We started, as we have every year, with a very warm welcome from Jack Tretton. The President and CEO of SCEA began by emphasising his thanks to the audience and stressing the fact that, despite the upcoming launch of the PS4, Sony wouldn’t be ignoring the PS3 or Vita.
In fact, he says that the Vita will get even stronger this year, with 85 new titles set to launch. These titles included God of War 1 and 2 HD, Final Fantasy X and X-2, Flower and Dead Nation – all of which sound like fantastic games to have in your pocket, ready to be played whenever you want. To top it all off, in celebration of the release of The Walking Dead: 400 Days later this summer, the Vita will be offering a bundle of the whole first season, 400 Days and unannounced extra content. If the conference carries on with surprises like this, I’ll be in £100s of debt by next year.
Moving on from the Vita, Tretton proceeded to remind us about the fantastic releases that the PS3 will be seeing throughout the year, with an array of trailers. These included The Last of Us, Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond and GT6, which all looked brilliant considering they will be released on a 7 year old console (and Tretton certainly reminded us of this fact.). Obviously, the one that caught the CEO’s attention was The Last of Us, with review scores of 10 popping up all over the place; we’re told that this is the highest rated game of the last year. I for one, can’t wait to get my hands on it and hope that Naughty Dog are proud of their latest creation.
Not only does the PS3 have a great line up, PlayStation fans are promised exclusive content due to partnerships with huge companies such as Warner Brothers and Rockstar. This means that along with Batman: Arkham Origins released on the 25th October 2013, we will receive exclusive DLC “Nightfall” as well as a 1960s Batman comic skin (at this point, we hear a cringe-worthy joke about age from Tretton. I’m guessing you didn’t get the memo? People don’t take well to jokes at E3.). We can also expect to see an exclusive bundle of Grand Theft Auto V priced at $299 on 17th September, as well as a nice looking headset. Though I’m assuming that anyone can buy that headset, so it’s not entirely exclusive is it?
This ended the very brief insight into how the Vita and PS3 are getting along. Remember when Jack Tretton said he wouldn’t ignore them? Well from here on out, consider them ignored. But then who didn’t expect the PS4 to be the centre of attention this year?
PS4 console reveal
Andrew House was then invited on stage to present what thousands of fans have been waiting for – what the actual console would look like. House described the design as being sleek and visually impactful. We describe it as being a modernised PS2. An angled box. With shiny bits. And a Kinect-looking camera.
Non-game PS4 content
As a clear stab at the Xbox One, House emphasises to fans that the PS4 will provide gamers with relevant and meaningful services. However, much like the new Xbox, these services include music, movies, programmes and a live events viewer, with much of the content being exclusive to the PS4. These features will be available to gamers from day 1 of the PS4 being released. Both House and Lynton made a definite point of reiterating that everything will be tailored to the gamers. Though unless they offer just soundtracks and those awful films that base themselves on videogames (such as Tomb Raider and Resident Evil), we’re still not quite sure how to tailor other entertainment towards the gaming community. To top it all off, Shuhei Yoshida is then invited on stage to remind us once more that the PS4 will consider consumers as well as the developers. Don’t get me wrong, that’s lovely, but shouldn’t this be happening already?
The Games – Exclusives
Not only will the PS4 play host to the multi-platform games that we all know and love, we’re expecting to see 20 exclusives in the first year of the PS4’s life and 12 of these are brand new ideas. This impressive number includes titles such as:
The Order: 1886
What can only be described as Bioshock Infinite meets Silent Hill, this game seems haunting and exciting at the same time. Although it appears to be set in a dark and misty London during the Victorian-era, we can see definite hints of sci-fi both in the mysterious creatures and variety of cool looking weapons. Just look at the detailing on that gun.
As well as brand new announcements, Yoshida also presented us with updates on the four games that were announced in February: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Driveclub, Knack and inFamous: Second Son. All four seem to be coming along nicely and showed the gamer everything we’d expect to see in their respective genres. We’re then told that the first three will be released at the PS4’s launch, with inFamous following swiftly after in the first quarter of next year.
Remember Quantic Dream’s strange old man? He was a powerful tech demo, showing us the level of detail that the PS4 will allow. Well he’s back and this time he shows us how that detail will allow us to experience a much better storytelling experience. This new demo (running in real-time), named The Dark Sorcerer shows us the old guy in a grimy looking cave, decorated with dead bodies and vicious snakes as he’s chanting an evil-sounding spell. However, he screws up one of his lines and as he’s cursing away, we’re shown that he’s really an actor in a green-room. We’re then told to keep our eyes open in the coming days, as more will be revealed in the PlayStation booth. Could this be hinting towards Quantic Dream’s new game?
