It’s hard to walk away from E3’s round of console manufacturer and publisher press conferences and look at anyone but Sony as the big winner going forward. However I don’t think their press conference was perfect. I feel like a bloated unfocused first half along with its fair share of issues were overshadowed by the PS4 price and lack of DRM. The latter of which isn’t Sony doing something right as much as something that should be expected of these companies. Microsoft happened to make it look like a gift though. But let’s start from the beginning.
The first portion of the conference was dedicated to Sony’s current two systems and here is where they first let me down. I feel like Sony confirmed they have given up on the Vita. It’s such a shame because it is everything portable hardware should be. Sony almost singlehandedly made the launch worthwhile, but with poor sales, third-parties never jumped on board. I figured at least Sony would throw me a few games my way to keep busy with, but with so few exclusive titles going forward and not much announced at the conference it is hard to look at the system as anything but dead (I am really excited for Tearaway still though). I wonder what my favorite handheld studio of the last 10 or so years, Sony Bend, is up to. And I’m wondering if they wouldn’t just be better off moving to PS4 development. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
After spending a couple minutes more or less confirming my worst fears about the Vita, Sony touched on the PS3 which still has some gems coming its way including this week’s The Last of Us and the very promising Puppeteer from Sony’s Japan Studio. Going forward into the PS4 talks is where things lose a bit focus. There was talk of various TV and movie services. Then quite a bit on multiplatform games which I’m never big at console makers’ press events. Especially stuff like Watch Dogs (which looks fantastic, but we’ve seen plenty of) and Assassin’s Creed IV (which as a series I personally couldn’t be much more bored with). Destiny looked excellent at least.
The reason I love PlayStation is because of their strong first-party development and exclusives. And I would have loved to have seen some more of those teased. We did see a bit more of the ones that debuted at the initial reveal (Drive Club, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack) which was nice. Of those games, I’m definitely most interested in Infamous, but I was hoping it would be a bigger departure especially from a superpowers standpoint than its predecessors. Regardless a live demo for the game definitely would have been a better use of time than an Assassin’s Creed one. Otherwise Sony’s first parties didn’t show a ton. Ready at Dawn showed a new exclusive, the oft-rumored The Order 1886. I’m happy to see the talented team at Ready at Dawn working on something original. The time period excited me, but when wacky guns came out it deflated the moment a little for me. It still looks intriguing and better this concept than another bog-standard modern shooter I suppose. While the trailer didn’t feature any gameplay, I’m okay with some teaser trailers like these before consoles are released to give buyers a glimpse into the future. I kind of wish we might have seen one from Naughty Dog’s second team, Media Molecule or one of the other internal teams at Sony currently unaccounted for. I guess those games will be shown in time, but I would have loved to see something else this week. Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts 3 are obviously huge deals for the right audience, but they are out of my wheelhouse, so do not fill that void for me personally.
And then the end came around and they dropped the bombs of how the PS4 would not block used games, not require online check-ins and be priced at $399. These are great news though I expected them all. The price feels right for the system and looks all the better because the Xbox One will be going for $100 more. I don’t really understand why people are acting like Sony allowing used games and having no system wide DRM is some kind of gift. It’s exactly what they should be doing. Exactly what we should expect of them. It just turns out they aren’t as stupid as Microsoft about this particular issue. Sony even snuck in the fact that they are putting online multiplayer behind a paywall amongst all the cheering. PlayStation Plus is a fantastic service, but I will never like having to pay extra to play online multiplayer. And Sony making the right moves with used games and DRM doesn’t make this other move okay.
Obviously what Sony did is enough to put the PS4 in the best position going into this next generation of games. I’m not trying to sound like a downer. I am at my heart a PlayStation gamer and I pre-ordered one after the conference last night (I didn’t need much convincing last night to be honest, but was waiting for details like price and the like). I guess I just wanted them to wow me a little more with some new PS4 exclusive announcements and not turn my Vita into high priced Wii U gamepad for my PS4. Overall it was still a good conference and I am very excited to get my hands on the PS4.
Some quick thoughts on the other conferences:
- Microsoft actually had a good conference. They showed a ton of games, more exclusives than MS usually does. Insomniac’s new shooter with parkour elements, Sunset Overdrive, caught my eye and while TitanFall is a little out of my wheelhouse it did look really fun and that is just naming a couple. There was a lot to like, but the price was high (even before Sony’s announcement) and it still had the used game/online check-ins looming over the conference. Just based on content, one of MS’ better conferences in recent years.
- EA (and DICE) announced a new Mirror’s Edge at their conference!!! What else matters?!? I’m going to write a blog about it in later this week, but it was my favorite announcement at E3.
- Ubisoft has a lot of games I’m looking forward to, but their conference wasn’t very good. Between an obnoxious host and a little too much pre-rendered footage it was kind of a mess from a presentation standpoint. Rayman: Legends, Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell: Blacklist are all games I plan to buy and their new IP The Division looked interesting. I was hoping for a new Prince of Persia game or a sighting of Beyond Good & Evil 2 though. But it was really a classic Ubi presser. Horrifying to watch, but some games I really want.
- Nintendo really underwhelmed me. I recently finished Donkey Kong Country Returns and it is a great game, but I would have much rather Retro had been working on a new Metroid, a new IP or even a different Nintendo series than this. Super Mario 3D World is not what I expected from the new Mario game. The co-op, cat suit and SMB2-esque abilities look cool, but the isometric perspective was disappointing to me. Mario Kart 8 looked like technically impressive Mario Kart with a twist, but I eat Mario Kart up and I’m sure me and friends will be playing plenty of local multiplayer on that when I get a Wii U. It just felt like Nintendo gave us what we expected and little else.
That’ll do it for now. I will be back with some more E3 blogs throughout the week, so keep an eye out for those. Let me know what you thought of yesterday’s press conferences in the comments below. Thanks for reading!