yet to hear word in terms of a release date.

There was also a new Uncharted released in August, although Sully and Drake himself were nowhere to be seen. Instead, Chloe and Nadine make up a new, younger team of protagonists, and it worked against all odds.

PlayStation VR was seen as the future when it released in 2016, but there’s been little to discuss a full year after. The expensive unit is still being ignored by the vast majority of consumers, despite Sony releasing over “100 unique [VR] experiences” by October 2017. 

The games have mostly been fluff and filler content that wouldn’t be out of place on a  smartphone, but Sony has confirmed that there will be 50 new VR releases during the beginning of 2018. So while VR on the PlayStation is nowhere near dead in the water, it hasn’t taken off in the way that Sony would have hoped.

Although it didn’t make the news, it’s worth noting that the PS online infrastructure was a lot smoother in comparison to previous years. Over the busy Christmas period there were no hacks or extended periods with no service, so it’s good to see that some of those PS Plus pounds are being spent on ensuring a stable service.

PS Plus itself also saw an upturn, releasing a number of AAA titles like Until Dawn and inFamous: Second Son in the latter part of the year. It’s to be expected as we get closer to the end of the PS4’s cycle, and there’s a hefty back catalogue to choose from.

PS Now was boosted midway through the year with PS4 games joining the library. There’s still a clear disparity across the different regions such as the US and the UK, but it’s a good indication of the potential of the service. Streaming has yet to take hold, but it’s gaining ground slowly. However, as of January 2017, the full range of titles on PS Now is still incredibly limited, making it hard to justify the asking price. 

DLC and map packs have made waves in recent months, helped by the liberties taken by titles including Star Wars: Battlefront II and Call of Duty. At least 2018 should see the release of dedicated single-player experiences, including The Last of us Part II, Death Stranding, and Kingdom Hearts III.

Overall, it was another solid year for Sony, as they consolidated their position at the top. The Nintendo Switch has garnered a lot of attention, while Microsoft have made a lot of smart moves, but it seems like a race that has already been run.

James Millin-Ashmore

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