Sony have been increasing support for independent developers on their systems recently and we’re assured that the PS4 won’t be any different. In order to prove this, we’re shown a nice array of upcoming indie games, starting with:
Another game from the creators of Bastion, this game seems to carry on the game style, incorporating elements of Final Fantasy VII. Although this is mainly because the first screen is a heavy-looking, glowing sword in front of a city. Ahem. It’s looking like a game to put on your purchase list though.
The randomly generated world that has immersed so many players is heading on over to the new console, promising many more hours of painful death. That’s good? The death may not be something to look forward to, but if you haven’t already, it’s worth checking the game out when it gets released for the PS4 as it’s a wonderful addition to your collection.
There’s something about 2D platform games that makes you feel good about being a gamer isn’t there? Perhaps it’s the memories of childhood favourites or satisfying simple feel of them. Well Mercenary Kings looks as though it will be no different. This co-op action platformer sees you working with friends (often by leaving them to do a completely separate task) in order to complete objectives. It, along with the majority of the indie games announced, will make its debut on the PS4.
Octodad: Deadliest Catch
The main aim of this game is to keep your octopus identity a secret from your family as you perform tasks around the house. There’s really not much to say about this game – we don’t really understand it either. We assume it’s one of those “you have to play to understand”.
You play through this Wild West game as an outlaw with a bounty on your head, though of course you’re not going to let anyone catch you. Your skills will be tested in fights and you can gradually upgrade your outlaw. Be careful though, while you’re getting stronger, that bounty is getting much bigger.
Ray’s the Dead
If we’re being quite honest, we’re growing tired of murdering zombie after zombie, why does no-one care about their rotting feelings? Well Ray’s the Dead is a breath of fresh air for zombie fans everywhere. You play as Ray, a newly resurrected zombie with the task of recruiting your own zombie army to find out why you died, and more importantly, why you were brought back to life.
Originally announced for the PC only, this game seems to leave everyone sleeping with the light on after playing. The first person horror seems to take all the best parts of the most popular fright-fests and puts its own spin on things. It looks to be a worthy addition to the PS4.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee New n Tasty
The original platformer was widely well received and won multiple awards, so when the remake was announced for the PS4 there wasn’t a miserable face in the house. Okay, so I mean my house. And I was alone. But I was happy.
A game that sets to take you back to your arcade-playing days, Galak-Z is a brand new space-shooter. The difference about this shooter though is that it’s had time to grow up and modernise its gameplay. No longer will you be met by rows of ships to blast your way through, these enemies will call for back-up and generally use their brains a bit more. Personally, I preferred it when I didn’t require lots of skill to play space-shooter, mainly because I don’t have any.
Although he wasn’t on stage as everyone had hoped, Tetsuya Nomura appeared via a video message in order to reveal two games that are heading to the PS4. We were told to keep our ears open for information in the coming days regarding the games as there wasn’t enough time to discuss all the details at this time. There was enough time however, for two great trailers.
Final Fantasy XV
At the very beginning of this trailer, we were shown the title Final Fantasy Versus XIII – a game that has been in development for far too long. However, by the end of this trailer, this title broke up to show the brand new title Final Fantasy XV. From what we saw of the trailer, the game seems to take a much more action-heavy approach, rather than the old RPG combat style and looked very fast-flowing – a huge improvement on previous games where you spent half your time waiting for battles to load. Now let’s hope it doesn’t take another 7 years to come out.
Kingdom Hearts 3
This teaser started out on a familiar beach (after showing us all the previous Kingdom Hearts games), with Sora inspecting a keyblade. We were then shown a brief clip of gameplay, complete with a huge group of Heartless. The game certainly looked impressive graphically. Well, as impressive as cartoons can get.
Final Fantasy XIV
Sony rounded off the Square Enix appearance by announcing that Final Fantasy XIV will be console exclusive to the PS4 as well as the PS3.
More PS4 Games
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Despite the game freezing multiple times, we still managed to get a good, extended look into the new Assassin’s Creed. What we saw was very impressive too – Edward Kenway seemed to manoeuvre from sneaking through the jungle to a sword fight to controlling a ship in minutes, without missing a step. So does this game look like it’s worth a purchase? Arrrr! (I get it, no more lame jokes.)
