If there’s one publisher that’s been delivering on the hype and fervor surrounding E3 in the last couple of years, it’s Sony. PlayStation has come a long way from the sales driven, corporate speak of E3 conferences of old. E3 2015 marked an explosive event where the console manufacturer finally resurrected The Last Guardian, debuted a brand new IP from Guerrilla Games in Horizon Zero Dawn, showcased a number of high profile third party titles like Star Wars: Battlefront and Batman: Arkham Knight and fulfilled dreams by announcing Final Fantasy VII: Remake and Shenmue III.
Public anticipation boiled to a fever pitch as E3 2016 approached. There was seemingly no way for them to live up to the “Year of Dreams”, as 2015 was aptly named. To everyone’s pleasant surprise, Sony delivered what’s considered by many to be one of the best E3 conferences since the show first began in the 1990’s. An onslaught of game after game was dished out to fans. With an actual live orchestra matching the show’s every move, we were witness to some fantastic looking software like a brand new God of War, a new IP by the name of Days Gone by Sony Bend, Resident Evil 7, an actual release date for The Last Guardian, fully remastered Crash Bandicoot games, a Spider-Man game by Insomniac and a mysterious look at Hideo Kojima’s new game, Death Stranding.
Thankfully, Sony has gone on record saying expectations for this year’s conference are similar to last year in terms of format. Let the games do the talking is what I always say.
I’m very excited to see what Sony brings to the table this year. There are certainly things we can 100% expect at the show. There are several games that need more spotlight to build from last year. I think a significant focus will be placed on Sony Santa Monica’s tent pole title, God of War. With the debut trailer garnering over 17 million views on Youtube last I checked, saying there’s excitement is an understatement. God of War absolutely stole the show for me last year. I’ve always loved the series and have played every single installment sans the mobile game. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan.
I’ve never “hated” Kratos as a character. He’s an asshole. He’s killed innocents and used them to further his goals. All I see is a manifestation of a flawed and broken man turned god. Not to veer too off topic, but I just go with it. He’s different this time around. He’s grown a beard, wields an axe, has a son and now resides in Norse lands. The camera now sits above his shoulders as opposed to set angles seen in past games. All of these aspects have really turned the series upside down on its head. The God of War franchise has managed to capture my imagination in ways few games have. Each introduces fantastical characters, incredible boss battles and set piece moments, engaging combat and gorgeous environments. I’m anticipating another great gameplay demonstration.
I’m expecting similar in-depth gameplay looks at Days Gone and Insomniac’s Spider-Man (along with a final title). Both games have been in development for quite some time now. I feel it’s time to get more familiar with the world and premise of Days Gone and just what the new Spider-Man is all about. While there’s been excitement surrounding Days Gone, there’s also been some sentiment of familiarity by comparing it to The Last of Us. I disagree with these comparisons but they’re out there. I think Sony Bend’s main focus should be on differentiating the mechanics, story, characters and world from Naughty Dog’s magnum opus. I believe they’ll do just that.
Insomniac Games has the advantage of working on a beloved comic book character. Heck, I love the web slinger myself. Combine that with a world renowned game developer and you’ve got a potent recipe. With the team having gone dark since last E3, I think it’s safe to say we’ll finally see a chunky gameplay demo. I’d like to get a feel for the plot premise, combat mechanics and open world nature of the game.
As August slowly approaches, so too does Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. With that in mind, I’m expecting a shorter showing for the spin-off adventure game. I think we’ll get a look at it in the form of a gameplay trailer to keep the title on people’s minds. I’d extend this expectation to Gran Turismo Sport and Detroit: Become Human along with a release date for the latter. I think Detroit may finally be ready.
Now, every conference has to have its indie showcase reel and I’m fairly pumped to see what new software is on the horizon in that arena. There’s been a number of indie titles that have completely blown me away in recent years. I hope we get a nice long look at some new games including, perhaps, Matterfall and thatgamecompany’s new IP? Fingers crossed!
There’s also always an undercurrent of unpredictability when it comes to PlayStation’s conference. Any rabbit could be pulled out of the hat with so many older IPs in their pocket. I have a feeling we may see a remaster or remake of some kind for a classic game or two. It seems like a possibility given Sony’s wide portfolio range and studios like Bluepoint Games working on remasters/remakes.
We can expect a number of third parties to join the fray given the nature of their previous conferences and there are 3 major games all but guaranteed to make a presence: Star Wars: Battlefront II, Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2. There’s one unifying reason for my excitement for all three and that’s narrative direction. The original Star Wars: Battlefront reboot doled out some fun times with its multiplayer offering but it fell short in terms of content and I was a little disappointed at the lack of a story campaign. Thankfully that’s remedied this time as I mentioned in my previous EA piece, it’s got me really keen.
On the other end, Call of Duty and Destiny are both cash cows for Activision and that stems mostly from their multiplayer focus. I don’t dabble too much into Call of Duty’s multiplayer anymore (I was last heavily active in the original Black Ops’ multiplayer) so a (hopefully) gritty return to World War II is ringing all the right bells to me, especially from Sledgehammer Games. I really enjoyed the campaign in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Then there’s Destiny 2. I’ve always been a fan of Bungie since the first time I grabbed the old “Duke” controller and jumped head first into Halo: Combat Evolved. They went on to create some of the best games I’ve ever had the privilege of playing and so the original Destiny concept immediately grabbed me. Unfortunately, the initial base game was a fair disappointment in terms of storytelling and narrative direction (or rather lack of). They rectified some of the issues with the expansions and more specifically The Taken King. With a larger focus on improving campaign issues from the first game, I’m on board.
I’m expecting some significant screen time to be set aside for those three behemoths.
Now, recent remarks by Shawn Layden pinpointed to a heavy presence of Japanese games. There’s a whole slew of possibilities but I suspect we might see something from From Software, an updated look at Ni No Kuni II (release date perhaps?) and/or something from Capcom or Square Enix. I’m not expecting anything new on Final Fantasy VII: Remake or Kingdom Hearts III, sad as that is. In terms of Capcom, Street Fighter V hasn’t had the best success by most accounts and I think a ‘Super’ or ‘Ultimate’ version could include all content and “soft reboot” the game in a way to recapture that audience. In any case, I have a feeling that won’t be the only thing Capcom brings to Sony’s stage floor (if it’s there at all) so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens!
There’s just one big missing piece in this whole puzzle: Sucker Punch. It’s been a long three years since Infamous: Second Son and its subsequent DLC “First Light”. They’ve no doubt been toiling away on a new game and the question on everyone’s mind is: “Where is it?”. Such a long gap of absence from the team indicates development of a new IP versus a continuation of the Infamous series and this E3 could very well be the right moment for the studio to come out into the spotlight. If not this E3 then perhaps PSX 2017. Regardless, it’s not far-fetched to expect to see Sucker Punch at some point this year.
Throw in some expected VR titles for PSVR and you’ve got a stew going. I’m iffy on a price drop for the standard PS4 and beefier PS4 Pro. I expect one this year but E3 might not be the right time for it. Sony might instead wait until just before the release of Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio this Fall to retain leverage and momentum. Overall I believe we’re going to get another stellar show from Sony next week. There may or may not be some surprises. Strap yourselves in.