Last year, I felt that while Sony had a pretty good E3 press conference, they didn’t really show much that compelled me to want a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita. That isn’t to say that neither system has games I want, merely that most of what they were showing wasn’t.
This year, of course, is a whole new console and a whole new ballgame. And with Microsoft stinking up the joint before they even got there, will Sony pull off a double-header in my book and outdo their rivals at this year’s E3? Let’s fine out.
One thing before we get started: Unlike the MS conference earlier, I’m pulling all of my reference from this single video. And as it’s around two or so hours long and simply packed with stuff, I hope to be a little more brief here as well. So, without further ado…
Opening Montage – Pretty cool. Someone on Twitter likened it to a 90’s Nintendo ad; I wouldn’t go that far, but it was still neat.
PlayStation Vita - Getting this out of the way first. Seems that as the original triple-A material has been striking out, they’re looking to indie developers to help prop it up. Not necessarily the worst idea, and there are still some of the bigger titles coming as well, such as Batman: Arkham Origins and some HD remixes.
TellTale’s The Walking Dead: 400 Days - Probably not exclusive, but given all the acclaim that the original received, it’s a good one to have on hand. It comes to the Vita with the first season and other bonus content, so that’s a great deal for The Walking Dead fans.
PS4/Vita Connection - Continued talk of pairing the two platforms up, but nothing about what some people had hoped for: A possible bundle of PS4 and PS Vita.
The Last of Us - Looks cool, but it’s already out on PlayStation 3, so it’s just kind of… there?
Puppeteer - I missed the title card initially, and thought this was a new LittleBigPlanet game. That said, this looks like a fun adventure in a similar vein, though perhaps without as much customization?
Rain – It looks like you get to play as a ghost and do ghost things. Neat!
Beyond: Two Souls - I’m not sure this is my kind of game, but it looks neat. Very cinematic, though I guess they were probably showing more cutscenes to get that across.
Gran Turismo 6 - Vroom-vroom. Gran Turismo and its ilk are okay, but I think I prefer arcade-style racing. Next.
Batman: Arkham Origins - I’ve yet to really sink my teeth into one of these Batman: Arkham games yet, but this looks as good as any of them. I still think recasting Batman from Kevin Conroy is wrong, even if Roger Craig Smith does well in his stead.
They have some neat exclusive alternate costumes coming, too, including “Knightquest” Batman and 60’s TV series Adam West Batman. Of course, as Jim Sterling pointed out, the West costume needs the West voice, or else it’s just going to ring hollow– perhaps painfully so.
Grand Theft Auto V PlayStation 3 Bundle w/Headset - Looks neat, but I doubt that’s the version I’d get.
Nearly 300 Titles for PlayStation 3 by Year’s End - Heck of a thing to boast. Glad to see that like the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 isn’t going anywhere yet. Then again, Sony’s always been the best about that, even beating out Nintendo in more recent years.
The Console - We finally get to see it, and… it looks like an Xbox One Slim? Italicized? Very odd. Not bad, but… wow, that’s similar in at least a few ways.
Sony’s Andrew House spoke of the designers’ “uncompromising vision.” Seems that means they said “Crap, that’s what the Xbox One looks like? Oh well, we’ve come this far already, let’s just finish it.”
It’s not bad, mind; it seems sort of like the DVD player to Xbox One’s VCR.
Movie Stuff - Don’t care, partly because it doesn’t matter if I care or not; so many of these programs don’t extend beyond the United States anyway, so it’s practically a waste of time to even think about it. The Pay Per View thing has promise, at least, but I can get those through my cable box anyway.
To Microsoft’s credit, at least they got all their chatter about this stuff out of the way at a different time… not the right time, really, but a different time.
The Order: 1886 - I’m of mixed feelings on this one. At first I thought it was zombies, but I hear it’s probably werewolves? That’s a relief, at the very least. Not sure if it’s my kind of thing, as it was all cutscene footage, but the premise has my attention.
Killzone: Shadow Fall - Next. Looks nice, but it’s FPS, not really my thing. Next.
Drive Club - Another driving game? Next.
inFamous: Second Son - Not having a PlayStation 3, I haven’t played any of the prior games, but the premise seems as interesting as ever.
Knack - Still one of Sony’s more interesting-looking new IPs.
The Dark Sorcerer - Real-time footage, or so they claim, but not an actual game in development… or so they claim again. David Cage’s going on and on about a wrinkled old man’s emotions felt like so much bluster a few months ago, and maybe it was, but regardless– damn, this demo played out nicely. It just felt really, really believable… almost real, in a way. Maybe he’s on to something after all?
Either way? I’d like to see more of this. If they can find a way to bring this concept– what we just saw, in its entirety– to a new type of game? I’m in.
Lots of Indie Games - Too many to go into, but the amount of love Sony seems to be showing these guys is great. Of the games shown, Mercenary Kings in particular has my eye, and seeing Oddworld making a comeback is great, too.
The roundup of titles are all making their console debut exclusively on the PlayStation 4, which I take to mean will be similar to Retro City Ransom, which was released on Sony’s platforms first, and other platforms later.
