The one Conference that everyone was excited to see and hear was Sony’s. Rumors kept on floating around if the PS4 will be shown, how much it will cost and when will it be available. Another big rumor was about used games. A lot of websites pretty much guaranteed that Sony would have in place some kind of system comparable to Microsoft’s take on used games. So what did Sony bring to the table this year? Let’s have a look.
Before the conference even got started, Sony made an announcement that set the tone for the entire event. They dedicated the conference, to the gamers. This may not seem all that important, but it showed that Sony actually cares about the group they are targeting.
First thing they started to showcase was the Vita. Sony made it pretty apparent that they have not forgotten about their handheld device. By the end of this year, 85 new titles will launch. Some of those include AAA titles such as, Batman Origins and Killzone Mercenaries. Other titles include God of War 1 and 2 in HD, Final Fantasy X and X-2, Dead Nation and the one that brought the most cheers, The Walking Dead. This will include the first season as well as a new episode called 400 days. In August they are going to sell a bundle that will include both the first season, the new episode and other bonus content. This is going to be huge for the Vita. Along with seamless integration with the PS4 in terms of cross play, 2014 might be the year the Vita really takes off on its own. Look for big things to happen to Sony’s handheld console. If you haven’t picked one up yet, now is the time to grab one.
Then they moved on to some news regarding their current console, the PS3. Sony showcased some really big and interesting games during this segment. Of course, they had to start with the biggest of them all, The Last of Us. After praising Naughty Dog and their developers, they showed some excerpts from the game. While I wasn’t all that impressed with the demo, what they did show was just fantastic looking. It had more action and more emotion then what the demo offered.
Another game they showed looked really interesting, Puppeteer. They didn’t go into much detail about this game, but what they did show, looked exciting. I would have to say that it was based off Little Big Planet. It has the same side scrolling effect and platforming aspect to it. If this game is marketed right, like Little Big Planet was, it should really take off.
Beyond Two Souls was next to pop up on the big screen. There is a lot of mixed feelings about this game. Some people think it will be just like Heavy Rain where you push buttons when instructed to. Others think it will be more action oriented and you get to control the characters. After seeing the demo I really am not sure. There are gun fights, chase scenes, and seems to be a lot of action involved. I still have this feeling that it is going to end up being like Heavy Rain. After all, it is from the same developer, Quantic Dream.
Kill the Batman. That was the theme for the next game that was shown, Batman: Arkham Origins. I have some mixed feeling about this game. Since Rocksteady Studios isn’t producing this one, I am a little leery on how it is going to fair. I must say after seeing the demo, this looks really promising. The release date was announced, 10/25/2013, along with that there is also going to be exclusive download content, Knightfall and a 60’s Batman skin. If *pow*, *wham*, *zing* pop up randomly on the screen while playing with this skin, I will be sold on it.
Another announcement that was pretty much a known fact, Grand Theft Auto 5 will not only come as a stand-alone game, but it will also come in a bundle with the PS3. The price of this will be $299. Sony also announced that an exclusive headset will be available for the game as well. It has a GTA5 theme made onto it. No announcement about the cost of this though. If I had to give a rough guess, I would say approximately around $40.
The one bit of good news that all of those games share in common, they will all be released before the end of the year. This helps prove that even with their new console coming out, Sony is still dedicated to their current console. The PS3 still has a lot of life left in it and will still be supported years down the road. After all, Sony just stopped producing the PS2 at the beginning of this year. If they continue this trend, expect the PS3 to live a long life.
That was a lot of news and updates. That was just on the current systems. Now let’s look at the one thing everyone wanted to know about, the PS4. Boy, look at it we did. Sony officially showed what the final design of the system will look like. Damn is it sexy. It has a slim two tier look to it, with a slight laid back angle to it. It follows suite with the PS3 and has a slot to inset and remove your discs. It gives homage to its earlier family and can either be stood up or laid down. With the Playstation blue strip on it, it shows a little bit of the original PS2 that had the logo in blue on the top. The console is very sleek and stylish looking. It reminds me of the slim PS2 in a way. Maybe it’s the matte black color of it, maybe it’s something else that I can’t put my finger on, but it does have a slight slim PS2 feel to me. This will be something that you will be proud to show off in a room so people can notice it. The entire backside is one big vent hole to allow the hot air the system will create to escape. It seems that Sony put a lot of thought into how the system will cool itself. One of the things that has me puzzled is where is the air coming from that the fan is going to use to blow across the electronics. Maybe there are vent holes hidden under the second tier. If so that would make sense as the fan can get cooler, direct air, from outside the console and use it for the electronics. There is one thing that I do not like about the PS4, the connections. While it does have the now typical HDMI and LAN port, it doesn’t seem to have anything for the older RCA type connectors. There is an extra port labeled AUX on the back though. Maybe Sony is going to use this for an RCA cord attachment. I will only assume that into today’s world, the cord will be a separate purchase.
