E3 2016: PlayStation Press Confrence Recap
With four conferences behind us, it's finally time to pull back the curtain on Sony and bring the first official day of E3 to a close. After a positive showing for Ubisoft and a lackluster outing for Microsoft, Sony appears to be in a pretty good position. Sony is in the position to take the ball and run, much like they have been the last couple of years, now we just need to see if they benefit from Microsoft's fumble and run it in for a touchdown.
God of War
The show opened with a full orchestra playing an epic score, all in the lead up to world premiere gameplay of the brand new God of War. The video showed an older Kratos, now with a son, teaching him how to fend for himself in the wild. The video showed a drastic change in setting from the previous games in the series and takes place in a dark forest during a snowstorm. The game's story revolves around Kratos many years after his battles with the Olympian Gods, who is now trying to make amends for his past mistakes. This game, a reboot of sorts, uses Nordic mythology as a backdrop, offering up a whole host of new monsters and deities for Kratos to face.
While I've never been a fan of the God of War games in the past, this new setting is intreging to me. I've always been fascinated by the gods of Norse mythology, and I am interested to see how SIE Santa Monica adapts them for the God of War universe. God of War certainly looks interesting, and even without a release date, it was a great way for Sony to kick off their show and wow the crowd.
Four Big Reveals
Following up the God of War reveal, Sony treated us to a trio of trailers for upcoming titles. The first reveal was a new IP from Studio Bend, the creators of the Syphon Filter franchise, and is called Days Gone. Set a few years after a global pandemic that wiped out most of humanity, the game's world has been overrun by zombie creatures named Freakers. This cinematic trailer didn't give us much of an idea of gameplay, but the cinematics look great, and it's nice to see Studio Bend getting an opportunity to create their first new IP in almost twenty years.
Next, we got a new trailer for The Last Guardian, one of the most anticipated titles on the PlayStation 4. The new trailer showed updated visuals, with some of the game now sporting a cell shaded look. The game seems to be a victim of its exceptionally long development cycle because it's obvious from the looks of this trailer that this was intended to be a PlayStation 3 game. The graphics won't matter as long as the game's fun and the trailer ended with the most shocking reveal of all, a release date. Something that I thought I would never see, let alone be writing about, fans will finally get their hands on The Last Guardian on October 25th.
After the trailer for The Last Guardian, we received an extended look at Horizon: Zero Dawn. This upcoming title looks fantastic, and I'm surprised about its recent delay after seeing how polished it looked here on stage. This action RPG seems to have an open world environment, giant monsters to fight, and Bioware-style dialogue trees. The game looks fantastic, so it's a little disappointing that it won't be coming out until next year. The game drops February 28th, 2017 in the US, but I guess we'll have plenty to keep us busy on our PS4s in the meantime.
Finally, Sony rolled a new trailer from developer Quantic Dream, the team behind Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, and Beyond: Two Souls. The trailer focused on an android named Connor, a police negotiator. The trailer highlighted a scene where Connor was attempting to prevent a rogue Android from killing a young girl. After failing to save the girl, the trailer then showed several alternative outcomes based on Connor's decisions and evidence found in the home where the hostage was held. A similar promise has been made in past Quantic Dream titles, and it will be interested to see what the team can do with a game that was built from the ground up for the PS4. No release date was given for the title during the briefing, but since then we have learned that we'll be receiving a PS4 remaster of the classic Fahrenheit (a.k.a. Indigo Prophecy) to play in just a few weeks.
The next segment shocked everyone with the reveal of Capcom's Resident Evil 7. This latest entry in the series appears to be returning to its horror roots instead of the more action heavy outing of the last few titles. The strangest announcement came after the trailer plays; it is revealed that Resident Evil 7 would be playable in its entirety on PlayStation 4 VR. This segment was capped off with the announcement that a demo was Resident Evil 7 would be available after the briefing, giving horror fans a first look at the game that very evening.
After the Resident Evil 7 had been unveiled, we learned that PlayStation's VR headset would be made available on October 13th for $399.99 USD. Shawn Layden even used this opportunity to take a shot at Microsoft, claiming that the PlayStation 4 is powerful enough to handle VR without the need for a hardware upgrade, which was one of Microsoft's reasons for introducing the Scorpio. This leads into a series of trailers highlighting several titles for PlayStation VR, including Star Wars Battlefront VR, Batman Arkham VR, and Final Fantasy XV VR. Layden followed this up with the announcement that more than fifty games were in development for PlayStation VR.
Call of Remaster
The main stage sees our annual look at Call of Duty, with this year's entry Infinite Warfare. This newest chapter features the franchise make the jump into the far future with outer space combat. This odd transition is a stark juxtaposition to the latest Battlefield game, which is set during World War I. Infinite Warfare sees many of the series' trademark style return. The action seems fast and frantic, and Call of Duty fans are sure to enjoy it when it launches on November 4th.
Not content to release only one Call of Duty title this year, Activision has also had an HD remaster of the popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare brought to the current generation consoles. Featuring remastered textures, the original campaign, and multiplayer with ten maps at launch. The game is available with the purchase of the legacy or pro edition of Infinite Warfare. Additional, it was revealed that PlayStation 4 owners will get the remaster a month early, giving it to them on October 4th. Modern Warfare is a great add-on for the new game, allowing longtime fans to enjoy one of the most popular entries in the franchise once again.
Shawn Layton then returned to the stage and gave, probably, the biggest tease of the night. Walking across the stage with a tropical background and Crash Bandicoot's shadow following behind him, one of the rumors leading up to E3 looked to be coming true. He began by letting us know that Sony is working with Activision to remaster the first three Crash Bandicoot titles exclusively for the PlayStation 4. This exciting announcement was followed up with one that made the whole segment fall flat, the addition of Crash to Skylanders. Of course, now Crash has been relegated to a guest role in a franchise where he doesn't belong, just like his PS1 brother, Spyro the Dragon.
After a quick trailer for the upcoming Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Layton introduces a legend onto the stage and out walks Hideo Kojima. As the crowd lost their collective minds, Kojima made his way to the stage to announce his new studio's first project, Death Stranding. The cinematic trailer shows a nude Normal Reedus (sorry ladies, no frontal shots). He clutches a fetus as he walks toward the show and the game's title appears. It's not much to go on, but it's interesting to see Kojima and Reedus working together again after P.T. fell through last year.
A trailer for a new Spider-Man title is played next, with development being handled by Insomniac this game could be the first great Spider-Man game in a long time. The cinematic trailer didn't offer much to go on, aside from what we've seen from many recent Spider-Man games, swinging around New York. The trailer looked fantastic, but as with any cinematic trailer, there's no guarantee the game will look this good once we finally see gameplay.
Sony closed the show with a gameplay demo of Days Gone, our first look at actual gameplay. The game itself looked beautiful, but I was a little turned off by it being another zombie game. We've had so many of these the last few years, and with this and Dead Rising 4 both being revealed this weekend, it just feels like too much. I'm not saying the game is going to be bad by any mean; the mechanics looked solid based on what we saw, but I've just grown tired of the whole zombie thing, it's so played out.
Overall, Sony has a pretty solid conference, the heavy focus on VR was a bit of a turn off for me, but there was some interesting looking games revealed. I'm personally most excited for Detroit: Become Human, and I was surprised by the lack of any new information for projects like the Final Fantasy VII Remaster. Sony put on a far better show than Microsoft, but it just wasn't enough to say they outdid Ubisoft.