One of the most important aspects of a new gaming hardware launch isn’t just the power of the system or the bells and whistles that accompany it, but rather the games that you can play on the thing. Often with new hardware that is the number one determining factor of whether or not people buy it, and it makes sense: Why drop hundreds on a gaming system that doesn’t offer any games you want to play?
This is a lesson Sony has had pounded into it over the years, most recently with the Vita. More than a year after the Vita’s launch and there are still only a handful of games that could even somewhat be considered “system sellers.” With the PlayStation 4, that may not be an issue.
Although we still don’t know what is a launch title and what is just a game that will eventually be released on the PS4, we do now know of several titles that will call the PS4 home. And so far it is a fairly impressive lineup.
Deep Down (Working Title)
To say that there is a lot we don’t know about this game would be an understatement. Even the name isn’t official; “Deep Down,” is little more than a working title. What we do know is that it takes advantage of the PS4’s graphical prowess.
The demo revealed at the PS4 event simply showed an armored man fighting a dragon. It was actually somewhat reminiscent of Dark Souls in the way the poor SOB seemed to have no chance, but it was the graphics that stood out. The character’s movements – which were seen using in-game footage – were smooth and fluid, and there was a sense that each step was different rather than just the common method of having a character move in one particular way. The fire also looked stunning.
Beyond that though, the game remains a mystery. More on this is sure to come soon though.
Sony appreciates symbolism, so the chance to bring Bungie – after years of being married to Microsoft – on stage was probably just too great to pass up. Bungie didn’t reveal much more at the Sony event than it did in Seattle last week, but just having Bungie developing for the PS4 is a win for Sony.
Destiny will be released on multiple platforms, but it did claim that that PS4 users will receive exclusive content of some sort.
The announcement of Diablo 3 was notable in itself, but not as much as the news that Blizzard was partnering with Sony. The name Blizzard has become synonymous with PC gaming and this defection is something of a coup. Almost immediately PC fans began to wonder if Diablo 3 was always meant to be a console game, as it won’t have to undergo too many changes to make the jump.
The game itself was barely shown, and it will also be on PS3 so things like graphics may be a non-issue. But having Blizzard in Sony’s corner is a big deal, and it begs the question of what comes next for this fledgling partnership.
Evolution Studios first considered making this game nearly nine years ago, but it wasn’t until the PS4 that it could see it live up to what the developer wanted to do. Driveclub is described as a team based racing game that allows you to create your own challenges and let the world take a crack at them. The game is built around these social aspects, but what really stood out about it was the incredible minutiae of graphical detail.
To say the level of detail in Driveclub is impressive would be an understatement. The graphics are exactingly created, and that isn’t just hyperbole. To put this game’s graphics in perspective, the carpet in a car is made up of individual fibers that each cast their own shadows. That’s insane. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and hear more details about this racing game with a social slant.
Infamous: Second Son
The Infamous series has risen to be one of the PlayStation 3’s most recognizable titles, and the character of Cole McGrath has become mildly iconic to boot. So seeing Sucker Punch take the franchise in a different direction is something of a surprise – albeit not an unwelcome one.
Infamous: Second Son debuted during the PS4 event, but the clip was pure CGI. That may be a choice from Sucker Punch, or it could indicate that this game still has a ways to go before it is ready to show gameplay, nixing the idea that it will be a launch title. We’ll probably find out for sure at E3. What we do know though is that the game will be set in what appears to be a futuristic Seattle-like city (Infamous uses fictional cities loosely based on real locations), under a totalitarian regime.
The trailer was brief and showed a group of soldiers responding to investigate a disturbance. That disturbance turned out to be a lightning chucking super powered man with long, redish hair that stopped to taunt the commanders of the troop, who were watching through a camera. The character may be Cole’s son, which would fit with his look, the futuristic setting, and the game’s title, but the lighting powers seen manifested as red, which in the Infamous universe signified evil. Could Cole’s son be evil, or is that reading too much into it? We’ll find out soon enough.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
The Killzone franchise has long been one of Sony’s most visible, and it is no stranger to helping the manufacturer try to move some new hardware. When the Move was released, Killzone 3 was one of the first games to incorporate it. That game also was among the first to put an emphasis on 3D. In that regard it wasn’t a huge surprise to see a Killzone game coming soon for the PS4 (although no release date was suggested).
