Once again, Sony have stolen E3. They are simply the masters of this show. Sony’s conference was short, sharp, devoid of any filler or pomp and while it’s nice to see developers get their moment on stage to fumble over their lines, Sony skipped that and just hit trailer after trailer mixed with live gameplay and a grand total of 2 people on stage (including one very special guest).
The show opened with a live orchestra introducing the latest God of War. Set in a generally Scandinavian area, we saw Kratos and his son making their way out into the world to hunt a deer and inevitably get caught up with some evil dudes and a troll. They have shifted the camera to a fully controllable over-the-shoulder model and it seems to have added a huge amount of freedom to a franchise that had begun to slow after so many entries across Sony’s various platforms. It looks sensational. The attention to detail on the troll enemy is especially worthy of praise as every time Kratos swung his axe into its shins it left a cut or injury in that exact place. How the world will expand and the role of the son will be incorporated but this was a perfectly pitched opening to the show and the emotion elicited by Kratos and his son plunging their late (?) wife/mother’s knife into the deer was something I have not found in a trailer for a long time.
Following up was an intro to Days Gone, a new IP. I have to admit I found the trailer a little hard to swallow. It was just the wrong side of cheesy for me. I think zombies have to be approached with such care these days as the genre is getting so played out but when we saw the extended gameplay at the end of the conference it certainly won me back to neutral if not a little positive. The hordes racing at the main character look so well rendered and I can’t wait to see that physics engine perform in all sorts of situations. Like Watch Dogs 2 though, if you can’t nail down the characters and script without coming off like bad TV then I’m going to jump ship. Videogames should be at the point now that meaningful or at least well-constructed dialogue should not be too much to ask. #
We got another glimpse at The Last Guardian and a release date. October 25th. Book it off and invest in tissues now.
Horizon Zero Dawn got to stretch its legs in a whole new setting and show off its range of combat options, dialogue trees, flora and fauna in an extended gameplay demo, again live. I could not be more excited for this game. The world they are creating just looks so flush with life, both mechanical and organic. One of the cardinal rules of videogame combat is that ‘bow vs fast melee’ is bad but this looks so responsive and just downright fun. We’re starting to see and hear where they’re pushing the story on this one and I’m intrigued by it too. I want to know more and more about this world and that appears to be the crux of the narrative. Stunning preview footage and bravo to Guerrilla Games for taking such a huge leap following the Killzone franchise.
To wrap up a couple of the other games we got Spiderman, by Insomniac not Sucker Punch as had been rumoured. Insomniac know good traversal and action and should create a worthy Spiderman game. They’ve released the likes of Sunset Overdrive, Ratchet & Clank and the Resistance series and come with a strong pedigree. Detroit is David Cage’s new game. He of Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls & Fahrenheit fame. Cage’s games are not for everyone, and I include myself in that, but he always creates something innovative and boundary-pushing at least. How naff were those trailer instructions though? Wow. Call of Duty looks interesting! Those games trailer so well though. We’ll see.
We got a little preview of PlayStation VR which launches in October. It’s hard to show this is in a press conference and the show floor is where VR will really sing but we saw Batman among other things including a horror game that looks genuinely terrifying. The gameplay showed a first-person view, someone walking through a darkened, creepy-as-hell house. It set up some beautifully atmospheric scares and chills and then the title card hit revealing it as Resident Evil VII. I stood up, mind racing as the crowd went wild. They then announced that the entire game will function in both VR and normal mode (just…R?) and I tried to stand up again causing a complete brain meltdown. With so many rumours flying around this was one that I just didn’t believe would hit E3. Capcom had already announced something big this E3 and if Resi Evil came back at all 6 had ruined expectation in a lot of ways anyway. Then they gave us something totally unexpected and fresh and scary and exciting. There is a playable demo on PS4 right now and its out January. That’s how you announce a game.
The biggest moment of the conference however is what I’m going to finish with. If Resident Evil VII had announced a game perfectly, I’m not sure what to even call this. A game? A studio? A concept? There’s a theory about this that I’ll delve into but first of all, welcome back Hideo Kojima. There have been many column inches devoted to his acrimonious split from Konami following last year’s MGSV and even more inches devoted to Konami’s split from the games’ industry entirely bar Pachinko and Pro Evo. Sony were quick to back one of videogames’ most enterprising and brilliant minds and Kojima-san set about creating a new studio. A smaller, tighter studio. He embarked on a world tour of other studios trying to find an engine for his new game. This was mere months ago. And here he is, standing on the E3 stage as gaming’s biggest rockstar. People stood in the aisles whooping and hollering at his return, I’m getting goose bumps writing this just thinking about it again. He introduced Death Stranding and the video played. A naked man, played in mo-cap by The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus lay beside a baby, a baby with a metallic umbilical cord torn away from him. He proceeds to cradle the baby and wail, the music rising with the camera. Beached whales and creatures (a stranding, geddit?) lay around him and 5 figures hang in sky, Evangelion like. Much has been made of this signifying not a game but his baby, Metal Gear Solid, being torn away from him by Konami. The hand-prints all over the body of the man, a substitute for Kojima himself, becoming a metaphor for how he felt leaving Konami, with everyone grabbing at him trying to hire him, to get his side of his story, to tear him down. Of course, this could all be nonsense but it was THE moment of the show and the conference. Here’s hoping there’s a game in there somewhere too.
Rarely does an E3 conference have even one jaw-dropping moment anymore, Sony in 2016 was one hour-long jaw-dropping moment. They reign supreme for another year at least.
Watch all of Sony’s E32016 trailers right here:
Watch the entire Sony E32016 press conference right here:
Words by Eoin Monaghan