E3 is two thirds of the way through and the dust is beginning to settle. If you are a fan of gaming or an enemy of TV integration; you have been eagerly awaiting any and all information to come from the conferences.
There are triangles, squares, crosses and circles flying about the screen interspersed with game clips of past, present and future titles whilst and audio track blasts a dubsteppy tune with the lyrics “We all need something to believe in”. It must be time for the Sony conference.
Well…ummm actually the conference was a little while ago. My teething son had other ideas when I sat down to watch the conference live and after being hit with #XboxDOne tweets and news of a price point that hits many people’s sweet spots I was eager to watch the recording. Much like Greg’s Microsoft Summary earlier today, here is a handy guide to keep you up to date. If you fancy watching the 100 minute show then see the link at the bottom of the article
First up, Jack Tretton appears on stage and states that it has been “an exciting year so far” and that during the conference, although we would be revisting what was announced in February there would also be lots of news for the 70 million PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita users as well
And that’s exactly where we started albeit with a lot of stats and figures. 125 Vita games, rising to 650 games if you count the PS1, PSP and mobile games. 60% of all Vita purchases are digital (this may be because the consumer sees the price of physical Vita games) and the “best place to play outside the home” and “the ultimate companion device in the home”
Jack then went on to announce that there will be 85 Vita titles released by the end of the year including: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, Counter Spy, Destiny of Spirits, Doici Doici Universe, Killzone, Tearaway, Final FantasyX, Final Fantasy X-2, Dead Nation, Flower.
The biggest cheer for the Vita section was without a doubt reserved for the announcement that Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead will be launching initially with the new episode entitled 400 days before the 1st season is launched on the console.
Next up was PlayStation 3 news. Something that struck a chord with me during both this conference and the Microsoft conference is that neither of the current gen consoles was forgotten about and that it promises to be an exciting time during the end of life for this generation.
Games coming up this year opened with the Game of the Year candidate and eagerly anticipated action adventure Last of Us. If you are unaware of anything about this game where have you been for the last three to four weeks. Last of Us has received perfect scores pretty much across the board and will certainly be a title that we will be talking about for months to come.
This was quickly followed by Move title Puppeteer and dual stick platformer where you take on the role of Kutaro – a boy who has been turned into a puppet and had his head torn off – with your left stick and a ghostly cat named Ying Yang with your right stick.
Upcoming atmospheric PSN title Rain made an appearance displaying it’s Hollow Man-esq credentials as a silhouette of various “invisible” creatures and characters were seen as the torrential downpour displayed their outlines.
Next we had this years car porn (part one) as Gran Turismo 6 was shown. A new physics engine, new tire and suspension models, new aerodynamics and a new rendering engine were all announced in the form of on screen text but words really do fail to do justice to the beauty, depth and OK SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY
The final trailer honour for the PlayStation 3 section was given to the latest chapter of the Dark Knight – Batman Arkham Origins. Origins will follow a younger and less refined Bat as he becomes a target for a multitude of assassins on Christmas Eve. With a 25th October worldwide release and the PlayStation receiving exclusive DLC in the form of Nightfall and Adam West era Batman skins, this will be a must purchase for a lot of people.
Jack then announced that there would be a GTA V PlayStation 3 bundle released as well as a GTA V Pulse headset before sneaking in that there would be another 300 titles released for this generation by the end of the year.
Now we have arrived at the section that everyone was waiting for. With the furor that engulfed the Xbox One in the last four weeks, the majority of people felt that Next gen advantage was Sonys to lose. This scenario is not unheard of in the past so with baited breath I, like a lot of people, waited as Andrew House wheeled out a multitude of buzz phrases “Relentless focus on gamers”, “In a state of rapid revolution” before we finally got a glimpse of the PlayStation 4.
With a design focused on the PlayStation heritage, the PlayStation 4 looks more like the PS2 sharp edged big brother than a relation to the curves of it’s predecessor. I can imagine a lot of people not being happy with the sharp edges but as far as I’m concerned as long as it fits on my shelf it could be neon pink and phallus shaped – although that probably wouldn’t fit on my shelf.
Michael Lynton came on to deliver possibly the shortest section of the conference, the multimedia aspect. He stressed that PlayStation gamers are some of the most passionate entertainment subscribers and on the groundbreaking new platform Sony will deliver a richer “Unlimited” service; Music unlimited will expand and include some of the biggest artists of the past and present and will be available on a multitude of devices wheras Video Unlimited will develop exclusive programming for PSN tailored to what gamers want. 1500 movies will be available to rent or buy on launch day of the PlayStation 4.
Currently the PlayStation 3 is the number 1 Netflix streaming device and on the PlayStation 4 this will be joined the Live event player which will be integrated for the viewing of Pay-per-View Sporting and Music events.
Flixster will also be coming to the PlayStation 4, although it wasn’t stated if either of these would be US only the thought of Flixster being on the PlayStation 4 in the UK is an appealing one. Those Ultraviolet codes you ignore in your Blu-ray and DVD purchases, guess where they can be accessed? Yep Flixster.
