Coming into E3 this year, Sony found themselves in an unfamiliar position after the launch of the PlayStation 4 last November: in first place. After capitalizing on the mixed messaging from Microsoft at last year’s show, launching the PS4 at 100 dollars less than their competition and touting hardware superiority helped propel them to first.
That lead may slowly be dwindling however as Phil Spencer and his Xbox division slowly make changes to their strategy, most recently bringing a Kinect-less Xbox One to retail at the same price point as a PlayStation 4. For this year’s show, Sony seemed to focus on consistency and why they’re the place to be for gamers.
Was it as masterful as last year or did the software giant come back down to Earth a bit? Full report and my grade after the jump.
Destiny: Leading off the show was a new trailer which focused more on the story along with some new gameplay footage. Other announcements included a July 17 beta start on PlayStation 4 and a new white PS4 bundle with the game. Unfortunately no price point was given for the bundle.
The Order: 1886: As a person who enjoys history, The Order’s alternate industrial revolution London has a lot of appeal. Ready at Dawn showed off a brand new gameplay segment featuring Galahad exploring a dark and somewhat spooky building. It’s an interesting tone change from what we’ve seen so far. Galahad stumbles into what appears to be a zombie eating a dead body. As the zombie looks towards Galahad, it starts to transform into a werewolf. (some sort of zombie werewolf?) At this point, the two fight with Galahad wounded badly. He drinks “black water”, a healing sort of potion, to recover from his wounds and begins to fire his assault rifle at the werewolf. As the creature lunges at Galahad, the demo fades to black. That’s it. Kind of an odd and shorter than expected look at the title.
Entwined: A new downloadable game featuring a blue and orange dragons racing against one another in a black sky. The game looks really relaxing almost in a flower sort of way and better yet, it’s available this very instant!
inFAMOUS: Second Son DLC: Finally! Sucker Punch is cranking away at new standalone DLC for Second Son featuring Abigail Walker aka Fetch from the core game. You’ll be exploring her past a little bit more in this DLC as she’s the lead character.
LittleBigPlanet 3: After denying they’d be at E3, Media Molecule took the E3 stage to show off LittleBigPlanet 3 to a shocked crowd. It retains that LittleBigPlanet visual charm with all of the different materials being used to make up a colorful and vibrant stage, but this time Sackboy is joined by new friends Oddsock, Toggle, and Swoop. Each character has special abilities and from what I gathered, this game may center around the idea of co-op. The funniest bit for me was how much trouble the dev team was having making it through the E3 demo level. It was fun and awkward at the same time.
Project Beast Becomes Bloodborne: A spiritual successor of sorts to Dark Souls, From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki present a new world almost in a sort of industrial revolution type of era. The thing I picked up on big time in this trailer was a stronger horror vibe in addition to the third person action elements from the previous Demon/Dark Souls games. If you’re a fan of those titles, I don’t see why you won’t love this one as well.
FarCry 4 Impresses Again: One of the major games at this year’s show, Far Cry 4 was back again at Sony’s press conference with even more gameplay. The demo showed off things like co-op, a grappling hook, a wing suit, and a freaking elephant pushing a car over. Not only that, Adam Boyes hinted at there being a way you could play with your friends even if they didn’t own the game. Interesting…
Dead Island 2: The guys that brought us Spec Ops: The Line are hard at work on a proper Dead Island sequel. In a humorous CG trailer, we see a runner out during a wonderful sunny day as chaos erupts behind him. As the trailer progresses, the runner becomes a zombie and a group of survivors take him out along with the other undead with him. Not much else was detailed in this trailer.
Last of Us/Diablo Crossover: In a cool move, Naughty Dog and Blizzard have teamed up to bring the infected to the Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition on PS3 and PS4. Very weird and yet very cool at the same time. Time to smash some infected!
Battlefield Hardline: Already having been detailed heavily, we got a new gameplay trailer for this large scale cops vs robbers game from Visceral and DICE.
Disney Infinity Collector’s Edition: So Sony then went on to announce that the Avenger’s set are going to be exclusive to PlayStation platforms. To me, that doesn’t make sense considering that Disney basically revealed Disney Infinite 2.0 to be Marvel based. Does this mean that just the Avengers are exclusive to Sony while other Marvel characters appear on all systems? Perhaps this is a timed exclusive thing?
Magicka 2 Reveal: In a reveal funny live action trailer, Arrowhead Games revealed that a brand new Magicka game is in development for the PlayStation 4. Like other trailers in this show, not much information was revealed but hey, at least we’ll all have a chance to “learn to spell. Again”.
Grim Fandango Returns: In what was a major shocker for most people, Double Fine (aka Sally) revealed that the PC classic, Grim Fandango would be coming to PS4 and Vita in an all new Remastered version. No details or gameplay were shown off however.
Devolver Digital: Through a trailer, pretty much any and all Devolver Digital published games will be making their way over to PlayStation products.
Suda 51’s New Title: Suda is known for making games that are pretty ‘out there’ and the same can be applied to his new game, Let It Die. The live action trailer mixed Fight Cluib type battles with brutal and violent “Saw” like environments. It doesn’t make sense to me, but if it did, it wouldn’t be a Suda game, now would it?
