At last year’s E3, Sony had a bit of an easy time. After the debacle that was the Xbox One reveal, gamers were already on Sony’s side, to the point where naked jabs at some of Microsoft’s more controversial features drew rousing applause. However, that was then; both consoles have since released and are slowly becoming more established in both hardware and software sales. At this point, Sony has a narrow margin over their main competitor (the Wii U is off crying in a corner), but Microsoft has stepped up their game this year, giving an impressively diverse press conference earlier today. In response, Sony brought out every gun that they could think off, delivering a massive amount of content full of exciting announcements, and the sheer weight actually dragged the whole thing down a little bit.
Wanting to start things off with a bang, Sony opened their conference with a trailer for the Bungie-helmed MMOFPS Destiny. Showing off a bit of the game’s lore, the trailer showcased the discovery of the big destiny ball (also known as the Traveler) on Mars, and the subsequent rise and fall of the human race to alien forces. Snippets of gameplay footage, featuring speeder bikes, large alien monsters, and plenty of Inception “bwaas”, were inter spliced throughout, and the footage looks as impressive as ever. Following the trailer’s conclusion, Sony Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House came on stage to discuss the exclusive features for the Playstation 4 version of Destiny (“It’s not just first, its better”). On July 17, PS4 owner will get first access to the game’s Beta, with an exclusive first-look being available for the rest of this week. The very first alternate color (white) for the PS4 was also announced, as part of a Destiny bundle on the game’s release of September 9.
The Order 1886
The next game that Mr. House had to showcase, the previously-announced The Order 1886, started off very dark. As in, we couldn’t see anything. A standard-issue “tough guy with guns” slowly explored an abandoned building, showcasing some very impressive lighting effects, as every thing from the reflections to the shadows looked absolutely stunning. Stumbling upon what appears to be a zombie at first glance, the tough guy was forced to run away as the creature morphed into something more like an enormous werewolf. After some backwards running and gunning and some cover-based stealth, the screen turned black just as the monster leapt at the player.
After the darkness and horror of The Order, the bright, pastel colors of the next game trailer came as a bit of a shock. The first game resulting from a team of Carnegie Mellon graduates, Entwined looks a co-operative version of Audio Surf; however, it is in fact a single-player game that requires players to control two separate characters simultaneously, one with each joystick. By collecting items throughout the level, the two entities combine to form a dragon at the end of each level. Taking the stage next was Scott Rhode, Sony’s Worldwide Studios VP, who announced that Entwined was now available on the PS4, with PS3 and Vita versions to follow later. He also announced stand-alone DLC for Infamous: Second Son. Entitled First Light, the new content will be available in August, and stars a female character who appears to possess the power of pink.
Little Big Planet 3
Next up in Sony’s conference was the next iteration of everyone’s favorite user-created platformer, Little Big Planet. In addition to the lovable Sackboy, players can now control the wall-jumping Oddsock, the size-changing Toggle, and the flying Swoop. Using their unique skills, the dev team gave a quick level demo that, judging by the amount of jumping difficulties, was live and in person. After ending the level by blasting off in a rocket, they next showed a montage of the character customization, level designs, and game modes that players can come to expect. Fans of the franchise will be even more excited by the arrival of Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida, who announced that all of the millions of levels created in Little Big Planet 1 and 2 would be compatible with this new game when it release this holiday season.
