How not to have an E3 Conference.
As a gamer, E3 is my favourite time of year. Tons of new games, some fans have been waiting to see for quite some time and others that are just a massive surprise to those at the conference and the millions watching streams of the conference.
There’s a few conferences I highly anticipate every year and being a PS4 gamer, one of those is Sony’s E3 conference show. In previous years I have been blown away by what Sony has done, but not this year. No, this year I was left craving more, and not because I loved what I saw.
The conference opened with Shawn Layden (President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment) welcoming everyone to the show, which started in a church for some reason. Layden said that they were “mixing up” their conference this year, promising that instead of having a “bombardment of new creative” they were instead going to focus on a deeper dive into games previously announced.
Hayden then introduced Gustavo Santaolalla onto the stage to play some music on a banjo, yes you read that correctly, Sony started off their gaming conference with a banjo solo. Santaolalla is the composer behind Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II, which we got a look at right after.
The new footage featured a look at a cut scene set in the same church that the conference started in before heading to a dark and gritty bit of gameplay. The action in this game looks phenomenal and the stakes feel high as Ellie, the protagonist from the previous game, struggles with taking on three enemies. In the short gameplay footage we see Ellie make use of her bow and a short pistol, along with a changing array of melee weapons. Ammo shortage still seems to be an element in the game that increases the difficulty of every situation. The visuals in this game are stunning and movement seems to smooth, not a surprise coming from the developers of Uncharted 4. No release date was given for the game, not even a year.
Following the Last of Us Sony took an intermission, yes and intermission 17 minutes into their conference. During the intermission, as fans moved from the church to the actual conference location, we were shown a trailer for the newest installment in the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 4. The trailer announced the return of four maps from previous games in the Black Ops series; Jungle, Slums, Summit, Firing Range. The return of these maps comes with a catch though as they are only available for immediate access if the game is pre-ordered through the PlayStation Store. Following the trailer it was announced that PS+ users would be given Black Ops 3 as an additional free game this month. Black Ops 4 releases October 12 of this year.
During the rest of the intermission we were treated to a trailer for Destiny 2: Forsaken (a new DLC for the game from Bungie) and a previously released trailer for Days Gone, the new zombie game from SIE Bend Studios. Days Gone is scheduled to release for February 22, 2019 but there is speculation that the release date may change due to a shared release date with EA’s Anthem and 4A Games Metro Exodus.
When the conference finally got started back more music was played, specifically a Japanese woodwind instrument, which lead into Sucker Punch’s (Infamous) new game, Ghost of Tsushima. I have to say this may have been one of my favourite games seen at E3 this year. The game is open world and set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan, if features a fighting system that gave me Witcher 3 and Dark Souls vibes along with an extremely gorgeous colour palette and what appeared to be a parkour system. No release date was announced for the game but we can assume that it will release some time in 2019.
Next up was a trailer with some extremely stylistic gameplay for Control, the new game from Remedy (Quantum Break and Max Pain). The game seemed to feature dynamic levels that morph and change as you play along with some superpowers like flight and an energy projection. Following Control it was the surprise (to some) announcement of the Resident Evil 2 remake, which looks absolutely stunning. The game was met with a large amount of applause from the audience, even more so when the release date of January 29, 2019 was announced.
Following that there was a quick trailer for the new PlayStation VR game, Trover Saves the Universe, from Justin Roiland’s (Rick and Morty) new studio, SquanchGames. It featured “Bathtub Guy” playing what appeared to be an action plat-former and a confirmed Sci-Fi backdrop. Following that we saw some more gameplay from Kingdom Hearts 3, mainly some scenes set within the Pirates of the Caribbean section of the game. The release date of January 29, 2019 was announced along with a limited edition Kingdom Hearts PS4 Pro and the reveal of a PS4 Exclusive bundle that would include Kingdom Hearts 3, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
Kojima’s new game Death Stranding was next and we were finally given some gameplay, quite a bit of it actually. Despite seeing quite a lot of the game at E3 this year we are still left with many unanswered questions about the action game that stars Norman Reeds, Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner. Like what’s the deal with the babies? What has happened to the world that the game is set in? It is uncertain when these questions will be answered as no release date was given for the game (are you noticing a trend?).
Sony closed their conference with a 7 minute gameplay demo of Insomniac’s highly anticipated Spider-Man. The game was a surprise announcement at last E3 which boasts an large open world in the friendly neighbourhood wall crawler’s home city, New York, and a large roster of Spidey’s classic villains. We saw quite a lot of them in the gameplay demo including Rhino, Electro and Scorpion and were teased with a potential surprise villain that I’m sure we’ll find out about soon, as the game releases on September 7 of this year. I have to say that this is on of the games I am most excited for this year and can’t wait to see what the Ratchet and Clank creators do with this PlayStation Exclusive.
Looking at Sony’s E3 conference as a whole it’s really hard to call it a success. Yes, there was some fantastic games shown, but there weren’t many and most of them had no release dates. We also didn’t get to hear from any of the creators behind the game, something that usually helps sell fans or answers any questions. If you compare this conference on content alone to Microsoft’s conference, in which 50 games were shown in some form or another, it would be safe to say that Sony under performed at E3 this year. A convention that is supposed to be about gaming left the core information about gaming at home and came with a short and bug filled conference (a few of them trailers were glitchy).
I’m also disappointed with the lack of 3rd party games shown. I had fully expected to see Rocksteady’s new DC game (rumored to be Superman) and gameplay from Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 (a game that we still haven’t seen any gameplay for). While this isn’t necessarily Sony’s fault, their conference just wasn’t enough and it left me craving so much more.
By Kieran Daly