E3 2017: Sony Conference

by Daniel Wright

After the excitement (also boredom and disappointment) of other E3 conferences, it’s now time for one of the big ones: the Sony E3 Conference 2017. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The conference opened up in an odd, but grabbing, fashion featuring a band playing sitar and other instruments before suddenly showing a trailer on stage for the first announcement of the presentation; Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. While it doesn’t feature main protagonist Nathan Drake (as far as we are aware), the inclusion of supporting character Chloe alongside new character Nadine promises an action-packed thrill ride in typical Uncharted styling. As a standalone it is quite exciting and may show that Uncharted has a long lifespan without Drake and Sully (though it might be better with them).

Fake snow then began to fall in the conference hall as the screen reveals the trailer for Horizon Zero Dawn DLC, The Frozen Wilds. Releasing in 2017 expect more of the same exploring, arrow firing and climbing robot dinosaurs as the original game in an environment that may look even more beautiful and inviting.

The screen then showed gameplay from Days Gone; a game which I could only ever describe as Sons of Anarchy with zombies. The combat looks to be meaty and responsive with the stealth aspect seeming very well done and adding to the tense nature existing in the post-apocalyptic world. The gorgeous visuals of Days Gone show exciting combat featuring both zombies and men as well as what looks to be a zombie bear of some sorts. Using the environment and the zombies as weapons against rival gangs looks like a tonne of fun and the use of biker gangs in some form makes Days Gone a title to watch for sure. Sony’s gimmick for Days Gone? Zombies hang on screen and zombies suddenly drop down and hang on stage…erm, neat I guess?

Shawn Layden then took to the stage and hammered home Sony’s focus on games (a dig at Microsoft’s endless droning on about consoles, Windows 10 and sports I imagine) in E3’s classic awkward style. Shawn then continued to repeatedly mention Playstation Virtual Reality (VR) and 4K which I don’t believe people actually care about. One interesting and appreciated mention however was the additional video content, trailers and developer interviews and walkthroughs available at live.playstation.com. This extra mile is always welcome and is something that should always be included for the interested viewer at home.

Leaving the stage, Layden pointed to the trailer that came next as a game series close to him and enjoyed by many. Featuring dinosaurs, lizards, beasts and sparkling lights guiding the player, the trailer featured a man stealthily stalking a large T-Rex looking animal with the use of a large sword, bow and other items before the words ‘Capcom presents’ appeared on screen to warrant genuine surprise from me as Monster Hunter World was revealed for release in early 2018. The first release of the famous Monster Hunter series on the PS4, this looks good and could be a lot of fun though I wonder if it will be as daunting to access as the other titles I’ve attempted to play. I’m excited to try it though the fire on stage wasn’t exactly necessary (Sony stage gimmick 4 for those counting).

Next up was a trailer from Japan Studio and featuring a horse, a boy, sweeping visuals and…wait, I know what this is! Cue a huge grin from me and many others watching as the short trailer reveals a remake (or remaster) of the iconic Shadow of the Colossus. A game beloved by many for understandable reasons, this release in 2018 may appear as just another rerelease for the current generation but it is so much more.

We then got the story trailer for the September 19th release of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. Focusing on everyone’s favourite sparkly Macguffin, Marvel’s Infinity Stones, the trailer showed characters like Thanos, Gamora, Captain Marvel, Chun-Li, Megaman, Rocket Raccoon and Nova going up against the villainous AI combination of Ultron and Sigma. Marvel vs Capcom games are always solid fighters that are often far more fun and enjoyable than other fighters like Street Fighter and Tekken. The exciting cast and, what looks to be, a fun story means this is a title I’m definitely excited for. The release of a bright and responsive story demo immediately after the conference definitely adds to my hype.

Activision and Sledgehammer Games then showed off some more of the highly anticipated Call of Duty: WWII for release on November 3rd 2017. A return to the past for the franchise, the game’s portrayal of Normandy, Aachen and the Crimea certainly look visually impressive although the gameplay fails to excite. From a players viewpoint, Call of Duty: WWII sadly seems to play like every other Call of Duty title. I guess I expected that though after the enjoyment I had with the jetpacks and future tech of the last few titles of which I was in the minority of liking it seems.

The flashing of many blue lights and playing of hype music then heralded the VR portion of the Sony presentation. This is an interesting area for me but not one I can ever get excited about due to the limitations of VR and the ridiculous expense of the equipment needed; a situation I imagine many can relate to.

