Sony @ E3 Preview & Analysis

Another gaming expo, another two hours of Sony parading around a stage boasting of their yearly accomplishments to date. At least, that’s the trend I’m expecting them to continue since E3 2013 when they put the Xbox One’s used game policy on blast. That alone gave PS4 the lead on the generation it needed and it hasn’t looked back since.

Sony at E3 2014

Sony’s 2014 press conference was pretty evenly split between first party content, exclusive third party content, and multiplatform third party content– filled in with hardware talk, including Project Morpheus and PlayStation TV, as well as indie games, especially with Devolver Digital.

The biggest game during the presser had to have been Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which closed out the show. While Sony only showed a short in-game pre-rendered cutscene, it’s still the most memorable moment from the event. Then again, it helps that the only other big first party reveal was for LittleBigPlanet 3, and featured one of the most awkward demos shown off all day. To round out first party support, Sony showed off a standalone DLC to iNFAMOUS: Second Son, in First Light, a downloadable game available that day from one of their smallest studios in Entwined, and more details on The Order: 1886 and The Last of Us: Remastered.

Speaking of remastered, the most surprising announcement last year was that Sony would be teaming up with Double Fine to release classic Lucasfilm adventure games in Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle.

Most of the other third party exclusives jumped between adorable and beautiful, and absolutely dark and twisted. No Man’s Sky’s sublimely promising universe was announced as first for consoles on PS4, newly formed studio Giant Squid– made up of former ThatGameCompany developers– announced their new, visually-stunning game Abzu, and the best trailer at the show announced Magicka 2. On the other end of the spectrum, Suda 51’s very-Suda-51 game Let it Die featured a lot of ‘people’ dying in many different ways, while Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki showed off his new game in Bloodborne, where most of the people were basically dead already.

The final third of the show featured a lot of highly anticipated, multiplatform, third-party content– some of which was making its first appearance. When Grand Theft Auto V’s trailer first started, it looked so different that many weren’t entirely sure this was the next-gen and PC version of the game. Dead Island 2 got a reveal trailer featuring the world’s best Jack Black impersonator (who totally impersonates Jack Black in the Kung Fu Panda TV show). Destiny made a return appearance to Sony’s show, while Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, rotated to Sony’s press conference after being at Microsoft’s the year before. My personal favorite gameplay demo of the presser came from Far Cry 4, showing off truck-hopping and flying with wingsuits through mountain passes. (MAN, I need to get back to that game) Finally, Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight gameplay was shown off for the first time, compounding the excitement for both games.

Games We Know About

Considering how few new announcements Sony made at last year’s E3 press conference and how many games they showed that have already been released, I’m a little surprised that there are more than a few games that we actually do know about going into their 2015 press event. I guess I have the PlayStation Experience to thank for that.

The event led to the first announcement of Kill Strain, a 5v2v5 isometric multiplayer game that definitely takes cues from the wildly successful MOBA genre, as well as Drawn to Death, a new FPS that aesthetically, definitely comes from David Jaffe’s for-some-reason-forever-pubescent mind. The final big game to come out of PSX was Until Dawn, a survival-horror game where you essentially play out the events of a horror B-movie. I think we can expect to see all of these games at E3 in some capacity. I’m not sure how much more really needs to be shown of Until Dawn, but more from the prior two games would definitely be welcome. I can expect at least to see them on the show floor.

Unlike Nintendo and their new Zelda game, Sony is still almost certainly going to show off their recently-delayed Uncharted sequel at E3 this year. It’s just too big a game to not show off, especially now that they’ve given no signs that it won’t be (unlike Nintendo, who put out a video specifically to apologize for not bringing the new Zelda game to E3 this year). To satisfy the craving for a new game, Sony will likely also show off the recently-leaked-then-announced Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection at about the same time they talk Uncharted 4 during the presentation.

I think we should also fully expect some sort of Project Morpheus presence, which means all the games we’ve seen for that so far should make some sort of appearance once again. Whether there’ll be anything new that actually interests someone like me is a whole other story, because Street Luge just isn’t doing it for me.

Tearaway: Unfolded, revealed at last year’s Gamescon in Cologne, Germany will likely see a release sometime this year, so I expect to see a bit of news on that. Maybe not a full gameplay demo, as it’s not really necessary, but a quick trailer and release date would be good as the original was one of the main reasons I had been considering buying a Vita.

The final exclusive game we know about at this point is Persona 5, which I have no expectations of seeing at the actual press conference, but definitely would like to. We’ll probably get some sort of information about it around E3, but an actual press conference appearance would be spectacular.

