Sony finally stepped it up. It’s doing something other consoles have offered for quite a while, even since launch. It took some time, but the company is finally going to allow us to use external hard drives with our PlayStation 4s. Gone are the days of looking at our system’s libraries and wondering what we’ll have to give up, should we want to play that new game. Finally, it’s keeping up with the Joneses. And, funnily enough, this decision could end up being one of the best gaming moments of 2017.
Does an external hard drive really make that much of a difference? Uh, yes? Have you played on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One lately? Games are space hogs. Final Fantasy XV is over 50GB. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is over 53GB. Battlefield 1 is over 45GB. That isn’t even counting patches, which can sometimes clock in at 10GB, or DLC, which could sometimes reach 10GB. Given that most PlayStation 4s have either 500GB or 1TB hard drives, with firmware and other incidentals leaving the actual space at far lower, it’s easy to fill up fast. An external hard drive means don’t need to make difficult decisions about what you can and can’t immediately play.
Trust me, such decisions come up both quickly and often. When Resident Evil 7 was released and Overwatch’s Lunar New Year event began, I had to play Sophie’s Choice with my games. I needed enough space to download the new game and update one of my favorite titles. Do I delete Gravity Rush 2? But, I haven’t completed every mission yet! Is it time for Yakuza 0 to retire? No, that can’t possibly go. Should Final Fantasy XV be eliminated? I can’t get rid of it before the patch that updates and fixes the thirteenth chapter! In the end, I had to say goodbye to The Last Guardian and Fate/Extella. But, I shouldn’t have had to made that choice. Nobody should. And now that external HDD support is coming, no one else will have to.
It even eliminates the need for internal hard drive swapping. I mean, it is possible to replace the existing 500GB or 1TB hard drive with one that’s far larger. It isn’t a difficult process, but could put some people off. I mean, you have to have a replacement drive that’s no thicker than 9.5mm, which can limit the size of the replacement you put in. You might have trouble going over 2TB. It also means needing to redownload all your games, which could take days. With the external HDD, you can get a huge drive, pop it in, and you’re set. No opening up your PlayStation 4 or hunting for specific hard drives that will fit. You plug it in and you start playing.
Even the downside to PlayStation 4 plug-and-play support isn’t that bad. Both the Xbox One and Wii U allow the use of two external HDDs. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 4 only supports one extended storage device. Which is unfortunate. It’d be nice to have multiple external HDDs we could use. But then again, we live in an age where you can get a Seagate 5TB model for under $150. With the right kind of initial investment, you can be set for years.
Given our increasingly digital world, getting us the chance to plug in an external hard drive and keep playing is essential. It means we don’t have to pick and choose which games we want to have immediate access to. It can all be there. Getting hyped about hard drives may seem silly, but it’s making the PlayStation 4 even better. And, it might just be one of the best developments we’ll see all year.