Sony began their press conference with a full orchestra, pulling out all the stops for spectacle. The orchestra accompanied the press conference at regular intervals and gave the whole thing a sense of grandeur. Then, they immediately went into their first reveal.
God of War
This God of War (no subtitle or number) focuses on a much older Kratos and his son. This wasn’t just a cinematic trailer either, they showed quite a bit of gameplay as well. God of War is stylistically different from the previous games. This one presents an over-the-shoulder perspective, instead of the top-down view of the previous ones. Aesthetically, it also resembles The Last of Us, with its wintery forest setting. We also get a look at the combat, which still seems to go for the same gratuitous shock and awe the previous ones did.
Santa Monica Studio seems to be trying for a slightly more thoughtful God of War, but I’m not holding my breath. In all the previous games Kratos was nothing more than a one-dimensional rage and murder machine. In the demo, we got to see him be an asshole to his son and brutally kill enemies in the usual God of War fashion. Prior God of War games also displayed blatant misogyny, as almost every female character either died to motivate Kratos, slept with him in truly childish sex mini-games, or was flat-out murdered by Kratos (in the God of War 3, Kratos actually murders a nameless, mostly-naked woman just to use her body to prop open a door so he can get through – disgusting). In the new one, his wife is dead before it even starts, as he says several times in the demo. Graphics are good though.
Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment, then came onstage and delivered a message. “Before we go forward, I think it’s important that we take a moment to address the heartbreaking tragedy of Orlando this past weekend. A horrific event like that, carried out by a madman, really underscores our need for greater love, tolerance, and respect of people of all kinds. On behalf of the Playstation community, I just want to say that our thoughts are with the victims and the families and the community of Orlando. We stand foursquare with them, and we hope that in this week of…perhaps our gaming celebration…in the diversity of our gaming community we can find some strength, some comfort, and some solace. The Playstation community stands foursquare with our friends and fans in the LGBT community as well and I know they’re all in the hearts of everyone tonight. [applause]”
When Sony began with God of War, known for its gratuitous violence, I was worried that they would do as EA did, and pretend Orlando hadn’t happened. Yes, Sony is the fourth company to now make reference to Orlando, but every time is still important. Layden’s specific mentioning of the LGBT community is perhaps a small sign that the games industry is making progress. The intolerance and harassment of GamerGate are still a reality to many, so the leaders of the industry saying they stand with the LGBT community is very important, especially in this tragic time.
The long quiet Sony Bend finally announced their new game, Days Gone, which looks like a cross between Sons of Anarchy and Day Z. This is Sony Bend first original IP since Syphon Filter in the PS1 days. Since then, Sony Bend has made portable ports of some of Sony’s biggest games, such as Resistance: Retribution and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian is actually coming out! This is not a drill, this is not a joke. We will all be able to play The Last Guardian on Oct. 25th of this year. Oh man, I’m excited. This trailer gave me so many feels. It’s been so long since Team Ico released a game, and The Last Guardian looks beautiful and touching. I really want to see how they represent the relationship between the boy and the bird/dog creature, because from the trailer – which cut between different in-game moments between the two – I’m worried it’s gonna be one sad game (in a good way).
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Guerilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn got an extended gameplay showcase. Every time I see this game I get more interested. Here we saw protagonist Aloy venture out into the wilds and fight some animalistic machines. We got to see crafting in real-time, which she used to make an explosive trap. Ashley Burch (Chloe in Life is Strange) also sounds great voicing Aloy. Which is good, because part way through the demo Aloy saves a man fleeing from his attacked village. She begins talking to him, and a dialogue wheel appears on screen.