Expected Announcements

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise based on the sheer amount of studios under their control, but Sony has a lot of teams working on new projects that we don’t know about. How many get showed off at E3 will basically come down to how many Sony feels they can save for a TGS (They apparently won’t be at Gamescon) or PSX (assuming they do it again this year) without losing any excitement from from the biggest show of the year.

As for games I think I can feel safe in assuming we won’t see are the new project from Sucker Punch Productions and Gran Turismo 7. It usually takes a few years for the latter game’s series to release new iterations, and we’re jumping into a new generation here as well, with Gran Turismo 6 releasing on PS3 in 2013. I think a 2017 is very likely, which to me means that they can hold off on 7 for another year. Sucker Punch released Second Son in early 2014 and just released Last Light this year. While we know they’re working on a new game, there’s no chance we see any of it this year. Sony has too many other options to pull from to waste showing their game this early.

The most specific knowledge we have for known, but unannounced titles are those from SCE Santa Monica Studio and Team Gravity. We’ve known for a while now that Santa Monica Studio has been working on a new God of War project, and while GoW3 was remastered this year for PS4, a new God of War game, especially for PS4, seems far too big to pass on E3 if it is coming out before next year’s holiday season (something Sony’s already going to have down pat with Uncharted 4).

Team Gravity’s new Gravity Rush game, which hasn’t been seen since Tokyo Game Show 2013, has been getting some attention in the past few months with listings of a PS4 remaster surfacing in Korea. It’s definitely a game that could be saved for TGS or PSX, but if it’s coming out this year, it will be at E3. Though if it is a PS4 remaster and not a sequel for the Vita, I think it’s pretty safe to nail the coffin shut on the Vita.

Both of the Guerilla studios (Guerilla Games and Guerilla Cambridge) are working on new titles, and both having released Killzone games in 2013 means they might be ready to show off what they’ve been working on. Cambridge’s game is a mystery at this point, with our only knowledge being that it will be part of an established, multi-million dollar franchise, and that they’re really interested in photorealistic lighting effects. Common sense says they’re making a new Killzone game, which might mean we don’t see it this year as that doesn’t sound, well, new and interesting, especially if you take into consideration the rumors around Guerilla Game’s new game.

Known tentatively as Project Horizon, we’ve heard supposed leaks and reveal days about this new IP since last year– without much payoff. Possibly leaked images show off fantasy characters facing off against giant mechanical dinosaurs, and rumors are that the game will be an RPG, but at this point separating the truth from fiction is almost impossible. If true, though, you’re damn right if you think I want to see this game at E3. That sounds amazing.

Media Molecule has been working on a new game since 2013’s Tearaway. You might not have noticed that it’s been that long, considering that Sumo Digital has been making new iterations on all of their IP since then. Their last interesting showing at a press event was at the PS4 reveal event, where they made two characters dance by using Move controllers. They’re overseeing Sumo Digital’s port of Tearaway: Unfolded, but considering that it usually takes the developer 2-3 years to produce a new game, and we know they’re working on something new, seeing a new IP from them at E3 this year would not be surprising in the least.

The most curious game we could see at E3 would be whatever it is that bend Studio comes out with. We know that whatever new game their working on is promised to “push the PS4 to somewhere it has never been before.” Now I have no idea what this means, but this is a developer best known for making PSP and Vita versions of established Sony franchises. Their last title Uncharted: Fight for the Future released all the way back in 2012. Sony bend is a small studio, yes, but it’s also the only Sony-owned studio whose last game released in 2012 and hasn’t shown anything whatsoever of their new game. Whatever they’re working on, it’s an easy prediction that we’ll see it here.

The anomaly in all this is Japan Studio. They generally release or work with other independent studios to release 3-4 games a year at minimum. This year, they already helped to bring Bloodborne to Sony consoles and they’ll be helping with Capcom’s Deep Down, Q-Games’s The Tomorrow Children, as well as the Gravity Rush title. But as for its first party developers, we have almost no information on what they could possibly come out with. This is the company known for Ape Escape, Loco Roco, and Patapon, but they haven’t released an internally developed game since 2013’s Puppeteer and Knack. If there are any real surprises from Sony’s internal development teams, I fully expect Japan Studio to make them.

Finally, to wrap up this section, how about I throw in some sort of guarantee? It’s been 2 years. It’s time for David Cage to tease a thing at E3 that we won’t see until next fall.

