As with everything else I seem to publish, this post is coming a little late. Unless you've been living internet free for the past week, you'll have noticed that Sony came and dropped a number of bombs on the PlayStation community. With a press conference that seemed to go from strength to strength, a plethora of games were revealed in what truly was a tour de force from Sony's executives.
This post is a little late for a number of reasons. First of all, it's the European Championships at the moment, so I've spent a lot of time watching an extraordinary amount of football. Secondly, I wanted to allow time for the dust to settle, and to digest the sheer amount of fresh material that was paraded around LA the past week. Not only was it a big week for E3, but Apple's WWDC was also last week, so you know, plenty to read, plenty to write, plenty of Football to watch. Anyway, on with the show and getting stuck in to my three personal highlights...
God of War
Let's start with God of War, as this is arguably what I was most excited about. In my Jingle Verdict of God of War III: Remastered I talked about the rumours surrounding a God of War 4, which seem to have materialised in this E3 showing and then some.
So, we left Angry Kratos stabbing himself on a giant sword at the end of God of War III, but lo and behold, by the end of the credits Kratos has crawled off the edge of Mount Olympus, and seemingly swam his way to Scandinavia, and miraculously healed himself. It turns out, the only thing that he managed to kill with that sword was his voice actor, with fresh talent drafted in for this entry into the series.
As well as acquiring himself a new voice, it seems as though Kratos has also gained a son, known affectionately to we viewers as 'boy' (solid name) and a truly impressive new beard during his big swim. At least now we know the age old question of what to do next after wiping out all of the Gods in Greek mythology - retire to Norway, grow a beard and open up a rustic coffee shack in the woods. Enter Kratos, ultimate hipster.
Soon into the reveal, we find that there are some dodgy clientele trying to muscle their way in on Kratos's sweet new coffee shack, and they're pretty violent. Here's where things really get interesting.
The first thing we notice (after the beard) is that the familiar chained blades fighting style seems to have gone, and in true Norse style, Kratos is equipped with some kind of magical axe.
Now this can mean one of a few things. Firstly, it suggests that Kratos has finally forgiven himself for the act that the previous God of War entries were based on, the accidental killing of his family. Secondly, it suggests a change in combat direction in the reboot. From what we see later in the video, this is backed up. Combat seems to err more in the direction of Bloodborne and Dark Souls in the fact you land a few hits, dodge, move back in for a few more and retreat. Gone is the hack and slash 1000 combos of the previous iterations, and good riddance. This fresh direction spells exciting times for the God of War series.
In addition to the apparent change in combat direction, comes some more fundamental yet mysterious changes to the franchise. In the trailer, we notice that you can discover new areas, learn new skills and also - a throwback to Angry Kratos of old - there seems to be a rage meter which purpose is unknown at this point. Further more, with the enemies that are killed in the trailer, there is no characteristic outpouring of red orbs, which in previous entries to the series were used to upgrade your abilities.
In summary, I think we're in for something special here. Everything that was good about God of War to date will be built upon, and the bad either removed or made better - saying farewell to Angry Kratos is a big step in the right direction. The game is also beautiful, and running on PS4 rather than the Neo. I fully expect God of War to debut with the Neo, so it's only going to look better.
It's always good to see some new IP coming. I feel as though the past few years in particularly, have been dominated by either the remastering of series in HD, the next edition of an established franchise which shows no end of finalising the story - I'm looking at you Assassin's Creed - or the next iteration of sports titles from EA or the next Call of Duty. It's not been the best few years for breakthrough of new series. Personally, I enjoyed Knack, but as a title it didn't really succeed. We've said goodbye to the Batman: Arkham series, Uncharted has signed off with aplomb and Infamous has also seemingly come to a close with Second Son failing to reach the heights of the first two titles. Before E3, it would be fair to say that PlayStation didn't have a defined set of franchises anymore. Post E3, the future is oh so bright.
Not only were a host of new games introduced, but a host of PlayStation exclusives that look set to raise the bar past the already sky high levels set by Uncharted 4.
Enter Horizon Zero Dawn, which looks like Heavenly Sword meets Enslaved: Odyssey to the West meets The Witcher. Mind-blowing to be sure. From the trailer, the story is hard to deduce, but what is evident is the attention to detail, gorgeous environments and intriguing gameplay mechanics.
Enter Days Gone, an amalgamation of World War Z, the Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, aka awesome. Again, gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. Some small issues in the logic behind some decisions in the game, such as silencing your weapon but then shouting to your comrades, but it's an E3 sneak peak, you can look around that. One thing I would say, is that I think this game delays the release of The Last of Us 2. Releasing two zombie/apocalyptic titles in quick succession doesn't make a great deal of sense to me...
There's so much new and great to talk about, and this E3 really sets a benchmark going forward. It's unlikely that Sony will hit those heights two years running, but to be honest who cares, they aren't expected to. It will take me a year to digest everything they've shown at this E3, let alone next. I mean, Hideo Kojima's latest game, I haven't talked about that as I am I seriously confused from the trailer but my god, beautiful.
Sucker punch also debuted the rumoured Spiderman title, which I will hold my breath about for now, but what it does demonstrate is that PlayStation's game cycle, is definitely going to reach another level in the coming years. What a time to be a PlayStation player. 'For the Players Sony'? I hear ya.
OK, enough of the good, let's get to the bad. Why, why, why, why, why, are we reviving a series from the 90s? Does nobody remember how terribly these platformers hold up? Dust of your PS1 and play them again, I guarantee you will hate them. Crash Bandicoot should have been left to die, and I'll tell you why.
Its was terrible!
I mean thank God that they didn't make Naughty Dog do it, at least they've given it to Activision who only seem to crank out a Call of Duty every three years. I can't see why everyone is getting so excited about playing a platformer that is so dated, that - brace yourself - wasn't even that great in the first place.
But you know, go ahead, get excited. I genuinely think that I will not play these out of principle. I outright refuse to finance a trip to the past when the future of PlayStation is so bright and so beautiful. Shout out to those that made it happen though, congrats. You people who say it's the best game you've ever played are going to be greeted with a real sense of reality as you complain about a fixed camera angle that makes it impossible to judge where you are and where you are going come release time.
Enjoy, I'll be taking my seat firmly in the future camp, and laughing at your rage.
E3 2016 was, in my opinion, Sony's finest hour. It was a demonstration of strength, creativity and loyalty that no other company has matched, and can hope to match in the coming years. Yes there will be a retaliation from the other camps. Xbox will come strong next year, Nintendo may eventually wake up from it's decade long slumber, but that will only serve to make PlayStation push the bar higher, and take their hardware further. I haven't even touched on VR...
This has made it evident that Sony are not only the industry leader, but the industry driver on all fronts. It's time to enjoy being at the top, and maybe use that time to bring back the Vita - please and thanks.
If you didn't see any of the trailers, here's the Sony sizzle reel to finish on...