E3 2016 Sony Conference Recap

Finally rounding out Day One of E3 2016, we have the Sony conference. As timing went, because it fell after I got off work, I knew this was the only one I'd be able to watch straight through.

But first, lets review my silly PlayStation predictions:

  1. PlayStation VR shows off at least three new previously unannounced titles. And you can demo PS VR yourself at your local Gamestop "starting tomorrow."
  2. Activision will basically get a mini-conference within the Sony one.
  3. The Last Guardian release date set for August 30.
  4. Tim Schafer Entertainment Block.
  5. Final Fantasy VII Remake new trailer shown. Part One of the multi-chapter game will center on Midgar and release in 2017.

The PlayStation Conference started with a conductor coming out to lead a full blown orchestra for the event. I haven’t seen that before. But this help set the tone for the great energy that would follow. Having a live orchestra play alongside the trailers was a bold choice that, for me, really paid off. Before the first videos or introductions, the orchestra played a lengthy piece filled with choral work and chanting, vaguely Skyrim-esque but not quite.

This led into a somewhat different take on God of War as an old, bearded Kratos led his son off to hunt deer in Scandinavia. So it would seem the rumors of a Norse-inspired direction for the series were true. The brutality of the series still seems very much intact, even if the Blades of Chaos are gone. The gameplay reveal showcased beautiful vistas, some violent fights and potentially more character moments for Kratos than in any of the previous games. The title card was a simple God of War without a number. It's a bit unclear if this is the same Kratos from Sparta or if this is a new but familiar take on the iconic character.

Shawn Layden then came out, delivered another sincere tribute to the victims of the Orlando tragedy.

Bend Studios game, rumored to be Dead Don’t Ride is unveiled as Days Gone. Sam Witwer appears to be voicing the main protagonist, a member of a biker gang after the end of the world/zombie apocalypse. Both God of War and Days Gone gave me some serious The Last of Us vibes. God of War due to the relationship between Kratos and son, and Days Gone given the obvious potential story parallels.

The Last Guardian trailer shown off. Finally releasing on October 25, 2016. Nothing more to say on it really.

Horizon Zero Dawn trailer leading into a gameplay demo showcasing the world and extensive gameplay and combat. This was the first time seeing the game (I admittedly haven't caught the latest trailer yet) where I got really interested in the gameplay and the mixture of old world and new tech aesthetics. I'm actually pretty excited to play this when it comes out February 28, 2017.

A trailer for Detroit Become Human from Quantic Dream appears to have an even greater degree of branching paths than Heavy Rain. The trailer showed a tense scene as an android negotiator tried to talk down another android who had gone rogue and was threatening to kill a little girl. The trailer showed the scene play out one way and then rewound and showed a lot of other potential outcomes. I'm really excited to see the themes that story continues to explore.

Next, we saw gameplay for a new horror experience: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. January 24, 2017. Completely playable on console and PlayStation VR. Demo of the game available for PlayStation Plus players tonight.

PlayStation VR got a firm release date of October 13th and will have 50 games coming by the end of the year.

Sony Worldwide Studios new first-person shooter VR game Farpoint got a bit of a trailer. Appears to be a first-person shooter set on Mars.

Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission got a brief tease. Another instance where having the live orchestra definitely helped elevate the moment.

Batman Arkham VR from Rocksteady, featuring at least Mark Hamill as the Joker is coming in October.

Final Fantasy XV got a new dubstep-heavy trailer. And apparently a VR Experience that appears to be built around the behemoth encounter from the Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae demo.

New gameplay from Call of Duty Infinite Warfare featuring a battle outside, and then inside, a space freighter. Coming November 4, as already announced. Led right into a look at the Modern Warfare Remastered game. Which is available 30 days early on PlayStation 4 if you pre-purchase the game.

Shawn Layden returned to announce a remaster of Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped for PlayStation 4, as well as the leaked Crash Bandicoot Skylanders pack. Crash is coming to Skylanders this October. It is unclear when the remastered titles will make it to PlayStation 4.

Then we got an extended look at LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens in all of its cute tongue-in-cheek glory. Demo available right now.

Andrew House then came out to introduce Hideo Kojima, who got a very rockstar welcome and entrance. “Hello everyone. I’m back!” And he even brought something to show off. A very beautiful cinematic featuring a very naked CGI version Norman Reedus in his new game titled Death Stranding. This presumably lends a bit more credence to the notion that Reedus is the Ludens character that Kojima revealed as the Kojima Productions mascot.

Insomniac Games is working on a new Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4. So the leak that it was being worked on by Sucker Punch was maybe a misdirect? Still, a PlayStation exclusive Spider-Man game is pretty impressive now that the rights reverted back to Sony. The trailer looks like a great take on the action so far. And given some of their other work, I'm hopeful they nail the tone of the character, as well.

Shawn Layden then came out to end the conference with a live demo of Bend’s new game Days Gone, which is gonna feature super-overwhelming masses of zombie hoards.

Overall a very strong showing for Sony. They basically hit the ground running at full speed with God of War and only ever really let up to talk Skylanders but even that was mixed with the huge crowd-pleasing response of bringing Crash Bandicoot back. But the big takeaway from this is that most of these games don't have any kind of time table attached. Sony has been really great this generation about announcing all of the things that gamers seem to want but they have been really slow to actually deliver on them. And it looks like this lineup might be no different. I estimate about 20 games were shown during the conference and we only have a sense of when about half of them are coming out (and that's including games like Call of Duty, LEGO Force Awakens, and Final Fantasy XV that already had established release dates). Ultimately, this doesn't detract from my excitement over the announcement of so many games, it just tempers my expectations as to when I might actually play them. It would not surprise me at all of some of these don't come out until 2018 or even later.

So how did I do on my predictions:

  1. I predicted at least new 3 new PS VR titles. By my count they announced FIVE: Resident Evil VII, Farpoint, Battlefront X-Wing, Batman Arkham VR, and Final Fantasy XV VR. They did not mention playing tomorrow in Gamestops though. .75 points.
  2. Activision will basically get a mini-conference within the Sony one. Call of Duty and Crash in Skylanders, yes. Destiny, no. .66 points (2 out of 3 ain't bad).
  3. The Last Guardian release date set for October 25 (not August 30). 0 points.
  4. No Tim Schafer. Really almost no developers. Hence the hard-hitting pace. All the games were speaking for themselves, instead of have the developers talk about them. 0 points.
  5. No Final Fantasy VII Remake. I guess they're hibernating until Final Fantasy XV is out. 0 points.

So that comes to 1.42 / 5.00 points. Should have gone with some of my alternate predictions (like God of War and Bend's new game).