As we do every year, today we're here with our thoughts on the E3 Press Conferences. Today we're grading the E3 press conference for Sony. In the past couple of years Sony has been our editor's favorite press conference, did they continue to impress this year?
Are You Not Entertained?
For the first time in what feels like a long time, both Microsoft and Sony found themselves on a level playing field at E3. By that, I mean both of their presentations failed to inspire confidence in their brands and upcoming launch windows. Where Microsoft started off strong only to peter out well before the finish line, Sony was winded from the very beginning. They took a page from Bethesda and showed trailer after trailer without bothering to provide any color commentary or trot out some developers. Instead, they spun the camera around to a very bored looking audience.
All that said, there were a couple of games I found interesting. I’m always down for Shadow of the Colossus and a PS4 remake(?) is enough of a reason to go back to that beautiful piece of work. God of War got some screen time and I really like the direction the new game is going. After that though, the rest of the show lacked excitement and heart. Their conference was almost arrogant, to be honest. Even the PlayStation VR games were presented with very little fanfare and that’s a peripheral that needs a lot of attention (why is no one talking about Star Trek Bridge Crew???). Sony’s final offering was an exciting gameplay trailer for Insomniac’s Spider-Man game which has me all sorts of excited. I’m a sucker for the character and his earlier games for the PlayStation 2 were the best.
Unfortunately, not even our friendly neighborhood webslinger could save Sony from a lackluster evening.
At the end of the day, Sony has what matters: games that get people excited. They just might not be coming anytime soon. . . This year’s conference was nothing but a bombardment of trailers for some of Sony’s big, up and coming titles, with a few surprises sprinkled in for good measure. There was a lengthy gameplay demonstration of Days Gone, which still doesn’t seem to elicit that much hype. It is supposedly coming in December though - this year - which is more than can be said for the rest of Sony’s lineup. We received new footage of God of War and its excellent new direction. There was a verbose and heavy-handed (as is David Cage’s wont) trailer for Detroit: Become Human. The show closed with a spectacular gameplay demo of Insomniac’s Spiderman, which combined cinematic flair and visceral action to make for an exhilarating demonstration. A common theme amongst these games? 2018. Assuming no delays, that is. It’s been a common trend, really. Sony seems to have entirely withdrawn from the Fall release schedule, instead opting for the Spring (which is, presumably, where God of War will end up.
Aside from Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Days Gone, and some Horizon: Zero Dawn DLC, then, don’t expect anything exclusively on the PS4 this year. Luckily, there were a couple of neat surprises to fill out the show, including Monster Hunter World (also 2018, and not PS4 exclusive) and a remaster (remake?) of Shadow of the Colossus (yes, 2018.) The main thing separating Sony’s conference this year from ones in the past was the insane hype culture. It’s become perfectly acceptable to showcase games that are years out, so long as they warrant incredible reactions. This year didn’t have a Final Fantasy VII remake. It didn’t have a Kingdom Hearts III announcement. It didn’t have a Last of Us Part II trailer. Sony didn’t even take the opportunity to dunk on Microsoft this year, with little to no mention of the PS4 Pro and its future, plus a lackluster lineup for PSVR (a new horror game from Supermassive Games notwithstanding, which I don’t believe for a second to be a VR exclusive.) One has to question where the other studios are. What about Suckerpunch? What are they doing right now? Digressions aside, Sony went for its tried and true formula, except the floodgate of titles is starting to run thin. Instead, we only got a glimpse at games we already knew about to some extent, with many of them still a way’s off.
Another Sony Update
If I hadn’t seen E3 in the last couple of years, I think Sony’s press conference would have been amazing. Unlike Sony’s previous press conferences, this one had a clear focus on showing games, of which there were many. The downside is they were all games we had already seen last year. Sure, we now have a vague early 2018 release date for most of them (we’ll see if they make them), and the trailers looked great. But other than a Shadow of the Colossus remake reveal and a gorgeous Monster Hunter World trailer, the conference lacked that surprise factor that made us all drop our jaws in previous years. I understand the business decision to reveal all these games early on to get people to buy a PlayStation 4, but as a result, the show felt like a rerun. Also, out of all the games that have been revealed in past Sony conferences, I’m disappointed we didn’t see anything from the Final Fantasy VII remake. I reiterate that this wasn’t a bad showing, and I enjoyed seeing gameplay for Spiderman and Detroit. I just couldn’t help but feel a little empty once it was all over. Sony still has a great future ahead of it, but it’s really testing my patience with some of these games.
