And then there was one. One company left to show its hand at E3. One company left to reveal the fruits of their labour, and one company left to wow us all. That, of course, was the hope of those tuning in for the fourth conference of E3 2013, Day Zero. And then Sony took to the stage.
From any way you looked at it, Sony had the advantage going into E3. Big partnerships were teased, massive exclusives were promised, and there was the potential to benefit from recent negativity surrounding Microsoft. Los Angeles had other ideas, it seems, and by Sony’s high standards, 2013 saw an admittedly rocky performance from Tretton. This doesn’t mean there weren’t big moments, however, and here is the detailed rundown of everything Sony brought to the ball park today.
- Far be it from Sony to kick off their conference without the typical extensive showreel. Giving a bitesized preview of the next two hours, before Imagine Dragons play out Jack Tretton in a suitably epic fashion. Whereas the days other conferences started with big game reveals right off the bat, however, Tretton’s first stop is the Vita. On a day that is all about Sony getting in some early shots on the Xbox One, their handheld console should be the last thing on their minds. There is some interesting news, though, like Dead Nation coming to the Vita and the next episodes of Telltale’s Walking Dead game arriving this summer. It’s a slow start to Sony’s briefing, but at least it’s all uphill from here, right?
- Well, sort of. From the Vita to the PS3, and Sony show there’s still life in their aging warrior just yet. Puppeteer, Beyond: Two Souls and Batman: Arkham Origins all look great, and they’re all coming to the PS3. But there’s a huge elephant in the room, and you get the sense that nothing is really going to make a big impact until it’s addressed. Luckily, Sony finally stumble into the matter of the PS4, albeit with their priorities a little askew.
- We finally get a look at the console itself. The Playstation 4 is slimmer than the Xbox One, with a slanted design, looking less like a box, and more like a box that somebody’s stepped on. There’s no doubt that it’s sleek, innovative, and generic_buzzword_3, but the diagonal design is certainly a bizarre addition. Neither console looks “ugly”, but it’s easy to envision the internet arguing persistently to the contrary for the next couple of years.
- It’s at this point that the conference unfortunately becomes white noise for uncomfortably long. Talk of non-gaming features for their console was something that Microsoft managed to get out of the way during their reveal, but here it kills what little momentum Sony had managed to pick up, leaving them to limp into the actual game news. It’s here where it picks up, however, and the PS4 exlusive of The Order 1886 is revealed; a grim looking game that it seems criminal to imagine playing without Warren Zevon playing at least once. One thing the reveal lacks is gameplay, however, but this is isn’t a drawback shared by Killzone: Shadow Fall. The PS4 launch title’s gameplay looks much better here than it did back in February, and Sony’s conference is picking up speed again as the focus shifts back onto the games.
- Sony’s game footage continues with Infamous: Second Son, showing off a series looking better than ever going into its next-gen debut. Quantic Dream, meanwhile, showed off a tech demo for the Dark Sorcerer, a title for which details are hazy but with some likely to emerge in the next few days. Suddenly, however, it all goes a bit indie. Out come Supergiant to show off their new title Transistor, and then the floodgates open. Games like Don’t Starve, Oddworld, OctoDad and more are announced to be debuting exclusively (codeword for timed exclusives) on Playstation 4. It’s the best news of the conference so far, and it’s hard to decide whether it’s a good or bad thing that Sony’s event begins to pick up speed when the fully exclusive content is moved away from the spotlight.
- Diablo is mentioned, and then the stage is turned over to Square Enix. Well, via video package. Footage of Final Fantasy Versus XIII is shown, but there’s a swerve as the game is revealed, after a long development cycle, to have been rebranded as Final Fantasy XV, part of the main series rather than a simple spin-off. There’s one more bit of news from Square, however, and Kingdom Hearts is confirmed to be hitting the PS4. Kingdom Hearts III joins a reasonably strong Playstation 4 exclusive lineup, though whether the console’s arsenal can stand up to the guns that Microsoft brought out still needs some weighing up.
- Here’s where the exclusive content stops, however. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag gets one of the least impressive looking next-gen gameplay trailers yet, looking more like a PS3 game than PS4, The game itself looks much more promising than the previous installment proved, though, and while not exclusive it is certainly one to watch in the next few months. But everything pales in comparison to Watch Dogs, and Sony provide the most in-depth look at the game yet. It’s a resounding success, and regardless of what console you get it on, you’re clearly in for a superb time with the game. NBA 2K14 follows for some reason, before the bombshell of Elder Scrolls Online is dropped in one of the most bizarre progressions through games that E3 has ever seen.
- If you thought Sony would be winding down at this point, you’d be… well, you’d be kind of right. The rebirth of Mad Max for Playstation 4 is announced, before Jack Tretton returns to the stage to deliver some parting words on the console. And boy, do those words cut. Aimed directly at Microsoft, Tretton assures that the Playstation 4 will fully support used games, and not feature any sort of “always online” program. It’s a worrying state of affairs when you rely on pot-shots at the competition to induce positive responses rather than relying on the strength of the games, but this is big news nonetheless. While Microsoft seem to have the better exclusive lineup coming together, Sony know exactly how to push the right buttons with their consumers, and this is likely to help them to no end down the line.
- I am sold on Destiny. We’re all sold on Destiny. Destiny looks fucking incredible. Preorder Destiny today.*
- The final word. The parting shot. The price of the Playstation 4. Sony turn out to be the company going lighter on people’s wallets, asking for only $399, one hundred dollars less than the Xbox One’s price tag. Sony follow Microsoft’s lead in fucking shafting the rest of the world, however, with the United Kingdom and Europe having to pay the equivalent of around $150 more. It’s similarly harsh for Australians too, proving that as long as you’re not American, it really doesn’t matter how many extra mortgages you have to take out to afford a next-gen console.
Sony closed out a big day for gaming, not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a thud. For that is the sound of expectations crashing back down to earth after a particularly un-groundbreaking conference. Yes, there were big games shown. Yes, there were interesting announcements. But there was no show-stealing by Tretton & Co., and no signs of either Microsoft or Sony dealing a major blow to their main competitor just yet. It’s time to start gearing up for the next generation, however, and regardless of your side, it’s a fucking good time to love video games.
*: We at Talkingship have not been financially renumerated by Bungie for our statements on Destiny, and both ourselves and Bungie reject these claims, adamantly suggesting that you stop reading this and preorder Destiny immediately. Good day.