What about the games? What is coming? How many are exclusives? Simple answer to those questions is, a lot. Currently Sony Worldwide Studios has 30 titles in development just for the PS4. This will include 20 that will be released within the first year of launch. Out of those 20, a third will be new IPs. When you break that down, it means that the PS4 will have 7 brand new games, in the first year only. That is a lot of new IPs. Altogether there are 140 games in development, 100 will be released in the first year and 40 of those games will be exclusive to the PS4. How much bigger can we get then that? Within the first year the PS4 will have a solid lineup behind it with many more games to come. It will help solidify itself as a major console this generation. With it being a lot easier to develop for, I can only see the PS4 ranking up there with the PS2 in total number of games in its library. Add in the fact that smaller companies can make those quick quirky games for the PSN and the PS4 may just take over the PS2 in sheer volume. Granted there is still a lot of time left before, or even, if this happens. Right now though, it is poised to do just that.
One of the big exclusives that happened to be showcased was The Order 1886. This is being created and developed by Ready At Dawn Studios and will be published by Santa Monica Studios. If you seen the trailer for this game during the conference, you get a small glimpse of what it is about. The game seems to be set in a Victorian area with stage coaches and rock streets. The big surprise in this is the futuristic guns that were being used. While we didn’t see the actual enemies in this game, the shape of them did seem to be alien descent. The closer we get to the PS4 release date the more we should know about this game. I for one will be keeping my eye on this one.
Sony announced one of its biggest titles that will be available at launch, Killzone: Shadow Fall. Some of the gameplay showed a flying drone that can deploy a shield to help protect you. As with all advanced shields lately, you are able to shoot through it. It also showed the same drone later on in the campaign with a turret built into it. Will this drone be upgradable, or allow you add different attachments to it, we don’t know yet. The game looked fantastic and should be one of the biggest sellers at launch. This will be one of the games that I will personally pick up at launch.
I would have to say the most famous game that has been floating around the PS4 for a little while now is inFAMOUS: Second Son. I wouldn’t call this a reboot of the franchise but it does look different then the first two games. The lead character is younger with a more teenage appearance to him. From what we seen of his powers, they look fantastic. The biggest downside is that this is currently scheduled for Q1 2014. While this would be an awesome launch title I would rather wait until Sucker Punch irons out the bugs. Either way this is another game I am keeping my eye on.
The funniest showcase of a game happened to be Dark Sorcerer. It started out all serious with an elderly man chanting a spell. When he flipped his hood off it was the same face from the PS4 reveal Conference. Then it went downhill from there. He forgot his line and the “CGI” effects turned off showing him standing behind a stand with a green screen behind him. The small troll next to him was like, your serious you forgot your line again. It was damn funny and a good way to get people interested in a game. That was some brilliant piece of marketing on Sony’s group.
Square Enix showed off Final Fnatasy XV which looked really good. Square did a nice job on the graphics on this game. It was hard to tell from CGI cut scenes to actual game play. I have a feeling most of it was just CGI but man did it look good. That wasn’t the big announcement though. That belonged to Kingdom Hearts III. After many years of people asking Square for a sequel, they are finally getting it. They really didn’t show much about the game or even a possible release date, just a small trailer that the audience loved.
The most interesting game was Watch Dogs. This game really looked amazing. Your only weapon is your cellphone. It will allow you hack into anything electronically, including signs, cars, cameras, keypads, boats and anything else the game will allow you to. During the demo they showed someone using a tablet device, which looked Android based, to hack some areas around on the map. This looked really intense and fun. This will be another game I am going to be picking up. Playstation owners will also receive and additional hour of gameplay and a special outfit for the man character.
With everything that Sony did show, there had to be a few problems. During the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag live demo, the game would freeze up for a few seconds and then pick back up. At one point it got so bad that Sony cut the feed and moved on with the conference. I am sure that Ubisoft was very embarrassed about this. The guy on stage just hung his head in total disgust. I am going to assume that it was an early build and once the game comes out those bugs will be ironed out. Other than that it looked great. I am having a hard time deciding to preorder it for the PS3, or for the PS4, as it will be available on both consoles.
After all that, there was the big announcement. No restrictions on used games. Free trading between friends. No limitations on trading in used games. No authentication check. No nothing. This brought the audience to a loud ovation. There was even a Sony chant going through the audience as some members stood up on their feet. I wouldn’t say this was directly pointed at Microsoft, as they didn’t mention them or the X1, but it certainly felt like one. You can tell Sony was really proud of this announcement. They took their time and left the information up on the screen longer than anything else.
The other thing that brought people to a loud ovation was the announcement of the price. The console will be selling at $399 and be available this Holiday Season. They didn’t give a concrete date, or even a month, but I would bet it will be available a week or two before Thanksgiving so retailers can get their shipment in and be ready for the shopping season.
If you put everything together, Sony really hit it out of the park this year. With all the announcements of exclusives, the games that are coming, no DRM, no authentication check, they really showed that listening to your customers pays off. Throw in the low price point and they have themselves a winner. I have already preordered my PS4 a few moments after the conference ended. Now comes the hard part, sitting and waiting for the day to come.