At E3, Sony Knocked It Out Of The Ballpark

Maybe I'm just sleep deprived, maybe my expectations were too low going in. But I'm sitting here, post Sony's E3 conference and my head is spinning.

Was that... maybe -- just maybe -- one of the best E3 conferences ever?

It's a difficult one to parse. Last year had more big name reveals, but so much of it was pie-in-the-sky -- it was almost fan fiction. Final Fantasy VII remake, Shenmue... those games weren't close to release and, one year later, we still have no real idea when and how we'll be able to play those games.

This year was far more concrete.

Final Fantasy XV: September The Last Guardian: October PlayStation VR: October Resident Evil VII: January Horizon: Zero Dawn: February

It was a conference that said, "do you like video games? Because we have video games. We have a lot of video games. And you'll be able to play them soon."

But even the games that were of the pie-in-the-sky variety -- they were blessed with presentations powerful enough -- and far enough along -- to feel very real.

Let's talk about God of War. A game that someone played. A game that seems to completely reinvent the God of War formula, whilst retaining just enough to feel familiar. A game that had all the gore and impact you've come to expect from the series but also -- God knows how -- managed to have emotional depth. I did not -- could not -- see that coming. I'm talking specifically about the Father/Son relationship and the moment he helped his son kill the deer. It was hard to watch. And powerful and...

And video games just don't normally do that shit well at all. Especially not in E3 demos.

Let's talk about Days Gone. A game that actually seemed delicate in the initial trailer, but was a complete shitstorm of zombie explosions in practice. Again, it was a video game that someone played. The scale of it seemed intense and the writing, whilst a little hammy, was approaching pretty good. This is a video game I could see myself investing in.

Then Hideo Kojima arrived to one of the most bombastic entrances I've ever seen. Kojima arrived at Sony's E3 conference like Xerxes from 300. The music was ridiculous. The lighting was ridiculous. The crowd... just exploded into a strange Bieber-esque fervour. It has on some Hulk Hogan circa '89 shit. It set the stage for a dramatic reveal of Kojima's new game, Death Stranding, which was freaky enough to feel original. I have no idea where Kojima is going with this, and I suspect it is insanely early in its development cycle, but it was bizarre enough to suggest a cohesive creative vision. I get the sense this is a concept, and a universe, Kojima has been sitting on for a while.

What else? Detroit: Become Human was interesting. The dialogue was so bad it had to be a David Cage game, but somehow I just didn't give a shit. I liked Heavy Rain. I like a team that aims high. I like the look of this game and I like the concept. I can forgive a few clunkers in the script department.

How about Horizon: Zero Dawn. I had this terrible feeling this game would look worse with each showing. Turns out the opposite was true. This game is The Witcher 3 with robot dinosaurs and I can't see a single goddamn reason why that isn't the best idea ever.

Is this gushing? Am I gushing? It's hard to tell. The sheer pace of Sony's conference, the amount of interesting games it squeezed into such a short period of time. It feels like I just drank red cordial concentrate.

Above all, it just feels strange to be excited about video games, especially big AAA video games that usually leave me cold. These games are interesting, they have some semblance of variety in tone. Some appear to explore interesting, difficult themes.

What is this world I'm living in?


Comments

    Right there with you. Sony got me pumped up. I especially didn't expect to see such strong support for PSVR - it might actually have a shot at sticking around with all the games they're throwing at it.

    It was a conference that said, “do you like video games? Because we have video games. We have a lot of video games. And you’ll be able to play them soon.”

    Exactly. And this is why I completely disagree with this article. No mention of service improvements, firmware updates or hardware beyond PSVR. When can I change my effing PSN name, Sony? It was an hour of games that I'd already heard about with a couple of fresh ones that were pretty, but, on-the-whole, underwhelming.

      Damn mate. How bad is your PSN name that changing it is more important than the games you can play on the device you purchased presumably to play games.

        I dunno.
        *looks back at old Yahoo and MSN handles*
        *shudders*

          Yeah I've had some shockers also. I just cant seem to see the logic in blaming a company for being stuck with a stupid name I chose.
          Sometimes you just have to own the stupid decisions you make (like my own PSN ID also). Learn to just look at it and laugh about how dumb you were 10 years or so ago.

        can't you just create a second account and log into that on the playstation?

          And lose all the digital goods he has bought?

            Well no, if you install them to the console and have the main account on their, you can play them as your other account...

