E3 Media Briefing Impressions: Sony

e3-14-sony-media-briefing-impressions

Ending the zeroth day of E3 2014 was Sony’s press conference. The internet has been abuzz with rumors recently thanks to layoffs at several of the firm’s internal studios and the cancellation of at least one major project. Even more so than most years, Sony needed to step up to the plate and show gamers why they should game on PlayStation.

My experience was somewhat unique because I was able to secure a spot in one of the PlayStation E3 Experience locations, where the press conference was streamed to a movie theater screen. When I arrived I received a badge with a code and a web address (that doesn’t work yet). After a few minutes waiting in line, they opened the doors to the theater and we entered to a playlist of game trailers ranging from AAA games like Batman: Arkham Knight to some of the upcoming indie titles.

Sony’s press conference kicked off with a trailer of Destiny, Bungie’s space MMO FPS. The trailer highlighted a bit of Destiny’s story, namely that humanity finds a strange orb called the Traveler which leads to a golden age of space travel. However, the golden age doesn’t last as a darkness, seeking the Traveler, attacks and only a few chosen Guardians can repeal it. The game certainly looks beautiful and even as someone who isn’t interested in shooters, I feel like I might have to give this game a shot. Fortunately, PlayStation gamers won’t have to wait long for the beta, starting on July 17th. Also announced was a special edition Glacier White PS4, which comes bundled with Destiny, a white DualShock 4, and a 30 day PS+ voucher. No price was given but the bundle and the game itself will be available September 9th.

PS4 White

Next up was The Order: 1886, Ready At Dawn’s third-person, action-adventure shooter. In the gameplay portion shown, we saw the main character fight off a creepy looking monster in some kind of underground facility. The trailer definitely captured the cinematic feel that Ready At Dawn claim they’re aiming for with The Order, although I was less impressed with the short bit of gameplay shown. I have high hopes for the game and hope the development team can meet them.

Moving to a more colorful game, Sony then showed off a new IP entitled Entwined. Developed by Pixel Opus, a new team made of recent graduates, the game features two characters controlled separately via the two analog sticks. The trailer and gameplay shown were gorgeous, with great use of color and negative space. The kicker? It was added to the PlayStation Store tonight and can already be downloaded for $9.99. I’m strongly considering giving it a shot when I’m done with this article.

After that was inFamous: Second Son DLC. Dubbed First Light, the DLC does not require Second Son to run (similar to the PS3 standalone content from the same series, Festival of Blood) and seems to focus on Fetch before the events of the main game. I have to say, with rumors of DLC swirling before E3, I was hopeful it would be a new area and power for Delsin. That said, this seems like a great add-on to the Second Son experience and should offer some great insight into Fetch’s backstory.

In a surprise showing, the next game to be previewed was LittleBigPlanet 3. Media Molecule had said they were not going to be at Sony’s E3 event, but here was LBP3 running on the PS4. It turns out that in fact, the game is being developed by Sumo Digital (famous for Sega titles such as Outrun and Virtua Tennis). Regardless, the game looks great. It introduced three buddies for Sackboy, each with a special ability such as wall-jumping, size-changing, or flying. The focus for the title – which launches this holiday season – seemed to be on multiplayer puzzle solving. Shuhei Yoshida took to the stage after the demo, revealing that all user-levels from its PS3 predecessors will work in LBP3, with enhanced graphics.

Turning back to something a little more sinister, next came a trailer for Bloodborne. Developed by From Software and helmed by Hidetaka Miyazaki (the theater went crazy when both names showed up), the trailer was primarily CG and focused on a very dark and twisted world. It would seem that this is the rumored “Project Beast” which is supposed to be a spiritual sequel to Demon’s Souls. However, because no gameplay was shown, it’s hard to tell if that’s the case at this point. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Ubisoft followed, showing gameplay from Far Cry 4. It featured lots of running and gunning in some beautiful mountainous terrain, and of course, plenty of destruction. Upon spooking the enemy’s stronghold, some elephants began to rampage through the environment, eventually ramming into a vehicle that was ominously bearing down on the player. In an odd (but welcome) twist, players of Far Cry 4 on PS3 or PS4 can invite friends to play with them… even if they don’t own the game. The PSP offered similarly functionality with certain titles back in 2005, so we’ll see if the concept can been better implemented this time. This could also be the best form of marketing for the game; what better way to get non-players to try it out than with an enfranchised and (hopefully) passionate fan of the game?

Dead Island 2 was revealed next. The trailer was pretty funny but didn’t show any gameplay. After that a few quick bits of news: Diablo 3 will be getting some enemies from The Last of Us in a PlayStation-exclusive dungeon. Disney Infinity 2 will have some exclusive Avengers content on PS4 – namely a collector’s edition featuring the Hulk. Paradox is working with Sony on some PS4 games; shown was an amusing trailer for Magicka 2. Double Fine revealed a remastered Grim Fandango exclusively for PS4 and Vita (receiving a huge pop from the audience). Lastly in this segment, a number of games from Devolver Digital were shown, all coming to “PlayStation first” (noticing a theme here?). The studio is fast becoming the go-to guys for porting indie games to PlayStation platforms.

