There have been rumours that the two major games companies, Sony and Microsoft, have planned to iterate on their most recent consoles. Why? Well a lot of people, myself included, have been underwhelmed with this generation so far. The limitations of both consoles have been discovered very quickly so it almost makes sense that, much like what Apple does with their products, to iterate and improve on them.
Well Sony are the first to blink, it seems, and the result is a report from Giant Bomb that this new Playstation will be far, far more powerful than the original Playstion 4, although Sony are taking great strides into making sure that their fan base isn’t fractured like Nintendo’s was when they released the New Nintendo 3DS.
To quote Giant Bomb’s Austin Walker: “The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory…the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4…Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a “Base Mode” which will run on the currently available PS4 and a “NEO Mode” for use on the new console.”
“Games running in NEO mode will be able to use the hardware upgrades (and an additional 512 MB in the memory budget) to offer increased and more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity, at least when those games run at 1080p on HDTVs. The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native.”
That is certainly a clever way of stopping owners of the original Playstation 4 from missing out on games. This “NEO Mode” sounds basically like “High” or even “Ultra” graphics settings that PC gamers are used to. I hope it is easy to develop for, otherwise all that effort Sony has made manufacturing would be for naught (again, much like the New Nintendo 3DS).
“There will be no NEO-only games, and Sony will not let developers separate NEO users from original PS4 players while playing on PSN. Likewise, Sony explicitly and repeatedly states that developers cannot offer exclusive gameplay options or special unlockables for NEO players…That said, so long as both systems have the same feature, the NEO can run an improved version.”
Now this I can get behind. There is nothing worse than exclusive games, although I completely understand why they exist, and if Sony hadn’t declared this, then it would have been one almighty cock-up. The example Austin Walker gives is basically, if you are playing a co-op game the NEO version will allow eight players to play concurrently whilst the normal verison would only allow four. One would assume that this would only effect something like co-op and not competitive multiplayer as they would cause the players with the NEO to have an unfair advantage.
So what does this all boil down to? A more powerful console that is capable of playing games better (although only up-scaling them to 4K) and the ability to play 4K blu rays. And what happens to your old games? Well nothing, unless the developers patch in a NEO version. I see the AAA cross-platform games like Fallout 4 or The Witcher doing something like that as they still have people actively developing for them. Hell maybe Sony themselves will almost certainly patch it in for the next Uncharted game and maybe a couple of other first party releases (Bloodbourne with a good frame-rate anyone?). Exciting stuff. I now wait with bated breath for how Microsoft will respond.