The focus on story suggested by this only has me anticipating the the game’s release next February even more. Aloy sends the man to her village, and goes to try and save the rest of the villagers from his. The demo sees her pin down a horse-like machine, which she tames and begins riding across the open world. She rides this machine right up to the village, which simply resides on a mountain side. There is no gate, no loading screens, she just rides into the village. At the village, Aloy encounters a machine turning others hostile. Here we got to see just how agile Aloy can be in combat, as she puts away her bow and rushes one of the machines, taking it down with a spear. She eventually takes it down with a combination of fire and ice arrows and explosives, and the demo ends with her examining it, wondering where it came from
Detroit: Become Human
The trailer for the next game from Quantic Dream (Beyond: Two Souls, Heavy Rain) focused on the divergent experiences possible depending on how the player approaches an encounter. This specific encounter saw an android named Connor, who seemed to work for the police, trying to talk another android out of killing a little girl. The trailer showed supercuts of different ways the encounter could go, based on what information Connor gathered beforehand, whether he lied or told the truth, whether he was aggressive or listens to the other android’s demands. If the trailer is evident of how the final game will play, then I will be impressed by the amount of variability they’ve designed. The encounter also highlighted some of the game’s themes of humanity. Connor tells the other android “You were designed to serve humans, not murder them.” “What was I designed to be? Their slave?” the other responds. However, I’m also left wondering about Kara, the android who was the focus of Detroit: Become Human’s debut last E3. The themes of what makes someone human are interesting, but I’ve also seen and played plenty of white guy detective types before. I hope the focus is on Kara, rather than Connor. The trailer ends with Connor speaking directly to the audience saying “My name is Connor. This is our story.”
Resident Evil VII
The Resident Evil VII reveal starts without even saying it’s Resident Evil VII, and I had no idea it would be because this game doesn’t look like Resident Evil. The demo starts with a man waking up in a ruined and decrepit house and the entire thing is in first person. He eventually happens upon a living room with a tv and a VHS player. He inserts a VHS into it and a shaky-cam video of different horrors starts playing. Then it cuts away and the title Resident Evil VII appears. This game will also be PSVR compatible from start to finish, interestingly enough. I’m honestly not sure what to make of it, at least until we see more. It’s unclear if the whole game will be like this trailer, but if it is, then it will be much more P.T. than Resident Evil 6, or even Resident Evil 1. The demo is live now on PS4 for anyone with Playstation Plus. Resident Evil VII is releasing Jan. 24, 2017.
Layden came back onstage for the first time since the beginning to discuss PSVR. “We have the necessary processing and graphics power already built inside 40 million PS4’s sold worldwide,” he said, in what seemed like a slight dig at Microsoft and Project Scorpio. “Because Playstation 4 is a fixed platform, developers can fine tune their games for the system to deliver the same, transformative experience for all VR owners,” he said, this time explicitly side-eyeing Microsoft’s mutli-console strategy. PSVR is releasing on Oct. 13th for $399, coming in $200 cheaper than their direct competition, as both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift cost $599. Layden then went on to say that more than 50 games will be available between the PSVR launch and the end of the year. Sony’s strategy of focusing on one console and keeping the PSVR price lower than the competition might just be the winning combination to get VR into people’s homes.
Farpoint is a PSVR game about astronauts Grant and Eva exploring faraway, hostile planet. It looks to have FPS mechanics and giant alien monsters. Not much else to gleam from the trailer, but I’m interested.
Star Wars: Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission
The title pretty much says it all. The trailer was short and sweet. Piloting X-Wings, space battles, VR. I’m down.
Batman: Arkahm VR
It appears Rocksteady isn’t quite done with the Arkham series. The trailer itself didn’t really show anything but the Joker talking to Batman about how maybe they’re the same (haven’t heard that one before). It’s coming exclusively to PSVR this October, so it’s strange we didn’t see any gameplay whatsoever. After Batman: Arkham Knight let me down in almost every regard, I’m not particularly excited for this one.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV got a new trailer set to Afrojack that highlights tons of fast-paced combat and chocobo riding. Final Fantasy XV is also getting a VR Experience. The VR portion of Final Fantasy XV will be a…first person shooter. Now, I’m by no means the world’s biggest Final Fantasy fan, but I don’t think Final Fantasy is supposed to be a first person shooter.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Infinity Ward showed a new gameplay trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. In Infinite Warfare players will be able to pilot spaceships and the trailer showed off the space dog fights. After taking down enemy ships, protagonist Reyes jumped out of the pilot seat and began fighting enemies on the hull of the large enemy spacecraft, in space. Reyes has a wrist-mounted grapple that he fires to help him move in the zero-G environment. Reyes and his teammate then blasted open the ship’s main cabin and entered. At this point gravity was reinstated, which gave them the opportunity to show off a new anti-gravity grenade, which removes gravity in a small area.