Still Awaiting Greatness
Sony sure does have a strong library of games, but I felt this conference was more or less the same as last year's conference. We got to see more of the phenomenal looking God of War, but as with most of the games (if not all) at the conference, it isn't coming out until 2018. Gran Turismo Sport wasn't even at the conference despite Sony reaffirming its launch this fall. Most disappointingly for me, however, was the lack of any release date whatsoever for Detroit: Become Human despite it being announced in 2015 and having a huge reveal in 2016. It wasn't all bad however as Spider-Man closed the show in spectacular fashion with a visually stunning gameplay sequence.
Been There, Seen That
I found it pretty amazing Sony didn’t hold any aces up to its sleeve. Couple of VR game announcements notwithstanding what we saw were mostly presented in the previous shows. Come on, where are all the new and more importantly, unexpected, games I should be excited about? Like how I was the year before last when Sony caught us all unaware with the reveals of NieR: Automata and Shenmue III. There were lots to see for sure but overall Sony was selling tickets to the uncanny valley. I wish the developers would seek for other ways of depicting their games than photorealism which has sort of been branded to a “Sony look”. Having said that, I’m so going to get Uncharted: The Lost legacy. Oh yeah, what about Spider-Man? I didn’t see anything which I hadn’t already seen in the webslinger’s old games from PS2 era to the later Beenox-developed games. Only difference is this one seemed lifeless and too scripted. I may seem harsh in my E3 impressions but I’ve been playing for too long to get easily impressed.
Sony Minus Passion
As with Microsoft, Sony delivered a spiritless presentation. But if the former was tired, the latter was flat-out bedridden. To start off, we got absolutely zero hardware announcements, not even for existing consoles. There's no reason the PS4 shouldn't be able to play, at the very least, PS1 games. And they didn't even attempt to hype the PS4 Pro this time, which is borderline incompetent when we know that a newer, stronger console is about to introduce competition. In what came off as almost selfish on Sony’s part, the show was carried instead by software trailers, which ranged from interesting to disappointing. Notably, and perhaps thanks to a lack of developer explanation, God of War is now hiding too much for its own good.
After the mesmerizing instrumental opening, there was a general dearth of liveliness this time around. In fact, one could now go on YouTube and just binge-watch the game trailers to elicit the same effect. Why was it even a conference if all they were going to do was play some trailers and hang a few rubber carcasses? I think the lesson here is that you can't just rely on expansions and games we already know about to carry an entire press conference. Bur hey, at least there weren't any cringeworthy song-and-dance routines or staged “live gameplay” atrocities. Because those would've required some effort.
Spider-Man: Arkham Asylum
DID YOU SEE THE SPIDER-MAN TRAILER? I MEAN, DID YOU SEE THAT? If yes, go watch it again. If no, what the hell, go see it now! Come back when you’re done and read the rest of these, but, seriously, go watch it. ‘Cause YAAAAASSSSSS!
A Rocky Start
Considering the fact that we couldn’t even hear the first three trailers in Sony’s conference, I think it ended up being pretty solid. The whole conference was as minimal as it gets. Besides two quick introductions from Shawn Layden, there was barely a soul to be seen on the stage. Instead, Sony opted for game after game after game with little break. There were a few nice surprises though like Monster Hunter Worlds, which is the first time I’m genuinely interested in a Monster Hunter game, and the Shadow of the Colossus remake or remaster or whatever the hell that was. Then there were the big hitters like that incredible God of War trailer and Insomniac's Spider-Man game. Both were excellent with the God of War trailer giving us some more story details as well as showing us the brutal combat while the Spider-Man game looks like it could do for Spider-Man what the Arkham games did for Batman. Overall, there weren’t a ton of exciting moments in Sony’s conference, but it was a confident showing nonetheless.
The Same as Last Year
Sony’s press conference this year was mildly unfortunate. It had a really cool reveal or two, but most of the conference was either expanding on games that were already shown last year, or giving us no timeframe for when we can expect to the games to be finished. This isn’t entirely bad as the games that were shown again this year had still looked really good if not better than before. It was really neat seeing what new ideas they had expanded upon since last year for the new God of War and Spider-Man games, as well as Days Gone. The real big point in the conference for me was in the beginning. After toughing through the new Uncharted expansion and Assassin’s Creed: Origin for the hundredth time, I was presented with Monster Hunter Worlds which is by far the best looking game in the series to date. It looks bigger and better, and being a big Monster Hunter fan, I honestly can’t wait to play it.
From there on out, we had a bunch of VR games that didn’t really have any intrigue and were poorly showed off to boot. At the end, the new gameplay trailer for Spider-Man really got me hyped for what was coming. It is essentially the Arkham formula done in the style of my favorite superhero, and it really can’t get any better than that. Well, it could get better than that if we had some idea of when the games were coming out. New IPs would be nice too, but I guess you can’t have everything. Not bad, but not too great overall.
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