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PlayStation 4 v2.5 Update – Reaction

Sony recently released its v2.5 update for PS4, codenamed Yukimura. This is probably the most substantial revision the company has yet done for its current-generation console, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

PlayStation 4 v2.5 Update

Suspend/Resume: while PS4 owners have always been able to suspend the console into a low-power state, all this would allow for was faster booting previously. Open applications, including games, would be closed during this process. What this update adds is a feature promised by Mark Cerny at the PS4 reveal event and what was always available on Xbox One, which is the ability to suspend the applications as well, allowing for a seamless transition from suspend mode to gameplay I’ve only ever experienced on mobile devices. Why this took 16 months since the hardware launch to appear is unknown, but my personal hunch is that Sony didn’t conceive of this idea itself. Perhaps a third-party developer mentioned that Microsoft intended this for its then-unannounced next-generation console, and the PS4 team put it on their own drawing board late in the development cycle.

Whatever the case, it’s magnificent. For all the requested features I’ve seen people list on forums, this is by far the one that meant the most to me. You can get from an ostensibly off state to back inside the game you were playing in about twenty seconds. Doesn’t matter if it’s minutes, hours, or days later. This was high on my list of desired features going all the way back to the initial reveal.

Back-Up and Restore HDD to USB: this is a feature I did not expect to ever exist, insofar as the game installation backups were concerned. There was already a method for backing up game saves and media content, but I figured that Sony would not support anything related to game code backup for quasi-political reasons. Nevertheless, here it is, and it was damn useful for me just recently when I upgraded from the stock 500GB hard drive to a new 2TB one. That said, I wish there were an option to essentially clone the drive out to another USB connected one. That would have saved me a step — instead, I had to use a third drive to act as the carrier for the data before swapping in the new drive.

Find and Connect with Friends: the social media aspects of this generation don’t appeal to me that much, but I’m glad this is there for the people that have overlapping passions for both gaming and services like Facebook. That said, this feature also adds the ability to search your Friends list on PSN to see who else is playing the same game as you, which would be great if more of my friends were both gamers and PS4 owners.

Party-related functionality has also been improved, but that’s outside my wheelhouse. I gravitate towards single-player, story-heavy games, although I must admit that The Last of Us’s multiplayer is extraordinarily good.

Share Earned Trophies and Optimize Your Trophy List: there are a few features wrapped up in this one. First, the console will take automatic screenshots when you earn trophies. That’s cool, although I’m not sure I need a record of every bronze I earn. Second, you can share your earned trophies on social media. See my above reaction for my feelings on that. Perhaps most importantly, you can also remove games that have 0% completions, like a game someone else started while you were still logged in on your console, or something you tried and gave up on right away. I’ve actually accumulated a few of these across the different PlayStation devices I have, so this is appreciated. Deleting these declutters the trophy list and also improves an overall stat that measures your average completeness across all your games.

Improved and Expanded Accessibility Options: the addition of customized button reassignments is something that didn’t immediately resonate with me until it was explained that this is a boon to gamers who have disabilities. Moving controls to one side or off of a certain area presents critical opportunities for a large segment of players. Also added is a zoom and the option to invert colors, as well as enlarged text, bolder fonts, text-to-speech, and a higher contrast for those with sight deficiencies to round out this section.

While I hope to never need to use any of these additions, it’s encouraging to hear tech companies address usability issues like this.

Remote Play and Share Play: this function already existed for those with PS Vitas (like me!), but it allows for 60fps now. Although this wasn’t mentioned in these patch notes, the stability of the connection seems to have improved dramatically as well.  Games look very good, despite the compression.

Automatic Installation for System Software Updates: previously, the console could download updates, but it would not install them until you booted it again. That said, there’s a certain risk in allowing the console to complete the updates without your intervention. While it’s been a long while now, Sony did once brick a bunch of PS3s with faulty firmware. (This was correctable with a USB flash drive and a hot fix, but still. Who needs that?)

But I’m a dice roller, I guess, so I’ll leave this on and see what happens.

Sub-Account Upgrade: sub-accounts are meant for children so that they can share in the purchases of their parents, but not have the power to do anything that would get themselves into trouble. The problem was that there was no way to upgrade these accounts to full ones after these children turned 18, so any trophy progress was lost when they created a new ID. This is a welcome feature because it’s a signal that Sony is taking seriously the ability to manage the IDs granularly. With any luck, players will soon be able to change their names as well. (This is another area that Sony lags behind Microsoft on, the latter of which already offers strong ID management.)

Verified Accounts: this takes a page from Twitter, which also employs something similar. The intent here is that this will identify people involved with the game studios or with the PSN community in an official capacity.

I guess it’ll be cool to know that the guy that keeps killing you in your multiplayer matches is actually one of the developers.

Dailymotion: the Share button will now send videos to this service. Hooray?  My understanding is that this site is especially hospitable to game videos.

There was also an update for the phone and tablet applications, which has reorganized the interface and added more trophy controls.  While I appreciate this, this update does not seem to have added better support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, meaning the application has a slightly soft look due to some stretching.  A minor issue, to be sure, but why not take care of this alongside this update?  These larger-screen iPhones were released back in late September, some six months as of this time.

Final Impressions

So far so good. The console is running very well, and the new features seem to be a hit with the consumers. I’m especially fond of that Suspend/Resume expansion, since I will literally interact with that every time I use the PS4.

But what else would I want down the line? More organizational options for the home screen would be a nice addition. Sony added a Library feature that stores all your games and apps that haven’t recently been used into a folder, decluttering the UI quite a bit. Previously, the console would display everything you had ever played or used, in order from most recent to least. This would create a seemingly endless strip, which was bound to become frustrating as players accumulated more things. Now, only the most recent ten items are in the strip.

But I think it would be cooler if I could also pin my favorite games and applications to that strip, holding them there regardless of the amount of items I’ve opened since I touched those. Further still, creating your own custom folders would be nice as well, for those of us who would probably sort games into different genres.

The other feature I’d like to see is more media center functionality. I don’t need it myself, but there are Redditors-a-plenty who wouldn’t stop bemoaning the fact that the PS4 lacked DLNA and MP3 support, while it’s predecessor, the PS3, had these from its launch back in 2006. I would like this to shut those guys up.

With regard to the multimedia capabilities, Sony did exactly what it should have, exactly what gamers expected, which was to make a games-centric device instead of a scattershot multimedia hub. There’s no pleasing everyone.

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Written by Michael

7 April 2015 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Games, Reviews

Tagged with , ,

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