E3 2014: Sony splits spotlight between indies and heavy-hitters
Sony did well during this year’s E3 roadmap presentation by giving more creative titles the spotlight, though not without some stumblesBy Jonathan Toyad 10 Jun, 2014
If you see Sony Computer Entertainment’s E3 2013 presentation, you’ll notice that it did not announce anything out of the ordinary, yet somehow got most cheers and was declared the winner. Given the online-only approach Microsoft announced, having a new console that works traditionally is a surefire way to win people over.
So what did the corporation do this year to outdo itself? Quite a lot, actually, especially if you love indies and something other than digital shooters, and if you don’t mind moving fully to the PlayStation 4 console. There’s Sony’s indie partnership with Devolver (the Hotline Miami 2 makers), an underwater free-roaming game called Abzu that looks artistically gorgeous and seems fresh, and a re-release of classic LucasArts adventure game Grim Fandango on PS4 and PS Vita.
And that preview of No Man’s Sky, which is a space-flight-sim-slash-open-world-exploration-title with huge procedural generation content filled with space stations, dinosaurs and whatnot. Mere words cannot describe how beautiful and ambitious this game is setting out to be. It should be noted that Sony treats its indie games with respect and give them the public spotlight they deserve for the mass market. At the very least, not all games on this section are about blowing things up in technicolour.
Speaking of which, triple-A titles were still highlighted: Bloodborne is a next-gen RPG for gamers who really are into the Dark Souls series. It’s grimy, gothic and features oodles of the undead for players to kill in a spooky landscape presumably called Bloodborne. There’s also a sneak peek at upcoming alternate steampunk London shooter The Order 1886, featuring a sewer and a werewolf zombie thing, and a mustached man shooting it to kibbles. It’s like gaming somehow went back to the early 90s for some reason.
LittleBigPlanet 3 was announced, complete with new co-op gameplay, new tools for world/game-building, new characters like the adorable Oddsock, and the option to port over LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 stages. The sandbox 2D platformer is out this November.
The final push that rounded up the high profile gaming stable was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It was just a teaser showing protagonist Nathan Drake, now slightly older and looking closer to Nathan Fillion, trying to get back into the thievery and adventuring business one last time. We’re going to guess that there will be lots of cover-based shooting and platforming/climbing in deep dark ruins. Fans can look forward to that in 2015 for the PS4.
When it comes to recent PS3 games coming to PS4, well, Sony’s on the ball with that one. There was a showcase of last year’s action game darling The Last of Us in 60 frames per second on the PS4 version, as well as Grand Theft Auto V running real fine too. Some may call this a ploy to revisit past glories, but if it helps introduce unrestricted versions of past games onto the PS4, fans will be all over it.
And then there’s the barrage of exclusive DLC for multiplatform games, and just straight-up gameplay because it wasn’t shown anywhere else during the press conference. Dead Island 2 is multiplatform, but the beta’s available on PS4 early. Far Cry 4 has exclusive content too; plus, that gameplay demo with the wingsuits, carjacking and combat elephants on the Himalayas will instill the most jaded gamers with excitement and giddy feelings. Batman Arkham Knight was being displayed in a grand gameplay fashion; now the staple Batmobile can shift into a strafing tank. Espionage game Metal Gear Solid V’s trailer debuted at Sony’s event, but that one’s a multiplatform title too. Fighting game fans can also get hyped up with the action going on with Mortal Kombat X; it’s still as gruesome and R-rated as ever.
Even the opening game of the show, Destiny, has a few exclusive Sony content and a white PS4 bundle, yet it’s still a game that will be out on Microsoft’s platform. The word ‘exclusive content’ may have lost all meaning as it’s thrown around the press conference like nobody’s business; makes you wonder if the future of game announcements is nothing but timed exclusives and small content exclusivity.
And then we came to the non-gaming bits that made the crowd and internet confused. Sort of. There’s an upcoming new PlayStation Now idea (PS3 games and others on PS4 consoles; beta is out this July), a trailer of the upcoming Ratchet and Clank 3D movie, and a preview of Sony’s exclusive TV show Powers (based on the Brian Michael Bendis comic book about detectives investigating superhero murders). To make its non-gaming content more attractive, Sony announced that the entire Powers series is free for PlayStation Plus members.
While Microsoft’s press conference was all about the core experience, Sony’s offering was skewed slightly towards risk-taking by glorifying less traditional games that stimulate the mind and senses. Even with its non-gaming bits that wore out their welcome, the company should be given credit where it’s due. Like Microsoft, Sony is still on board with delivering games to its audience, and it does so well.
As a side note, it’s not every day that a game is announced and made available right now: we’re referring to indie title Entwined for PS4, a game where you control a bird and a fish and fly through a bunch of ephemeral portals in abstract fashion.