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Making sense of the PS4 game lineup

Sony's PS4 event left us asking plenty of questions. Which games are PS4 exclusives? Which are PS3 games? And which are both?

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
5 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK--So the world didn't exactly get what it wanted out of Sony's PlayStation 4 debut tonight. There was no sight of the actual console itself and details about its specific release date and price were also nowhere to be seen.

Sony's team-up with Gaikai is sure to net some interesting ideas and implementations with cloud streaming, the sharing of game screens, remote play, and other concoctions, but the games themselves were what made the biggest impact.

Those pondering the PS4's gaming prowess were served an interesting dish. Ten or so major developers were represented in some capacity and onhand to discuss their progress with the new hardware, which consisted of all sorts of fresh media. Some announced new exclusive titles, while others merely showcased proof-of-concept videos.

So how do these new tidbits of information play out in the grand scheme of things? How does this affect the current PS3 ecosystem and what we (up until now) thought was a concrete list of upcoming software?

Let's take a closer look at each presentation and dig a little deeper. Here are the exclusives:

The first game to debut was Knack, a title being directed by Mark Cerny, who's also the lead on the PS4's hardware. Knack looks like a platform-action title in the vein of Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter and will be an exclusive PS4 title.

Knack Sarah Tew/CNET

Guerrilla Games' next chapter in the Killzone series will be called Shadow Fall. The audience in New York was treated to a brilliant fly-through of a futuristic metropolis that eventually morphed into a live demo. What was shown was ultimately not much of a departure from previous titles in the franchise. However, the big takeaway here is that Shadow Fall's massive scope and size could only be achieved on next-gen hardware -- more specifically, a PS4.

Killzone: Shadow Fall Sarah Tew/CNET

From the studio that brought us MotorStorm, the next exclusive to debut was Driveclub, a game that looks to create a never-before-seen racing experience by painstakingly re-creating every last possible detail of racing machines. There's also a focus here on multiplayer, specifically 3-on-3 racing.

Next up was InFamous: Second Son, the next-gen effort from Sucker Punch, the studio behind the PS3's duo of InFamous games. Second Son looks to build upon the InFamous universe in which normal human beings evolve to harness supernatural powers. Some heavy-duty themes were being tossed around this time, like the cost of freedom and privacy issues.

Media Molecule, the makers of LittleBigPlanet, showed off some interesting technology as well. Citing "the tyranny of the polygon," the team gave a tease of what its next project would be by demonstrating the use of a Move controller to sculpt 3D objects and characters in a virtual world.

Media Molecule's sculpting demo Sarah Tew/CNET

Wrapping up the short list of announced exclusives was a quick presentation from David Cage, the founder of developer Quantic Dream. His new game, Beyond: Two Souls was announced at last year's E3 as a PS3 game, but tonight Cage certainly made it seem that the title would see a PS4 release instead. Based on how incompatible the two platforms are being made to seem, odds are that Beyond had been PS4-bound from the start.

It was a good night for indie gaming. Jonathan Blow, the creator of the hit game Braid was on hand to talk about his next title, The Witness. This wasn't necessarily an announcement, but rather a chance for the world to see much more of a game that doesn't necessarily follow the same formula as most mainstream titles. The Witness will launch along with the PS4, but only with a timed exclusivity.

The Witness Sarah Tew/CNET

What followed after Blow's segment was a parade of third-party developers chatting up what their studios were cooking up for PlayStation 4. It's safe to assume these games and concepts will most likely not be totally exclusive to Sony's system.

Capcom unveiled its next-gen engine, code-named Panta Rhei, and the first title to be released built upon it. Tentatively titled Deep Down, the game looks like it will be some sort of dungeon-raiding adventure title complete with fire-breathing dragons. It looked great, but it was tough to tell if this was a game or a concept video.

Deep Down (working title) Sarah Tew/CNET

Next up, publisher Square Enix showed off the Luminous Studio engine, which was used to provide the attending audience with more of a "what's possible" using PS4 hardware. There was no specific game being announced here, just an over-the-top sequence of magic, gunfighting, and brilliant visuals.

Square Enix shows off a proof-of-concept video Sarah Tew/CNET

Ubisoft's time on stage was spent providing a real-time demo of Watch Dogs, another game that appeared at last year's E3. Arguably the best demo of the evening, Watch Dogs presents a world where players can hack almost anything in the world around them using circuit breakers as booby traps and stalling trains to their advantage. Expect this to be a big multiplatform release. Watch Dogs will actually appear on both PS3 and PS4.

Watch Dogs Sarah Tew/CNET

Blizzard Entertainment made a brief presentation announcing that Diablo III would appear on both the PS3 and PS4. The PC franchise will feature four-player co-op.

Finally, Activision spent a few minutes discussing developer Bungie's first foray outside of a Microsoft console, announcing that Destiny will also be a PS3 and PS4 title.

It's tough to completely wrap our heads around the PS3 release calendar and how it will overlap with PS4's. Because the PS4 will not be backward-compatible with PS3 games directly, it has created what is going to be a strange transitional period where we have games available on both platforms. How Gaikai's streaming technology comes into play with PS3 backward-Sony PlayStation 4 compatibility has still yet to be definitively outlined.

Hopefully this wrap-up provides a bit of clarity to what was certainly an evening of scattered information. It's not worth hoping for things to get much clearer from now until this summer's E3, which should shed much more light on these titles and more.