From the moment the stream switched to the auditorium I had chills. They intensified when the live orchestra kicked things off with such a deep and resonating opening piece. I was holding out hope that the Sony E3 press conference wouldn’t disappoint, and boy was I rewarded. This feature was really hard to put together since there was so much that appealed to me and Playstation fans were really spoilt for choice. Here are some of the highlights from what I believe was the standout performance of E3 2016.
God of War
Status: Under Development
Amidst a din of applause, Kratos emerged from the darkness of the first gameplay trailer, and I found myself clapping too. Sporting a beard and son this time around, we were guided through a gameplay trailer showcasing this new title exclusive to PS4. The trailer centres around their hunt through a rugged snowscape that was beautifully animated, but deceptively treacherous. We got a taste of the combat system, the skill system, the enemies encountered and the dynamic between the two protagonists. The end climaxed in a beautiful scene between the two that highlighted the stark comparison between the well hardened Kratos and the softness of his son.
I can honestly say that the God of War series has never caught my attention up until this week. Kratos has been a somewhat unlikeable character consumed by rage and vengeance and too much of that can be a real turn off. This new side to him has me captivated and interested to find out how this dynamic between him and his son works out. I’m hoping the title is more standalone-ish, as I haven’t played all the existing titles through to completion. This quote from the game’s creative director, Cory Barlog, has me inspired:
“This game is about Kratos teaching his son how to be a god, and the kid teaching Kratos how to be human again”
Thinking of Orlando
Shawn Layden took the time to prequel his welcome and introduction with this:
“I would like to take a moment to address the heartbreaking tragedy of Orlando this past weekend. A horrific event like that carried out by a madman really underscores our need for greater love and tolerance, and respect for people of all kinds. On behalf of the PlayStation community I just want to say that our thoughts are with the families of the victims and we hope that in this week of our gaming celebrations, and the diversity of our gaming community, we can find some strength, solace and comfort. The PlayStation stands foursquare with our friends and fans in the LGBT community.”
In the midst of everything that has happened since the announcements concerning Orlando, this spoke volumes to me as a gaymer in terms of its empathy and voice of solidarity. I felt like I belonged here which was incredibly comforting.
Status: Under Development
Nothing gets me more excited than new IP. New IP with a Last of Us feel and a seething horde of zombies (or “Freakers” as they’re termed in this game) coming at me had me close to ecstasy. Days Gone burst onto the screen with a fairly tame launch trailer, however the gameplay trailer that was aired later during the conference had myself and Luke sitting on the edge of our seats. There were so many Freakers I was thankful they went down in one shot, or I would have some serious reservations about the difficulty of the finished game. This is going to be my next zombie game for sure and I relish the challenge of facing down actual hordes of zombies using guns, tools and the environment (or just running away petrified if it works).
The Last Guardian
Status: Out on October 25th 2016
The Last Guardian was finally given a release date this year. I loved the trailer that was played, as it had a few new scenes, and I’m grateful that it is finally being released, but the long, long, long wait for this title has diluted some of my enthusiasm for this game (much like the wait for Kingdom Hearts 3).
Status: Under Development
Kojima took to the stage in such a grand fashion that I immediately expected something great. With the announcement of Death Stranding I’m sure that Konami are hurting. The trailer was incredibly cryptic, but the concepts of life, death and connection are what came through to me the strongest as a result of the baby, umbilical cord and dead animals all around the character that Norman Reedus portrays. In a followup interview, Kojima confirmed these suspicions, stating that:
“Animals are connected with each other, people are connected to each other, so many things are connected,”
He has hinted that a short story by Kobo Abe is one of the best ways to understand one of the central themes of Death Stranding:
“In this short story, Abe states that the first tool mankind created is a stick,” Kojima tells IGN. “He states that the stick is the first tool that mankind created to put distance between himself and bad things — to protect himself. He states that the second tool mankind created is a rope. A rope is a tool used to secure things that are important to you.
Most of your tools in action games are sticks. You punch or you shoot or you kick. The communication is always through these ‘sticks.’ In Death Stranding I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes… But of course you will be able to use the sticks too.”
Take a moment to admire Norman, go on, you know you want to!
Detroit: Become Human
Status: Under Development
I cannot fully express how keen I am on this new installation from Quantic Dream. The technology they use to capture and present the characters in their games seems to have only deepened in this game. The gameplay trailer, set on a building rooftop amidst strong winds and helicopter flood lights flowed generated an amazing tension. The fact that there seem to be so many different outcomes achievable based upon your action (or indeed inaction) appealed to me greatly. The backdrop of a society where androids don’t have human rights is one that could lend an originality to this game if done well. There is the thought in the back of my mind that Connor will be tempted to either remain conformant to this institution, or be presented with a path to overthrow it. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see the modern day iteration of Frankenstein’s monster?
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Status: Delayed until 2017
The new gameplay demo had me equally excited and pissed off that the game was delayed until next year. The world is gorgeous, the new abilities displayed well-crafted and seamlessly integrated. The ability to scavenge off of the mechanical creatures has on my mind for some time now in relation to this game. The way you do it, by scanning for materials and weaknesses, then exploiting those to your advantage, is something I relish in a game. It also alludes to some form of crafting system, which we were treated to also.
I love the fact that the heroine of the story, Aloy, is such a strong female lead (and made all that more attractive by those flowing ginger locks!). She is dauntless in the pursuit of her objectives and the game looks like it will provide many outlets to channel this, i.e; the overriding of the broadhead to reach a village.
I haven’t touched on the VR segment of the conference as of yet and this was due to one specific reason. Up until E3 I have only seen the VR as something expensive, and I’ve been unconvinced as to how it could enhance my gaming experience. After E3, I have pre-ordered mine, and am sitting tight for the 3rd shipment (yep, you heard right) to grace the Australian shores.
Sony gave us an incredible taste of their planned VR program (50 games available before the end of the year) and I was excited to see the Final Fantasy XV and Resident Evil VII pieces. Added to the likes of EVE: Valkyire, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Farpoint and Impulse Gear, there is now enough content to pique my interest, even though my wallet is going to hate me for several months.
Deciding what to play next has become the question on my mind coming out of this week. With literally so much presented by Sony, fans have been spoilt for choice heading into the remainder of this year, and the beginning of 2017. I’ll definitely be giving the Resident Evil VII demo a go soon to check that out, and I really hope that it provides the re-entry into the series I’m desperately seeking (I had to wait until my broadband refreshed before I could download it…. I wonder why).
I am curious to see if/ how they incorporate LGBT inclusion from a Checkpoint perspective, as no hints were really dropped about this topic. As we’ve mentioned a lot of times before it is that normalized inclusion that speaks to us the most, even though an announcement is a good thing in moderation.
What I liked the most about Sony’s conference this year was the level of commitment to their community to ease up on the talking and bombard us with the games. They didn’t need to add a new console into the mix, there was so much presented that it would have taken away from the experience in all honesty. I felt engaged throughout the whole thing and frantically searched for as much info to complement what I had learned afterwards.
Well done to Sony, and thank you for rewarding and inspiring a very loyal fan!