The gameplay we saw during the conference was taken from a mission in which you have to save your friend T-Bone. However, before doing so, Aiden must first lose the officers that are hunting for him. Not only did we get to see lots of hacking skills, we also saw how well the protagonist could handle a car, which seemed to be extremely smooth and controlled. Though that may be because the person playing has done this many times before and doesn’t feel a sudden urge to smash into everyone. While escaping from a large group of police, we saw the ultimate hacking take place – a blackout of the whole city, although it was only temporary. Mr Pearce, can you teach me how to do that please?
It was announced that PlayStation owners will receive an extra hour of gameplay, along with a new outfit.
Judging by what we saw, this game will take a break from basketball and instead focus on conversations between the real-life players and their videogame counterparts, as demonstrated by LeBron James. How exciting!
Elder Scrolls Online
Yes that’s right, no longer just on your PC, this game will be released on PS4 too in spring 2014. To top it all off, the beta will be available first on your brand new Sony console.
Complete with creepy trailer, it was revealed that Mad Max will be coming to the PS4 and because everyone seems to love Sony, PlayStation gamers will also get the road warrior survival kit.
Yet again, Sony take the time to hint at just how much better their new console will be compared to Microsoft’s. Jack Tretton does so by mentioning that once we’ve purchased a disc based game, that disc is ours to do what we want, meaning no restrictions will be place on used games.
He also mentions that you won’t need to be connected to the internet every 24 hours in order to verify your games – they will continue to work no matter what. You know why? Because the PlayStation Network is there for the gamer.
The PS4 has a bunch of new features regarding the PSN too, such as allowing the player to play games whilst they’re being downloaded in the background, cross-game chat with a real-world friend’s network and a share button to stream your awesome skills to the world.
Most people are aware of the great benefits that PS+ gives the gamer and we’re told that these benefits will be expanding with the PS4, all for less than $5 a month. However, one of these extra benefits is the ability to play multiplayer online. It’s a reasonable ask for keeping the servers running smoothly, but for many gamers this covert announcement was like a bombshell.
The good news is that if you’re already paying for a subscription, that will automatically carry onto the PS4, meaning that you get extra content for three consoles. To offer you a warm welcome to the new console, members will receive Driveclub PS Plus Edition with the release of the PS4, as well as a new title every month for free, such as Outlast, Don’t Starve and The Secret Ponchos.
As the conference was coming to an end; we were offered a deeper look into one last game – Destiny, created by Bungie and Activision. Right from the start, with the desolate landscape, traversed only by threatening creatures, the game looked gorgeous. As the main player headed forward on what seemed to be a lonely task, we could see friends dropping in around him, suggesting a real ease of multiplayer without the need to schedule gaming sessions with friends, poinpointing when and where to meet.
From what the demo showed us, the best way of progressing in this game was in small teams, all working together to fight against the enemies – which came in a wide variety, though one in particular had glowing weak points, something I thought games had moved beyond. Despite this, the game looks like one which won’t disappoint and one still shrouded in mystery. It’s set to be released at some point next year, so no doubt we’ll get to learn more about the game itself in the near future.
As many fans were disappointed with the lack of backwards compatibility for the PS4, Sony announced a solution (albeit hurriedly) just before closing the conference. That solution is Gaikai’s cloud based technology, coming to the PS3 and PS4 very soon, which allows players to stream games to their system. Although the catalogue will be very small to begin with, Sony are hoping to expand it significantly in the future. If you’re in a similar situation as me however, you’ll have no chance as your internet will barely hit 700Kb/s. Time to move to a better area I think.
The conference ended with a price reveal of $399 (€399 or £349), which is a very respectable price when you compare it with other next-gen consoles (I’m looking at you Xbox One) and just what is being offered to gamers. We’re left with the promise that Sony will do everything to prove the they have value, innovation, entertainment and game in order to build trust with consumers, as this essential to Sony. That’s right Sony, end it with a kick in the teeth for Microsoft.
With a huge handful of games to show and positive news about the new console, Sony’s conference was great this year. It’s definitely got me and thousands of other fans looking forward to the year ahead, with a grin on our face and an empty wallet in our hands. Speaking of a kick in the teeth from Sony, check out this instructional video they created on used games. I like it when a company understands humour: