The Share Button and Sharing, The PlayStation 4's Best New Features This Gen.Platforms: Sony PlayStation 4
With all this talk of teraflops, exclusives and resolutions, we are missing the true heroes of this generation. The PlayStation Share button and the collaboration options it offers have turned us all into budding virtual photographers without us even noticing. Hard drives all around the world are filling rapidly with magnificent pieces of digital art and it’s absolutely amazing.
Yes, the games have been great. Yes, we have had some fantastic new experiences and VR has been an absolute blast but in my humble opinion, the PS4 share button, ShareFactory and the various tools the PlayStation 4 have provided are by far the best things to come out of this gen of consoles. They have given gamers a way to collaborate, to share and given us all a fantastic vehicle to share our experiences.
It all started for me when I bought a PSP with dodgy firmware on it. This firmware allowed you to take screenshots and it completely changed my time playing games. At the time my friend and I were obsessed with Monster Hunter Freedom and it was amazing being able to send screenshots to each other to brag about our latest kills or some fabulous loot we had obtained.
Fast forward 8 years, the PlayStation 4 gets released with a strange new button on the controller and both current generation consoles now had the ability to capture your favourite game moments and create magnificent in-game works of art. This led to game developers making in-game photo modes to make the most of this new feature, it drove the medium forward and turned us into budding artists at the same time.
These photo modes started out very simple and only featured in a few games but over the life of the PlayStation 4, they evolved into something amazing and gained so many features to give the most inept artist the tools required to make beautiful works of art. They evolved as each PlayStation exclusive got revealed, even big third-party titles jumped on the bandwagon and created amazing photo modes of their own.
Games like Uncharted, God of War, Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, and Horizon all had great photo modes and each one progressed the medium on a little. Some of the things people have created have been magnificent, incredibly life-like, just a joy to look at. Our favourite moments can now be shared and saved forever on our favourite digital platforms.
These photo modes gained the ability to change so many options from focal distance to character poses and even change the time of day. They added the ability to change colour filters, add logos and even change the characters expressions. The feature was slowly getting more and more in-depth and with the added #PS4Share twitter tag, a new art form was born. Virtual photography has captured the hearts and minds of gamers aplenty.
If you search the hashtag #PS4Share on twitter you will be treated to a plethora of radiant art from your favourite video games. At times I wonder, how the hell was that shot ever taken? I have littered various screenshots from myself, kind twitter member @Chris25551 and Petri Levälahti from EA/Dice in this feature and I am sure you can agree, they are stunning. There are a lot better out there too, just have a browse when you have a second. It's simply breathtaking.
The latest game I have played probably has the best photo mode I have seen. Ghost of Tsushima has an amazing amount of tweaks you can make to your shots and due to the game incredible beauty, some amazing photo mode shots have been captured by players. Just a look through Twitter shows you what can be created. You can even add foliage particles and animated backgrounds, it's simply superb.
The more these photo modes gain feature-wise and the more beautiful the games get the more time I spend taking shots of my favourite scenes. My hard drive is brimming with screenshots from my favourite titles and with the PlayStation 4 taking screenshots for every trophy you earn, I have so, so many beautiful shots. I often look at them in wonder how far our medium has progressed since I was a lad.
I suppose we cannot talk about the PlayStation's share button without mentioning ShareFactory and the built in ability to stream. Along with being able to take screenshots and record sections of gameplay, the PlayStation 4 can stream to popular platforms like Twitch and Youtube. I think PlayStation have done a great job encouraging gamers to record memories and band together in communities to share content together.
To stream your gameplay on the PlayStation 4 all you need is a PlayStation camera and then you are good to go. The PlayStation OS has inbuilt tools to manage chat and other features and it has sparked a new generation of streamers, obviously you will want to upgrade if you take it further but it is a brilliant starting point that has been provided and it is a feature I don't think gets enough credit.
If you fancy taking your screenshots and captured footage further you can import them into PlayStation's own editing software called ShareFactory. It started out quite basic but over the few years we have had it, it has blossomed into quite a competent piece of editing software and can create quite professional-looking videos. You can add music, overlays and all sorts of goodies. Of course, as you progress more, similar to streaming, you will want better software but again PlayStation should be congratulated for providing these starter tools for its userbase.
All these sharing, streaming and recording tools that have been provided for free may not be the best in class but they are a great entry point into these various forms of art and creation. There have not been many innovative features this gen but, in my opinion, these are by far the best and I cannot see them going anywhere. Sharing is here to stay, sharing is caring and I love it!