              What about when he gets a ps4.5 or ps5 etc? The argument is that he shouldn't have to. Why is changing your name not allowed on PSN when literally every other service lets you?
              Edit: Literally may be too strong a word.

              Last edited 14/06/16 4:40 pm

              Things that don't migrate as easily ... 357 friends, 25 Platinum trophies, 17 groups and countless links with other services (MLG, ESL, Facebook, Steam, etc.)

      E3 is first and foremost a games conference man, not a game-system focused conference, and Sony nailed it with their coverage. I agree with the author.

      Last edited 14/06/16 1:43 pm

      Im curious, would you actually expect that they would announce something like changing PSN name at E3? Like microsoft announcing that you would be able to play your own music? This is something that should have been there from the start, not an oh hey surprise we are actually doing it....

      I always feel the strongest E3 showings are the ones that highlight what we actually do with the platforms, you know play games... And on that front the Sony presser has been the best presentation so far as it was just games games games

        While I agree, background music should have been a staple at launch ... it wasn't. The same argument would be "Spotify integration should have been on PS4 from the start". System improvements are system improvements, of which PlayStation offered absolutely zero.

        I would hope that PSN name changes aren't an isolated announceable at E3. I would hope that they form part of a presentation that listed a whole raft of system improvements of which name changing would be one-of. #BetterPSN

      Why would you be disappointed by a lack of firmware update announcements at E3?

      That's like going to Disneyland and being disappointed because the car park wasn't to your liking.

        It would be like Sony's movie arm having a red carpet event for the lastest Blu-ray definition.

        But ... that's a perfectly reasonable complaint. The car park forms part of the Disneyland experience. It's why Apple spends so much R&D $$$$ on the freakin' packaging of their products.

          Nobody goes to Disneyland for the car park. It's just something they go through to get to the stuff they went there for.

          If Sony have a firmware update, they'll just release it. They're not going to have an E3 press conference about it.

            No, you're right. I didn't get a PS4 for the UI and firmware either, but it's the reason I don't stay. If the only place to park is a steaming pile of Rhino dung, then I'm going to go across the road to Universal Studios. Don't get hung up on the name change - See my above comment. It should be part of a whole suite of system improvements that do have a place at an E3 press conference. #BetterPSN

              Apart from the name changing what would you like to see done to PSN? I'm curious as I use both consoles and find both lacking in some departments, but the simple ui on the ps4 is good because o don't have to rely on my crap Internet to load up like on the xbone... But I also wish I could change my PSN name but it isn't going to hold me back on being impressed with the games that are on the system.

              And seriously I'm genuinely curious about the changes you would like to see, I don't want it to come across as if im having a go (damn internet and its propensity for arguments).

                Haha, no, that's ok, everytime I wade into a discussion that's either 'PS4' or 'Xbox' I tend to sound like I'm having a go as well.

                The list over at Better PSN would be a good place to start, but if I cherry-picked a few of them, it would have to be (in addition to the name change), offline trophy management and tracking and support for multiple primary consoles. On the less-important-but-aesthetically-annoying list, is an overhaul of the drop-down UI, expanded (and better integrated) social support of the profile function and more user-driven flexibility surrounding the calendar/events feature.

                Some of this stuff will happen (ie. We can now hide our online status), but it's far too slow (for my liking) for the pace at which gaming is moving.

                  Fair enough, I had a look at the better PSN website and there are some interesting things on there, and some that have already been added. I dont know, I guess I'm just easily pleased because I dont have a major problem with the PSN or Xbox. There are things about it that annoy me, but I just put up with it for the games.

                  If it gets to frustrating on one system I start playing a game on another for awhile, I have a lot of gaming systems, a somewhat embarrassing number to be honest (I have kept or reacquired a lot of older systems), so my pile of shame doesnt just span one system or one generation.

    The sheer amount of zombiethings in Days Gone was kind of incredible. The way they just kept flowing and flowing, and the way they'd kind of stumble over their fallen brothers. Had me wondering if there was actually strategy in trying to fight them, and whether you could clog up a choke point with fallen bodies to stop the onslaught.

      The first display left me expecting it to be something pretty run-of-the-mill - was it just me, or was there no mention of zombies in the first reveal? I admit, I kinda tuned out as it didn't look all that interesting at first. It looked like some sort of Red Dead-style game about bikers in some remote desert town.

      Those zombies in the gameplay demo, tho... holy crap. I loved the way World War Z portrayed zombies as not something to be walked past with a casual bop on the head - anything that can portray zombies as an actual ravenous horde, rather than a disjointed group of lobotomised lumbering idiots, gets my hype.