Bloodborne and Far Cry 4
Switching gears from the family-friendly world of Sackboy, the next game unveiled was a new game from the Souls series’ creator From Software, which for the last few weeks had been rumored to be a sequel to Demon’s Souls. Titled Bloodborne, this game takes place in a Victorian-like area, full of creepy guys in wheelchairs and torch-wielding mobs. Standing against them, and dressed straight out of the movie Van Hellsing, the player is equipped with an unfolding blade and a rifle.The last we saw of our hero, a monster snuck up on him as he was exploring a foreboding cave. Continuing our more mature-rated romp was footage from Far Cry 4, which featured the player climbing up a mountain side in Madeupistan (also known as Kyrat). Upon encountering a military convoy, the player uses a crossbow and some impressive looking explosives to wipe out most of their base, before hoping in a jeep to chase after an escaping truck. After jumping between the moving vehicles and being forced off the mountainside, the player uses a wingsuit to safely glide down, offering a stunning look at the draw distance and seamless area loadings. In order to take out a fortified village, the player calls for a buddy, and the two of them create chaos with an ultralight, plenty of guns, and a rampaging elephant (that absolutely demolishes a truck!).
Taking the stage next was Adam Boyes, who went over a number of game announcements using a mailbag format. A comment about the popularity of zombies led to the announcement of Dead Island 2 with an amusing trailer. In it, a bro-tastic bite victim is shown leisurely jogging through a beachfront that is under attack from a variety of zombies. Slowly decomposing into a jogging zombie, he is then run over by a truck, the driver of which gets out and steals his now-separated shoes. Mr. Boyes concluded the announcement by revealing that players will be able to kill zombies with their PlayStation-owning friends, even if they don’t have the game (how, exactly, is being left for another day). Continuing on the zombie track was the reveal that, as a tie in to the PS4 remastering of The Last of Us, Diablo 3 would be getting crossover content, featuring enemies and a special dungeon based on the game.
PlayStation 4 owners will also be getting first dibs on the beta for Battlefield: Hardline, which pitches cops versus robbers in what looks, to me, like a video game adaptation of the Bad Boys movies. The game’s trailer, full of car chases, helicopters, and collapsing environments, excited Mr. Boyes, who declared that “Grappling hooks and ziplines are my jam!” He then covered a few other announcements showcasing how the PlayStation versions of games would be superior, such as: exclusive Avengers characters in Disney Infinity 2, special weapons, outfits, missions, and maps for the launch of Destiny, and the surprise partnership with Paradox Interactive that has resulted in the PS4 exclusive Magicka 2 (“Learn to Spell, Again!”). Without a doubt, though, the biggest announcement in the segment was that Tim Schafer and Double Fine would be remastering their beloved adventure game Grim Fandango for the Playstation 4 and Vita.
The Double Fine partnership led Mr. Boyes into a showcase of some of the many independent games slated for release on Sony consoles. There was plenty of pixelated violence to be had from titles like Broforce, Titan Souls, and Hotline Miami: Wrong Number. For fans of more realistic violence and gore, everyone’s favorite insane game developer, Suda 51, will be making the PS4 exclusive Let It Die, which seems to involve one-on-one combat and skateboarding Grim Reapers (hey, its Suda 51). As a counterpoint to all of the gore, the first game from Giant Squid (made up of some of the developers of Journey) was unveiled. Titled Abzu, the game seems just as strange, ethereal, and gorgeous as the pedigree would suggest. It seems to take place under water, and some of the vistas shown in the trailer were absolutely breathtaking. Also very impressive was the debut of No Man’s Sky, a first person science fiction game that places each player on a different planet at the outset. They will then be able to freely travel between worlds, discovering new creatures and environments, engaging in dogfights, and seemlessly transitioning from surface to space and back again. According to the game’s creator, Sean Murray of Hello Games, No Man’s Sky will have infinite content. Since this is their first game, its good to see them aiming for something reasonable.
Slow Drip of Hardware Announcements
Following the Indie Showcase, Andrew House once again took the stage to talk about the PS4’s camera peripherial, the PlayStation Eye. Augmenting the hardware is Project Morpheus, the virtual reality headset announced back in March at GDC. This technology will be on display at Sony’s Booth during the conference, and will have new demo software to try out. House then ceded the floor to SCE America’s President and CEO Shawn Layden, who was very excited to be there, taking about statistics and metrics. After going over some impressive PlayStation 4 stats (like the fact that there have been over a billion multiplayer sessions on the console), Layden went over some of the new features that people should look forward to over the coming months, including the ability to share videos straight to YouTube, an increased presence of Free-to-Play games for their consoles, and the upcoming PlayStation Now, the system through which players can access games from older PlayStation systems. Starting on July 31, North America with be able to participate in an open beta of the system, which will also be available on the Vita. Layden also gave a few more details about their upcoming remote-play hardware, the PlayStation TV.
