With Sony expected to pull the covers back on the Neo, here's everything we know so far, and a few things we'd like to see.
It appears that 2016 has been the year of the leaks. It doesn’t matter which of the major gaming companies you work for, your best guarded secrets will not remain a secret for very long. It started in March when word of a Playstation 4.5 leaked, shortly after that the systems codename was leaked accompanied by specs that would put the console slightly over 4 TeraFLOPS. Sticking with the recent reference to characters from The Matrix(PSVR was codename Morpheus), this new upgraded Playstation was codenamed Neo. Fast forward to the beginning of June, when just about all of Microsoft’s E3 press conference leaked, including the existence of their answer to Neo called Project Scorpio.
From this moment on both Microsoft and Sony would go into a reactionary mode. It started the Friday prior to the start of E3 when Sony acknowledged the existence of the Neo but would not share any more details outside of the fact the console would not be shown at E3. Though this was not their original plan, which became obvious when their E3 showing was cut short by 10-15 minutes and ended on a somewhat awkward live demonstration of Days Gone. The game itself looked great, but the pacing of the show seemed to take somewhat of a u-turn without that big ‘bang’ moment to close out the show. Microsoft took the exact opposite approach, choosing to acknowledge the existence of their Project Scorpio and close out the show guns a’blazing.
In the two months since E3, the original documentation on the Playstation Neo has leaked, confirming the system would be capable of 4.14 TF, while the internet has run rampant with speculation that Sony would re-spec the machine to come closer to Scorpio’s 6TF. The truth is Sony has very little wiggle room. While it is possible that they could overclock the CPU and GPU, this will not pull them much closer to Scorpio. The most likely change might come in the form of another 4GB of GDDR5 ram, though all of this is purely speculation so far.
This brings us to the most recent leak and subsequent confirmation. Sony has announced they will be holding a PlayStation Meeting on Wednesday, September 7, beginning at 12 PM PT / 3 PM ET at the PlayStation Theater in New York Cities famous Times Square. The current rumor churning through the mill is that Nintendo plans to unveil their newest gaming machine, a console/handheld hybrid codenamed NX, on September 12th prior to the opening of the Tokyo Game Show. Supposedly Sony caught wind of this rumor and setup their event as a pre-emptive strike to get news of the Neo out before Nintendo shows off the NX.
Although the Playstation Neo will not be shown off for another month we already know quite a bit about the machine. For starters, we know that Neo and the Playstation 4 will have a shared library. This means that all of the game discs will be Playstation 4 discs that work on both consoles with no games exclusive to the Playstation Neo. Sony has also promised that all of your Playstation 4 accessories(DualShock 4 controller, Camera, etc) will be compatible on both machines. Online features will also be shared between the two machines. PSN users on both machines will be integrated and will share the same save data, trophies, and PSN account with the same user interface. The Playstation Store will mostly remain the same, though the Neo store will also list Neo specific features. These Neo specific features would be one area we would like to see some more clarity, currently Neo games are only allowed to expand upon features already available in the regular Playstation 4 title. This would include stuff like longer draw distance, more detailed animation, increased player count.
However, Sean Murray from Hello Games(No Mans Sky) recently stated “for our game (No Man’s Sky) it’s procedurally generated. So more powerful hardware doesn’t just mean upgraded textures or a higher frame rate. It means we can fundamentally change the experience.” He even indicated that “new types of worlds could exist” using the more powerful hardware, which many have interpreted as the opposite of the ‘no exclusive features’ rule.
Although the Neo will not have any exclusive games, all games published after October 1st 2016 are required to feature a ‘Neo mode’ featuring enhanced visuals and performance. Neo mode would require minimum native display resolution of 1080p with a frame rate between 30 and 60 frames per second. This would also include, but not require, more stable frame rates, improved graphical fidelity, and additional graphical features. Developers are also able to add ‘forwards compatibility’ to their previously released Playstation 4 titles at their discretion. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, a few currently released titles we expect to take advantage of Neo mode would include some of Sonys top selling hits like Uncharted 4, Until Dawn, Infamous: Second Son, and Bloodborne.
With less than a month until the reveal, there are still a few things we would like to see at the Playstation Meeting. With the Xbox One S now featuring HDR support and a Ultra-High Definition Blu-ray Drive for 4k movies, will Sony follow suit and add the same functionality into the Neo? We’d also like to see a new console design. Although the current design is ok, we’d like to see a better, more obvious power and eject button. An all new appearance wouldn’t hurt either, the doorstop/eraser look was cool at first, but something a little more traditional would be nice. We would also like to see a Neo model with a wider selection of hard drive space. With 4K gaming around the corner, future games will require even more space than the 35-75GB many current games require now. It won’t be long before 3 or 4 games fill up an entire 500gb hard drive. Even better would be external hard drive support, though that can be added later through a firmware patch.
The last thing we would like to see addressed is how Neo will help make Playstation VR a better product. There has been some speculation that the only reason Neo even exists is because Sony was having trouble getting enough quality out of their upcoming VR product using the current Playstation hardware. Given that Oculus and Vive released earlier in the year and are much more capable devices, Sony is facing a lot stiffer competition in the VR space than they are in the console space. Having a competent machine capable of displaying games at a quality similar to that of the top two current headsets is most likely a priority for Sony as they attempt to enter the newly rejuvenated VR marketplace.
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