Sony E3 2017 Highlights and Reactions
After Microsoft's lackluster E3 showing on Sunday, how did Sony counter? Well, in all honesty, Sony countered by being lackluster themselves. The conference was short, but thankfully devoid of the longwinded speeches that have derailed previous Sony E3 conferences. Sony focused on the games, but with few a exceptions, the games we saw were the ones that we expected to see, which left people hoping for just a little bit more.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Opening with Naughty Dog's Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was a good move from Sony because they spotlighted an exclusive title from their best developer and that title is set to be released on August 22nd, so the timing was good. The problem is that the whole trailer played with no sound! At first, I thought that was intentional, but I realized it couldn't have been because the characters ended up talking with no sound coming out of their mouths. Nevertheless, the trailer for the first Uncharted expansion shined with stunning graphics and a glimpse of co-op gameplay. Naughty Dog is as close to a sure thing as there is and this was a strong start minus the audio hiccups.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
Sony hit us with an exclusive one-two punch by revealing Uncharted, followed by the first DLC for it's smash hit, Horizon Zero Dawn, titled The Frozen Wilds. The DLC looks absolutely stunning and one can't help but feel a little Game of Thrones influence in it. A solid trailer and the DLC hits this year, which makes it even better.
Sony's next exclusive was a gameplay trailer for their 3rd person, open world game Days Gone. The highlight of this trailer was how your character, Deacon St. John, uses a zombie horde to attack bad guys, letting him get to his captured companion to save the day. I appreciate that the game gives you options in terms of how to handle the various situations, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot new to the game itself and the graphics seemed a little lacking to me. It's a game I have my eye on for sure, as I like the little touches, like how the weather will impact the zombies. Still no release date though.
MONSTER HUNTER WORLD
Now here was our first real surprise of the evening, as when I think of Monster Hunter, I think of Nintendo, but here we have a multi-platform Monster Hunter game. As I sat watching the preview, I didn't know what game I was watching, which always adds to the intrigue. Truth be told, I've never played a Monster Hunter game, but this preview made me want to play, as it looked genuinely fun capturing the dinosaur-looking creatures and walking around stealthily using camouflage. A hit for sure and one of the highlights of the presentation. A 2018 release date is the only thing that hampered the showing.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS REMAKE
This was the biggest announcement of the show and one that no one seemed to see coming, which is the best kind of surprise. About ten seconds into the trailer, I thought: Are they making a new Colossus game? I wasn't far off, as they are remaking the PlayStation 2 classic. And I use the word remake because those graphics are too gorgeous to call it simply a remaster. Scaling the dizzying heights of the various Colossus' is one of those gameplay moments that stick with you and I cannot wait to do it again! No word on a release date, but I'm willing to wait.
After a long delay due to Capcom losing the Marvel License in 2012, the Marvel Vs. Capcom series is back with Infinite, out September 19th. Capcom seems to be going a new route with it's popular brawler with focusing more heavily on the story mode, as this trailer was nothing but a story trailer with a heavy emphasis on the Guardians of the Galaxy. It would have been nice to see some actual fighting footage, but there was a nice surprise at the end, when it was revealed that a demo was out immediately.
CALL OF DUTY: WW2
Although everyone knows this game is a multi-platform title, it is a boon to Sony to be able to show it at their conference. Like it or not, Call of Duty still sells and is an important title every year. I've never been big into the series, but I admit, I do enjoy my WW2 shooters. They bring me back to the older Call of Duty titles and even before them, the Medal of Honor series, so I may actually give this one a try come November 3rd. Lots of explosions and crazy tanks scenes throughout made the trailer a great watch.
PLAYSTATION VR GAMES MONTAGE
We all knew this was coming and although not many people actually own the PlayStation VR, it is something I'm interested in (and secretly was hoping for a price drop). I think the best use of VR isn't really gaming per se, but destination experiences, like a virtual Disney World or creating fantasy worlds to roam about in like Westeros, Middle-Earth, or the world of Harry Potter. Here's what we were shown:
The biggest announcement of the bunch and surprising, seeing as how Bethesda unveiled Fallout 4 VR the previous evening. One of the most beloved RPG's of all time gets the VR treatment and I have mixed feelings. Of course one would love a new Elder Scrolls game, but it would still be cool going back and playing Skyrim in VR. The graphics took a step back, but that is to be expected. I think Bethesda has been smart though, as the best games to translate to VR are the ones that are already in first person mode.