      Last edited 14/06/16 4:17 pm

        Pretty sure there wasn't any talk of zombies, from memory. All it seemed to imply was there was some kind of apocalyptic event, and it wasn't til the demo that you go "oh, it's zombies. Oh, it's zombies!"

        Yea no mention of Zombies in the first reveal, I was interested at that point because I was like 'oh cool, post apocalyptic world, ride around on a bike' I was hoping that it wasnt just going to be a shooter, but oh well.

        I would love a post apocalyptic game where it isnt zombies, but the main threat is from fellow survivors, or even just basic things like food, water, shelter. If you have read The Stand by Stephen King there is an absolute cracking chapter about how many people died in the world from the super flu, but that there was alot of people that died that were immune to the flu because they weren't well adapted to being able to survive on their own or they did stupid shit that got themselves killed or hurt, which lead to death because there was noone about to help them.

    That was fantastic. They hit a high point and held it there.

    The PC show was an utter embarrassment. Dear god, it was... some great stuff but they need to take it a little more seriously, the guys doing the Friday the 13th game, ugh. Guys... seriously.

    But MS presentation was good, Sonys was exceptional, hoping that Nintys is good too :)

      I completely forgot about that. What else was shown?

    Don't forget, much more new to come from Square Enix, when things start up tomorrow!!

    They already dropped a new Kingsglaive and extended version of their FFXV trailer just then.

    Did The Last Guardian make anyone else cry?

      Yeah, when they showed the date on the screen, tears suddenly came to my eyes. It's been so long ...

      The thought of the boy or the gryphon dieing makes me well up, I'm such a sucker for these emotional things since I became a father.

    For the second year in a row Sony focused on games and it worked beautifully. Live demos with a live orchestra playing on top of that? Ballsy and it worked. Microsoft seem to've become bloated in worrying about hardware again which reminds me of the months before the Xbone came out. Sony though are living up to their 'for the gamers' tagline and I'm loving this generation for it

      What. Microsofts problem at launch wasnt worrying about hardware, it was worrying about unimportant software and features.
      New consoles are fine, E3 is the place to announce and talk about them. Consoles are "for the gamers", if you didnt realize.

    Nothing so far at E3 this year as impressed me. It's been a pretty big non-event to be honest.

      You're hard to please.

        I guess I was expecting more than a bunch of game announcements, many of which we already knew were in development. I'm seeing nothing that warrants being announced at a big industry expo. Pretty much everything that's come out of this year's E3 for me thus far has been rated "meh" for me.

      Yeah, I feel exactly the same. Usually there's at least Nintendo to offer up some new weird thing, but it's the second year in a row of glaring disappointment in that regard.

    I was most impressed by Detroit (blade runner fantasies) . Everything else seemed like a variation of the Last of Us/Witcher. Days Gone's red barrels prove we've yet to evolve beyond contrivances. I honestly thought Residen7 Evil was going to be a PT announcement. Ah well

      but it looks like we will basically get PT with Kojima's game anyway, so there is that...

    Why buy a VR Batman game when I can just wear the Batman costume I already have?

    Seriously though, that was vintage Sony. Now, not actually keen on most of what they showed personally, but what they did was have an even spread - I can definitely see myself at least trying a God of War game and not feel embarrassed playing it, Horizon looks great, we already know from yesterday what the PS4 is getting from some major devs.

    Resident Evil 7 in VR will legit cause heart attacks.

      You can wear your Batman costume while you play VR Batman. It'll be like you really ARE Batman. It'll be awesome.

        I might be wearing it right now.

          That makes me think of one of the batman costumes my son has, and it says on the chest 'Well someone has to be Batman!'

    You've gotta admit it was fairly one sided, With Xbox having majority of its content leaked it left very little to surprise. That said PS did look pretty damn awesome.

    Sony wisely knew to keep the focus off the vague and troubling prospect of Apple style mid generation console remakes (like whatever scorpio is meant to be) and kept it purely on the games.

    And oh my what games they had. Clever looking reboots of old IP (god of war), brand new titles (horizon), titles that show off how sony is willing to invest big in clunky but unique games (detroit), loving "yes this is real and yes you'll play it soon" games (last guardian and FFXV), nods to Playstation's long history (crash bandicoot is coming back!!!) And insanely early but hype inducing teasers for Kojima's new thing and finally a massive boost for the VR with lots of "we could ramble about tech but just check out all these games that'll be using our VR.

