E3 2014: PlayStation Press Conference
Arriving at the end of Day Zero, the Sony press conference has been traditionally seen as the pinnacle one of E3 for the last few years. Although Nintendo’s presentation usually follows on the next day, Sony mark the end of the business day on which most of the major publishers play their best cards.
It has been an awkward but triumphant last few years for Sony. After massively falling behind Xbox in the pivotal North American market and a security leak that temporarily killed the PlayStation Network entirely and resulted in law suits. they have managed to claw their way back to the top with a current 3m sales lead on the PS4 versus the Xbox One.
Their E3 2014 presentation also marks their first since parting ways with former PlayStation of America head Jack Tretton earlier this year. Tretton’s trademark charisma and almost child-like style left a big gap to fill that fortunately they managed to cover aside from a few hiccups.
As with Microsoft, Sony were eager to assure the crowd that all talk of new hardware and the related terraflops and speed clocks was now well and truly out of the way. 2014 has been the first year of the new generation when Sony and Microsoft have been just concentrate on games and both clearly used that blessing to their advantage.
Sony opened with a live demo of Destiny. Bungie’s first non-Halo title since 2001 isn’t a PlayStation exclusive but PlayStation CEO Andrew House was eager to inform the crowd that PS4 should be the platform choice for the hardcore with a private Alpha launching as soon as Thursday 12th June and a more open beta on 17th July.
There’s also a ‘Glacier’ White PS4 model due on 9th September that will be bundled with a copy of the game. Any PlayStation exclusivity on this game is bound to touch a nerve with Xbox since Bungie were once their pinnacle studio but things change with time and the final product is likely to be fairly similar on both platforms.
Following Bungie and Activision’s cowboy space opera was an extended live demo of the steam punk monster fest The Order: 1886. The more I see of this game, the more it seems to look just like slightly glossier Resident Evil-style horror fare and the game’s release was recently postponed until 2015. This remained one of the few big budget PS4 exclusives on show though and it looks like it could have some potential even if the concept isn’t entirely original.
Somewhat oddly, these images of a pissed off mutant being shot in the face were soon proceeded by the reveal of Entwined for the PS4, an indie adventure in the style of Journey that follows the lives of a fish and a bird torn apart by natural elements. Created by a small team of recent game course graduates, the developers delivered a brief live demo before announcing the game was available immediately on the PlayStation Store. Nick has been playing the game today and we will be along with a review shortly but impressions so far suggest that it’s nothing short of breath taking and with an immense soundtrack. Priced at only £6.49/$9.99, I’m really looking forward to trying this one out myself.
An announcement of new standalone DLC for Infamous: Second Son (don’t even get me started on that game) was followed by the second big PlayStation exclusive announcement of the day in the form of Little Big Planet 3 for the PS4. It’s visually a lot more astounding but pretty looks much the same as it’s always been with the added bonus of offering PS3 and Vita support for LBP 3 created user content. It’s coming later this year and Media Molecule have a solid track record where release dates are concerned so this one can be safely added to your Christmas list.
Next up was Bloodborne from the creators of Dark Souls at From Software. The trailer looks as dark and forboding as you would expect and it’s likely to be extremely popular among the hardcore when it releases next year based upon the success of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s previous work. Not being a masochistic, I’m not sure personally but visually at least the game does seem to be impressive and shows the sort lighting and ambience that we can start to expect now that the last gen consoles are being further edged out of the way.
Ubisoft followed suit with another live demo of Far Cry 4. Chris covered this one in his Ubisoft presentation review but I have to admit to viewing any Ubisoft press demos now with a sense of caution after the issues that have recently emerged with Watch_Dogs and I doubt that I will be the only one doing that. If Far Cry 3 was anything to go by though then it will still be worth a look and the PS4 has the added exclusive bonus of supporting co-op play with PSN friends who don’t even own a copy of the game themselves. Quite how that is going to work is yet to be seen but we’ll hopefully hear more about it in the next few days. There are some really nice looking elephants in it is well to be fair.
