Sony had a tremendous conference. Whether or not you thought they had the best of the group, it’s hard to disagree with the format they chose—dropping trailer after trailer, with very little speaking. Let’s revisit Sony’s conference and see what they have to offer gamers over the next couple of years.
God of War
Sony opened their conference with God of War. A several minute orchestral opening, which I now refer to as the “Rebirth of Kratos” flowed directly into gameplay. There were rumors that the game was going to be announced at this years E3, but I did not think that they would be showing off gameplay! The many changes that they have made to the basic elements of God of War are very much welcomed. The static camera is gone and has been replaced with an over the shoulder, user controlled, 3rd person camera. It’s not that the camera was bad in the previous God of War games, however, this change suggests a level of freedom and exploration (Kratos did “discover” a location) that wasn’t really the highlight of previous entries. It also makes for particularly visceral combat; Kratos splits an enemy in half, beats another to death with his fists and kills a troll with his son….Yes, Kratos is a dad. The gameplay showed Kratos gaining knowledge of archery while teaching his son to hunt, suggesting RPG elements and some AI sidekick action like The Last of Us. The biggest and most obvious change to the series is the replacement of Greek mythology with Norse mythology; Kratos appears to have ditched the Blades of Chaos/Athena/Exile for a magic Nordic ice ax of some kind and he no longer will be shattering gorgons and removing cyclops eyes. This franchise has needed this kind of mythological reboot for some time and I could not be any more excited about this decision.
The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian finally gets a release date: October 25th, 2016. If I am honest this doesn’t really excite me. When the game was announced in 2009, it felt like it was going to be a big, exclusive game for the Playstation 3. At this point I hope it just doesn’t feel like a remastered game from last gen. It does look much better than it did on the Playstation 3, but…that’s not really saying much. I don’t have any doubt that the game will be a unique and moving experience in the same way that Shadow of the Colossus was. But, the game isn’t real until I am holding a physical copy, so, we’ll see.
Days Gone is an interesting title that essentially emerged from nowhere. With no mention of the development of this game, they showed gameplay that looked very polished. It’s difficult to get excited about another zombie game, since that has become a popular motif among many video games, but the environmental interactivity they showed off looked pretty impressive. The protagonist can use all kinds of objects and traps to block and kill the zombie hoard chasing him down. In the end, the game seems like a blend between The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption and Left 4 Dead. I am definitely interested in hearing more about the game types that will be featured.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Sony had the opportunity to show off more of the upcoming game, Horizon: Zero Dawn. This game was announced at E3 2015 with gameplay and there hasn’t been all that much information since. The premise of the game is very unique. Even though it shares many characteristics with Far Cry Primal it’s inaccurate to call it a prehistoric shooter, it’s posthistoric. There are a lot of elements from other games present in this PS exclusive. It’s got some Tomb Raider, some Assassin’s Creed, some sci-fi/hacking elements; this is a hard game to pin down but the gameplay shown off at this years conference was dynamic and looks like it will give the player a multitude of options for creative hunting of these robot-dinosaurs.
Detroit: Become Human
This game was also announced at E3 2015, but we got more and different gameplay this year. Developer Quantic Dream made some of the most unique and moving gaming experiences of last generation with Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain. This game looks to expand on the kind of experience that was laid down in those games by offering the player lots of choices to effect the outcome of the story. The game looks great and has the potential to approach some tough philosophical questions.
Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil is going to get a new entry. When I first saw the trailer it looked like a new Condemned game to me, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a bad thing, because it didn’t actually end up being a new Condemned game; those games were awesome. It’s a good thing because it actually looked like a scary game. Resident Evil 6 wasn’t good. The trailer gave me some hope for 7. AND there is a demo available for play right now.
Death Stranding was clearly the most curious and evocative trailer of the entire E3 conference schedule. It’s difficult to derive any notable information from the trailer as it is packed with visual metaphors and no dialogue. The Kojima/Sony partnership is going to be very lucrative for Sony and very good for gamers. I am incredibly excited to see what Kojima can come up with given the time, money and freedom he was denied by Konami. It’s not Silent Hills, but it looks incredibly moody and foreboding; can’t wait for more info.
Spider Man is coming exclusively to the PS4 and it is being developed by Insomniac Games! There isn’t much to say about this other than there hasn’t been a really solid Spider Man game in some time and that this trailer looked like they could actually pull it off; the web slinging looked pretty legit.
Playstation VR had several notable entries to its library including Batman, Final Fantasy and Star Wars games. A planet exploration game called Farpoint was also announced. It’s difficult to tell anyone that has not used a VR headset what the sensation is like being put inside of a video game, but suffice it to say that it is very compelling. It’s hard to say how much staying power VR will have, but at least they are approaching it with some big name titles and not just offering gimmicky games.
This E3 was very exciting with regard to Playstation’s library of games. It’s tough to see Sony completely ditch the Playstation Vita in their conference but it’s been going that way for a while and wasn’t unexpected at all. With all that they announced and showed off, there is a lot to look forward to if you are a Playstation gamer!