E3 2016 PLAYSTATION ROUNDUP: Sony goes big on software

For all the talk of hardware that has dominated the show, Sony doubled down on its upcoming games library for this year’s E3.

While its debatable whether the PlayStation firm lived up to its stellar showing last year, where the company announced The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake AND Shenmue 3 – three titles that even the wildest dreamer never thought they would see – it was still a very strong showing.

PlayStation opened its event with a brand new entry in Sony Santa Monica’s God of War series, imaginatively called… God of War. The rumours seem to be correct when it comes to this title and its Norse setting. This is the franchise’s debut on the PlayStation 4, and seems every bit as technically impressive and violent as its predecessors.

The platform holder also dated The Last Guardian – one of the firm’s megaton announcements from last year’s show. The long-awaited title is being launched on October 25th.

Perhaps the biggest game announcement of the night was from none other than Konami veteran and Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima. Introduced by Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Andrew House, Kojima offered the audience a first glimpse at his brand new game, Death Stranding. In what can only be described as a moody and surreal trailer, it was revealed that the title features the facial talent of The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus, who was to be the face of Silent Hills before it was ditched by Konami.

That was not the only brand new IP announced tonight. Bend Studios – the developer behind the Vita’s Uncharted title Golden Abyss – revealed Days Gone, a survival horror game able to render a sizeable number of the undead on the screen at any given point. This title was not only announced at the start of the show, but also closed off Sony’s event in a tense gameplay video featuring the player backing away from a massive hoard of zombies.

And speaking of survival horror, Resident Evil is back and returning to its terrifying roots. Resident Evil VII is playable on both PlayStation 4, as well as in its entirety on PlayStation VR. A demo is available now, with the full game following on January 24th.

That title kicked off the virtual reality segment of Sony’s show. The firm announced that its PlayStation VR hardware will be launching on October 13th in the United States, with no word on a European or UK date yet. That might be one to keep an eye out for at Gamescom, though possibly earlier. SIE’s Shawn Layden also said that 50 VR games will be coming out between this release date and the end of 2016.

Resident Evil isn’t the only game being given the virtual reality treatment, either. There’s a Star Wars Battlefront VR experience on the way, where gamers control an X-Wing in one mission. That’s being developed by Burnout creators Criterion, too. Meanwhile, PlayStation teased a Batman Arkham VR game, and Square revealed that there’s a Final Fantasy XV virtual reality experience on the way where one plays as ‘Prompto’. That’s on top of a game called Farpoint by a studio called Impact Gear.

This year’s Sony conference wasn’t bereft of classic franchises being brought up to the modern era, either. SIE’s Shawn Layden revealed that the first three Crash Bandicoot games – 1, 2 and Warped – are being remastered for the PlayStation 4. That’s on top of the brand’s mascot appearing in Activision’s Skylanders Imaginators.

We also were given a look at Activision’s Call of Duty line-up for the year: Infinite Warfare and Modern WarfareRemastered. The segment opened with an intense space battle that bore a striking resemblance to CCP’s dog fighting title EVE: Valykrie. Though Infinite Warfare has been viewed with a perhaps unfair level of negativity since its announcement earlier this year, this demo seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

While we’re on the subject of crowdpleasers, the rumours also seem to have been correct about a Spider-Man game developed by Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance developer Insomniac Games. We only saw a brief gameplay trailer for this title, but it looks every bit as stylish as the studio’s Xbox One outing, Sunset Overdrive. Given the #spidermanps4 hashtag at the end of the trailer, it’s likely this is a platform exclusive.

We also were shown Guerrila’s Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit: Become Human from Quantic Dream, while more information was shown about LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Though it’s clear that Sony had a rammed conference this year, it’s also worth nothing what was missing. Gone was the sizzle reel of indie games normally shown at PlayStation’s big stage events. And even a few of Sony’s first-party line-up, such as Gran Turismo Sport and Media Molecule’s Dreams were absent from the platform holder’s stage.

And though SIE boss Andrew House already said that the now-confirmed PlayStation 4 Neo would not be at E3, it’s surprising that the platform holder did not even address the new machine on-stage like its main rival Xbox did with its upcoming hardware just hours before.

But even with these nitpicks, this was a strong showing from PlayStation. The company is clearly confident about its position in the market. And while it may be lacking the wealth of changes to its ecosystem that have populated Xbox’s stage during E3 2015 and 2016, Sony is still going all in.

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