It was at this point in the presentation that attention turned to supposed user feedback and this was used as an excuse to premier a trailer for Dead Island 2 which includes a PS4 exclusive 30 day beta and additional content. Humorous trailer and voice talent by Jack Black and Aaron “Jesse Pinkman” Paul aside, Dead Island: Riptide was at best described as a cluster fuck and Techland have a bit of a chequered past when it comes to trailers so we’ll reserve judgement on this one until we get to see some actual gameplay footage at least. Diablo III for PlayStation is also getting some exclusive The Last of Us themed features if your’re into that sort of thing.
This was followed by a trailer for Battlefield: Hardline which Nick covered in his overview of the EA presentation. A console and PC exclusive limited beta was unleashed yesterday and we have been playing both versions today after just about defeating half of the internet for spaces when it was announced on a strictly first come, first served basis. If you couldn’t get in then you definitely weren’t alone and we’ll be back with a separate hands-on preview of it really soon.
There was a trailer for Magicka 2 and then the announcement that sent the crowd crazy that Tim Schaefer’s adventure classic Grim Fandango is receiving a HD remake for the PS4. Unfortunately I am old enough to have played this game the first time around but I join the population of Los Angeles in cheering for this one I really can’t wait for it to arrive. If you never tried it when it was released on the PC at the end of the 1990’s then you’re in for a treat.
There were quite a lot of indie games announced next from Hotline Miami publishers Devolver Digital and this obviously included Hotline Miami 2. I had a chance to play the Vita and PS4 versions of Hotline Miami 2 earlier this year and if you liked the first one then you will like this. Some of these indie titles looked impressive, others not so much and most were just PS4 and Vita ports of currently released PC games such as Broforce. It’s clear that Sony’s committment to indie is stronger than ever in the new generation though and to be fair it was already pretty strong to begin with.
Japanese insanity merchant Suda 51 was up next with his PS4 exclusive Let It Die which is due for release next year. It’s a dark grindhouse affair in Goichi Suda’s typically violent style and whilst it does look interesting, my faith in Suda 51 has taken a bit of a pounding over the last few years as his more recent works like Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead have failed to live up to the standards he set with Michigan and Killer 7. This was followed by the first title from Giant Squid, a studio largely created by some of the developers of Journey. It’s an underwater adventure called Abzu and as you can probably guess, it looks stunning. It’s like to take PSN and critics by storm upon release based on Journey’s reputation alone. It’s only a console-exclusive on PS4 though so it’s possible that we may also see a PC version of this game.
What followed was possibly the largely unexpected highlight of Sony’s presentation. It’s difficult to briefly describe No Man’s Sky but needless to say this is probably the game that you never knew you wanted. It looks phenomenal in every possible way and you’re probably best just watching the trailer of this one and judging for yourself. The crowd went wild after the trailer was debuted and I almost felt sorry for the overwhelmed founder of Hello Games who seemed honestly humbled by the game’s media reception upon taking the stage. A timed console exclusive on PS4, this is definitely going to be one for everybody’s wishlist. A small indie outfit from Guildford had taken the stage after a seemingly endless stream of representatives from massively multi-million dollar studios and seemed to gauge more of a reaction than any of them.
There was some talk regarding the PS4 camera once which has apparently received a response “that far exceeded expectations”. This led the way for some talk on Project Morpheus which was unveiled at GDC earlier this year and is set to be the next big thing in motion controls. Considering Microsoft’s recent removal of a mandatory Kinect sensor for the Xbox One, this is kind of a bold move by Sony but hands-on feedback so far does seem to be positive.
Sony then introduced their new chief of American operations who seemed confident but doesn’t seem to have the exuberance of his predecessor. He confirmed that YouTube is coming to the PS4 this summer and will allows users to upload video to YouTube channels right from the PS4 system menu. There was some boring stats stuff and the unveiling of some Free to Play games for PS4 and Vita. At PlayStation, “Free to Play means Free to Play” only with the small print of “certain features available for a fee”. Make of that what you will but I’m not especially interested in the whole thing anyway.