Diablo III - Some Nintendo-esque bonus content will be exclusive to this version, such as items from Uncharted, which is pretty cool. Never played Diablo before, might be interesting, but not a bad way of adding it to the family.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII Final Fantasy XV - I guess they botched Final Fantasy XIII up enough that they decided it was better just to start this part over? Oh well. I’ve never been a huge fan of Final Fantasy to begin with, but I always preferred what I saw of the older ones anyway.
Kingdom Hearts III - If Square Enix can pull their heads out of their posteriors for this one, I might be interested. Throw in Phineas and Ferb, Star Wars, or some Marvel Comics guys, and I’ll be a lot more interested. Come to think of it, they didn’t show much Disney at all, which really diminishes my interest, as Square Enix seems to have a habit of pushing their own material over that which they’ve licensed.
Also, the HD version of the first Kingdom Hearts might be worth looking into, since I never got around to the original. Problem there is, that’s for the PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation 4 isn’t backwards compatible, so catching up would require two systems. Granted, Sony does have the Gaikai cloud streaming thing planned, but I doubt their entire catalog is going to be available on Day 1, so you can’t really rely on that as a factor until we see more of it.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag - My thoughts on this pretty much mirror last year’s.
Watchdogs - They showed this last year, didn’t they? Still looks neat. I remain as intrigued as ever.
Lebron James meets Digital Lebron James - Why don’t they look anything alike?
The Elder Scrolls Online - This is cool, but heaven help me if I ever get into an MMO, because that will suck my life away.
Mad Max - This could be absolutely brilliant, if they do it right. Mad Max is practically iconic, yet has lain dormant for many years. Using the world and setting introduced in the movie could potentially yield great things. It’s not exclusive, but they do have an exclusive “survival kit”– hardly anything to sway on its own, but still a cool title to roll out.
And here is where it gets good.
No Used Game Restrictions - That is a shot fired right across Microsoft’s unnamed bow right there, and could definitely be a game changer.
Disc-Based PS4 Games Don’t Need to Connect Online to Play - First a right from Sony, then a left.
Won’t Require You to Check In Online - And another one!
Just looking on the stage, you can see Jack Tretton soaking in all the love and cheers from the audience with each announcement. I don’t think anyone on Earth felt as good as he did during the press conference. As I said on Twitter, “Jack Tretton just became the hottest man walking tonight.”
PlayStation Network - Here, Tretton recaps the new features that will be employed by the PlayStation 4 on Day 1. Some good stuff, though I doubt I’d use any sharing functions beyond YouTube.
PlayStation Plus – If you have PlayStation Plus, then it carries over to the PlayStation 4 from the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, all for the same price.
Media services won’t require Plus, unlike Xbox 360, which requires a Gold account to so much as use Internet Explorer, but it sounds like you need to have Plus to play online. Not an ideal situation, and perhaps the one snag in Sony’s whole presentation, but the tradeoff seems worth it– especially given that you have to pay on Xbox as well, and won’t even get nearly as many benefits like the “Instant Game Collection,” which kicks off on PlayStation 4 with a special version of Drive Club.
Destiny - I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of first-person shooters, and that holds as true as ever. However, I do give Bungie credit for creating a compelling universe in Halo, and it looks like they’re working their magic again here. I doubt I’ll ever play Destiny, but I have to say that it does look rather cool– I love the sense of style on display here.
And though it’s slated for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 as well as the PlayStation 4, it sounds as though Sony has some sort of exclusive agreement with Bungie and Activision going forward for some sort of content to further expand the world.
Gaikai/Cloud Gaming - A bit of talk about this, coming in 2014 to the U.S. first. Sounds good and all, but I’m still curious the rate at which games will be added, and how much they’ll cost.
Price - Sony didn’t need to hire anyone to cheer for them on this: $399 U.S. dollars/Euros and 349 pounds sterling, a full $100 less than the Xbox One. This feels like a callback to 1995 when Sony smashed SEGA at the inaugural E3 by taking the stage and simply giving the lower price of their machine. The only difference is that I don’t feel as bad for Microsoft here.
And with that, Sony basically clenched victory. All they had to do was keep doing what they had been doing, only better, and they came out smelling like roses.
One might notice I didn’t talk as much about exclusivity here, but the fact of the matter is that when Microsoft revealed all of their draconian policies for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 became the default choice; it was up to them to woo me away from Sony and back to their side, and they failed miserably at it, as nothing they showed could overcome their ludicrous list of ridiculous restrictions and pretentious policies.
In addition to bringing the third-party goods, Sony has a nice catalog of their own franchises, and by not siding with publishers against the consumers and producing an altogether more appealing package, it looks like they’ve trumped Microsoft but good.
Later this morning, it will be Nintendo’s turn, not with a press conference, but a new Nintendo Direct. It should be interesting, as while the notion of “winning” E3 is a bit silly, Sony has nonetheless put on an incredibly strong showing– perhaps their best in years.
I have every bit of confidence that Nintendo is going to have some great announcements, but I think they’ll need something more than just games to come out ahead. And I don’t mean TV or movies or some-such, but something like a real account system would be a phenomenal step towards that.
I’m already set with a Wii U, and from what we’ve seen so far, I think a PlayStation 4 would look pretty good sitting alongside it as my “other” gaming console. Xbox, we hardly knew ye; I just hope you have some sort of switch you can flip on all of these goofball ideas you’ve worked into the Xbox One when the time comes.