This years Sony presentation was a masterclass in a number of ways. It continued their theme of the past few years of responding to their audience in a big way, and this year was no exception. A lot of dreams came true on Monday. It did, however, manage to hide the fact that Sony’s first party line up is lacking. What was new was impressive, but I can’t help but feel that they hit a bunch of panic buttons at once to buy themselves some more time.
When a company starts with their biggest “maybe this year” question, you know that they are going all out. The Last Guardian opened the show looking, perhaps disappointingly, exactly like it did back in 2009 when it was announced. It’s obviously running at PS4 resolutions, but for sure looks like the same art. Hopefully the stylisation, the Cat-Bird and the fact it’s from the mind that brought you Ico and Colossus will bring it through. Even after all this development time, it will not be on PS4s until 2016, so there is still time for it to never appear.
Now onto the new games, and we finally get to see a new IP from Killzone developer Guerrilla Games. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a third-person action game set after the world we know looks like it has run its course leaving some really awesome looking blown out skyscrapers behind. The populous looks like it has reverted to a caveman like state and are hunting robotic creatures that now run around the world. The game looked really interesting and gorgeous to look at, and only had a 2016 date.
Agent 47 is returning in a new game, simply entitled Hitman, with hints of a continuingly updated world of new locations and missions. Playstation 4 players are getting access to a Beta version when pre-ordering, but no date as of yet.
The Beta train continues on with the announcement of a PS4 and PC beta for Street Fighter V, the Sony funded sequel. Hopefully it comes out in a better state than the Ultimate Street Fighter IV version that came out recently.
Sony have shown No Man’s Sky at the last few years conferences, and this year we get some actual on-stage gameplay from Hello Games Sean Murray. Free flowing from planet to space to planet was in full effect as he explored a planet seemingly at random. They did at least hint at what you actually do in the game, with a “scan” of a planet revealing Assassins Creed style points of interest over the planet, with a currency based on the new creatures and vegetation you have discovered and uploaded.
We finally got to see what Media Molecule have been up to, and I feel like I know less than at the start of the presentation. It’s called Dreams, and it looks like it’s keeping their core user generated content concept to insane new levels. The closest thing that I can equate it to is Source Film Maker, with claymation moulding tools and motion based animation. The scenes they showed that had been created in the game did look gorgeous and intricate, but as with all UGC based games I have come to terms with the fact that I will not make anything but can’t wait to see what other people do with it
Another interesting turn was the mention of Playstation Vue, the apparent salvation of cable cord-cutters everywhere. Their offering of single channel purchases, or bundles, promises to give people exactly what they have always wanted from TV. Choice. It’s currently only in select parts of North America right now, but if it arrives on these shores, it would be something to seriously consider.
Then shit started to go nuts.
Square Enix took the stage and based on the rumours that had been circulating there was a notable hush in the audience. After announcing World of Final Fantasy for PS4 and Vita in 2016, a chibi style adventure game, they pulled the trigger. The Final Fantasy VII remake is official. To say that the crowd went fucking nuts is an understatement. It’s been a long time since I have seen or heard a reaction like that at E3. There was no date attached, and the trailer was pure fantasy (ha) CG. While you can be super snarky about why they are doing it, it will be fantastic to see what this classic looks like.
As if that wasn’t enough crazy, Yu Suzuki took the stage and launched a Kickstarter for Shenmue-goddamn-3. While I don’t have any real connection to the franchise, the response even on my own Facebook feed has been pretty spectacular, and the Kickstarter has already been funded 12 hours after it’s announcement. Again, why Sony are not just directly funding this is a mystery, but it’s cool that it’s coming for the legions of people who have been asking for this.
The new Destiny expansion now has name, The Taken King, and is out September 15th this year. There wasn’t a lot of detail given at the time, but from what we could see it appears to be concerning Crota’s father, and bows appear to be a new weapon class. Woo, more Destiny
To close, we got to see the expected Uncharted 4 gameplay. They showed the exact definition of a vertical slice, with some parkour, gunplay and some vehicle sections which are new to the franchise. The game is visually spectacular, but definitely looks like more of the gameplay that the series is famous for. Take that as you will.
Sony definitely fullfilled some E3 fan fiction this year, but we need to step back to look at the tangible parts of the announcements. Their big three hitters were a game announced 8 years ago, a remake of a fan favourite and the launch of a Kickstarter. Remove the game names and the legendary status from those reveals, and the show becomes slightly different. Their genuinely new titles were great, Horizon and Dreams couldn’t be more different yet both looked impressive, but there wasn’t a lot of actual games there that were a surprise. Promises, sure, but nothing they could really show. I watched a member of the press say that they have closed the book on The Last Guardian only to open a new one with their newest vaporware.