For the past couple of years Sony has fairly easily 'won' E3, with little competition from all the other press conferences. E3 2015 hasn't pulled any punches so far, however, and with few first-party titles in the near future for Sony, the Playstation 4 was looking like it might struggle more than usual to keep up the pace following two such stellar years. While in part that was true, in the end Sony managed to secure enough major surprises to keep the ship right. And when I say 'major', I mean that on a galactic scale.
The Last Guardian
Wait, what? Is that a typo? Am I dreaming? No, it's the cold, hard fact: The Last Guardian was just shown at Sony's press conference for E3 2015. Yes, really! Next thing you know, Gabe Newell will announce some other game with a 3 in the title. Ok, maybe that won't happen, but upon seeing The Last Guardian, I'm about ready to believe anything. The sad part? It doesn't seem that remarkable, really. The earmarks of Playstation 3 are all over the game, and it's suddenly clear just how far we've already left last-gen behind. This is exactly the sort of experience the public would've eaten up in 2006, but we live in a rather different world since then. There's nothing wrong with it, but will The Last Guardian hold up on the PS4 as a brand new title instead of a remaster? Time will tell, but it would seem this is one game that's more hype than delivery. At any rate, we'll get to find out for ourselves when the game releases exclusively for the Playstation 4 in 2016.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a different sort of post-apocalyptic game where the modern day world you and I know is ancient history and humanity lives as warriors and scavengers, though not all remnants of the past have yet been eliminated. Rather than combat nature as it flourishes around them, humans fight mechanical creatures in a mixed sci-fi-slash-prehistoric open world. These kinds of mixed-genre experienes often make me wonder why it's worth bothering with one genre or the other, and unfortunately that's true of this game as well. What with all the technology left in the world, why aren't humans themselves more advanced? Technology is the enemy, not something you want to get too cozy with, sure, but the demo of Horizon we saw didn't make humans out as too inept to wield technology for themselves. Perhaps an interesting world can still be created here, but call me skeptical. Robot dinosaurs versus cavemen sounds like just the sort of gimmick Hollywood would cough up when they've clean run out of good ideas. We don't have a release date yet, so plan on not seeing this one until at least next year.
Hitman itself should need little introduction. Even if you aren't familiar with it, it sort of wears its personality on its sleeve. It's been a while since Square Enix did much with the series, but now it's coming back, and with a focus on Playstation 4. The Hitman beta is slated to release exclusively on PS4, with PS4-exclusive bonus content to follow after release.
Street Fighter V
Like the last game, this one needs no introduction, and it also is set to have a PS4-exclusive beta before it launches on PC and PS4 in March of 2016.
No Man's Sky
What is No Man's Sky? In a sense, we still don't know. We've seen it now at two E3s and multiple events besides, and what we see hasn't really changed much from demo to demo. Why? The answer to both those questions is the same: No Man's Sky is huge. Infinite. Literally. It's a procedurally generated universe with only one implicit goal: reach the center of that universe. When not pursuing that goal, you'll be doing...well, pretty much whatever else you want. You'll fly through space to explore undiscovered planets--truly unknown territory never seen by any human being before, not even the game's creators. It's generated, after all. That includes life forms from plants to animals, with even procedurally generated calls and cries based on the generated animal's biological properties. What's more, every bit of every planet is fully destructible. You can harvest resources, trade them, engage in space combat, and all in a shared universe. It's a game unlike any other, and while no release date was given yet, Hello Games promised they'd provide us with one soon. No Man's Sky is set to release on PC and PS4.
Next Media Molecule took the stage to talk about their next creativity-oriented game, following LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway. Their new game, Dreams, feels a bit like a mix of an impressionistic painting and claymation. What do you do in it? Not platforming, that's for sure. You paint, you sculpt, you animate, you share your creations, and...well, that may be it, or it may not be. It's certainly one of the most unique games I've ever seen, but whether or not that actually constitutes a good game remains to be seen. No release date was given for Dreams, but it's coming exclusively to PS4.
Following the trend of games we don't know much about is Firewatch, a heavily stylized mystery and exploration game where you play as a Firewatch in a forest. It was hinted that something sinister is going on, but naturally nothing was revealed that might spoil the experience. There is no release date for Firewatch at this time.
Destiny: The Taken King
Nothing gets by Destiny fans, and The Taken King is exactly the expansion we've been anticipating for months now already. Adding new weapon types, new subclasses, new maps and events, and new enemies, The Taken King is set to be the biggest Destiny expansion yet, and it's coming this September 15. Destiny is of course a multiplatform title and the latest expansion will hit Xbox One as well, but the Playstation editions of the game will get special bonuses on top of the standard package.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Can't get enough of the series that gives you more of the same every year? Well, there's even more of it on Playstation 4. Extra missions known as 'The Dreadful Crimes' are coming exclusive to PS4 when Assassin's Creed Syndicate launches later this year.
World of Final Fantasy
What do you get if you take Final Fantasy and compress it down to chibi form? World of Final Fantasy, an offbeat PS4 and Vita game with an overly cute style that looks like it just got off the plane from Japan. Not much was revealed about the game yet, but any major Vita titles hitting the west are most welcome.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Ok, so I was just joking back when I said a certain other vaporware game might get announced. That one had a 3 in the title. What I never expected was that a different game with a 7 in the title actually would be unveiled. It seems Final Fantasy fans have been asking for a Final Fantasy VII remake since Final Fantasy VII, but now it's finally coming. We only saw a cinematic trailer for it, and knowing Square Enix it could be a while yet before we see it in reality, but it's real, and it's coming first to PS4. You think Final Fantasy XV is a big deal? Whether or not it deserves it, this Final Fantasy VII remake is bigger.
