PlayStation At E3: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, And The Missing

Sony came into E3 2015 enjoying a commanding sales lead with the PlayStation 4. Were they able to rock the house like they did when the console was first announced? Some announcements for old fan favorites came close, while long-awaited titles were finally given much needed updates. There were some new surprises, but also some disappointments. Let’s look at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the missing from the PlayStation E3 press conference.

The Good

Opening with gameplay from The Last Guardian was brilliant stroke for Sony. It’s a highly anticipated title that has gone through some well-publicized ups and downs. This was in my “I’ll believe it when I see it” column for the PlayStation E3 event, and it’s good to see it come through its troubles with a 2016 release.

This was followed by the equally impressive Horizon: Zero Dawn from Killzone studio Guerrilla Games. The far-future post-apocalyptic science-fiction story of humans reforming into tribes while robotic animals roam the wild is intriguing. Meanwhile, the gameplay of the hunter fighting giant creatures with a powerful bow is reminiscent of the Monster Hunter franchise, something that has been missing on PlayStation home consoles since 2011.

No Man’s Sky is still one of the most impressive looking games being shown with still relatively little known about it. It’s made all the more impressive by the fact that the scale is huge, but made by a small development team at Hello Games. What’s missing most at this point is a release date, though.

A remake of Final Fantasy VII is something fans have been asking for since, well, forever. It appears to be a PlayStation 4 exclusive for now, with a PC release likely. Sorry, Xbox One owners, you are left out. The downside here is that there is not even an inkling of a release date, and a CGI trailer is all that was shown. Are we looking at a 2017 release at the earliest?

Media Molecule’s Dreams can only be described as surreal. The ability to draw and animate characters using the DualShock controller is interesting. I’m not sure how much of a game is there, but these kind of high concept titles are always worth a follow as they stretch the bounds of how we think of gaming.

Sony did the right thing in not doing a stage demo of Project Morpheus. Virtual reality headsets demonstration are best done in person and don’t translate well to simply viewing. The game lineup shown on stage, though, looks like a series of small titles, however, such as the first-person multiplayer shooter Rigs from Guerrilla Cambridge.

Finally, the reveal that Shenmue III is happening 14 years after the release of the last was fantastic. While the appeal is primarily to the older crowd as a result, a new generation of gamers will be introduced to one of the more delightful JRPG franchises.

The Bad

Destiny (PS4)

From a gamer and consumer perspective, timed exclusivity sucks. It sucked when Microsoft had timed exclusivity for the Call of Duty DLC, and it sucks now that PlayStation has it. The suckage is only amplified as Sony went through multiple timed exclusivity DLC deals that included Disney Infinity 3.0, Destiny, Batman: Arkham Knight, Hitman, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

While Shenmue III happening is only a positive, I have to question the decision of promoting it with a Kickstarter on stage. Yes, Sega mishandled this property horribly, but Sony is one of the big boy companies in the games industry, and the development of Shenmue III surely costs more than the $2 million Kickstarter goal since Shenmue IIcost $47 million (via Destructoid) more than a decade ago. So, what exactly was the point of announcing a Kickstarter for Shenmue III on-stage when Sony could fund the already PS4 console exclusive itself? I’m happy that the game is happening, but the setup is just odd.

So, PlayStation Vue was discussed on stage about how it is expanding TV streaming to new markets. This was something that would have been best left to a press release or post on the PlayStation Blog.

Unfortunately, PlayStation owners don’t have much to look forward to for 2015 outside of third-party games, as most of the exclusive announcements are for 2016 and beyond. Third-party support will be the order of the day for the upcoming holidays, which was the reason for the heavy emphasis on DLC timed exclusivity.

The Ugly

Uncharted 4 (PS4)

The Uncharted 4 demo got off to a rough start as the showcapper. Viewers were left staring at a blank screen for nearly 30 seconds after Sony announced a “title that requires no introduction.” Once the demo started, it had to be restarted approximately a minute into it because of technical issues. Not a great way to end an otherwise good show for PlayStation.

The Missing

The PS Vita received only passing mention in a title or two, like World of Final Fantasy, where the PS4 was being announced. Meanwhile, the PlayStation TV microconsole (built on the Vita) was completely absent barely over a year and half since its release.

God of War 4 still looks like it won’t release until 2017 at the earliest. No mention of the title or God of War 3 HD Remastered felt odd, though, given how central the franchise has been to PlayStation over the last decade and how much this conference focused on titles that won’t be out until next year and later.

Interested in the good, bad, ugly, and missing takes from the other press conferences? Here is the Xbox E3 media briefing.

[Images via PlayStation Facebook page]