In this series we will look at some of the biggest announcement from each publisher’s conference during last year’s E3, and see what has come of those announcements since.
Sony entered E3 2014 with a sizable lead in sales over the Xbox One. It was part perceived superiority in hardware capabilities and part opportunistic posturing after an abysmally received Xbox One launch announcement in 2013. Riding the wave of momentum that was E3 2013, Sony had sold over 7 million units as opposed to the Xbox One’s 3 million. The media briefing was an opportunity for Sony to continue to build on the success of their launch in the second year of the console’s life-cycle. Having no real exclusive titles — outside of Resogun, Infamous: Second Son, and Killzone: Shadowfall — E3 2014 was a chance to show off what the PS4 exclusively had to offer, especially moving into the first full holiday season of the console.
However, rather than taking the approach that granted them tremendous success in the year prior and the approach Microsoft took with their conference mere hours before, Sony took their eyes off of the one thing that allowed their conference to sell — games. Between taking 6-minutes to announce Powers, a live action super hero series, and taking backhanded jabs at Microsoft’s business decisions, Sony came across like the hare who had left the tortoise in the dust. It was a posture of arrogance, as if they had already won the console generation. That isn’t to say they didn’t show some exciting new games, but the vibe of the conference felt a bit lost, like the company had started to drift slightly from their gamer-centric vision of 2013 while maintaining the rhetoric as if it hadn’t.
But what about the games? Sony did have some exciting news about various franchises old and new. Let’s take a look at five of the most exciting.
No Man’s Sky
Arguably the game of the show, No Man’s Sky took the audience by complete surprise and plunged them into deep awe about not only what this game could be, but with what gaming as a whole could come to. The first-person procedurally generated sci-fi exploration game from Hello Games showed off a vast universe with planets teeming with unique wildlife, vibrant colors, and countless mysteries to be discovered. The reveal also showed off space combat and seamless travel from planet to planet. Hello Games Founder Sean Murray stood on stage and spoke about how the game was heavily influenced by the sci-fi that he grew up with. Infinite was the word he used to describe the universe, having a unique experience to offer everyone who picked up a controller. For many, it was the game they had always wanted to see: a game so big that it has no end. The size of a giant open-world RPG without the obligation to advance in the story. Just exploration.
The game blew up. Immediately. PS4 fans allowed their excitement for the title to reach a fever pitch, asking question after question about the title. But the two biggest questions still remain unanswered: What do I do in the game, and when can I get my hands on it? As awesome as vast, wide-open exploration sounds, many gamers want to know if the game has any sort of end-game or story.
Hello Games showed up in various interviews and events to speak about No Man’s Sky, but very little outside of what we already knew from E3 has been divulged. The last event Sean Murray appeared at was PSX in December and outside of a handful of tweets, the studio has been silent. A wise move from Hello Games, probably due the fact that anticipation for the game maxed out long before it was going to be released. So without a release date in hand, gamers looking forward to this game are left to patiently wait and hope that their excitement for the game can be satisfied sooner rather than later.
The Last of Us Remastered and GTA V
The swan song of Gen-7 saw two of the best games to be released in the era in Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us. Combining for 23 million units sold on PS3 (The Last of Us being a PlayStation exclusive) and Xbox 360, it was only a matter of time before these titles were added to the extensive list of remastered games on the current-gen systems, and both showed up on the Sony stage.
First to be revealed was the emotionally-charged post-apocalyptic action shooter from Naughty Dog, The Last of Us. Seen by many as the best game on the PS3, fans were excited to see the award-winning game makes its way to the PS4 with a 1080p/60fps facelift that included the Left Behind DLC. The remaster made sense not only from a stand-point of giving fans of the game the ability to enjoy it on the best available hardware, but also when you take into consideration those who made the leap over from the Xbox 360 to the PS4 that never got a chance to experience the story.
After Naughty Dog’s reveal, it was Rockstar’s turn to announce their hit Gen-7 title was coming to the PS4 and Xbox One. Anyone with even an acute awareness of the industry knew this was the plan for GTA all along. Releasing so late in the consoles’ life-cycles meant that there would be people on both sides of the adoption leap that didn’t get a chance to play the game. The biggest feature for the game announced during E3 was the ability to bring over a save from PS3 and Xbox 360.
Both games released to success that matched their previous releases (relative to install base) with The Last of Us selling almost 3 million copies and GTA V coming in with just over 9 million even though online heists took a good five months to get pushed out.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
When a blood-drenched Solid Snake shows up on the E3 stage, everyone gets excited. Coming from the days when PlayStation and the Metal Gear Solid series were tightly linked, it made sense for Kojima’s MGSV to show up on the Sony stage at E3. Though all that was shown was a simple trailer, the trailer showed off stunning visuals, moments of incredible intensity, and many other aspects of Metal Gear Solid that fans have come to expect.
Things today look a lot different for Konami and Hideo Kojima than they did when that trailer debuted in June last year. With a well-covered, yet still pretty murky story of fallout between Konami and Kojima, it seems as though MGSV will be the last Metal Gear that Kojima will make. And while the game doesn’t seem as if it will suffer from it, the dissolving relationship created issues with another title that fans were looking forward to: Silent Hills.
Set to release on September 1, 2015, Metal Gear Solid V will be the first Metal Gear game to be set in an open world. At this point, all that needs to be known about the game going in is known. Fans of the series simply want to get their hands on the game now.
The Order 1886
Almost a year into the life-cycle of the PS4, and fans of the console were still waiting for their staple exclusive, and immediately at the beginning of the conference, they felt like they were getting another glimpse of it in The Order 1886. Being developed by Ready at Dawn, every single trailer and gameplay reveal shown up to that point had highlighted the stunning visuals being created by the studio. The trailer shown at E3 2014 showed an epic fight with one of the half-breeds your are tasked with hunting down in the game.
Looks aren’t everything, Ready at Dawn learned when the game released in February this year. From stale gunplay, a criminally short narrative, its lack of multiplayer and lazy story (seriously, his name literally means werewolf. I’m not that stupid) the game fell flat immediately out of the gate, and fans of the console were still waiting for that console centerpiece.
The game sparked a heated debate on what truly determined the value of a video game due to its 5 hour campaign, but honestly if the game would’ve been 12 hours long it still would have been mediocre at best. Ready at Dawn was not willing to hand over the reigns to the gamer to determine how he or she would approach combat. The most intense moments of the game (and even the ending) were reduced to simple QTE’s that broke the immersion the brilliant visuals had created. Fights against lycans were far less frequent than the pre-launch trailers would have suggested, as well. The majority of your time was spent fighting other humans or walking from one cut-scene to another. Campaign length wasn’t the deepest issue in the game, it was pacing. Of the 5-hours it took to get through the campaign, 2 of those hours were spent watching cut scenes.
Luckily, PlayStation fans got their staple console exclusive a month later when From Software’s Bloodborne released.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Speaking of staple exclusives, PlayStation fans were clamoring to see what Naughty Dog was working on. Fans were treated to their first glimpse of what appears to be the final installment of Nathan Drake’s story, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Showing off their best looking game to date, it appears as though Drake will be jumping back into the game for one final adventure.
The buzz surrounding the game was that it would be a 2015 holiday release, however as time went on it became more and more clear that Naughty Dog needed an extension to make this game everything they wanted it to be. Uncharted 4 has been backed up to a 2016 release, giving fans even more time to geek out over Troy Baker voicing Nathan Drake’s brother and the fact that we will between 300 and 500 facial bones to animate.