We’re literally hours away from the official launch of PlayStation 4 in North America. Some of the luckier players have already been able to put their hands on their own console and those excellent DualShock 4 controllers. Although it is possible that many of the day-1 crowd, the ‘hardcore gamers’, also own the PlayStation Vita and are familiar with all the great stuff it brings, some of the more casual players may not even know that a de-facto companion console to the PS4 exists.
In this post I would like to give five reasons why I think buying a PS Vita is worth it. There’s obviously more but we have to start somewhere, don’t we? How do you feel about the console. Do you have one? Will you get one with the new PS4? Let me know in the comments below the post!
1. PlayStation 4 connectivity / Remote Play
OK, so the delivery guy has just left the new console at your doorstep and you can’t wait to put that Killzone: Shadow Fall Blu-Ray in the system and boot it up. Not so fast. The wife wants to watch the new episode of whatever it is that wives are watching now. Do you see the problem here? PlayStation Vita comes to the rescue with the Remote Play functionality. Sony tried this idea previously with the PSP and PS3 and also the Vita and the PS3, with very poor results. Only few titles supported this feature and the quality of gameplay was less than acceptable in most cases. All this changes now. In just a few simple steps, explained in one of Sony’s pre-launch videos, you are able to continue playing on the handheld device, sitting next to the lady who is happy that you’re spending quality time together. The minute the show ends you can go back to playing the game on the big screen and feast your eyes on the next gen (should we start calling it current gen already?) graphics. The Vita can also be used as an additional controller, even providing some extra gameplay options, Wii-U style. Although currently the connectivity range is realistically limited to your local area network, with the increase in the quality of general Internet availability, it might be possible, in the future, to take your PS4 games on the road, and that’s something else.
2. PlayStation Plus
There’s no denying that PlayStation Plus is currently one of the best deals in gaming, arguably outdone only by Steam sales. For a price of a single Blu-Ray game, PlayStation Plus subscribers gain access to a huge library of free games and massive sales, for a period of one year. Granted, you won’t find GTA 5 two months after launch there, but if you don’t absolutely have to play all the new games the day they are out, PS Plus allows you not to spend a single penny on games the entire year. Obviously, you will do that, because some of the sales are simply ridiculous. The complete list of the Instant Game Collection titles can be found here. There’s really more games than you can play in 365 days.
What does it have to do with the Vita you ask? Well, the PS+ subscription is valid for ALL the systems, that is the PS3, PS4 and the Vita. This means that for the same price you can have all the fun you can with all the consoles without really putting more money into it. Also, the PS4 in North America, and hopefully in Europe as well, comes with a 30-day PS+ trial, so what better time to take advantage of all those benefits than now? However, if you’re short on cash, having just bought the big console, PS+ allows you to ‘buy’ the free games and download them later, once you get the small handheld.
Did I mention that you’re going to need PlayStation Plus to play online on PS4 so there’s absolutely no reason not to get it?
3. Cross buy / play /save
Even if, for some crazy reason, you still decide not to subscribe to PS+, all hope is not lost. More deals are still coming. This time in form of ‘cross-buy’. It means that if you buy some games for the PS3 or PS4 you automatically get a PS Vita version! Isn’t that amazing? You can find titles that already support it here. They include such great games like Guacamelee, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time or PlayStation All-Stars Battle-Royale. Some other titles don’t come for free but you can get the Vita version at a discount if you bundle it with the PS3 one. What’s more, the progress you make on one console can be transferred to the other one via the cross-save functionality, which is especially useful for gaming commuters (and also husbands whose wives watch TV all the time).
4. Price cuts
I admit that the PlayStation Vita was a rather pricey piece of hardware, especially due to the very high cost of the proprietary memory cards, and you want the big cards for all those PS+ games. Fortunately, Sony seems to have figured it out and dropped the suggested retail price by $100 a few months ago in North America. Additionally, Amazon and other retailers offer bundles with games and memory cards for a price similar to the suggested one. Although the hardware is still more expensive in Europe, for example this Vita+Memory Card+Killzone bundle is definitely worth the €169, they’re asking for.
Don’t forget that Black Friday is upon us and with it come many sale opportunities both offline and online. I bought my own Vita on Amazon last December and I took advantage of one of their blitz-deals and got the handheld for 22% less. I believe we can expect something similar this year and a console like this for $150 / €120 is absolutely worth it. Hey, you just spent $400 on a big black box, why not enhance it with a smaller one for less than half the price?
‘There are no games on the Vita’ has been the mantra of many since the handheld was launched. Although I agree that there aren’t many AAA Vita exclusives, it’s simply not true that there aren’t games available on the handheld. Just look at some of my previous blog posts, where half of the games I discuss are Vita ones. Obviously, some of them are ports of PC games, some are also available on the PS3 or other platforms. Still, that doesn’t mean that we all have access to those systems and shouldn’t be happy that such titles also come to Sony’s handheld. Games such as The Walking Dead, Rayman Origins or even Limbo should, in my opinion, be experienced by all gamers and I am personally excited that I can play them on the Vita, on the go.
Also, there are several exclusive titles on the Vita that can provide hours of fun for those less inclined to play ‘stupid, retro, indie games’ on a $200 machine. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (free with PS+), Gravity Rush (ditto), Little Big Planet Vita (with practically infinite user-generated content), Persona 4 Golden (100+ hours guaranteed), Killzone: Mercenary (really gives justice to the FPS genre on the small screen) or the upcoming Tearaway are certainly games worth trying out. Maybe they aren’t system sellers but they’re very well made games that offer a lot of new and exciting experiences to the players.
I’m personally very fond of those smaller titles that allow me to pick my Vita up for just a couple of minutes to play a game of Zen Pinball or shoot some aliens in Super Stardust Delta while I’m busy… doing some less than exciting stuff.
It simply looks great, doesn’t it? Feels amazing, too.
I really believe that the PlayStation Vita has found a niche in the console ecosystem. While it’s biggest competitor, the Nintendo 3DS, is beating it sales-wise, it doesn’t have the support of the bigger consoles, the Vita will have with the launch of the PS4. It offers a wide selection of games, ranging from very simple ones that can be played for minutes at a time, on the bus or on the train to deeper, longer full-fledged adventures competing for time with the PS3/PS4 titles. Its deep integration with the PlayStation Network through PS+ and cross-buy and also its direct integration with the PS4 make it a useful piece of hardware for gamers, especially those with a Sony bias. It is certainly worth its price, which should drop even more with the upcoming sales. Also, a PS4/Vita bundle is ineVITAble (sorry, I had to do it).