Final Fantasy 15: Monsters of the Deep
This title looks like a fun little diversion, but there doesn't really seem to be much to it, although that also allows the graphics to be substantially more impressive than the Skyrim video we saw. The question is where is the value for the money? Sure fishing for the creatures and even getting pulled down into the water looks fun, but will it remain so for more than a few hours.
I was a little confused by this title as it looked like a third person title using VR, which seems like a contradiction. The bright colors were good, but an easily forgettable title.
A first person shooter game has a lot of potential in the world of VR and the modern setting will set it apart. Bravo Team looked frantic and fun.
This is my kind of title. Set in a mental hospital that seems to do dark and ominous in a Silent Hill sort of way, the Inpatient looks like an atmospheric title that creepy and memorable. Not much was revealed about the game though, so that's a little concerning.
GOD OF WAR
Certainly one of the most anticipated games at this year's E3, God of War hopes to bring in the Norse gods (presumably because Kratos has killed all the Greek ones). Kratos is back with a new beard, new ax, and now, a son. This last item was the focal point of this presentation as Kratos travels with Atreus in the dangerous world, teaching the young boy how to survive. The battle system was on full display as the game looked to capture some of the frantic pace of earlier titles while introducing new rpg elements. As usual, God of War is a benchmark graphically and the new setting and gameplay twists have brought much needed change to the series. The biggest disappointment was the early 2018 release date as some were hoping it might make it for a fall release.
DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN
Detroit: Become Human was one of the more interesting games that we saw during Sony's conference, as it is made by the team behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. The facial rendering is top-notch, as we have come to expect, and much like prior Quatum Theory games, the choices you make have a heavy impact. If a character dies, the story continues and adjusts for that death, which makes each player's experience with the game wholly unique. This trailer focused on Markus, an android who frees other androids and tries to lead an evolution either through violence or pacifism, depending on the player's choices. I have high hopes for this game, as morality seems to come into play a lot in your decisions and the permanent death harkens back to Heavy Rain. A memorable trailer although no release date was given.
Much like Call of Duty: WW2, having Destiny 2 at their conference is a big boon to Sony, as this title is sure to be one of the biggest of the year. The fear is that the first game overpromised what it was delivering and a lot of people left far before Bungie really righted things with all the post-release content. Will those players give Destiny 2 a chance? I'll be interested to see the sales. There's no denying the game looks great and I appreciate the new terrain we saw in the preview, including a collapsed paved road. Giving the game new locations that stand out really make the game feel like a new game and not just another add-on. I will say though, that the announcement of exclusive content was a negative for me. I hate that PlayStation gamers will get an exclusive strike, weapon, multi-player map, etc. just because they buy it on PlayStation. It's one of those things I hate about gaming, but it doesn't take away from what was shown.
Sony decided to close their show with another exclusive and before the trailer showed, I was expecting more footage from the Last of Us Part 2, but instead we got Insomniac's Spider-Man, which isn't bad either. Knowing the game is being made from Insomniac, I have the utmost confidence that it will control great and I loved how the gameplay and cutscenes integrated so seamlessly. Here's the thing though: the gameplay against the basic thugs looked exactly like Rocksteady's Batman games, which was disappointing to me. Even the stalking portion overhead was the same and although slinging around a city and running on the side of buildings looks fun, can it possibly be as fun as flying around Gotham? Having said that, the chase scene they showed was amazing and I do look forward to the game, just slightly less due to the fighting system. Again though, we have a 2018 release window, which means Sony's fall 2017 exclusive lineup is nearly bare.
I believe Sony made some mistakes here while also showing some strong games. Their conference was just a touch over an hour, which meant they had time to squeeze their pre-show announcements in. And the biggest question is why we didn't see some more footage of the Last of Us Part 2? I'm not going to tell you it was a bad show, but it seemed lacking in surprise for the most part. If you ask me what I would have realistically liked to see, I would say some more Final Fantasy VII remake info, maybe a price drop on VR, and a new From Software title. One thing I noticed is that Sony used to show a ton of indie games and this year it was Microsoft who showed them. Maybe Sony finally realized that indie games are great, but that in general, they aren't going to push hardware or get people excited about a system. This was a safe conference, which showed us mostly what we expected to see, gave us a few surprises, but little in the way of bombshells.