Abzu: Were you in love with the visuals in Journey? If so, you’ll want to have a look at Abzu, a game from Thatgamecompany’s former art director. The game looks to be an underwater exploration game, as you play a diver who can traverse the ocean floor and interact with the wildlife. Not only that, it sports some very pretty visuals.
No Man’s Sky: This is the reveal that seemed to send everyone over the edge. Coming from the Joe Danger guys at Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game where you have pretty much total freedom to explore the galaxy as you see fit. You’ll discover vast systems in space with the game being able to use procedural generation to essentially create a game that’s endless. Environments look to be pretty diverse and the new trailer also showed off combat elements in space and on planets. The potential that this game holds from such a smaller developer is just mind blowing.
Momentum Drop: It’s at this point in the show that Shawn Layden took the stage for the first time as the new CEO of SCEA. Unfortunately for him, his part of the show brought Sony’s momentum to a screeching halt. Shawn began speaking about Sony’s hardware such as Project Morpheus being at the show, PlayStation Now, PlayStation TV, and also thier initiative to expand their free-to-play offerings. Layden also began to talk stats, a cardinal sin these days for most E3 watchers. It’s apparent that these things should have been covered outside of the press conference as I kept reading negative comments on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter around how boring this has become and how Sony has lost it’s momentum.
Mortal Kombat reignites the show: Thankfully, a new gameplay trailer showing off new characters for the long running fighting game franchise came up next and managed to rejuvenate the crowd. The trailer didn’t hold much information, just basically serving to show actual gameplay which viewers were more than happy to see by this point.
Sony TV: Unfortunately, that momentum boost was dropped yet again by the announcement of original TV content being produced for PlayStation. The show in question is called “Powers” and comes from Brian Michael Bendis and is going to be a gritty superhero style show. Frankly, this segment went on a bit too long causing the show to get a bit stagnant.
Ratchet & Clank on the big screen: News broke about the CG film coming to theaters sometime in the first half of 2015. Not only that, the original game is getting remade and should release around the same time as the movie.
Last of Us Remastered: Sony showed off a new gameplay trailer and finally gave us a release date: July 29.
Metal Gear Solid V Trailer: A new Phantom Pain trailer came up next (it had actually leaked the night before) showing off a lot more of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid game. From the looks of things, it has all the hallmarks of a Hideo Kojima game, so there’s no need to worry there. There appeared to be a fight club of sorts for soldiers, some emotional scenes where Snake wipes someone’s ashes all over his face, and tank battles out in the desert.
GTA V Announcement: In what’s probably not a surprise, Rockstar revealed that Grand Theft Auto V is indeed coming to next gen systems and PC later this year.
Batman Arkham Knight Gameplay: Here’s what I wrote: “Visually stunning gameplay”. That pretty much sums Arkham Knight up and completely blows any and all former games out of the water by a wide margin. The gameplay demo showed off the Batmobile both in car form and in battle mode. Seeing it in action really gives you a good idea of what Rocksteady is aiming for and it looks to be not just a great addition but a game changer as well. Lastly, Scarecrow took over the theater to announce that’s he’s basically you main target in this game. Also, he’s way freakier looking than you may remember him in Arkham Asylum. Get ready for what will definitely be some memorable scenes with him.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: A very great way to end a show, Sony put out a new trailer for what is now known as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It seems an older Drake is back to his treasure hunting ways after semi-retiring for a few years. The trailer didn’t reveal too much else, but the trailer was actually captured from a PS4 console and the graphics look stunning.
Technical Hiccups: Surprisingly, Sony had a number of technical issues mostly ranging from audio cutouts. Issues were fixed quickly so it wasn’t a huge issue at all, just noticeable.
A Lack of Tretton: So this year marked the first without Sony’s public face of E3: Jack Tretton. The former CEO of SCEA stepped down earlier this year giving way to former executive VP and COO of Sony Network Entertainment International, Shawn Layden. Unfortunately for Layden, he came out and started talking stats and entertainment, deviating from the strong software portions which people were eating up. Since it was his first time out on stage, I’ll give him a pass this time, but so far, he’s no Jack Tretton.
Not Much Vita Love: Typically Sony spends a good amount of time on their portable gaming system, the PlayStation Vita. This year however, there was a distinct lack of Vita news. Considering the steam that Nintendo has built up with the 3DS, this was a big missed opportunity.
Overall: A –
I think we can all agree that this years show wasn’t as good as last year. Realistically though, how could it be. With Microsoft finally righting the ship, Sony made sure to cover their bases with strong software from AAA games to indie powerhouses. In my opinion, they clearly defined why they’re the place to be for games, so their goals were accomplished on that front.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all roses as the show hit a rough patch as Sony drifted back into the world of statistics and entertainment features, which Microsoft made sure to avoid from their show. It was at this point that the momentum came to a screeching halt and based on what I read on Twitter, they were starting to lose people. Thankfully, the ended the show strong with titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. They may not have set off mass hysteria at this year’s show and Jack Tretton was sorely missed, but there’s no denying that Sony put on a grand show and has a bright 2014 ahead of them.