    It's still amazing to me that not too long ago Sony was the butt of E3 jokes with their infamous "rrrrriiiidddddggggeeee racer" and "giant enemy crab" E3 and now they regularly leave the competition in the dust in terms of performances.

      Sony wisely knew to keep the focus off the vague and troubling prospect of Apple style mid generation console remakes (like whatever scorpio is meant to be) and kept it purely on the games.

      They just kind of kicked the can down the road until next year's E3. They're going to have to talk about it at some point, they just don't want to take attention away from PSVR at the moment since that's launching much sooner.

        They will probably announce it at Playstation Experience in December, or TGS in September or maybe Gamescom in August. I think they just mainly wanted to focus on what was coming in the next 6 - 9 months, with a couple of teasers for stuff outside that range.

    Sony won just by having Bear McCreary there conducting the live orchestra.

    Too much VR, too many cinematic trailers. Needed more gusto.

      However I don't recall another E3 presser that has had so much live gameplay.

    I agree Mark, after the other pressers I wasn't getting the feelz - but this bought me back...shit even CoD looked good to me, and I don't have any interest in playing it.

    GOD OF WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm kinda gobsmacked that people are gushing over this press conference. I found it completely "meh." More shooting games. More zombie games. At least The Last Guardian and that weird Kojima thing look like something new. I dunno, maybe I just need to admit that after being a gamer for over 25 years, the industry just doesn't care about my tastes anymore. Because there was very little there that looked like something I'd want to play.

      I had similar thoughts at one stage during the press conference, "oh look, another open worldly third person game"

      C'mon man, I've been a gamer about as long as you, but there were still things to like.

      Yeah, the conference was a little underwhelming as far as new experiences that aren't VR, but the industry totally cares about your tastes still! Deus Ex games are still being made. Dishonored 2 still gives me original deus ex and thief-syle mechanics in an interesting world. I never expected a game to recapture the feel of those ones, but this does it.

      Apart from that, For Honour looks genuinely new and interesting. And up until now releases have been the most gamer-veteran friendly they've ever been. Ps4 caught some of that crpg renaissance with Divnity and Wasteland 2, we're getting X-com 2, and apparently Prey is meant to be inspired by System Shock 2! But we already got a great System Shock game and it was called Alien Isolation.

      Oh, and No Man's Sky is going to be a PS4 game where you can fly in space. That never happens on console.

      Lots of great old-school inspired things are out and are still coming out.

    Yeah, good job, Sony. I cannot give a damn about technical specs of hardware becoming slightly (or allegedly, significantly) better. I care about what you are going to do with that technology and what you should be doing is fantastic games. Games meant to intrigue and awe, instead of simply serving as bland reels of technological prowess. Microsoft failed at it, even with their upcoming supposedly "most powerful console ever". Sony chose to disregard relying on the Neo and showed us great games that will be truly exclusive (as opposed to shared with PC). The winner is clear.

    my only disapointment was that instead of a new Crash we are getting remaster ones. I was so hyped when crash theme was played on stage, i was sure we are getting a new crash from SONY. ah well

      Why would they remaster the trilogy and put Crash in Skylanders if not to prepare people for a new full blown Crash adventure?

        Might be throwing it out to test the waters- see how the remaster sells, then a new full game

          In that case I better buy some Skylanders Crash figures... oh and three or four copies of the remasters...

          I hope they make a new one, in VR!!! Only kidding but VR is such a big thing now, imagine Crash Bandicoot VR experience!

    Insofar as games I think Sony's E3 conference was the one that delivered the best and the most exciting, however MS did show off some genuinely interesting indie games, although I don't remember if they were exclusives.

    I think the one thing that people will take away from E3 is Project Scorpio. It was Microsoft's "one more thing" moment and it was arguably the most exciting item from all the conferences. Therefore I think in a few minds Microsoft "won" E3 despite IMHO a generally lacklustre games lineup.

      It's still so much a "hypothetical" to me. When you know it's not going to be released for (at least) 18 months and we know nothing about its competition (Neo), I find it's hard to get too excited. And as others have pointed out some of the performance claims they make are dubious, especially without any details to go on. If this was E3 2017, and it was dropping 6 months from now with some hard data to back up the specs, that would be a different story.

    I don't know... I found it to be actively mediocre.

    The high point was definitely the Horizon demo, but the rest was pretty ordinary.

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