Wait, what? This wasn't the game with a 3 in the title I was talking about! Nevertheless, this is a massive surprise that fans have been pleading for for years. With Shenmue originally debuting on the Sega Dreamcast and later being a Microsoft property on the Xbox, but now it's coming to Playstation 4...assuming it can get funded. Shenmue III is turning to Kickstarter to raise the funds needed for development, so it will be up to gamers speaking with their wallets if this one is to become reality. Then again, considering it raised $500,000 in its first 30 minutes online, it seems highly likely it will achieve any goals set for it. Want to speak with your own wallet? Head on over to the Kickstarter page, here.
Batman: Arkham City - Scarecrow Missions
Following two very surprise announcements, Batman: Arkham City feels a bit like old news. While the game itself won't be an exclusive to any platform, the PS4 will be getting bonus DLC in the form of The Scarecrow Missions. In typical Batman style, it looks dark, it looks brutal, but if Batman is your think, it also looks like a totally worthy addition to an already massive game. If you also happen to be a Playstation gamer, you're in luck.
Unlike Microsoft, who is only piggy-packing on Oculus Rift for virtual reality on Xbox One, Sony has their own VR headset designed just for the Playstation 4. We've seen it slowly evolve over the past few E3s, and this year it was back again with a focus on actual game content, particularly multiplayer experiences. Contrary to popular belief, VR isn't an isolating experience. It just has to be enjoyed with other VR users within VR spaces. With Oculus Rift and HTC Vive's rather steep PC system requirements, Morpheus is set to be a much more accessible and user-friendly option for those not just on a budget, but who don't want to get into technical nitty-gritty to enjoy virtual reality. No release date yet, but whenever Morpheus becomes a consumer product, Playstation fans will be all over it.
While demand for a la carte TV channel subscriptions has been a request of TV watchers for years, cable companies have not been eager to deliver. Enter Playstation Vue. Similar to Sling TV, Playstation Vue will bring actual live TV through the magic of internet streaming, channel for channel, as you want it. And best of all, since it's a Playstation service, no other streaming box is needed. No Roku, no Chromecast, no Apple TV--just your game console. Oddly enough, for the console that originally was all about games versus the media machine that was the Xbox One, with Vue the Playstation 4 is suddenly a better media box than its competitor. It's just keeping it where it belongs--as a tertiary feature--and keeping the rest of the focus squarely on games.
Call of Duty Black Ops III
I may be a bit hard on Assassin's Creed for being the same thing year in and year out, but Call of Duty is undoubtedly an even worse offender. Black Ops III is a more hotly-anticipated title than usual for the franchise, which still sells millions upon millions of copies whether it should or not, and it certainly looks impressive running on PS4. Black Ops III is a futuristic title as has been the recent theme for the series, blending elements of Advanced Warfare with that of previous Black Ops games. Then again, isn't every Call of Duty game a blend of previous games? Black Ops III will release on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and yes, PS4 on November 6 of this year. A beta will run exclusively on PS4 this August.
Disney Infinity 3.0
It wasn't the Star Wars game we were expecting to see, but it's probably the most profitable one ever made. Disney Infinity is getting an entire package of Star Wars figures and content set across both existing trilogies. For the Playstation 3 and 4, the new content will be coming out earlier than other platforms, and will even feature some in-game content that won't be hitting the Xbox or WiiU, ever. Another reason to be a Playstation gamer? Perhaps if you have kids of the right age or are just a Star Wars fanatic yourself. Otherwise, my money's on Battlefront as the game everyone will be paying the most attention to.
Star Wars: Battlefront
...And that's exactly what was featured on the stage at E3 next. While the game may not have the same features and maps as previous games in the series, EA made a guest appearance to detail a number of new game modes, both online and offline, and show off a different map than was shown at EA's own presser. In short, Battlefront is one of the best and most impressive uses of Frostbite Engine we've seen yet, and startlingly authentic to not just the Star Wars universe, but the classic films in particular. Battlefront fights feel like watching a soundstage come to life, and naturally Sony wants you experiencing it on Playstation 4 when the game releases this holiday.
Last but certainly not least, we have the game that makes a Playstation event a Playstation event. For the better part of a decade Uncharted has been an icon of Playstation, and Uncharted 4 looks set to keep up the pace without skipping a beat. While it did struggle on-stage, initially glitching and preventing the player from controlling Nathan Drake, from there on it showed off quite well, from the familiar combat and action pieces to new additions to the game's melee mechanics and more destructible environments than we've ever seen before in an Uncharted game. Movement looks fluid and believable, and of course banter between Nathan Drake and Sully is great as ever. For the first time in the series the player will also be able to drive vehicles in their own Indiana Jones-esque car chase sequences. As with the previous trilogy on the PS3 Uncharted 4 is a showcase of what the PS4 is capable of, and it's pretty darn impressive. Originally set to release in 2015, Uncharted 4 has been pushed back to spring of 2016, but from the looks of things it will be worth the wait.