My thoughts on Sony's PlayStation E3 2014 Press Conference! This is basically a chronological recounting of my reactions to each major (and minor) announcement of Sony's event.
Starting with Destiny was an obvious but strong move for Sony. The trailer played on the mega-wide screen in the theater, looking like a helmet visor wrapped around the audience.
With Sony eager to show off its new friend in Bungie Studios (the creators of Xbox-exclusive franchise Halo), it's cool to hear that PS4 players get to participate in an "Alpha" (unusual for console gamers) as soon as this Thursday!
I'm not a huge Halo fan, but I'll be curious to give their new creation a try. The beta coming in July (presumably to PS3 and PS4) will help them build a lot of hype for this game, undoubtedly.
It was a bit of mystery who would be hosting this year's PlayStation event at E3 with Jack Tretton having recently left Sony, but Andrew House made for a great choice. He introduced the conference with an air of ease and confidence and didn't spend a ton of time blabbering on before letting things get back to games.
THE ORDER: 1886
Having been recently delayed, I think The Order needed to make an appearance out of obligation to both shareholders and the PlayStation Nation. I think everyone is secretly (or not-so-secretly) that this game is getting more time to gestate before coming out, but it was cool to get some new footage.
I liked that the gameplay they showed this time was quieter and more exploration-focused than the past gameplay they showed, which was an all-out war in the streets. The lighting was stunning and very creepy. The old building had so much character, even in the grain of wood you'd see on a door or the dirt on the subway tile.
I was surprised to see just how supernatural the enemies were, but I enjoyed the art direction in use here. Dark, gritty, but with a good bit of personality.
While beautiful, I think the trailer for this game lasted a bit too long versus what they showed of the demo. It appears to be a game where you control two flying birds, one with each thumbstick, through a forward-moving level until you can combine into a dragon. I loved that this is available tonight; any kind of "it's available right now" announcement at E3 is a winning one in my book.
inFAMOUS: FIRST LIGHT
Not much here beyond a sweet-looking trailer for the first major DLC for inFamous: Second Son. Glad to see Sucker Punch is continuing to develop content for this excellent PS4 game. They didn't show a ton of in-game footage, but I'll look forward to checking this out when it releases.
LITTLE BIG PLANET 3
Sack Boy is back! After high praise for Little Big Planet Vita, it's not surprising to see this series make an appearance on PlayStation 4, but it was a surprise to hear that it will also be on PS3! This time, though, he's joined by a few other characters, allowing for four-player action:
Oddsock: smaller than Sack Boy; faster & able to perform wall jumps. Looks like a dog or frog.
Toggle: biggest & strongest of Sack Boy's new friends. Able to toggle between very large and very small to fit into smaller spaces. Used to comedic effect as a bit of a lumbering klutz.
Swoop: able to fly! I'll be curious to see how he stacks up to Kirby in terms of control.
The cooperative gameplay looks like a cool new addition, but I'll be curious to see how easy it is to get into matches with random players and have a quality gameplay experience. Still, the game looks beautiful and enchantingly fun. I just hope they tweak Sock Boy's jump to be a bit less floaty (unlikely).
Oh, and the music is delightful, as usual.
Everybody loves Shuhei Yoshida (or "Shu" to his friends), President of Sony's Worldwide Studios. What a happy guy, and he's here to announce a new IP!
Our second new IP of the night looks like much more than a downloadable game, and it's from Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software. We're mainly treated to a bone-chilling trailer:
Creepy alley with an old-fashioned stroller. Angry mob with pitch forks. Zombie dog!? Werewolf head? Huge monster!
As will become a slightly-common theme of this conference, it wasn't very clear what exactly was happening in this trailer (or even what the gameplay hook was), but the creepy vibe looks quite promising.
FAR CRY 4
I still need to play Far Cry 3, but this next iteration looks pretty awesome. I liked the mix of stealth, exploration, and action. It reminded me a little last year's Tomb Raider reboot, to be honest.
Adam Boyes announced that Far Cry 4 will allow you to play with gamers who don't even have the game. Could this be through PlayStation Now? They didn't really say, but I have to imagine it would take advantage of their shiny new streaming service.
This is the first of a number of games shown in the conference that really shows off the PS4's ability to render huge, streaming environments, as the player moves between different parts of the island by aircraft, gliding, running, and so on.
DEAD ISLAND 2
This is the brightest, happiest zombie trailer I think I've ever seen, although I wish they hadn't mentioned it was going to be a zombie game before starting the trailer...but, even so, it was a really stylish trailer. But, then, this is the sequel to Dead Island, a game known for a mind-blowing trailer but only being a decent game. They did announce some PS-exclusive content with 30-day exclusive play-it-first beta + an exclusive character class, but I'll probably wait for the reviews before picking up this one.