Multiplatform Games

Sony’s position on Multiplatform games is basically the same as Microsoft’s. The only exception here is that Sony has the benefit of going after EA and Ubisoft, meaning if they plan on showing off any games first at their press conference, Sony could sneak in to get a second look at theirs.

That means EA games like Mass Effect 4, Mirror’s Edge 2, Star Wars Battlefront, the Visceral Star Wars game, and even Titanfall 2 could all make appearances at Sony’s press conference. Personally, I think if any of these games are going to appear there, it has to be between Battlefront and Titanfall, and more so the prior than the latter. Battlefront is huge, and I mean that in all seriousness. The only reason I can see Titanfall 2 making an appearance at Sony’s press conference (if it even appears at EA’s) is that the original being a Microsoft exclusive might make Sony want to emphasize the fact that the sequel will definitely be multi-platform. But again, hard to turn down Battlefront, and I don’t think they’ll take more than one game from EA if they take any at all.

That rule is something I think will hold for Ubisoft as well. Last year, Sony had zero games from EA and only one from Ubisoft in Far Cry 4. The only big games we really know about from Ubisoft at this point, however, are Assassin’s Creed Victory, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and The Division. Assassin’s Creed seems to jump back and forth between Microsoft and Sony every year, and this year would be Sony’s turn. On the other hand, The Division hasn’t been at a Sony press conference yet, and Siege is an interesting game we only know a little about despite it having a confirmed release date of October 13. However, it will only take a little bit of gameplay and explanation to let everyone understand how the game will work, and that’s likely to be handled at Ubisoft’s own press event, whereas more from Assassin’s Creed and The Division will always be welcome, so I expect to see one of those two grace Sony’s stage.

At this point, seeing No Man Sky at the presser should be expected. The very promise of it is extraordinary and the further they show they’ll be able to fulfill it, the more ingenious Sony’s exclusivity on the game will look. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will likely show up again at either Microsoft or Sony’s press event, and there’s reason to believe it could be either. Sony had it last year and Microsoft, the year before, so it may go back to Microsoft this year. On the other hand, Konami is a Japanese company, so perhaps they have the inside track to getting it again.

Like Microsoft, there are questions as to whether any Square Enix games will make appearances at Sony’s press event. Just Cause 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided are the most likely Eidos candidates, but other than that the only game I feel Sony has a chance of getting in will be Kingdom Hearts III. But considering this is Square Enix’s first year with a press conference, it may just be more likely that nothing from them gets shown at Sony’s press event.

The only other 3rd party press conference is Bethesda, but of the three games expected to be shown there: Fallout 4, Doom, & Battlecry, none seem assured to show up at Sony’s press event. Out of the three, Fallout 4 seems the one any company would be most likely to go after.

Dead Island 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight are still around from last year’s press conference, but the latter releases so close to E3 that it might not be worth it. Little has been shown of the prior, so if either return, Dead Island 2 would likely be more interesting.

The two games I think Sony could go after are either Mad Max or Homefront: The Revolution. The prior was initially revealed at Sony’s E3 presser in 2013, so it makes sense if Sony brings it back, again. The latter is a Deep Silver game, the same folks that publish Dead Island, so if it doesn’t appear again this year, it’s possible we see Homefront instead.

Bold Prediction

For the past six, seven, eight… you know let’s just say it’s been fifteen years, Sony fans have come into E3 with the exact same hope for the exact same game and left each year disappointed and disheartened. And while that probably won’t change this year, I can still hope for Sony finally bringing back The Last Guardian to E3.

So that’s my bold prediction. The Last Guardian will finally make its appearance. Everyone has been assuming that, at this point, the game has changed development from being a PS3 game to being a PS4 game. This isn’t the first shift, of course, as the game was originally announced as a PS2 game. Giving the development team a few years to shift to the new system, and the hope that the greater processing power might alleviate problems in technology that Team ICO has been having, would both lead me to believe it’s about time that, if they can announce it for PS4 or reveal more information, they could do it this year.

Come on, Sony, make my day.

More importantly, show more of Tequila Work’s Rime. That game looks good and I want it.

Sony’s 15-game Lineup Prediction:

  1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  2. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
  3. Until Dawn
  4. Tearaway: Unfolded
  5. Drawn to Death
  6. God of War 4
  7. Gravity Rush PS4
  8. Project Horizon
  9. New IP from bend Studio
  10. David Cage’s new interactive film
  11. Star Wars Battlefront
  12. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  13. No Man’s Sky
  14. Batman: Arkham Knight
  15. The Last Guardian
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