The Journey creators’ new team, Giant Squid Studios, showcased their first game: ABZU. The trailer looked and sounded beautiful, taking a style similar to Journey but set underwater instead of on sand. This is one I’ll have my eye (and ear, thanks to Austin Wintory’s mesmerizing soundtracks) on for sure. Then came No Man’s Sky, the darling indie game that was first announced at the VGX Awards last year. The trailer comprised walking around on a lush planet surface, to flying up into space to take part in a space battle that ended on another planet’s surface, all seamlessly. I’m glad the flood that destroyed some of Hello Games‘ studio hasn’t set them back because this game is looking even more stunning than last time we saw it. This is definitely one to have on your radar.

NMS

Next up came some quick stats about the PlayStation Camera, complete with quips at certain competitors, all as a lead in to Project Morpheus. No new information was given though, aside from that it would be on the show floor and that Sony is pleased with the number of developers stepping up to make games for it. Also coming to the PS4, albeit probably a lot sooner, is YouTube. Players will be able to share to and watch videos on YouTube directly through their console. Finally.

PlayStation Now was also detailed. It’ll be coming to US and Canada as an open beta on July 31st for PS4 and “shortly after” for PS3 and Vita. There will be 100 PS3 titles available (mentioned were Dead Space 3, MGSV: Ground Zeroes and Ultra Street Fighter 4) and Sony said they are continuing to work with publishers to determine cost and rental lengths for PS Now games. I’m still skeptical of how well this service will run, especially for timing-sensitive games like Street Fighter.

PS Vita got a quick mention next with a few title name drops such as Tales of Hearts R (one I’m looking forward to) and Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. Sony promised that many more Vita games are in development but moved on to Remote Play talk and eventually a pretty big bombshell: PlayStation TV (Vita TV, as it’s known in Japan) will be launching in NA and EU this fall for $99. A bundle with a DualShock 3, an 8GB memory card, and The LEGO Movie Videogame will retail for $139. Through a combination of PS Now, Remote Play, game cards and PSN downloads, games from every PlayStation system except PS2 can be played on it.

After that was a game that got the theater really excited: Mortal Kombat X. Some gameplay was shown, although with HUD elements removed, and it featured all of the blood and gore one would expect from this infamously brutal franchise. Completely opposite in style, a very fun-looking trailer for Ratchet & Clank: The Movie was next. It’s coming in 2015, along with a remastered version of the first Ratchet & Clank game for the PS4. Can Sony get me to purchase this game for a third time? I’m tempted to say yes. Another remaster, The Last of Us, was given a release date of July 29th. It’s looking good, especially for anyone who missed it the first time around.

R&C

A poorly kept secret, that Grand Theft Auto V would come to next-gen, was made official. Launching this fall, GTAV looked great running on PS4; not that the game was a slouch on PS3 however. Staying in the land of open world, a stunning gameplay video of Batman: Arkham Knight really got the crowd going. We got to see a gorgeous view of Gotham at night before Batman takes to the skies. He eventually lands and calls the Batmobile, which he uses to cruises around in until spotting some thugs who have armored vehicles. Fortunately the Batmobile has some firepower of its own and quickly dispatches them before the Dark Knight takes to foot for some good ol’ skull cracking. Initial impressions are that this might be the best Batman game yet, and given how good Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are, that’s saying something.

The press conference ended with a teaser for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. With expectedly stunning visual fidelity, Drake wakes up on a beach while some dialogue between himself and Sully plays in the background. Drake is talking about “getting back into the business” while his trusted accomplice reminds him that nothing is ever sure-fire. The trailer ends panning away from our protagonist to a bunch of hanging cages, which I’m guessing Drake had just escaped from. 2015 can’t come soon enough.

Although that was it for the press event, the theater-goers for the E3 Experience got another half hour of content. It consisted mostly of some more trailers as well as a couple of short interviews about Uncharted 4 and No Man’s Sky. They also revealed the swag that the code on the badge gets me: a Destiny alpha code, a Battlefield Hardline beta code, a 30 day Music Unlimited trial and $5 of PSN credit.

All in all, I felt it was a solid E3 media briefing by Sony. I was definitely concerned going in, that all of the recent delays would mean that Sony wouldn’t have much to show. In my mind I was afraid of an hour and a half long DriveClub demo, but they didn’t even end up mentioning the game (surprisingly). That said, a lot of the games on show are still very early in development. Too many games were slated for 2015 and it seems that PS4 may not have a whole lot coming this holiday season. Which leads into my main complaint; that too many of the trailers were just CG renders of the game rather than showing actual gameplay.

I do give Sony props for managing to keep LittleBigPlanet 3 a secret – that’s certainly looking like one of the stand-out exclusives for 2014. Vita still seems to be the black sheep of SCEA and they didn’t even do a sizzle reel of upcoming games, such as the first-party Freedom Wars and Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines. Most Vita mentions were in the same breath as “coming to PS4 and…”, which is annoying for fans of PlayStation‘s handheld, which has so much untapped potential.

Finally, gotta get in that obligatory, ‘where was The Last Guardian?!’

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  • IceSamurai Dono

    Nice recap. I couldnt watch it live ([email protected] & IGN app both didnt work.) I do wish Vita had something cool coming to it. But im most looking forward to Disney Infinity 2.0 that was said to be coming for Playstation TV and Vita. I dont understand how but I think its for the 3Ds so I guess thats only fair right.