PlayStation Now is the Gaikai powered game streaming service and will be released in open beta at the end of July in North America for PS4 and with a supported library of PS3 games. Vita and PS3 support will be added soon afterwards but any release dates for other territories weren’t confirmed. Some Sony TV’s will also be supported without any console attached and the Vita TV will be released in the West following a release in Japan and Asia last Christmas. It will be rebranded as PlayStation TV and carry a retail price of $99. The device is best described as a Vita without a screen and I’m not really sure who’s asking for it but sales have been quite high in Asia. It will be accompanied with Vita ports of Child of Light and Telltale’s forthcoming Tales from the Borderlands.
After this, the presentation was briefly back on form with a live demo of Mortal Kombat X. This was the first time that any live footage had been seen since details of the game were leaked a few weeks ago and it does look more like a return to the old 2D style of MK rather than the 3D combat style of Mortal Kombat 9. Some of the fatalities and special moves bordered on obscene and seemed quite of place compared with the man in the tailored suit who excitedly presented them. Personally, I’m over fighting games these days but a lot of people seem to be really looking forward to this one.
Next there was some talk about Sony Pictures and exclusive video programming for PlayStation Plus holders on PSN. This mostly focused around a TV adaptation of a graphic novel series called Powers that is only currently confirmed for a US release anyway. There was also a Ratchet and Clank Movie reveal. This part of the presentation went on for a long time and basically it was bollocks. Lets move on.
There was a heartbreaking trailer for the remastered PS4 edition of The Last of Us next accompanied by an impressive cover version of Something in the way by Nirvana. As trailers go it was perfect and it made me want to play the game all over again even though I did play it through to completion and had my fill of the multiplayer on the PS3 version last year. This was proceeded by the new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain which looks equally amazing and if nothing else has tempted me to actually get around to playing Ground Zeroes. Maybe one for this weekend.
The next trailer was my favourite one of the day even if it was for a game that I both played and reviewed last year. Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PS4 (plus 360 and PC) and the PS4 version at least will support transfer of GTA Online profiles from the PS3 and even the Xbox 360 version. This marks a massive shift in the console space and I honestly can’t remember this ever happening before. The trailer was no less immense than you would expect from Rockstar and I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head since last night. It looks visually a lot more detailed than the admittedly incredible 360 and PS3 versions and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to pick this up again when it releases in the Autumn.
Second to last was a live demo of Batman: Arkham Knight for the PS4. I have to admit being not particularly fond of Rocksteady’s albeit extremely successful Batman games since I find them slightly sterile and repetitive but I know that’s just me. The trailer did look gorgeous though and the footage of The Scarecrow at the end was enough at least to peak my interest slightly more than before.
The last unveiling was one that everybody expected and was possibly the most highly anticipated game of E3 2014. Nathan Drake is coming to PS4 in Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End next year and it looks incredible with the kind of visuals that could invoke jealousy even in high-end PC gamers. There are no literally no words in the English language that can describe how good this game looks so it’s probably best just to check out the short trailer below for yourself if you haven’t already. This game is likely to be among the big live demos at E3 next year and is bound to do nothing but help Sony to maintain their current lead over the competition.
And that’s it from Sony for another year. Although it had some slow points, Sony have joined Microsoft in sticking with what the people want and just piled game after game on an eagerly anticipating crowd. E3 2015 is hopefully a sign that we can start to put the last generation consoles to rest now and start to really focus on what the new hardware has to offer. It’s an extremely exciting time and no doubt we will receive even more digital eye candy over the next few days. Indeed many of the games that Sony touted last year including Final Fantasy XV, Capcom’s Deep Down, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture meaning that PS4 and Xbox One console owners will soon be in the envious yet awkward position of ‘too many games and too little time’.
What did you think of E3 this year. Were you please with what was on show or were you expecting more? Let us know in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.