This looked...okay? I'm not a huge Battlefied fan. And zip lines are fun. This could be cool, but I don't think I'm the target demographic to comment much on this. Plus, the trailer was pretty manic. Still, the beta is available today on PS4 (and PC), so that's awesome!
DIABLO III + THE LAST OF US!?
They're bringing Clickers to Diablo. That's pretty neat, I guess.
This trailer, featuring a live action wizard, unemployed and living in tiny apartment, drew a number of laughs from the crowd. I didn't play Magicka, but I've heard it was good and enjoyed the goofy trailer.
Tim Schafer, always hilarious, pretends to be a 12 (10?) year old, letter-writing girl to announce a remaster of Grim Fandango! It's a PlayStation exclusive (PS4 + PS Vita). Very cool to see this old-school game get some fresh love.
INDIE GAME REEL
- Titan Souls
- Not a Hero
- Hotline Miami: Wrong Number
- The Talos Principle
LET IT DIE
Suda 51's new game is exclusively on PS4, which is great. He brings a ton of personality to any project, if not exactly perfect gameplay, but he's a very exciting developer to watch. Let It Die has an unsurprisingly macabre theme, but it's really hard to tell much else from the quick trailer shown. It will no doubt be stylish, but we'll need to hear more about the content before getting truly excited about this one.
Developer Giant Squid, with some of the creative minds behind Journey, are back with a strange new game called ABZU. As with many of tonight's reveals, it's hard to tell exactly what's happening here. Just watch the video:
NO MAN'S SKY
This next game almost made me think of Metroid for a moment...but then it started looking like a mix between Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Avatar. Strange dinosaur-esque creatures, lush and colorful vegetation, and small starships headed into fleets of space cruisers...it's got an impressive scope. This has to be the first time I've ever seen a game let you fly from one PLANET to another PLANET in a matter of seconds. While I'm pretty sure this isn't super-realistic in terms of interstellar travel, it's absolutely stunning and the promise of a procedurally-created universe is so tantalizing.
I love the idea that each gamer starts on his or her own planet and that the game is "infinite," but I wonder how well this will play. With such freedom, can there be cohesion? I recently played the game Proteus, which allows you a great deal of freedom to explore, but the novelty wears thin after a while with little to do. This game is obviously much more detailed and full of "stuff" (for lack of a better term), but it remains to be seen how the game actually becomes a logical progression. Or maybe it will just be a procedurally generated exploration fest, which could also be pretty cool.
PLAYSTATION CAMERA + PROJECT MORPHEUS
Andrew House is back to talk hardware: specifically, the huge (and kind of unexpected) popularity of the PlayStation camera and the additional value it will get when Sony's virtual reality (VR) headset, Project Morpheus releases. Apparently, Sony will have it on the show floor with a few demos to experience:
- Jurassic Encounter
- The Valkyrie
- Street Luge
While I won't get to try this out, I'm hoping to hear lots of reports from the broader gaming media over the coming days with hands-on reports from these. I'd really like to see some footage of this Jurassic Encounter demo, as dinosaurs are awesome.
We're getting a lot of stats on the PlayStation Network (220 million pushes of the Share button!), and the crowd seems happy that YouTube integration is finally coming to the PS4. I'm sure they're happy about the ability to upload clips, but I'm also just excited to have a YouTube app to watch content on my PS4! Still, I will be able to take advantage of the YouTube share functionality, since it's so easy to embed YouTube videos on places like...oh, I don't know, a blog. :-)
A bunch of free-to-play games are coming to PS3, PS4, & PS Vita. To date, the only FTP game that has really hooked me has been Nintendo's Rusty's Real Deal Baseball. However, the quick trailer for My Singing Monsters, which features lots of little cartoon animals that each make up part
Here we go--PlayStation Now. I'm surprised it took them this long to get to it in the press conference. I am surprised that it is only an open beta announce for July 31, given that the private beta has been going on for so long now. It is cool that they're expanding it, but you could hear a pretty tepid response from the crowd, who were likely hoping for a full release date and pricing announcement. I am excited that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will be coming to the beta service, as this will hopefully allow to me avoid buying this glorified demo.
So, it's an hour and fifteen minutes into the conference, and we're just now getting a focused portion of the presentation on Sony's handheld. This is a sign of the waning momentum for this excellent handheld, although a lot of other announcements did include on-screen text indicating that a PS Vita version was coming. It's a little disappointing, though, that Sony is still focusing on the Vita as a companion device to the PS4 and getting an expanded library via PlayStation Now. While it's nice to hear that 100 titles are in development for PS Vita, it certainly doesn't seem like we're getting any AAA Vita exclusive reveals at this year's E3.
