PlayStation 4: A Launch Night Diary

“Just seven minutes left, who's excited?” the DJ asked, receiving a decidedly lackluster round of cheers from the crowd of around 100 people who had just been herded into a single file line outside of a GameStop in Tempe, AZ. Granted, we were a tough crowd, but we were excited despite our lack of enthusiasm. We were all about to walk away with a PlayStation 4 in hand. The new generation of games consoles was about to commence.

Consider this a brief introduction into all things PlayStation 4, a diary of my first night with the new console. While I have a hard time being goaded into fake over-enthusiasm by a DJ I've had to listen to make bad jokes for the past hour, I was absolutely ready to drive the 40 minutes home with my new shiny console in tow.

The only console launch day I've ever participated in was for the original Wii, simply because it was the only console cheap enough for me to get on day one throughout all my years of gaming. I didn't pre-order that tiny white box, though, which meant my experience involved (sort of) sleeping outside a Walmart wrapped in a SpongeBob blanket, followed by a full day of waiting in line.

With the PS4, I decided to pre-order nice and early and pay that bad boy off a little at a time. I had already picked up my copy of Killzone: Shadow Fall and the new PlayStation Camera a couple of weeks prior so, when I walked into my nearest GameStop at 6 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Nov. 14, I only needed to show them my ID and get my number for the official line. It was 16.

Thanks to the beauty of modern line technology, that meant I had hours to kill at the mall rather than sitting uncomfortably close to a bunch of strangers until midnight rolled around. We had dinner and saw Thor 2, giving me plenty of time to make it back to GameStop with an hour to spare.

I finally got home with my new console just shy of 1 a.m. and, honestly, I considered simply going to bed and getting started with the thing the following day. But that seemed like it would completely negate the purpose of my standing in line at midnight, so I decided to begin the unboxing.

For starters, it's important to note that no matter what size hard drive you have in your console, about 100 GB (no joke) will be partitioned off. In other words, that stock 500GB drive only actually amounts to around 400GB and, with games like my spiffy new copy of Killzone said to take up about 50GB, I planned ahead and had a TB drive waiting when I got home. Honestly, I don't expect it to last me much more than a year. These games are just too massive for a “digital age” to ever exist. Bring on the streaming!

All you need for this little operations is a small phillips head screwdriver and a thumb drive containing the latest firmware update. The glossy part of the top panel slides off easily. There's a single screw holding the HDD casing in place and another four screws holding the drive into the casing. I swapped out the 500GB with my TB and had the thing ready to go in less than three minutes. Seriously, it's an exceedingly simple process.

Once that was done, I plugged in the machine, waited for it to install the OS and sprinted through the typical first-time setup jibba-jabba (connect to the internet, sign in to profile, set the clock, etc).

The OS is clean, featuring two main bars of icons. The lower bar offers up stuff like fast boxes for your most recently played games, access to video services and the streaming options. The top bar is where you'll find your friends list, system option, notices about what's downloading and ready to be installed, Party chat and more.

My first stop was the PlayStation Store, which runs far smoother than on the PS3. Maybe that has to do with how little content there is but, if you're familiar with the PS3 setup, you'll feel right at home here. I entered a couple of promo codes and got my downloads of Warframe and Blacklight, both free to play, Contrast and Resogun, both free with PlayStation Plus set to download. It should be noted that, while the games were still downloading, I received notices within minutes that each of the titles were ready to be installed and played within minutes, just as advertised.

But it was getting close to 3 a.m. and, sadly, I'm not as young as I once was. I took a few more minutes to check out the streaming feature, which worked perfectly. People were playing their games, some were chatting, others had PiP videos of themselves, and users were commenting in text and via chat. The video quality was nice and a couple of videos may have even sold me on the new Need for Speed. I've never had an interest in “let's play” videos in the past but, having it right there in the bottom menu, easy to get to and working so well, I wouldn't be surprised if I became a frequent visitor.

I put the PS4 into sleep mode with voice commands, which worked flawlessly, and left the console to finish its downloads while I slept. This morning, I powered up again and logged in with facial recognition which, again, worked flawlessly. It's a neat trick, but I'm not sure how useful it really is. Then again, maybe I'm just an old-fashioned guy who likes to push buttons instead of stare into or shout at my TV to get things done.

All of my games are sitting there, ready to go. It's time to play.

For any specific questions, feel free to post them into the comments below and I'll get back to you. Otherwise, did anyone else pick up the PlayStation 4? Feel free to share your “first night” experiences, too.

Ryan Winslett

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.