Sony’s conference on Monday night heralded the last major conference of the day and only one of the many surprises to come during E3 2015. To put it lightly, Sony had the most raw energy of any conference I had seen thus far this year.
Sony opening the conference with The Last Guardian was a bold move and showed that they have been paying attention to the buzz for the past few years. The Last Guardian has long been teased and hinted at without truly being shown off in a playable fashion in such a long time. To me, The Last Guardian represents a completely different time in gaming when artistic and soulful games were a rarity. Seeing the game in motion immediately invoked the same calming emotions paired with the sense of scale. It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to see more of Fumito Ueda’s upcoming masterpiece.
Guerilla Games initially drew mixed reactions from both myself and the crowd at first glance with the opening of a prehistoric time. It wasn’t until the antagonists, the large animalistic machines, showed up that the world felt to come together and become a unique backdrop. If the rest of the game can match the large scale encounters of the first ‘dinobot,’ Horizon could certainly look to be a new masterpiece on the PS4.
Hitman certainly got a beautiful trailer, as is evident by Square-Enix’s expertise in crafting masterpiece videos. The anticipation of what was to come held strongly throughout the trailer and wasn’t obvious until character reveal towards the end. It’s been years since the last Hitman title (Absolution) came out and I’ve been waiting for some new contracts.
Ultra Street Fighter IV got only a brief mention during Sony’s conference, if only to highlight that the fighting championship is indeed coming to the PlayStation 4 with new content to be announced. Capcom had been hinting at the character reveal over the past couple of days (namely Birdie and his UK stage) but it wasn’t until the trailer that both he and Cammy got their confirmation to the roster. This title got some strong cheering, especially with the announcement of the PS4-exclusive beta coming in the following weeks, but that may simply be because of the Capcom executives I had the pleasure of sitting next to.
No Man’s Sky got its first true gameplay demonstration during the conference at E3 2015. The sense of scale of the universe finally got realized with being able to see what it was like to visit a planet. Being able to visualize the planets and how you gather materials and explore with the threat of combat looming due to each planet’s guardians.
Dreams, the next title from Little Big Planet visionaries Media Molecule, seems more ambitious than anything I’ve seen from them before. A robust creation tool seems too good to be true looks to bring ideas into life and into motion with only the most simple of controls. I first thought this was what became of the PS Move demonstration from years back that showed off dancers moving to and fro with the use of the PlayStation Move controller, but none of that was shown off during the trailer. Dreams could be a title that could be interesting to explore around and see what other dreams people have come up with, but it doesn’t seem like something that I would try to create something of my own.
Firewatch is a title that I couldn’t quite make sense of exactly what it was. Was it an adventure game where you had to go from goal to goal like the power lines that were shown in the demo or was it more open world and exploration while having a constant conversation partner at your side? It was too early to tell but the walkie-talkie premise could be interesting as a lifeline to keep my from going stir crazy as I wander around the wilderness.
Destiny truly needs no explanation. My previous prediction of the expansion announcement during their conference did come true. And just like Activision has been known to due with Sony, there will be exclusive content and strikes just for the PlayStation platforms. Destiny looks to be more of the same with the addition of new weapons and that will certain keep some people interested in the world Bungie has created for a few more months.
World of Final Fantasy was a mixed reaction. Fans didn’t know just what Square-Enix was going with in its chibi style or the main characters that look like a mixture of Cloud Strife and Kairi, obvious Tetsuya Nomura inspiration in play. As one of the few titles announced for the PlayStation Vita during Sony’s E3 2015 conference, I do look forward to playing what is to come with this particular title.
Speaking of Final Fantasy, word has been going wild across the internet about the Final Fantasy VII reveal. The CG trailer looked simply too good to be true, looking even better than the recent Agni and Witch Chapter 0 trailers. If the entire game could capture that look and quality, it could be one of the most technically impressive games I’ve seen to date. It would be a miracle to see this title out any time before 2017; hopefully Final Fantasy XV will be out long before then.
Shenmue 3 is a title that has been long coming. Rather than showing off what Yu Suzuki has in the works for this particular gaming world, it was the announcement for a Kickstarter project. While I can’t wait to play some Lucky Hit again, I felt this announcement would’ve been perfectly paired with something like a Shenmue 1+2 HD collection on PlayStation 4, just so that fans could experience his story from the beginning and carry their progress from one game into the next, just as Suzuki-san intended with the beginning of the series.
Batman: Arkham Knight certainly got a unique trailer during Sony’s E3 2015 conference. Rather than showing off Batman or any of the other lead characters in the title, instead it focused on a beat cop succumbing to Scarecrow’s nerve toxins. A visceral first-person scene cut out early that I can only assume will lead to show the cop shooting random bystanders, a scene perhaps too violent to show during the conference. That could easily be one reason why this particular Batman entry is worthy of that Mature rating.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 got its first ever presentation during Sony’s presser. Whether this is because of a new partnership with Activision or simply the expiration of Activision’s 10-year contract with Microsoft, it felt strange to hear the announcement that Sony would be the first ones to get DLC map packs and future support for the title. The movement looked quite fluid and the transitions from running to jumping and wall running looks frantic even by CoD standards. Being able to snipe while wall running could easily be a tactic that could easily be exploited during online matches and lead to some controller throwing rage by the victims.
Star Wars: Battlefront got its showing of what could be the single-player/offline offering to the game: wave defense. Having a break from a purely multiplayer experience is something that developers have learned from Titanfall and Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. At first glance, it looked as though the various blasters don’t have ammo counters, instead they have an overheating gauge that I can only assume promotes burst firing rather than going full auto on everyone you see.
Ending the show with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was a solid move for Naughty Dog and a reminder of one of Sony’s core franchises. This title was the only one to demo with any sort of glitch, as the controller locked up upon being able to play as Nathan Drake. A quick reboot solved the issue and the game ran quite solidly from there. True to the series, the game immediately jumped straight into gunplay with an army group hunting down Nate and Sully as they try to reach Sam, Nathan’s older (and unmentioned until this particular title) brother. The usual QTE-focused combat felt dynamic and flowed back and forth between contextual hits and dodges. Being able to see a driving scene in the Uncharted 4 demo was something that was hard to tell that the scene was scripted and wanted players to go down a particular path. The comedic banter and one-liners between Sully and Nathan felt natural even when driving a jeep to avoid getting blown to pieces. While there were some minor issues here and there, tires clipping through the ground.
Overall, Sony’s E3 2015 press conference had the most energy of all the conferences I attended. Fans have been waiting a long time for a true Final Fantasy VII reveal and the other announcements like The Last Guardian and Shenmue 3 were just icing on that big gaming cake.