Killzone: Shadow Fall was introduced as featuring a “Cold War” like setting. The game is set in the bustling metropolis of Vekta City, which fans may recognize from the first game as the location of one of the more depressing levels. It was a place that the Helgast destroyed and committed monstrous acts of genocide. This game takes place 30 years after the end of Killzone 3, as Helgast and Vektans live together, although tensions are high.
The game showed some of the more subtle potential of the PS4. The graphics looked good, but what really stood out were the little things – the details that take you some time to really realize how impressive the game is. The ground was littered with hundreds of leaves that moved in their own patterns, even while the city hummed with activity in the distance. Once the attack begins, the lighting and smoke effects were incredible. At first glance this game may not look much better graphically than a current gen game, but it is. It’s all in the details.
During the PS4 unveiling, Knack was shown as an example of some of the technical possibilities of the system. Anytime there is a new piece of hardware released, there is always a game released that best exemplifies what is special about that new system. For PS4, that looks like it will be Knack.
Not much was shown of the game beyond the physics at work. It stars a diminutive being known as Knack, who can accumulate pieces of debris from the environment in order to grow in size so it can help save the world. The impressive thing about this is the amount of detail at work here. Each piece of debris is individual, showing that the system can operate with thousands of moving pieces. In another demo used to show this same capability, a town square was the backdrop to a demo that featured one million individual orbs drop and bounce. Knack builds upon this technology and creates a character made up of thousands of little pieces. From a technical standpoint, this is incredible.
It is a third person action game that puts you in the role of Knack, and it combines heavy duty combat as you grow to fight enemies hordes, with some stealth mechanics as you drop the excess and sneak through areas. A release date is unknown, but this could be a launch title.
Watch Dogs is getting into the habit of stealing the show. It did so when it debuted at the Ubisoft event at E3 last summer, and it did it again during Sony’s show last night. It also announced that it was planning a release for this holiday, meaning this game will almost certainly be a launch title – even though it will also be available for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U.
In Watch Dogs you play as Aiden Pearce, a vigilante that just wants to protect his family but continually finds himself in a position to help the citizens of Chicago. Using a device that allows him to hack almost anything on the fly, he can take control of aspects of the city and learn details of a person’s life. That may lead to a situation where a citizen may need help, or it might lead you to their ATM numbers which you can then use to steal money. How you play is up to you, and no two playthroughs will be the same.
The city of Chicago is a character as well, and its people that speak with authentic regional dialects are all part of what makes it feel real. The city is massive and dense, and you can control a good chunk of it. If you want a train to stop for you, you can hack it and make it stop. If the police are chasing you, you can cause a traffic jam by changing light signals. There are so many options that it is staggering. This is definitely a game to watch.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Shortly after the PlayStation 4 event ended, CD Projekt Red announced that its upcoming title, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, will be a next-gen title. So far only the PS4 and PC have been confirmed, and it will be available in 2014. It will also be the last journey for the series protagonist, Geralt.
CD Projekt Red also has another game in the works, Cyberpunk 2077. That title hasn’t been mentioned for any one specific platform, but the suggested release date is 2015 which makes it tough to think that it will be on anything other than next gen. The Polish developer seems to have embraced the next-gen fairly early.
Braid has been considered by many to be one of the best, and most influential indie games made in the last decade. It was certainly one of the most important titles that helped to spur the recent wave of incredible indie games produced by small teams, so a follow-up is worth paying attention to. Sony has been proactive in trying to lure indie game developers to the PS3, and it looks like that trend will continue as developer Jonathon Blow’s puzzle game follow-up to Braid will be an exclusive to the PS4 – at least for a limited time.