Sony@E3 – The Art of the Press Conference

And so, this year’s big E3 press conferences have come to an end, with many announcements from big publishers and developers like EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Microsoft, and Sony, many of which are incredibly exciting, some, not so much. Last year, at E3 2015, Sony blew the house down with announcements like the return of The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and of course, the magnificent Shenmue III. Rare unveiled Sea of Thieves, there multiplayer pirate adventure game, at the Microsoft conference and we got some exceptionally cool trailers from the show, like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The PC Gaming Showcase also started, highlighting an increasingly popular corner of the gaming community that rarely got significant attention at events like E3 before.

2015 had the “E3 of dreams”. Whatever this year’s E3 gets remembered by (“E3 of stabbing” if Daniel Bloodworth would have his way), it might just top that, thanks in no small part to the biggest of the bunch, with the toughest act to follow from last year, Sony. How do you follow up a conference that literally made some audience members weep with joy at the thoughts of things to come? Well, Sony did something that’s not really so out there for gaming conference. They sat us down, made us comfortable, and rocked our world with nearly 80 solid minutes of mostly uninterrupted gameplay demo’s and trailers. Other conferences often talk big about showing their games, but then end up standing on stage for way too long explaining everything going on in their demo (I’m looking at you EA), but Sony just didn’t need to say anything. I’m pretty sure that after the opening speech, a big smug grin never left Shawn Layden’s face for the whole time.

Other publishers did show off some interesting things in their more traditional press conferences, with my personal highlights being Battlefield 1 (despite it’s awful title and terrible musical sense), the PC exclusive Quake Champions, the once again spectacular Sea of Thieves, the much improved PC Gaming Showcase (which showed off some awesome Dawn of War III gameplay), and the new console, Project Scorpio from Microsoft. Despite being great for me however, I don’t believe Play Anywhere, an initiative where many, if not all announced games that were previously exclusive to Xbox One, like ReCore and Scalebound, are now also being released on Windows 10, was a something that fit properly into the show, as it essentially I have zero reason to want to own an Xbox One. The meaning of the word ‘exclusive’ has been twisted to an alarming degree by Microsoft in this instance, and with new incrementations of the console on the horizon, the idea that quite a few players no longer have any need of it does put a bit of a dampener on the proceedings. Despite Sea of Thieves‘ fantastic jollyness, Microsoft’s conference ultimately went out leaving some sour thoughts in my mind. Sony destroyed them, along with every other publisher, royally, in one fell swoop.

They opened with spectacular swagger and confidence. The first five minutes was nothing but the tension building, blood stirring music of an orchestra conducted by Bear McCreary (of Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead fame). They had only three speakers for the entire conference, all which kept their spiel short, sweet and too the point. It’s not about telling you about games – it’s about showing them to you. Nevermind the great production, let’s just note down everything we got from the Sony conference:

  1. A fantastic opening number from composer Bear McCreary, who sets the stage for God of War, which returns with a new story direction, new player perspective, and (hopefully) a new pantheon of gods to slaughter.
  2. They showed off the cinematic trailer for a brand new IP in the post-apocalyptic open world genre, Days Gone. By itself this wasn’t that impressive, but more on this later.
  3. A frankly breathtaking story teaser for The Last Guardian, with a release date of 25th October this year. To live in a world where this and Final Fantasy XV are finally coming out, tis a truly wonderful thing.
  4. An expanded look at Horizon Zero Dawn, a great surprise from last year. The sci-fi stone age open world game from the developer’s of Killzone showed off some beautiful cinematic action and some intriguing story teases. It even has dialogue menus. I really, REALLY want to ride some robot dinosaurs after this one.
  5. Moving on, we looked at Detroit: Become Human, a detective game set in the future starring a synthetic android named Connor. What’s very interesting about this one is that depending on what or how much you investigate and what choices you make during a case, there may be hundreds of possible outcomes. This one sets a tone, a very solid one.
  6. Resident Evil VII. I have no words. The Kitchen VR horror demo from last year was completely terrifying and was expanded on this E3 for something special. This reveal was frighteningly creepy, elegantly eery, and was probably the best trailer of the show. A superb new beginning for Capcom’s premiere survival horror franchise and the whole thing is playable in VR, with a release date of 24th January 2017. Best of all, the demo is out. Like, right now. Spoilers… it’s scary as ****!
  7. We got Playstation VR, a price point ($399), along with tons of triple AAA VR experiences that will lauch with it in October, including Star Wars (X-Wing Missions – YESSSS!!!!), Batman and even Final Fantasy XV.
  8. Maybe Activision should have started with this trailer for Infinite Warfare, because now I want to play it. I want to fly around and dogfight in the middle gigantic space battles, have shootouts in zero G and choose my own missions. For the first time in years, I’m actually excited for Call of Duty and that means someone’s done something right. Also, Modern Warfare Remastered looks killer.
  9. The only real lull of the conference is now and it’s not really a lull to be honest. Crash Bandicoot 1, 2 and Warped are back and remastered for PS4 and Crash himself is coming to the new Skylanders game. It’s all good, but it’s not a new Crash platformer. Oh well, at least we now know that Activision are willing to play ball with the franchise again.
  10. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This game is two weeks away from release. It looks good. Moving on…
  11. …To something much cooler. Andy House comes out and welcomes a super-special guest. He walks onto the stage from the back in gloriously flashy fashion, his new logo stretched across the screen, the Fury Road soundtrack being blasted in the background,  and destroys over two years malpractice from ‘the man’ in one sentence. “Hello everyone. I’m back.” The crowd erupts as the legend himself Hideo Kojima (creater of Metal Gear Solid) unveils his new game Death Stranding in a cryptically intriguing yet disturbing in-engine trailer starring Norman Reedus. P.T. is dead, but the dream lives on.
  12. After this was another cool surprise. Insomniac (Resistance, Ratchet and Clank, Sunset Overdrive) are making a Spider-Man game, and it looks awesome. Spectacular. No. Amazing, one might say. 🙂 In all seriousness, this supposedly original universe title looks really impressive from what we saw of it and if it’s standing in a line-up in this conference, then there must be something special about it.
  13. Finally, the conference finished in an unsual way. We went back to look on Days Gone, that post-apocalyptic new IP unveiled earlier in the show, this time with a live gameplay demo. What’s impressive about this game, especially the demo at least, is not only the way you and your main enemies, these strange zombie like creatures, frequently interact with the environment, but the sheer number of zombies that appear on screen at once, swarming the player World War Z style. It was probably not the strongest way to end the show, but it gives me confidence that Sony has enough confidence in their new projects to put them in important parts of an E3 press conference.

Sony E3 2016

And that was the Sony show. This was a shorter conference then what they had in previous years, but it was packed much more tightly with greater focus. It was fast paced and exciting, with one game after another, no one coming in to talk about them, simply showing them, having confidence enough in the games to let them speak for themselves. Other publishers should take not. That’s how you show off. And the best part of all, I want to play every game that was at that conference. Every single one of them, and that makes me so happy.

It’s what E3 is about. The new stories, the new moments, the new memories, the new technology, the new GAMES!!!!!

Sorry EA. Sorry Bethesda. Sorry Ubisoft. Sorry Microsoft. You put up a good fight this E3 2016 (some of you anyway), but once again, undoubtedly, Sony wins.

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