The demo’s finale showed the enemy ship being blown to pieces as Reyes returns to his spaceship he was piloting earlier. This was followed by a trailer for Modern Warfare Remastered, which will be coming packed in with Infinite Warfare.
In a partnership with Activision, Crash Bandicoot, Crash 2, and Crash Warped are all getting remastered for the PS4. Screams of excitement could be heard from the audience during the stream. Sadly, no trailer or release date. However, Crash Bandicoot will appear in Skylanders Imaginators, which got a new trailer and releases Oct. 16th.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer showed some of the film’s best moments recreated in LEGO form with a good dose of humor thrown in. The borrowing of the film’s lines seems to be on point. I also loved little details, such as our glimpse of Kylo Ren’s room, which looks like an emo teenager’s room. I adored Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I’m so excited for more Star Wars that there’s a good chance I’ll play this LEGO game for kicks. It release June 28th, with a demo out now.
Hideo Kojima’s New Game Death Stranding
Hideo Kojima walked onstage to much fanfare and theatrics. “Hello everyone, I’m back,” he said with a giant grin. And with that, a trailer for his new game began playing. This was one weird trailer. It featured a naked Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) holding a dead baby and crying. The baby then disappeared and there were tons of dead fish and dead whales. This game is probably a long ways off, but it’s cool to see Kojima get another chance to work with Reedus after Silent Hills fell through.
In one of the night’s biggest surprises, Sony announced a Spider-Man exclusively for the PS4, in development from Insomniac Games. The trailer showed of Spider-Man swing across Manhattan and beating up bad guys as Spider-Man does. Given Insomniac’s pedigree of superhero games with the Infamous series, I have high hopes for this game. That said, I can’t help but be a little sad that we aren’t getting a new Infamous game from them. I thought Infamous: Second Son and Infamous: First Light were brilliant games and I still hope they’ll return to that world one day. But it’ll be nice to get a good Spider-Man game for a change.
Sony ended their press conference with a live gameplay demo of Days Gone. The demo featured the biker protagonist looking for someone named Two Dog in what looked like a lumber mill. He quietly moves through, collecting crafting supplies along the way. Eventually he finds Two Dog, who tackles the biker into a crowd of zombies. The zombies eat Two Dog and the biker starts running. This part was rather impressive: there were over 100 zombies on screen at once. This isn’t exaggeration, there were so many they formed a massive horde and were chasing the biker over each other like ants. The demo ends with him getting trapped on the roof with a ludicrous number of zombies running after him. I’m interested to see more, but I’ve grown somewhat tired of the open-world survival game. I hope Sony Bend is able to put enough of their own spin on it to make it feel fresh.
Sony ultimately delivered a much faster paced conference than anyone else yet. There were very few breaks, just trailer after trailer after trailer. I enjoyed this approach more, as often whatever anyone onstage has said can be gleaned from trailers as well. It’s curious Media Molecule’s Dreams wasn’t shown, but considering how many other games were, that’s fine. I do wish Sony had given time for indies as Microsoft had, instead of focusing entirely on massive big budget games. Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Last Guardian, though not new here, are my highlights and what I’m looking forward to most. It’s interesting that Sony and Microsoft seem to be betting on rather different approaches to their consoles. Microsoft is going for a family of consoles, with different specs, but still requiring developers to make games playable on all of them. Sony, on the other hand, and at least as far as we know today, only wants consumers and developers to have to worry about a single PS4 model and put the rest of their attention on PSVR. I like Sony’s approach more. As I said in my Microsoft recap, I don’t want to have to upgrade my hardware more often than I already do; game systems are expensive. Speaking of which, it’s nice to see PSVR is priced more affordably than other VR options. It’s limited to the PS4, so it will live or die on Sony’s ability to put out games for it, and $400 is still a lot. However, if there are interesting games, then I think PSVR has perhaps the best chance of any VR platform yet.