Sony began its E3 conference with a sizzle reel of the many games, exclusive and multiplatform, in store for the PS4 that included Star Wars Battlefront, their exclusive MLB: The Show, and Uncharted 4. Since Sony’s console is the more powerful of the bunch, they have locked up advertising rights that feature a Playstation 4 at the end of commercials for many of the major third-party titles out there.
Shawn Layden, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, opened the conference stressing that games and gamers come before all else for Sony’s gaming platform. They started this mantra when first announcing the PS4, and devoted only about five minutes to hardware like Project Morpheus and entertainment apps like Spotify and Playstation Vue.
Team Ico (the developer behind Playstation 2 hits Ico and Shadow of the Colossus) kicked off the presentation. To say The Japan Studio title is “long-awaited” is an understatement, in development since 2007 and first announced at E3 2009 — well before the previous generation had inklings of ending. It’s a puzzle platformer of sorts in which players take control of a boy, Trico. Trico calls on his cat-bird hybrid creature to certain parts of the level, allowing them both to evade the soldiers who are after them. Shadow of the Colossus is considered by many to be the best Playstation 2 game of all time, so to finally have a release timeline of 2016 for their follow-up is one of the biggest announcements of the week.
Guerilla Games, the developer behind the Killzone franchise, also made a big announcement with their newest franchise in Horizon: Zero Dawn. The game appears to be set after humanity has ended, but it’s about a post-post-apocalyptic world where tribes reminiscent of the first to appear on the world fight to survive against the robotic animals that presumably played a role in our demise. It’s a unique vision, to say the least, and the gameplay trailer struck a balance with the aforementioned aesthetic and traditional third-person adventure mechanics. It should also be noted that the trailer featured a female protagonist which is, fortunately, a growing trend in an industry dominated by men with guns.
Sony came back with an new exclusive they took on in Street Fighter V. The game is a huge get for Sony, who wants to capture the hardcore gaming audience as devoted fighting fans gravitate towards Capcom’s fighting series. The developer recently released a remastered version of the previous game in the series with Ultra Street Fighter IV. Unfortunately, the game is riddled with bugs which ruins the game for those who appreciate the franchise’s typically meticulous balance in the gameplay. SFV‘s trailer included the return of Cammy, as well as a brand-new fighter, Birdie. There isn’t much else to say other than it looks like an evolution of past games in the series, which is exactly what fans want. As a PS4 exclusive, Capcom will unleash a public beta for the game July 23.
As I said in my preview, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is one of the most anticipated games for the series. The procedurally generated intergalactic setting intends to give people the ultimate sandbox experience. Studio co-founder Shawn Murray showed off the size of the universe, which can make or break a game focusing on exploration.
“Now, most of these places have never been visited and many never will be,” he said as he zoomed out from his current location. Murray took us to a random planet, showing off the ability to look for alien life, fully-destructible planets and the shooting mechanics. He didn’t announce a release date, so it definitely won’t be coming this fall. But from what he showed, 2016 seems like a definite possibility.
Sony’s other first-party studio, Media Molecule (Little Big Planet), announced its newest game, Dreams. The game uses the motion capabilities built into the DualShock 4 controller to draw and animate whatever you see fit. This can include everything from the sleeping polar bears seen in the following trailer to a zombie-fighting teddy bear. The game looks as though it’s an evolution of the creativity allowed in Little Big Planet, but that game only allowed the creation and sharing of games, while this only requires the user to operate in a single aesthetic to make plays, cartoons or games.
Destiny was one of the most-hyped games of last year. The Bungie MMO FPS combined an addictive loot system with an online shooter from the Bungie, the studio behind the original Halo series. Despite there being a few MMORPGs on consoles, it’s a genre that favors updates and expansions rather than the sequels prominent with console gaming. This will change with the release of Destiny: The Taken King. The end of the presentation showed some box art in the background, so this will still get a retail release. But details on whether it requires the original has yet to be revealed. Like the original game last year, Playstation 4 owners will get some exclusive armor, weapons and maps.
Similar to Destiny, we got a look at another multiplatform game with exclusive PS4 content in the form of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which takes the series to Victorian-era England. The game features a brother and sister team with both playable in the game, a first for the series. Unity, the previous game in the series, was met with mixed reviews due to its bugs and online requirements. But hopefully, Ubisoft has figured out the former while we wait to see if they have made changes to the latter. Again, the game looks like an evolution of the established franchise, so there isn’t much to “wow” us in the two trailers, although the vehicle combat is welcomed.
Ever since Final Fantasy VII, the franchise has been synonymous with the Playstation platform and for many, it still is. Sony announced two games for the franchise, one brand new and the other, a beloved favorite.
First was World of Final Fantasy, a visual reimagining of the series that looks like it will combine the original style of the NES/SNES entries in the series with the gameplay that came in the 3D era. A remake of Final Fantasy VII has been one of the most requested remasters in a while. Last year, Sony announced a port of the PC version to PS4 at their Playstation Experience conference that was met with disappointment from nearly everyone in the community. Players really wanted remade graphics and now it’s coming and both are a timed, PS4 exclusive.
Square Enix also used the conference to show off the reboot for the Hitman franchise, simply titled Hitman. The trailer didn’t show much but judging from the title choice, it wouldn’t be surprising if the game went back to the series’ stealth roots as opposed to the more action-oriented fare of its recent titles.
The next major announcement was only Playstation-related in that it was made at Sony’s conference, but Yu Suzuki used the show to announce that he is seeking crowd-funding via Kickstarter for Shenmue III. The series has some of gaming’s most ardent fans since the Dreamcast original and the sequel released on Sega’s final console, as well as the original Xbox. The open world game should finally live up to its ambition. The Kickstarter campaign has already the $2 million it needs (getting $2.3 million as of this writing) with 31 days left, so get ready for Shenmue III everybody!
Sony closed its conference with a new trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. As expected, the game looks incredible in the set piece that combined gunfights, platforming, hand-to-hand combat and driving. It’s disappointing that it won’t release until 2016, likely the fall, but I think fans of the series can all agree, it will very much be worth the wait and a proper continuation of the series.
It’s clear Sony will focus on games for the foreseeable future, regardless of whether games stick with everybody. They also are using the Playstation 4’s power as the best-selling console of the current generation to give third-party titles the appearance of an exclusive. Sony easily has the most diverse lineup of any console, even if it it shares a large piece of that with its competitors.