However, in exciting news, PlayStation TV (renamed from the Japanese "Vita TV" monicker) is coming to the West! At $99 for the console or $139 for console, DualShock 3, an 8GB memory card, and a LEGO game download code, it's easily a great deal (especially as a Roku alternative). I wish they had focused a little more on the streaming services it would include, but it's hopefully safe to assume it will have parity with PS3 in this department. Still, the focus of Vita technology seems relegated to the world of the second tier platform, no matter how many times they reassure us that it's an important part of their ecosystem.
MORTAL KOMBAT X
This game got announced already, but this reveal is for gameplay. It looks...pretty gory. Lots of spine-crunching and skull-axing.
TV SHOW: POWERS
Unlike Microsoft, who promised a "games-only" press conference, Sony has certainly offered a few non-game announcements. "Powers," the first PS4-exclusive TV show from a joint venture with Marvel Studios, is a cool idea. I liked that the announcement is specific and indicates that the project has been greenlit already. It's cool that PS4 players will get the first episode for free, but the real news is that PlayStation Plus subscribers get the whole series for free! I wonder, though, how many
RACHET & CLANK: THE MOVIE
I've never spent a ton of time with the Rachet & Clank franchise, but this movie looks like it has potential. It's great to hear that Insomniac Games is involved, but it's even more exciting that a remastered version of the original game will be coming to PS4. Maybe I'll finally go back and play it!
THE LAST OF US: REMASTERED
More remastered fun with scenes from The Last of Us on PS4! After the last trailer's reception, I enjoyed Sony's "This trailer contains spoilers" disclaimer--so did the crowd, judging by the chuckle. Seems like there is new music here, which is pretty neat! It's hard to gauge how different it looks (thanks, video compression), but
METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN
This apparently leaked briefly last night, but I watched it here first. Hideo Kojima, series creator, takes a editing/directing credit as the trailer opens, but I'd say it's easily deserved. The cinematography is quite impressive, especially as its juxtaposed against the music. Big Boss is shown to have a robot arm, which is interesting (I suspect this has to do with the game's subtitle). He also knows how to defend himself with a plastic lawn chair. What a resourceful guy.
Seriously, the game looks incredible, but we didn't really get to see any more gameplay.
GRAND THEFT AUTO V ON PS4
Well, a bunch of people predicted it: GTAV is coming to next-gen consoles. It looked pretty, but I don't think I'll be double-dipping on this one. It is nice, though, that you can bring over your character stats from the PS3 version if you've spent a ton of time on that.
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT
Man, this game looks awesome. Yet another next-gen (current-gen?) only game to showcase the size and scope of the worlds that the new hardware can sustain with Batman jumping from a skyscraper, gliding through a large portion of the city and eventually landing in an alley to find the Batmobile waiting for him to peel off through the streets. I love the macro/micro freedom that this allows, but I'm glad to see the game hasn't lost its penchant for great characters.
Scarecrow causes what appeared, at first, to be a technical glitch but is actually part of the trailer. Apparently, his "Nightmare Missions" are exclusive to PlayStation. These are great for E3 reveals, but I'm not exactly a fan of all these console-specific bits of content.
UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF'S END
It's the end of the conference, but not without a little Nathan Drake & Sully. Much better than their previous "map" reveal, the new "Uncharted" game features Drake and Sully, along with some gorgeous visuals. There's a lot of talk of Drake having been "out of the game" and this being "one last time" for our heroes.
A few surprising things: they've added a "4" to the game's titled (many thought this would become merely a subtitled entry, the theme looks even darker than with a ton of caged skeletons amid jungle ruins, and the subtitle is "A Thief's End." Is this really not going to be a second trilogy? Come on, now--you know this isn't the end of Uncharted.
Still, this looks absolutely fantastic, especially since they say that everything is running on PlayStation 4. With a "coming 2015" announcement, Sony's conference comes to an end.
There were a few disappointments: no announcement of The Last Guardian, basically a complete lack of stage time for Project Morpheus (really? no on-stage demo for this?), a dearth of exclusive PlayStation Vita content (where was Tearaway 2?), and perhaps a few too many already-announced games. But, on the whole, I enjoyed Sony's conference this year. It certainly didn't have the "one-two punch" feel of last year's show, but then we didn't have major console reveals this year, either.
Hopefully, we'll get some more information on the new IPs announced during the show (Bloodborne, ABZU, Let It Die) as well as more details on the other big announcements (Little Big Planet 3, Uncharted 4), but there was plenty of information to go around during the conference.
The momentum took a slight dip during the middle with all of the PlayStation Plus/Now/Project Morpheus/TV talk, but it certainly wasn't as bad as the Great Wonderbook Debacle of 2012 (watch all 15 minutes here). They did run over the 90-minute mark, though, so a bit of trimming might have been a good idea.
Overall, this was a very solid showing with some good surprises. I mean, they ended with PS4 footage of Uncharted 4. It's hard to be upset about that.