Perhaps sensing that the audience might be losing interest, Layden then showed off the first-ever gameplay footage of Mortal Kombat X. Featuring series veterans Scorpion and Sub-Zero, as well as a few new faces, this trailer assured fans that X will be just a gory and violent as its predecessors. Heavily featured in the footage were eyeball stabbings, spine breakings, face meltings, and limb removal. You know, standard Mortal Kombat fair. Having reinvigorated the audience, Layden then went over the exclusive multimedia entertainment that was heading for PlayStation. Specifically, he announced Powers, the first exclusive live action series only for the PSN. Based off of a graphic novel of the same name, Powers follows a pair of detectives who investigate cases involving super-powered individuals. The book’s co-creator and Kingpin look-a-like, Brian Bendis, came on stage to talk about the upcoming show, and show off some of the concept art, which seems to combine noir-style detectives with silver age superheroes. It was also announced that PlayStation Plus members would be able to watch the entire show for free after it releases in December. A quick trailer was also shown for the upcoming Ratchet and Clank movie, which appears to be an origin story for the strange duo.
Back to the Games
Rounding off the conference for Sony were a few more big game reveals and trailers. First up was a spoiler-ific look at the PS4 remastering of The Last of Us. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what had been changed, but that is more a complement for the original game. Next came the pain; the Phantom Pain, that is (YEEEEAAAAH!). As always, the newest Metal Gear Solid game managed to impress with its trailer, which showcased just how awesome its new FOX Engine is. This trailer also lives up to it’s subtitle, as there was an almost uncomfortable level of violence and injury to all of the characters shown. Luckily, it ended on a nice, campy note as Snake gives his best Darth Vader “NOOOOOOOOOO!” impression. Similar to The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V will also be getting a PlayStation 4 remastering, and the footage that accompanied it showed off some very impressive looking environments and cityscapes. It was also announced that anyone who owned GTA V already, be they Sony or Microsoft customer, would be able to transfer their data to the PS4.
Finishing off this lengthy conference were a pair of highly anticipated trailers. The first was gameplay footage of the final game in the Arkham franchise, Batman: Arkham Knight. Starting off at the top of a high tower, the footage gave just enough time to appreciate Gotham’s enormous skyline before Batman plunged toward the ground. Immediately switching his wings for his wheels, we were then treated to footage of how the Batmobile will handle. This section was very fast paced, and it seems that players will have to keep their reflexes sharp in order to navigate the streets safely. Upon infiltrating a criminal hideout, Batman’s video feed was interrupted by the titular Arkham Knight, who taunts Batman about his intentions. The sheer awesomeness of Batman caused my video feed to crash, but I was able to get it back in time to catch the final trailer, which revealed Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Featuring everyone’s favorite tomb raider with a y-chromosome, the trailer seemed a bit darker in tone than the previous entries in the series, showcasing a dense jungle decorated by several spooky skeleton cages. While only a taste, this footage is sure to have fans anxious for 2015 to finally roll around.
Individually, there were some absolutely stunning announcements during Sony’s press conference this year. Between known favorites like MGS V and Destiny, and surprises like Grim Fandango, Abzu, and Mortal Kombat X, there was something for everyone to like here. However, the conference seemed a little bloated, overall. This is, in part, due to some of the sections that focused on hardware announcements dragging on a bit too long, but otherwise, there was just an overload of information. Don’t get me wrong, this was an enjoyable conference, and I’m excited about most of the titles it showed off, but I can’t help but feel as though I’ve gorged myself a little too much.
Share this post: