The PlayStation 4 does not come packaged with the Eye camera peripheral, Sony’s answer to Xbox One’s Kinect. The latter does come bundled with the Xbox One but with a hefty $100 added to its price tag.
To encourage users to buy the peripheral however, the PlayStation 4 ships on ‘Day One’ with some features and mini-games that showcase how the Eye can be used, from live broadcasting gameplay video to The PlayRoom suite.
As part of Sony’s efforts to embrace social media and sharing with the PS4, there’s a ‘Share’ button (replaces ‘Select’) on the controller. It lets users capture and share screenshots and up to 15 minutes of video which can then be sent out via Twitter or Facebook. Users can also broadcast their gameplay live via Twitch or Ustream and while doing so, if they have a PlayStation 4 Eye plugged in, they can have themselves streamed alongside the footage. Using a mic or headset, players can also provide live commentary during their broadcast.
That’s one important feature the PS4 Eye allows for. The other, which can be shared live as well, involves The PlayRoom, a suite of activities requiring the Eye that comes (very intentionally) pre-installed on the PS4. Opening The PlayRoom puts whomever is in front of the Eye camera on screen and immediately, a bright, glowing menu bursts onto the screen, seemingly from the light bare on the DualShock 4 controller. Wherever the player moves the controller, the seemingly Star Wars holographic menu goes with it. It’s sexy and super fast. Think Mass Effect in-game displays but blue instead of orange.
The Sony representative demoing the hardware for us navigated through several screens which seemed to detail the new features of the DualShock 4 controller and as it did what we saw on screen zoomed in and panned in a neat dynamic way, still showing the info screens bursting from the controller. He then brought up an option to put PlayStation ‘bots’ inside the controller, one of several mini-games in The PlayRoom.
A little drone came out, fired a laser beam of sorts at the controller on screen and as little bots poured in, the controller vibrated to simulate them bouncing around inside, taking advantage of the DualShock 4’s multiple vibration motors. You could even hear them if you hold the controller to your ear since there’s a built-in speaker on the controller as well.
The rep then made the inside of the controller appear on the TV by flicking down ont he touchpad and performed a few functions which made the bots react in different ways on screen, from pressing the face buttons to bring down different colored lights that made them dance and covering the controller’s light sensor to make it dark inside the controller, only showing the bots’ glowing eyes, to shaking the controller and watching them tumble around and throwing them outside the controller and onto the main TV screen.
As an extension to The PlayRoom experience, the rep then used a tablet to open the official PlayStation app where he sketched out a random object which then became a 3D object on the screen that the bots played around with, kicking up in the air. He also showed us a list of pre-defined assets (sports equipment) that he can toss onto the screen as well.
The PlayRoom is a fun toy, a way to showcase what developers will eventually be able to take advantage of using the PlayStation technology if a good portion of its user base decides to invest in the $60 Eye peripheral. Other more subtle ways of interacting with the onscreen bots include waving one’s hand and seeing them wave back, swatting them around, covering your face to make them wonder where you are and simply tilting the controller back and forth to have them slide across the screen. It sounds so simple in theory but its executed so well, looks great, is super responsive and is just plain adorable.
For those who invest in the Eye, The PlayRoom is what we recommend trying first. What we witnessed and here is just one of several activities and there will be free DLC coming after the console launches, including some made by Double Fine who’ve proven themselves repeatedly with the Xbox 360 Kinect when it comes to motion control creativity.
PlayStation 4 releases November 15, 2013 with The PlayRoom installed.
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