Now it was time for Shu Yoshida to announce some upcoming exclusive titles. First up was the announcement of The Order 1886. Based on the 3 minutes of footage appeared to be a Steam punk-ish monster hunter set in a foggy Victorian London.
We then saw a brief recap of the titles announced in February; Killzone Shadow Fall, Drive Club, Infamous Second Son, and Knack. The big news here was that, with the exception of Infamous Second Son which launches in Quarter 1, all three of these titles would be day 1 launch titles.
Next Quantum Dreams were given an opportunity to showcase some concept footage of The Dark Sorcery, all being shown “In Engine”. This concept reintroduced us to the old man head seen back in February except this time he had a body and a sidekick that wants to be Yoda. If you haven’t seen the demo then I’m not going to spoil anything for you and urge you to watch it below.
Adam Boyes came out on stage to discuss what we can expect from 3rd parties and Indie developers. The PlayStation 4 will cultivate a wide variety of experiences by bringing the best 3rd party titles as well being the most open format for Indie developers. In very quick succession we were introduced to Supergiant Games – creators of Bastion – demonstrating Transistor.
They were joined on stage by Klei Entertainment (Don’t Starve), Tribute games (Mercenary Kings), Young Horse (Octodad), Switchblade Monkeys (Secret Ponchos), ragtag Studios (Ray’s Dead), Red Barrels (Outlast), Lorne Lanning (Oddworld New n’Tasty) and 17bit games (Galak-z) before it was announced that all of these titles would be exclusive to the PlayStation 4.
It was then time for the big guns which was kicked off in style by Square Enix showcasing trailers for both Final Fantasy XV and the Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts 3 before the announcement of PlayStation exclusivity for Final Fantasy.
Although it had a few technical issues we were treated to an in game demonstration of the AnvilNext engine utilized by Ubisoft in Assassins Creed Black Flag with unspecified exclusive content coming to the PlayStation 3 and 4 editions of the game.
It is very much an overused cliché but if I was to say that Ubisofts upcoming open world action adventure stealth game Watchdogs was highly anticipated it truly would be the understatement of the year. Prior to being told that the PlayStation will receive an extra 60 minutes of exclusive gameplay we were taking on a journey through the gameplay and how “Everything is connected” including a slightly brushed over but intriguing aspect in regards to the implementation of mobile players in the WatchDogs world.
In quick succession we then saw trailers for NBA2k14, Elder Scrolls Online – with an exclusive beta coming to PlayStation – and Mad Max. For the game play seen for these titles it’s very hard to form any sort on an opinion other than they look incredible. Whether the gameplay will match will be seen in the coming months.
Now it was time for the grand finale in what can be described as the “Sony raising a middle finger to Microsoft” section. All of which were delivered in a here’s the fact, let that just sink in before I move on fashion. There 140 games in development currently for the PlayStation 4 with over 100 planed to be released in the first year. 40% of those first year releases will be exclusives.
The PlayStation 4 will support used games, an online connection is not required for single player campaigns and the PlayStation 4 will “continue to work if it hasn’t been online for 24 hours”.
The Gaiki cloud gaming service will launch in the US in 2014 for both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 initially before being followed by the PlayStation Vita and will contatcin a vast catalogue of PlayStation 3 games. Is this a way of saying backwards compatibility for a new generation?
The PlayStation Plus subscription service goes from strength to strength and will continue to offer discounts, auto updates, early beta access , cloud saves and the instant game collection but will now also include the PlayStation 4. On Launch day Plus subscribers will receive Driveclub Plus Edition for their instant game collection with a new PlayStation 4 title added each month. I would imagine that the title specifies “Plus Edition” in the title that it will be a slightly stripped down version of the retail edition and what that involves will probably come to light in the weeks and months to come.
Snuck into the Plus subscription section was the announcement that PlayStation 4 owners will need a Plus subscription to play online multiplayer games is bound to annoy some Sony owners but at the current pricing structure – which is bound to rise – and the benefits received it is still great failure for money.
“Leaving something special to last” was the cue for the very first look at live gameplay footage for the Bungie and Activision collaboration Destiny. A fairly lengthy demo showcased the collaborative gameplay between friends as well as “public events”.
Andrew House cryptically announced a “long term exclusive relationship between Sony and Activision that will see the PlayStation 4 evolve within the Bungie universe. What this means however was never touched on before he then went on to announce, in a scene that reminded me somewhat of the scenario of E3 ’95 when Sony undercut Sega when announcing second, a price point of £349 in the UK before ending the show.
It has to be remembered that this price does not include the Eye Camera and a single controller. Personally for me I am more than happy to purchase my console and additional peripherals in drips and drabs over a number of months and as such the price point just sneaks under the sweet spot for gaming hardware.
Sony could have taken the line that they only had to turn up to “win” E3 but resting on their laurels they didn’t. The result was an excellent conference which got the juices of this particular writer flowing not only for the PlayStation 4 but the final years of this generation too. Once you reach puberty it dawns on you that it is ok to like more than one manufacturer when the actual end result is awesome times for gamers. Greatness does indeed await.