Final Fantasy XV! No DRM! Glitches! The best of Sony’s press conference
Sony came into their E3 press conference this year with a single mission: deal a killing blow to the Xbox One console that had been already been wounded by weeks of PR troubles. Did they succeed?
Judging by the response in both PAR's comments and on Twitter the answer is a resounding “yes.” Much of that amazing response has to do with their announcement that PS4 will undercut the Xbox One's price, and will also not restrict the sales of used games or require an always-online internet connection. Ben has already dug deep into that part of the conference, so I'll be focusing on the other parts of the show.
While Microsoft devoted a few small chunks of time to niche and indie titles, Sony kicked it up several notches by devoting a huge swath of time to announcing many of the biggest new indie titles that will be making their console debuts on PlayStation 4, and even gave Supergiant games the floor for a small presentation and trailer for their upcoming title, Transistor.
In a big demonstration, Sony trotted out the developers of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Ray's the Dead, Don't Starve, Secret Ponchos, Outlast, Oddworld: New and Tasty, and Galak-Z to show off brief snippets of game play. They also repeatedly touted their open policy toward indie games development and renewed their committment to being the most open platform for small games.
Big new games
It wasn't just about the indie developers though, Sony also had a line-up of big AAA games as well like Killzone: Shadow Fall, which was looking mighty dapper with lush new environments and a new type of attack drone which could be used as both an offensive weapon and a defensive shield.
They also brought Square Enix into the presentation to announce that Final Fantasy vs XIII is now officially Final Fantasy XV. They also announced Kingdom Hearts 3 with a short trailer.inFamous: Second Son made an appearance as well, and gave us a closer look at some of the abilities that the main character will have at his disposal as a “bioterrorist.” It introduced the world to Delsin Rowe's brother, who begins the game as one of the very authority figures Delsin is fighting against, but seems to have a change of heart later on in the trailer.
Beyond: Two Souls was back this year, and turned out to be one of the most impressive games at the show so far. The new trailer takes a far more action-oriented approach, and shows main character Jodie Holmes fighting in the military, and being turned into a weapon with CIA combat training. We'll have some coverage of this in a bit. The biggest PS4 game on display was undoubtedly Bungie's upcomging new sci-fi shooter, Destiny. A lengthy game play demo for the new game showed Tretton and Bungie's Jason Jones adventuring in the beautiful landscapes of Destiny and exploring some of its more decrepit locales. It's starting to look more like Borderlands than ever with its focus on cooperative play and randomized weapon loot drops.
Watch Dogs was being shown as well with a long demo that gave another look into the gameplay of Ubisoft's upcoming cyberpunkish thriller that showed main character Aiden Pierce once again using the city as a weapon to save friends, protect himself, and take down the authorities.
The Order: 1866, a new IP, also had an impressive trailer. I found myself totally wrapped up in the Victorian atmosphere and steampunk-ish weaponry of this new game from Sony Santa Monica and Ready at Dawn Studios. We don't know much about it, but as long as we get to play with some of the weapons and walk around the Victorian city shown in that trailer I'm happy.
Assassin's Creed: Black Flag looked amazing as usual. Few games demo as well as the Assassin's Creed games, and Black Flag might be a new high. The demonstration was full of atmosphere as the main character strode through a jovial pirate encampment, creeped through the jungles, and commanded a ship in naval warfare. The demo unfortunately crashed before the ending, but the first part of it was impressive enough, save for the technical hiccups.
Much of the rest of the show was about sneak peaks at upcoming projects. Sony trotted out Gran Turismo 6 and Drive Club to show us a couple lengthy car porn trailers for Polyphony Digital and Evolution Studios' upcoming racers. Not to mention the quick looks at some big multiplatform games like Mad Max, Batman Arkham Origins, the Elder Scrolls Online, and in what may be a first, a sneak peak at a tech demo.
You might remember the old man's face that Sony was obsessing about at their original PS4 unveiling, and today that was revealed as being part of a new tech demo from Quantic Dream, which looked incredible. On a somewhat low resolution stream I honestly had trouble discerning at times whether this was CG or real.
Up until the end, this wasn't exactly a killer show for Sony. They showcased a lot of great upcoming games, but a lot of them were multiplatform and some barely had a PS4 hook at all. Other times they were announcing PS4-exclusive content for multiplatform games which is always something that makes gamers groan. I was excited to hear that their game streaming deal with Gaikai is apparently going to be rolled out sometime in 2014 and will offer a library of PS3 games. It's exciting, but it's also a ways off.
They also went into a lengthy talk about movies and their new Red Box Instant service and generally a lot of movie-and-tv stuff that gamers weren't looking to hear after Microsoft's hour-long tv love fest last month. They did announce that Sony Pictures would be working on content exclusively to PS4 that will be tailored specifically for gamers which could be interesting. Although I'm not really sure what “tailored for gamers” actually means.
Overall, Sony nailed the two parts of the show that actually mattered: games and a commitment to the status quo. Their long list of great AAA and indie titles made them a contender in this year's upcoming console battle, and their committment to the current style of buying and selling used games may have sealed the deal.