I had no intention of watching Sony’s presser. I’ve never been much of a PlayStation guy. I owned a PS1 in college to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and my PS3 was eventually sold after I realized it had become a glorified blu-ray player. Still, I wanted to do my due diligence and see what Sony had to say. Thank God I did!
Sony kicked things off with a section on upcoming PS3 games. Watching the segment on The Last of Us made me regret selling my PS3; that game looks freaking amazing. “Ellen Page: The Game” (or, rather, Beyond: Two Souls) looks interesting, but I’m not sad I’ll miss it. Arkham Origins looked fantastic, but, now that the formula has been pretty much perfected, it’s hard to screw up.
We finally got see what the PS4 looks like! I’m not a huge fan of the design; I think it’s as ugly as the Xbox One. I guess that’s the theme this generation: uninspired console design. Even my wife thought it looked ugly, but at least isn’t a George Foreman grill! Sony then went on to talk about their media offerings and all the content PS Networks subscribers will have access too. It was pretty much the same thing we’ve heard from every major tech and entertainment company in the past few years.
Next up, the games. Oh, the glorious games. Sony did everything Microsoft didn’t. They showed some fantastic new stuff!
The game that got me hook, line, and sinker was The Order: 1886. We only saw a brief trailer, but it looks like a steampunk monster hunting shooter set in late 1800s London. A game with a holy order that hunts monsters with steampunk machine guns and lightning rifles? SOLD!
The newest entry into the Killzone series, Killzone: Mercenary, looked fantastic. Whereas Battlefield 4 and Titanfall had the now all too familiar color palette of browns, blacks, and drab green, the first thing I noticed during the Killzone trailer were the bright colors. I really hope we see a swing back towards vibrant games and what I saw during this conference gives me some hope!
Sony’s indie section was probably the most impressive display of the night. They brought out a multitude of indie teams all demoing their games on stage at the same time. Included in this foray were Supergiant Games (Transistor), Klei Entertainment (Don’t Starve), Young Horses (Octodad: Deadliest Catch), Ragtag Studio (Ray’s The Dead), Tribute Games (Mercenary Kings), Red Barrels (Outlast), 17-Bit Games (Galak-Z), Oddworld Inhabitants (Abe’s Oddysee: New ‘n’ Tasty), and Switchblade Monkeys (Secret Ponchos). I want to play all of these games. Some of my favorite experiences on the Xbox have been from the small Arcade titles, so seeing Sony devote so much to the indie scene made me very happy. Also, all of these games will have an exclusive debut window on the PS4, so that’s another nice feather in Sony’s hat.
I absolutely loved how Square Enix had the swag to not show up at the conference, but send a shitty video recorded at Tetsuya Nomura’s home that introduced what may be the two most anticipated games for this system: Final Fantasy XV (formerly, Final Fantasy Versus XIII) and Kingdom Hearts 3. FFXV may be the first Final Fantasy game in a long long time that I may want to play. (The last one I played was VIII on the PC, to give you some perspective.) Kingdom Hearts looks really cool. I just don’t see myself attempting to slog through the crazy storyline to get caught up. But our Fridgemaster sure was excited!
Ubisoft showed up to give us another look at Pirates of the… I mean Assassin’s Creed 4. The game looks very pretty on the PS4, but I didn’t really see anything new. It’s AC3 with a new coat of paint and some more boats. The best part when the demo got hung up like a bad dvd and the poor guy playing (pretending to play?) the demo just stood there not knowing what to do. The cut to the Watch_Dogs demo was swift and ruthless.
Like AC4, we’ve seen a lot of Watch_Dogs already; it was announced last year, after all! The game looks so amazing on the PS4, that it actually made me pretty sad that I’ll probably be playing this on the 360. The cool thing we did get to see was the integration with the console game and the mobile companion app. You can call in backup from a mobile player and they can hop into your game and assist with your escape from the cops. This also opens the doors for some epic trolling, but I can only hope there will be more good sports than assholes in the game. A man can dream, can’t he?!
We then got trailers for Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Online and Avalanche Studio’s Mad Max. Mad Max was purely a teaser trailer with no gameplay, but I can only assume Fallout with cars. Elder Scrolls Online looks cool, but MMOs on consoles always give me pause.
And now for the best part of the night: over the next minute after the debut of Mad Max, Jack Tretton came on stage and nuked Microsoft from orbit. To raucous applause, he confirmed that there will be no DRM and no online check-ins for the PS4. As the applause grew even louder, he put on his smarmiest smirk and confirmed that players who buy game discs can do whatever they want with them: trading, lending, selling? You can do whatever you want it because YOU OWN IT! It was an intentional and calculated step-by-step obliteration of everything that everyone had been complaining about with the Xbox One. The roar of the crowd was unlike anything heard at E3 for years!
To continue the combo, they then segued into a gameplay demo of Bungie’s newest game, Destiny. This game was not at all what I expected. It’s actually an action RPG shooter with persistent online multiplayer. So your friends can drop into your game and join your fire squad on the fly. It looks pretty cool with some fun shooting elements mixed with what looked like a sort of magic system. What surprised both me and our EiC Dwight were the Public Events that launched as the team was going through the world. It looks like that, when a Public Event launches, all players (not just the ones on your team) in the area can work together and take out a common objective. I can’t wait to see more from this, especially the story Bungie has crafted for it!
After Destiny, Sony had one more trick up their sleeve. They dropped a bomb that no one was expecting. The PS4 would launch at $399. Ho-Lee-Shit. It is amazing what $100 can do to the perception of a system. The PS4 is priced right in the sweet spot where they will certainly reap the hardcore gamers but they may also manage to get some casual early adopters as well.
I always hate the idea of “Who won E3?!” but in this case, Sony won E3. They had the games, the policies, and the price to all place them with a significant advantage come this holiday season. This is going to be a very interesting console generation.