Although E3 doesn’t officially start until Tuesday, for years now the Monday before has been a day when the big boys come out and create their own spotlight. The day started with Microsoft showing plenty of games for the Xbox One, then EA surprising crowds with several new titles, and Ubisoft giving a closer look at its upcoming games. The day then ended with Sony. And it ended big.
The PlayStation 4 was the obvious headliner of Sony’s show, but it was far from the only thing the company had on tap. The PlayStation 3 may be on the way out, but it is far from dead. The Vita will be bolstered by the PS4, but Sony wants it to stand on its own. And then there are the games. So many games.
But the show was a second introduction to the PS4, and more than that it was a swing at its direct competitor, Microsoft. It was almost as if the show were tailored specifically to answer the heaviest criticism fans have lobbed at the Xbox One. One category after another Sony checked off features as if in answer to fans. It was a love letter to users, and arguably the most dominant showing of the event so far.
Here’s what Sony has on tap for 2013 and beyond.
The PS3 highlights began with the announcement that The Walking Dead Season 2 will debut in fall, with a side story, 400 Days, debuting in summer. The second season of the episodic titles The Walking Dead from Telltale Games will debut this summer. Check out the sequel to what we named the game of 2012.
Sony also gave us a closer look at The Last of Us, which is due out next week; you can check out our review here. Puppeteer, a creative and interesting game that allows you to swap heads in order to open new gameplay, was also shown and is due out later this year.
In Beyond: Two Souls, you play Jodie, who is digitally brought to life by actress Ellen Page. Jodie’s poltergeist/friend named Aiden allows her to do remarkable things … including work for the CIA and kill for them.
Gran Turismo 6 was also given a few minutes to shine. New graphics, tweaked physics and more cars than ever should make Polyphony Digital’s racing sim a hit. Batman: Arkham Origins showed us a new trailer, featuring a bit of the story. The prequel pits Bats against Blackmask, and an army of assassins, including Bane, Deathstroke, and Deadshot. Joker makes a return as well. There will also be DLC including a Knightfall-era costume, as well as a 1960s Adam West Batman outfit.
Grand Theft Auto V will be one of the biggest games of the year, and a PS3-only bundle that ships with Pulse headphones will crown the more than 300 titles due out this year alone.
Andrew House, President and Group CEO for Sony Computer Entertainment took the stage to give us a look at the actual PS4 for the first time, from an aesthetic point of view. It is black, rectangular, and has a blue trim to it. Nothing will ever be the same.
There will be a bunch of entertainment content for the PS4. This likely means every Sony Pictures, Sony TV, and related TV show and movie will be available through Sony’s proprietary service. Sony’s “Music Unlimited” service will also be available at launch.
Sony also confirmed a few new apps, including Flixter, Redbox, and a Live Event Viewer. This long overdue catch-up should narrow the gap between Microsoft and Sony when it comes to home entertainment. Once that was handled, Sony moved on to the games.
There are 30 games in development under Sony’s banner. Twenty of them will release this year, and 12 are brand new IPs.
The Order: 1886
The cavalcade began with a new IP from the makers of the God of War franchise. Set in an alternative London with a Victorian flair and a Steampunk twist, the foggy streets soon were lit up by fantastic weaponry, used to fight off monsters.
Killzone: Shadow Fall, Driveclub, Infamous: Second Son, and Knack
The games unveiled back at the Sony event back in February all took a bow. Killzone was confirmed as a launch title, Infamous was announced for Q1 of 2013. Diablo 3 was also discussed, and it will have exclusive PS3 items available.
Final Fantasy XV
The next entry into the Final Fantasy world claims a tie to reality – or at least it did right before showing an airship flying over a cathedral, and an incredible and unbelievable world. The gameplay was third-person action.
Kingdom Hearts III
Along with the announcement that Final Fantasy Versus XIII would see the light of day (under the new moniker Final Fantasy XV), a new Kingdom Hearts trailer was released. The game is listed as still being “in development,” but it seems to have the traditional third-person action mixed with RPG elements.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Although Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series certainly isn’t a Sony exclusive, Assassin’s Creed IV was given a closer look during the Sony event. The demo consisted of in-game footage. The protagonist, Edward Kenway made his way through a pirate village on a tropical island. He followed a target into the jungle, making his way through the dense foliage, and past a guard, who he dispatched on the run. One by one he picked the enemies off using fairly traditional Assassin’s Creed tactics, including tree running, which was introduced in the previous game. A rain of cannon fire led to the destruction of the town, as Edward escaped to his hip, engaged in some naval combat similar to AC3 (but deeper), and then took to the nearest ship for some hand-to-hand combat.
As with Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs is not a Sony exclusive. The trailer gave us another look at the protagonist Aiden Pierce, as he drives a car through Chicago. Using his hacking tools, he can use the city to his advantage offensively, or simply duck out of site. Pierce then caught wind of an NPC that recognized him calling the police. He grabbed the phone of the NPC and smashed it. The rest showed Aiden making his way through the city, using various tools at his disposal to distract, like a car alarm. As the police closed in, Pierce blacked out a chunk of the city and escaped. PlayStation owners will receive an additional hour of footage and an exclusive outfit.
Digital LeBron James argued with himself. There wasn’t a lot of the game, but you can expect it to be pretty.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The PS4 will bring The Elder Scrolls Online to consoles. Up to this point, the MMO was firmly in the “PC-only category,” so its announcement for Sony is significant, both to fans of The Elder Scrolls, and to fans of MMO curious as to how they will work on the next gen of consoles.
Sony then went off with an exclusive look at the game Mad Max. The trailer was just a quick CGI glimpse, and the title will likely be cross-platform, but it was impressive and drew some of the largest cheers of the night. With the Mad Max movie starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, the timing is ideal.
We finally got our first look at the gameplay. A you might expect of Bungie, the FPS action is key, but the MMO side of things is apparent. In the demo, the two players cleared out a room full of aliens (or monsters?), then looted the structure and took home a few unique weapons. It had a Borderlands vibe in the weapon collecting, and that is a very good thing. As the duo left the structure they were joined by a third character in the Titan class. She joined the Warlock and the Hunter to balance the gameplay. As a group of AI enemies attacked, another character showed up to join the fight. Then another, and another. Destiny will be available in 2014.
Streaming the Past
The Gaikai technology announced back in February will be available for the PS4 in 2014, with the Vita compatibility coming shortly after. The library will feature several PS3 hits, and the library will grow.
The PS4 is planning to continue to push the PS3 began with indie gaming, available through digital downloads. Several were announced, including Transistor, a new title from the makers of Bastion. Several others were shown off as well, including: the new titles Don’t Starve, Mercenary Kings, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Secret Ponchos, Ray’s the Dead, Outlast, the shooter Galak-Z, and a new Odd’s World, a Odd’s New and Tasty. They will all be PS4 exclusives.
Used games, loaning, and the expansion of PlayStation Plus
Trade in games, Sell it, lend it, or keep any disc based games. Games also won’t need to be connected online, and there is no authentication.
PS+ will carry over through PS3, Vita, and PS4. Drive club will be free to Plus users within the first year.
Price and release
Sony ended the press conference with news of the pricing. With Microsoft unveiling the Xbox One’s price at $499, Sony must have been snickering as it announced the $399 pricing for the PlayStation 4. This may prove to be the lowest of several bundles, but it is attention grabbing. A specific release date wasn’t given, but Sony did reconfirm the holiday 2013 release window.