Awaiting The Arrival Of Promised Next-Gen Features

by Mike Futter on Nov 27, 2013 at 05:54 AM

There is something you may have heard a number of writers saying over the past month or so. We’ve been warning that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are “coming in hot.” What we mean by that, is the teams behind both of these sophisticated systems were working up until the last moment to get things working. Unfortunately, not everything got finished in time.

We’re still waiting on a number of features that have been promised. Here’s the rundown of a number of them, along with the status on both new systems and when we can expect the features to be operational.

Gameplay Sharing
Both Sony and Microsoft shared earlier this year that players would be able to send their gameplay directly to popular streaming service Twitch TV. As you might know, this isn’t fully operational yet. PlayStation 4 users can stream to Twitch (though there have been some problems).

The Xbox One has an Upload Studio app that puts a recorded clip in the user’s SkyDrive. This clip can then be sent to YouTube through normal upload channels. Twitch streaming isn’t available natively yet, but the Xbox One does support external capture devices (like the Elgato Game Capture HD) right out of the box.

PlayStation 4 status: Twitch and Ustream streaming online, archiving coming later, external capture coming later
Full support ETA: Unknown

Xbox One status: No streaming or archiving, Upload Studio online, external capture supported
Full support ETA: 2014

Personal audio (headset) and chat support
Gaming headsets have become big business, but both platform manufacturers have put full support further down the punch list. Currently, the PlayStation 4 supports 4-pole stereo headsets plugged directly into the controller (think iPhone earbuds that have an in-line microphone). USB Chat support also works well at this point. 

Unfortunately, bluetooth headsets that worked on the PS3 won’t be supported on the PS4. Also, Sony’s own Pulse wireless headsets aren’t compatible yet.

Things are even dicier on the Xbox One side. Microsoft opted to go with a new chat connector. The only chat headset that works on Xbox One is the one that’s packed in. The Kinect is an option, but not a very good one. That means you can’t easily chat while using a high-end personal headset (unless you hang the microphone around your neck and pump chat into the game audio channel).

PlayStation 4 status: Unless you have a Sony Pulse headset, you’re in the clear. Both direct controller connection and USB to the console work well.
Full support ETA: Unknown when Pulse headsets will be supported

Xbox One status: Chat options are slim. It’s Kinect, the packed-in headset, or nothing.
Full support ETA: 2014, when Microsoft releases an adapter and third-party manufacturers release headsets specifically for Xbox One.

Audio Output
If you’ve been pumping your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 through a surround sound setup, you might assume that everything works exactly the same way on new hardware. You’d also be wrong.

On PlayStation 4, things seem to be working well, with clearer settings menus that make it easier to know the difference between Linear PCM, Dolby, and DTS. Just make sure you know what your receiver supports, and you should be good to go. One thing to note is that setting a primary output method (HDMI vs digital optical) does not turn the other off.

On Xbox One, things are in pretty rough shape. Your only options for digital optical output are uncompressed stereo and DTS. This is a problem for anyone with a surround sound gaming headset. Thankfully, Astro has announced that the A50s and Mixamp Pro can handle stereo to Dolby ProLogic IIx encoding. Everyone else seems to be out of luck.

Additionally, there is a problem right now in getting cable TV to pass through surround sound. That option is in beta right now (accessible via the TV and One Guide settings), but it’s not working right on all set top boxes yet. Your mileage may vary.

PlayStation 4 status: OK!

Xbox One status: If you connect to a receiver via DTS, you’re in good shape. Until Dolby is patched in for digital optical, you are likely going to have a diminished experience for gaming headsets and non-DTS audio receivers.
Full support ETA: Unknown for Dolby patch-in and finalization of TV surround sound passthrough.

Suspend and Resume Gameplay
One of the highlights of the new hardware is being able to turn your console off without losing your game state. The Xbox One is ready to roll with this, and you can power off your console, go to work, and come back to exactly where you left off.

The PlayStation 4 will be getting this feature, but we’re not sure when yet. Right now, you can put your console in a standby state (rather than powering it off entirely). Your game state won’t be saved, so be sure to finish up what you need to before powering down.

Playstation 4 status: System level standby works, but your game state isn’t stored in memory yet.
PlayStation 4 ETA: Unknown

Xbox One status: OK!