Tonight, we’ll get our first glimpse at Sony’s next generation console. The platform holder hasn’t confirmed anything, but there’ll be serious repercussions if it rolls out little more than a redesigned PlayStation Move this evening. It won’t – the police convoys currently stationed outside the New York venue where the press conference is set to take place indicate that this is a big deal. Not forgetting the enormous banners plastered around the Emirates Stadium last night, too.

The manufacturer’s done a stellar job of keeping its next console under wraps. While we’ve heard plenty of whispers, we’re still yet to really see anything other than a prototype controller. The curtain will be raised at 18:00PM EST / 23:00PM GMT, but while the clock ticks down, allow us to regale you with everything that we know about the PlayStation 4.

Lots and lots of teraflops

From what we understand, the PS4 is a beast. Not the kind that lives under your bed and feeds on your dreams about Ashley Roberts. No, it’s a monster from a technical perspective. If you’re not so hot with technical specs then all you really need to know is that it will make the next games from Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica look extremely pretty. If you’re a nerd, however, then you might be interested to know that the system supposedly includes eight cores, arranged into two clusters. It also apparently boasts 4GB DDR5 RAM and a high-speed Blu-ray drive. That should make Nathan Drake’s stubble look extra seductive.

All of that hardware’s likely to cost you a pretty penny, with reports coalescing around the $400 range. Japanese newspaper Ashai Shimbun has already predicted a ¥40,000 cost, while The Times reckons the system will sell for £300 in the UK. Meanwhile, the console’s expected to ship in two guises in North America, with the premium SKU subtracting $529 from your wallet.

Circle of life

The console is being referred to as Orbis internally, but there’s a good chance that it will end up adopting the more straightforward moniker of ‘PlayStation 4’. The number four is typically associated with the same word for death in Japan, so the company may consider making a change based on that reason alone. We’re not buying it, though.

A number of new services have been touted over the past couple of weeks, too. Apparently the company is considering dropping PlayStation Plus in favour of a greater network initiative named PlayStation World. This will apparently be the platform holder’s response to Xbox Live, as the company intends to charge for a number of the system’s core online features. It’s unclear if online play will remain free, but we’d be surprised if the manufacturer dropped such a popular bullet point.

Gloomy outlook

And then, of course, there’s PlayStation Cloud. Sony’s high-profile acquisition of cloud firm Gaikai remains a point of contention, with some sites claiming that the PS4 will be capable of streaming PS3 games on-demand. It’s unclear if this will be integrated as a solution to backward compatibility, which is unlikely to feature in Sony’s next system due to serious architectural changes under the hood.

Gaikai could also factor into the PS4’s new social features. Reports suggest that the console will be constantly recording gameplay, allowing you to share footage and screenshots with friends on the fly. This will be accessed by a ‘Share’ button on the system’s redesigned controller. It’s possible that the best community videos will be promoted online, alongside a new social timeline similar to what’s currently available on the PlayStation Vita.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to control the console with your smartphone or tablet. Kotaku reports that you’ll be able to send PSN messages remotely using a portable device, as well as purchase content from the PlayStation Store. Any software you do buy will be automatically downloaded to your console, without you needing to be anywhere near the machine.

Touchpads and cameras

Sony intends to refresh the traditional DualShock controller with the PS4. This is one thing that we’ve been lucky enough to get a look at, courtesy of some sneaky snaps by unnamed super sleuths. One of the most prominent new features is a touchpad which sits on the front of the device. This is reportedly similar to the surface on the back of the Vita, but it’s still unclear if it’s able to display images or not.

In addition to the nifty touch technology, the controller also boasts a light bar on the top of the handset which will reportedly track motion similar to the PlayStation Move. Combined with improved internal accelerometers, this should provide all of the accuracy of Sony’s existing motion wand, embedded into a single device.

According to multiple reports, the PS4 will ship with an updated PlayStation Eye camera, which will boast two wide-angle lenses for accurate head and hand tracking. It will also include a cluster of microphones designed for accurate voice detection. Despite all of this, though, it apparently won’t include Kinect’s depth detection technology, so that light sensor should come in handy after all.

Other tweaks to the controller include a slightly reworked shape and improved triggers. Finally, you’ll be able to play a Rockstar game without having to cringe every single time you press R2. Gross.

As for the games

You can bet your bottom dollar that every major first-party developer is working on PS4 games right now. Those likely to be around at launch include Evolution Studios and Guerrilla Games. The former is rumoured to be working on a street-racing game with former Bizarre Creations designer Ged Talbot at the helm, while the latter has a couple of projects in the works. Killzone 4 is strongly rumoured to be in the pipeline, but Guerrilla Games is thought to be working on a fantasy game as well.

Then there’s The Last Guardian. Internal whispers suggest that the title has been switched to PS4, and Fumito Ueda’s recent comments after an extended hiatus suggest that the game could be about to re-emerge.

As for third-party titles, you should expect Battlefield 4, Watch Dogs, and Star Wars 1313 to hit the console around launch. New entries in popular franchises such as FIFA, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed are also almost certain to be in development, too.

Alright, when’s it out?

Rumours suggest that the PS4 will launch later this year in North America and Japan, with a November date specifically touted for North America. Europe may not be quite as lucky, with reports suggesting that Sony will skip the region in favour of a spring launch in 2014. If that’s the case, we’ll cry bitter tears right through Christmas, so save a thought for those less fortunate while you celebrate.

And just in case you still want more

There are a few hours until the stream’s set to start, so you should totally check out our series of features and articles on the PS4. Respond to a few polls, leave a few comments, and then point your browser through here while we live stream and live blog Sony’s entire PlayStation Meeting.

Are you excited about the PS4? What are you most looking forward to learning about the next generation system? Let us know in the comments section below.