Andrew House opened tonight’s presentation from Sony. After a huge compilation video featuring the various PlayStation hardware and software, he touched briefly on Vita. He talked a bit about the unique interface and how it will be integrated into our living rooms later this year. Clearly, Sony isn’t giving up on Vita. The next generation console is officially named PlayStation 4. It will not be backward compatible with PS3, but they are working on streaming capabilities that will remedy this.
Mark Cerny is the lead system architect on PS4 and his goal was to create a new industry standard. He worked on Sonic, Crash, Jak, and more. The PS4 started development about 5 years ago. Systems up until PS2 had been a single feature device. When PS3 launched, the world was a more connected place, but it came out at a time when the technology of social networks and Netflix were very much in flux. With the PlayStation 4 all of these functions are included from the get-go and the system will be capable of including all of these elements.
Killzone Shadow Fall – lengthy game demo. Starts off looking beautiful in this city that looks like something ripped straight out of Mass Effect’s citadel. A major attack occurs and the city turns into a fiery inferno with dead bodies strewn about and enemies attacking from all angles. The graphics are highly impressive – especially little effects like flower petals blowing around in the wind and particle effects from buildings blowing up. The game really looked impressive when the player grabbed onto a rope dangling from a hover vehicle. As it sped around the futuristic city there were thousands of other vehicles flying around the city. It looked like it was ripped right out of Star Wars, and looked like something that would normally be reserved for a cut scene, not an interactive portion of a game. Overall the game looked and sounded great. Did it blow me away? No, but it looked better than any PS3 game and seemed to run at a smooth frame rate. No word on how far along the game is, but even in its current state it looks like its ready for prime time.
Evolution is making a new racing game called Driveclub. Features a huge amount of social interaction with your friends. Graphics are quite impressive and reminiscent of a Gran Turismo game. Not my cup of tea, unless it ends up being more like an arcade racer ala Forza Horizon.
Sucker Punch showed off Second Son, which looked like a futuristic world filled with a small group of mutants that have special powers. Instead of calling it InFamous 3, it will have the subtitle Second Son. Not enough of the game was shown to get a clear idea of how the game plays, but one can assume it will be similar to other games in the series. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of this game at E3, and it looks like there could be a larger multiplayer aspect to this one.
Jonathan Blow talks about his new game The Witness for PS4. Takes place in an open world so you can go wherever you want to at any time. They are trying to make the world compact so you can make the best use of your time. At its core, this game is a puzzle game, and every puzzle has an idea behind it. Roughly 25 hours of gameplay will be in the final version, which will only be on PS4 during the launch window. The game’s visuals look very cartoony, almost cell shaded. It’s very pretty and looks like it will be a world that will be exciting and fun to explore. The stylized graphics look exceptionally clean and remind me a little of the new screens of Windwaker HD that Nintendo showed last month. Fans of games like Myst will probably get a kick out of this game. I know I’m really looking forward to it!
David Cage showed off a tech demo of what a future game might look like on the PS4. He showed off an extremely detailed old guy’s face. The eye and facial animations were extremely realistic. It reminded me of the technology we’ve seen in Shenmue and L.A. Noire, except way more advanced. It will be interesting to find out what game his studio cooks up.
Media Molecule was up on stage next and they want to allow gamers to record their dreams for others to see. They want to make digital creation as simple as possible. The Move controller will be married with the power of the PS4 to make great things. One of the first things they made was a sculpting tool that allowed designers to create actual objects in a 3D space. They showed off some different characters playing instruments and I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to Wii Music. Granted, this could be WAY better, but the waggling of the arms to play instruments makes me wonder.
Yoshi Ono came onto the stage to talk about his new project. Right away he said it wasn’t a new Street Fighter game. After showing us a history of Capcom and Sony’s relationship since the original PlayStation, Ono revealed they are working on a new graphic engine, Code Name Panta Rhei, which will take full advantage of the power of the PS4. He then showed off a new game running on the engine, called Deep Down (a working title). The lighting effects of the game were insane and the graphics some of the best yet seen for the system. It looks like a medieval action RPG in the ala Elder Scrolls or Dragon’s Dogma.
Square Enix was the next third party developer to take the stage to announce support for the PS4. No game was shown, but instead a real-time demo showcasing what could be delivered on the system. This is made up of footage we have already seen at past events from the Agni’s Philosophy Demo. The graphics look amazing, but since we already saw that demo it lacked the punch we typically expect from Square. Final Fantasy brand director came out on stage to tell the audience that a new Final Fantasy will be shown at E3 for the PlayStation 4.
Ubisoft announced full support for the PlayStation 4. To no one’s surprise, Watch Dogs was shown for the system. We all thought it would come to next generation machines since last E3, and now it’s confirmed. The footage shown was a new live demo running on the PS4. The in-game graphics were quite impressive. Again, lots of leaves flying about in the wind and weather effects look great. The road and sidewalk are still wet from a recent rainfall and the city seems alive with many people wandering the streets. The idea behind the game is that everyone and everything is connected via technology and your character can hack any device to take control of it. The game is a third person action adventure game with high-speed chases on foot that are reminiscent of L.A. Noire. The game is still a bit early with screen tearing apparent in some of the scenes. Hopefully this will be rectified before final release. I must say the ability to hack into systems on the fly, like the trains, cameras, ATM machines, etc. seems like a really fun concept. The trailer shown at last year’s E3 hinted that the game is multiplayer, but they didn’t talk about that this time around.
A big surprise came next with Blizzard Entertainment taking the stage. It’s the first time they have ever spoken at a console show for any system. Diablo 3 was announced not only for the PS4, but also for the PS3. The game will be demoed at PAX East and marks the first time a Blizzard game has hit consoles in many years. While the idea of Blizzard making games for the PS4 is exciting, it’s disappointing to find out that it’s Diablo 3, a game that’s been out for a year on PC already.
Activision will have multiple games in the launch window. Bungie will have Destiny on the PS4, which was expected, but nice to have a confirmation. For those not in the know, Destiny has a persistent online world that won’t have a monthly fee. It will be a co-op FPS experience with your friends. Both the PS4 and PS3 versions will launch at the same time with exclusive content available for Sony’s systems.
Sony announced the system would be available Holiday 2013. No price was announced. No hardware shot of the system was shown. Obviously many things have yet to be revealed. Perhaps they will show more soon, but we may have to wait until E3 to see find out these details.
The show ended with a montage of the games already shown at tonight’s conference. Many of the games shown tonight looked fantastic, but not mind-blowing melt your face off graphics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to play many of the games shown at tonight’s conference, but it does appear we are hitting some diminishing returns when it comes to the evolution of graphic power. I think the new Dual Shock 4 looks amazing. It has a better looking d-pad and the functions built-in to the controller, like the touch pad, the share button, the move functionality, etc. are all great additions to the existing controller. I can’t wait to hold one and see how it feels in my hands. I also like the idea of there being an almost instant-on game system with no booting required.
I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see what the console looks like. We didn’t hear a price point and we didn’t get a solid release date. Of course they have plenty of time to show off the system and all of the other information, but it would have been nice to know this now. Even though the games looked fantastic, again, I feel there wasn’t an OMG moment during the show. Capcom probably came the closest to making me go “wow” with Deep Down, but the footage they showed was very much scripted and didn’t really show us actual game play. Still, I remain optimistic when it comes to the PS4 and I have hope that this will be a console worth owning. Will I buy it day one? It depends on the launch lineup and the price, which we’re months away from finding out. Having said that, I’ve been more than ready to jump to next generation for the past few years so I’m sure I’ll be there day one barring any massive gaffe.