Sony Brought Its PlayStation A-Game Today

Sony Brought Its PlayStation A-Game Today
Screenshot: Sony

Sony held a PS5 showcase today. It announced new games there. It showed some more footage of ones it had already revealed. There were big name drops, the occasional dud, and a lot of CGI. In other words: a completely standard video game marketing event. Against the backdrop of the past year under a pandemic, however, it was like watching a press event from the before times.

One of the best-ever RPGs, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, teased a remake. God of War: Ragnarok got actual gameplay and its name finally confirmed. Insomniac, which just released two huge games, revealed two more, a Wolverine game and Spider-Man 2 no less, the latter of which already has a release window of 2023. And Square Enix’s Forspoken looks like Infamous inside Final Fantasy XV. Plus a bunch of other games, like this sci-fi action platformer about aliens evicting humans from Earth came off the bench to lend additional support and intriguing vibes.

Will any of these games be good? Will they look like their trailers? Will they even come out when Sony says they will? I have no idea. But you know what will probably be good? Everything Insomniac’s working on, at least given its recent track record. No surprise, as the Burbank-based studio will soon out-staff the rest of Sony.

Remember, Spider-Man: Miles Morales was so good. And now that narrative team gets to take a crack at Logan, one of the few superheroes to not be completely hollowed out and turned to dust by the last two decades of market over saturation. Yet another video game grizzled white guy? Sure, but just this once, it actually sounds like a good idea. Naughty Dog, if you’re working on a Nathan Drake 3.0, please retire him immediately.

What I’m saying is, it was a very good showcase in an otherwise weird year for games. Coming off the rush of a new console launch in 2020, 2021 has seen a lot of delays as developers grapple with the cumulative effects of the ongoing pandemic. While it has not been a slow year for games — lots of amazing stuff came out this summer alone — it has been an off year for the big budget games industry marketing machine. But Sony managed to deliver some surprisingly satisfying hype boosters where others have struggled to find the vein.

E3 came back after a year’s hiatus. Do you remember the big showstoppers there? Xbox put forth Bethesda’s Starfield, but the teasers were nothing to write home about. Nintendo promised more Nintendo games like WarioWare: Get It Together and Metroid Dread. Both are solid staples but aren’t exactly showstoppers. Ubisoft revealed it is also making more Nintendo games. Square Enix showed Guardians of the Galaxy. Elden Ring finally got an official gameplay trailer.

Then there was EA Play, which announced the return of Dead Space with a remake of the first game, Quakecon, which showed 10-years-later isn’t too late to continue releasing Skyrim, and Gamescom Opening Night, where the big news was a new Marvel game from the XCOM developers. Most of these shows were fine. Most of them could have also probably been skipped.

Screenshot: Sony Screenshot: Sony

Why did Sony succeed where so many others have failed? Those extremely mainstream Marvel licenses sure do help. Insomniac was only acquired in 2019, a year after Microsoft went on its spending spree, and it doesn’t seem to have skipped a beat. That’s not a knock against any of the fine studios making Xbox games. We just haven’t really gotten to see much of them yet, and what has been teased has occasionally been a bit on the bland side. A new Perfect Dark will be cool, but those skyscrapers and sandstorms in the initial reveal left me kind of meh.

Metroid Dread looks great, but it’s hard not to feel like Nintendo has a giant Breath of the Wild 2 release date announcement burning a hole in its pocket. Clearly it’s been keeping its cards very close to the chest following covid-19 slowdowns. Remember the Switch Pro? September Nintendo Direct when?

Much has been made, in the age of the Nintendo Direct, of the rise of publisher or developer-specific showcases that, in the olden days, would only be given the spotlight under a much bigger event. Perhaps even a simple blog post with a trailer. So far this year, Sony has managed to shine the biggest spotlight of all, at least so far. Maybe the 2021 Game Awards will show them up? What other superheroes are left?

Comments

  • Ah, Ethan couldn’t quite write an article without throwing in a racist and sexist misandrynistic ‘erase white men from games!’ comment.

    Its absolutely hilarious that he says Wolverine doesn’t suffer from market oversaturation since Logan is the poster child of overuse. Theres a reason why the trope was originally called ‘Wolverine Publicity’, although Deadpool took up the mantle at one point, and you could say the same about Harley.

    Wolverine was always the worst tho.

  • I would say Sony’s conference this year was solid, but not as impressive as Xbox’s E3 reel..

    You say Starfield’s teaser was nothing to write home about, yet it showed 10X more than the Wolverine one did.. No doubt the game will be great, Insomniac, even if I am little worried they’re stretching too thin, have always brought the goods.

    Don’t get me wrong, Sony brought some heavy hitters, and I am definitely going to love some of those games, but I would’ve liked a little more in-game and less CG. Even the GT7 had to state ‘mix of ingame and prerendered’.

    Didn’t see that KOTOR timed exclusivity coming though, that was impressive Sony..

    • I’m excited by both line ups. I just want new games in the new consoles. Kick last gen

      But Xbox E3, come on. A half finished Halo, car game & a souls game.

      But it depends how you want to look at it 😉

      • It does depend on how you look at it. The cynic in me thought Sony’s was mostly their PS4 stuff ‘part 2’, i.t. GT7, God of War, Uncharted remastered, Spiderman (even Wolverine could be just a Spiderman game with claws and didn’t appear to be anything but pre-rendered) but then I had to relook at the other things they showed and I said, yes it’s a solid showing and there’s some nice things on the horizon..

        To boil down Xbox to just those 3 games though is a little simplified. Whether the games panned out or not, at the time, they had some striking things in there like The Ascent (too bad it’s online is busted), Flight Simulator, in game showing of Starfield, 12 minutes preview (again I stress AT the time impressive), STALKER 2, heck there was even a snowboarding game in there! A Snowboarding game!

        I’m not even a Halo, so it doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest but I think Xbox had more variety than Sony.. Again, it’s an opinion, not fact.

        If you have either console (or both you lucky few out there), you’re not going to be wanting for quality games in the coming year.. Bring on proper next gen..

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