First up for VR was Skyrim VR edtion. Another Skyrim rerelease! After repeated releases of the Elder Scrolls title I rank as third best in the series, I am seriously bored by any news regarding the title which does not require any more releases or updates apart from maybe the update that makes Bethesda stop reminding us of it (see my look at the Bethesda E3 Conference here for more of this).

The next two Playstation VR titles were vastly more interesting. Starchild appears as an interesting title featuring large robots and smaller people though I’m extremely confused on how the VR gameplay works in what seems to be a platformer of sorts. The Inpatient was next up and may be my favourite looking VR title yet. Set in the same universe as Until Dawn, The Inpatient looks extremely creepy and emphasises the purpose of VR for me – scaring oneself silly.

Up next for Playstation VR was a weird one. Monsters of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV is a game that is trying desperately to make fishing fun and exciting with the use of recognisable characters and giant monster fish you have to shoot with a crossbow. It could be interesting and fun for a little while I guess.

Following that was Bravo Team, as an awkward VR first person shooter which perfectly shows the weirdness that comes with VR and established genres, and Moss; a VR puzzle-solver which features a really nice soundtrack and an adorable little mouse with a sword.

When watching the conference, it cut back to show the crowd after this section was finished and showed a completely silent and disinterested crowd devoid of excitement. Almost sums up the thoughts of many on VR it seems.

Heading into the final stretch of Sony’s E3 Conference 2017, the games unveiled were the big hitters saved until last. The newest God of War (part of the trend of calling games the same thing as previous releases to make Googling more difficult) was shown off with a bearded Kratos, his son and Norse imagery that features Yggdrasil the world serpent (the fact I spelt that perfectly first time is worrying). The setting looks stunning and the combat looks as amazing and as responsive as ever. So long as it doesn’t become a huge escort mission then I’m in. After this was Detroit: Become Human and Destiny 2.

Detroit: Become Human looks infinitely interesting. Stunning futuristic visuals along with some impressive facial animation and beautiful singing helped make me enthralled as I watched this gameplay trailer. You play as android Marcus who looks to be on a quest to free the other androids from human control and slavery. While the story may not be entirely original (see the synths in Channel 4’s Humans), the degree of choice with which you can broach any given situation looks to make the game one to watch.

With a final stage gimmick of the falling of red banners, we then received a quick look at Destiny 2 with the focus being, again, on story. Destiny 2 will have to do a lot to impress after the disappointing first one though it appears to be going in the right direction…oh wait, exclusive Playstation content. I’m perfectly fine with exclusive games to an extent but exclusive content still annoys me. If it sells more Playstation copies of the Bungie made sci-fi shooter on September 6th, however, we will see.

After the screen faded to black, Shawn Layden returned to the stage to declare his excitement at the games shown (this is your job Shawn so we aren’t surprised), as well as give more mention of the PS4 Pro, 4K and Playstation VR. He spoke a little about what had been seen and ended by introducing a game I was extremely excited to see.

The final showing of Sony’s E3 Conference 2017 was of Spiderman. We got an extended look at the anticipated game which not only looks amazing, but adjusts the Arkham style of gameplay in a distinctly Spider-Man styling. The costumed superhero leaps and swings around the screen, kicking armed thugs and slinging webs left, right and centre as we are shown a snippet of the original story that makes this game so looked forward to. The Peter Parker we see is every bit the iconic Spider-Man and villain Wilson ‘Kingpin’ Fisk is an appreciated inclusion after the success of the character on Netflix’s Daredevil. While I hope to see more of the open world and less of the quick-time events, I’m excited to see more of the story and which iconic heroes and villains appear in it. Spiderman looks to be a necessary purchase for Playstation owners. The appearance of Miles Morales at the end merely adds to the hype surrounding it.

Overall, Sony’s conference was good. It focused upon the games unlike Microsoft’s and showed a lot of gameplay that will be appreciated by fans of the Playstation branding. Detroit: Become Human, Spiderman and Days Gone all look to be extremely fun to play and I hope that they deliver when they are released. While I didn’t care for the section on VR, that is sadly how the industry is going and sadly the ship that set sail isn’t turning around. Sony promised to focus on games and they did which left a smile on many a face.

You can watch the whole conference here and for more E3 coverage stay tuned to Air3 Radio.

Thoughts? Opinions? Stipulations?