It was 02:00 am for those of us across the pond…
So, the press conferences leading up to the start of E3 have been a mixed bag so far; Microsoft’s Project Scorpio finally got an official moniker: The Xbox One X (I bet they were up all night thinking of that one) Assassin’s Creed Origins goes back in time to Ancient Egypt, Black Flag is getting a spiritual successor in the form of Skull and Bones and Bethesda are milking Fallout 4 and Skyrim even further with the introduction of paid mods (you’d think they would have learned their lesson the last time it backfired). So far nothing has gotten me beyond the ‘meh, it looks alright’ stage and nothing has really stolen the show as of yet; thankfully this is an area that Sony usually has a lot of success in. Sony has a solid history of being the MVP at E3 based on their performance over the last couple of years, with the trend beginning with the reveal of the PlayStation 4 back at E3 2013. Since then Sony has been absolutely dominating the console market over the last few years, releasing a number of stellar PS4 exclusives as well as the PS4 Pro last November. Unfortunately, however, Sony’s recent success has caused them to get a bit of an inflated ego this time around, with this year’s showing being below the usual bar of quality expected at Sony press conferences. The conference wasn’t by any means bad, but it genuinely felt like something pivotal was missing.
The conference began with an Indian quintet performing music in front of a light show being projected on falling sand; while it was visually stunning to look at, all I could wonder is what it was meant to represent. This was soon revealed as it was a teaser leading up to a trailer of the Uncharted: Lost Legacy expansion, which pits Uncharted 2 fan favourite Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross together as they search numerous locations across India for the Tusk of Ganesh. Following this was a trailer for the long awaited DLC for the Stellar Horizon: Zero Dawn, titled The Frozen Wilds which will drop some time later this year. From what can be seen, it takes place after the main story (seeing as Aloy is wearing the Shield-Weaver) and follows Aloy as she seeks answers in the lands of the Banuk; it also seems that we’ll finally be put up against a metal devil (or a FAS-BOR7 Horus if we’re getting technical).
Just when the excitement of the crowd couldn’t get any higher, Sony followed up with brand new footage from Bend Studio’s post-apocalyptic epic Days Gone. The footage this time around was about the open world gameplay, specifically how protagonist Deacon St. John interacts with the environment. The footage shows off driving mechanics as well as some of the varied types of enemies that Deacon will face, ranging from rabid wolves to bandits and even a zombified bear (to which both the audience and onscreen characters stared at in pure amazement and terror). Stealth mechanics will be making an appearance, as well as the ability to prepare traps and lay ambushes. Probably the most interesting thing that you could glean from the trailer (and that sets Days Gone apart from similar titles) is that the virus/parasite doesn’t discriminate, with it attacking animals as well as humans.
After the footage ended, Sony America CEO Shawn Layden took to the stage to greet the audience in the usual fashion, stating that this year “it’s all about the games” which was an obvious attempt at a metaphorical kick to the balls aimed at Microsoft. Following Shaun’s speech was the reveal of more upcoming PlayStation titles such as: Monster Hunter on PS4, a reboot of the PS2 classic Shadow of the Colossus, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite and a new multiplayer gameplay trailer for Sledgehammer Games’s upcoming Call of Duty: WW2; showing some solid boots on the ground gameplay (as well as a very familiar looking bayonet charge) across the multiple fronts of the European Theatre of War. Another interesting feature is that it seems the gore mechanics from World at War may have made a comeback as well; a potential indication that Sledgehammer intends to market the game for more mature audiences (fewer squeakers is a win/win in my book).
After the high note that the COD trailer ended on is where the conference (in my humble opinion) took a turn for the worse, with a collection of pretty forgettable VR titles taking place over the headliners. The likes of Skyrim VR (seriously Bethesda?) and the FFXV Monsters of the Deep are titles that people could have done without; other titles like Star Child, Moss and Bravo Team were (as aforementioned) pretty forgettable, but did at least excel in showing off the impressive tech that goes into virtual reality games. Following the VR showcase was an impressive new trailer for the fourth entry in the God of War series, showing off all kinds of gameplay elements ranging from combat to overlong boat sections. Up next was Quantic Dream’s new interactive title Detroit: Become Human, showing both the bitter conflict between androids and humans and the ‘illusion’ of choice that usually comes along with these type of games. Destiny 2 also got a new trailer, showing off some of the story and familiar (yet refined) gameplay that made the first entry a lot of fun. The trailer also took the time to show off the PlayStation exclusive goodies that we’ll get to play with come September, which includes unique armour sets, the City Apex ship, a new exotic sniper rifle called Borealis, a PvP map called Retribution as well as a new Strike called Lake of Shadows. As another bonus, the release date for the game has been moved to the 6th of September, meaning that we get to play the game two days earlier than expected (which is a winner in my book).
Shawn Layden took the stage again stating that the last sixty minutes of game trailers was “quite the roller coaster ride” and was a testament to the content and developers which show that PlayStation is the “best place to play for gamers”; Shawn closed off his speech leaving us with a ‘true PlayStation exclusive’. My mind began to race, I thought to myself ‘are they going to do it?’ and as I expected to finally see gameplay footage for The Last of Us 2, Sony killed my excitement quicker than a man swimming with concrete shoes by showing off the new Spiderman game. To say that I was salty would be a monumental understatement, as the main reason that I stayed up to watch the conference was to finally catch a glimpse of the next instalment of one of my favourite franchises. Fanboying aside, however, the new trailer for the PlayStation exclusive Spiderman looked pretty decent, showing off spectacular set pieces as Spiderman chased a helicopter through downtown New York.
Sony closed off this year’s conference with a slideshow of all the content that was showcased over the last two hours (as well as a Miles Morales cameo in the new Spiderman game). As the conference hall lit up, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed (and not just because I didn’t get to see any gameplay from The Last of Us 2) even though there were a number of great highlights, the conference overall felt lazy, almost like Sony knew they were at the top of their game years prior, and didn’t have to put 110% in this year to try and outdo the competition.
So that’s about it for Sony at E3 this year, and with today being the day that E3 officially starts, expect a solid week of gameplay footage and announcements as well as all of the juicy details for this year’s biggest releases. What did you think of the Sony Conference? Did you also feel there was something missing? Let us know in the comments below.