Reviewing E3 2015: Sony Press Conference

The last two weeks, I’ve taken a look back at smaller press conferences. One of them was not particularly great, the other was much better than I remembered. Now we move on to a big one. Not just any big one either. As far as I’m concerned, Sony’s press conference was the defining moment of E3 2015, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that opinion. But now we ask the question, how well does it hold up a year later? Only one way to find out.

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The press conference opens with a fairly typical montage of games followed by a video game excutive, in this case Shawn Layden, walking out on stage to talk about how great video games are. Pretty typical stuff, but then he introduces the first game of the night. He refers to it as a game that people have been demanding for years and as a “poetic” adventure. The crowd’s already figured it out and have started cheering before the trailer even starts.

It’s, of course, The Last Guardian. I know that I’m in an extreme minority in this opinion, but I actually think that game looks really boring. It seems like it’s a fairly simple puzzle game where your large animal friend does most of the puzzle solving for you. But I understand why this game is such a big deal and why people are excited. Starting your press conference with such a fan favorite is a great way to set the tone for what’s to come. If you’re going to start with something this big, what could you possibly have for planned for the rest of the show?

Next up, Herman Hulst of Guerrilla Games introduces a brand new IP. It’s called Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it’s definitely more up my alley. The game takes place in a post-post-apocalypse, where mankind has been more less knocked back to the stone age and giant dinosaur-like robots roam the earth. Gameplay appears to revolve around hunting these robots with a variety of different weapons. It’s hard to tell what the actual flow of the game will be like from what they show, but everything we do see looks great. The visuals are highly detailed and the setting is unique. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks.

Immediately following Horizon is a CG trailer for Hitman. Although we don’t get any gameplay footage, we do get a little bit of info. It’s coming out on console and PC and will have some exclusive content on PS4. That’s pretty cool, I suppose. We then get a quick trailer for Street Fighter V that shows off Birdie and Cammy. Nothing too exciting, but that game’s out now, so this was probably cooler a year ago.

 

No Man’s Sky is up next, and Hello Games’ Sean Murray presents a live gameplay demo.This is a game that constantly intrigues me, but I don’t fully grasp what it is you’re trying to do. In the demo, Sean shows a little bit of space combat before warping off to a planet that he picked at random. He walks around a little bit and shows off how every piece of the envirornment is destructible. After being chased by some walking robots and scanning some fish, he goes to  what’s called a beacon to upload his discoveries. It all seems really cool, but I still don’t quite get what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m genuinely looking forward to figuring that all out.

Speaking of things I don’t fully understand, Media Molecule’s new game, Dreams, is up next. I really don’t know what this thing is. Is it a game? Is it a tool for animating? I really can’t tell, but don’t take that as me being dismissive. Everything about it seems unique and well made. We see a little bit of the creation tools, basically moving the PS4 controller to sculpt characters into existence. I wonder how well this kind of thing will work for someone like me who doesn’t exactly excel at art. Dreams is weird, but I’d really like to see what it ends up being.

Afterwards we get a quick trailer for Firewatch, which is already out so I won’t really get into it. But then, Adam Boyes takes the stage. He shows off a couple trailers for games that have come out since this conference, Destiny: The Taken King and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. But then he announces a brand new Final Fantasy game. It’s called World of Final Fantasy, and we don’t really get a whole lot of information about it. The game has a cute art style and looks like traditional RPG gameplay. I’m curious to see more about it.

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AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

And then we get a bombshell. A remake of Final Fantasy VII is in development and will be released first on PlayStation 4. In the months after this conference, we learned that it’ll be an episodic release, which has caused a lot of confusion. Regardless though, this was a jaw-dropping moment. This is a game that despite being demanded for years, showed no signs of being announced. There was no leaks or anything, just here’s a trailer. It was an incredible moment that is still great to watch again.

Next, we get a quick montage of some indie games from Devolver Digital. They look alright, but it’s kind of hard to get too excited after that last announcement. But it’s a good thing they gave us this little bit of a breather, because right after, they drop another bombshell.

Shenmue III is announced. I am a gigantic Shenmue fan, and in all honesty, I had completely given up hope on there ever being a third entry in the series. But here it is. Although the footage doesn’t show much, I can’t even begin to explain how exciting this moment was. A year ago when this actually happened, I fell out of my seat. I’m not exaggerating, that happened. And now, it’s still hard to believe that this is real. This might be my favorite E3 moment of all time.

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AAAAAAHHHHHHHH

Before Adam Boyes exits the stage, he presents a trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight. It’s pretty cool, showing the intro to the game, but little else. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be too excited by much of anything when you just saw an announcement you had been waiting fifteen years for. Andrew House appears on stage next to talk about a few things that aren’t really games. He discusses PlayStation VR (then called Morpheus), Spotify, and PlayStation Vue. I imagine PlayStation VR will have a more significant portion of this year’s show. Before leaving, Andrew House reveals Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

Black Ops III pretty much looks like a Call of Duty game, and since it’s already out, I can confirm that it’s exactly that. I know it’s popular to crap on Call of Duty these days, and honestly, am I pretty bored of the franchise, but it’s still a quality product. I was a huge fan of the Modern Warfare series, so it’s kind of a bummer that I can’t get myself too excited anymore. The bigger news here is that PlayStation 4 will be receiving all DLC for the game before the Xbox One. This is the opposite of how it had been historically and really goes to show how much the PlayStation brand has grown since the PS3.

Next we get a fairly lengthy montage of games coming to the PS4 and Vita. It’s kind of strange though because a lot of the footage is straight from trailers we had already seen tonight. Afterwards, Disney Interactive’s John Vignocchi takes the stage to talk about Disney Infinity 3.0. The big thing here is Star Wars, and it looks alright. I’ve never been a big fan of Disney Infinity’s art style, so it didn’t do a whole lot for me. But it’s cool to see anyway. There’s a little more Star Wars to be had as we get some Star Wars Battlefront footage, but just like at the EA conference, I’m pretty indifferent towards it.

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The show closes with a live demo of Uncharted 4. The game is fast paced and exciting with the great character interactions that the series is known for. It was cool to see the fruit stands and tables that Nate uses for cover get destroyed as enemies attack. It’s also worth noting that there was a serious technical hiccup at the start that caused them to restart the demo. The reason that’s important is that it proves that the game actually was being played on stage and wasn’t just a prerecorded gameplay session to make sure the results were optimal.

And that’s the Sony conference! I really think this was the best conference in years. It not only delivered on the kinds of things we expected, but also announced games that fans have been demanding for years but had largely given up hope of ever seeing. Unfortunately, next week, I’ll be taking a look at the most disappointing press conference, at least for me.

To write this post and make my screenshots, I used IGN’s video of the press conference, which you can find right here.

 

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