Making The Grade: Sony’s E3 Press Conference Review

I know I’m not alone when I say that after I saw Sony’s Press Conference, I am still smiling one week later.

Let me start by saying this: Sony won E3 2016. And not just by a little – they obliterated the rest of the pack. All of this coming from an Xbox “fanboy.”

Sony held my attention and focus most easily of any of the conferences. In fact, they left me wanting more in their 1 hour 15 minute delivery, but in a good way. The show began in a vintage style theater with an orchestra providing the soundtrack for the evening. What was also unique about Sony’s setup was that the cameras would pan to an overhead, top-down view at times (which set us up for some purely epic reveals and stage presence).

The first thing we saw was a 10 minute playable demo from a brand new God of War, featuring an older Kratos, along with his son. 10 minutes sounds like a long E3 demo, but the pacing was absolutely perfect. This announcement was the ideal way to start the show, hooking everybody right from the get-go with an exciting announcement that was big, yet not so mind-blowing that you’d want it to be left for the finale.

The next hour or so was filled with exciting moment after exciting moment. At our E3 war room, we audibly shared our enthusiasm and applause trailer after trailer. Arguably the biggest reveal of the night was Hideo Kojima’s entrance, as he optimistically exclaimed “I’m back!” Kojima introduced us to “Death Stranding,” a bizarre trailer that showed us Norman Reedus (who was going to star in Kojima’s cancelled Silent Hills game). The trailer held a highly unusual tone and didn’t have me overly interested, but I am stoked to see Kojima back AND with Reedus. In the days since E3, news broke that Kojima has not selected a game engine to use for the project, which brings me to estimate that we will not see this game until 2019 at the very earliest.

The elephant in the room was taken care of, as Sony announced that The Last Guardian is set to release this October. In my opinion, this was make or break for the game, not that it necessarily had to release this year. I also think that Sony did themselves a big favor by not over-hyping this at the conference – a brief gameplay demo was shown and that was it. Expectations are already through the roof, so kudos to Sony.

We were able to see quite a bit of Horizon: Zero Dawn, one of Sony’s new IP that figures to be a heavy hitter next year. This might have been the only moment of the conference that was a bit slower than the steady pace we were used to, but it didn’t quite break the momentum. One of my favorite games of E3 was David Cage’s next project, Detroit: Become Human. The maker of Heavy Rain & Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream is keeping consistent with its story driven narrative and style of gameplay. The demo we saw emphasized choice and the consequences of those choices.

What was perhaps most impressive about the show was Sony’s VR showing. I’ve always been lukewarm to the idea of VR, particularly after last generation’s gimmicks like Kinect and Move never really caught on with the hardcore gamer, ultimately flaming out. This changed things for me. Frankly, I’m shocked I haven’t preordered it yet.

Up first is what our staff predominately thought was a Silent Hills revival. Instead, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was announced. In our Road To E3 mini series, Jeff Pawlak begged for the franchise to be fixed. He just may have gotten his wish. The game looked intense and fun, and figures to be one of the first big releases for VR (which will have 50 games of varying sizes at release this Fall). Next up, we saw an X-wing space mission from Star Wars: Battlefront. If you’ve been a regular follower of The Geekiverse, you know my absolute passion for anything Star Wars. VR seems to be the perfect setup for a mission such as this.

If you knew I loved Star Wars, you likely knew that I have a special place in my heart for the Batman Arkham series. Upon hearing Mark Hamill’s voice take center stage as the Joker, I nearly burst out into tears. I get to put on the cowl of the Batman?! Batman Arkham VR was announced alongside a brief trailer. I am going to sign a check, Rocksteady – you write in any amount that you think is fair. Co-founder of Rocksteady, Sefton Hill, took to Twitter this week to say that despite the fact that the company wasn’t planning on doing any more Arkham games, they could not pass up the opportunity to visit the universe again. A Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer was thrown into this block of the show as well.

As if that wasn’t all enough, Sony announced a brand new IP entitled “Days Gone,” which takes place in an apocalyptic setting and has the looks of a more serious in tone Dead Rising. The game looks promising, but Sony showed the game off in two portions of the show – in the middle, and at the very end. It was as if Sony had something huge scheduled for its finale, but had the plug pulled (Red Dead Redemption 2?). It was a rather underwhelming ending to an otherwise pristine conference.

If there were 2 moments that seemed to make gamers go wild, it would have the announcement of Insomniac’s Spider-man PS4 game and the return of Sony’s original mascot, Crash Bandicoot. Spider-man looks stunning and was running on in-game footage, rather than a fancy CG trailer on a souped-up PS4. Insomniac is a great choice to make a game such as this after their fantastic title, Sunset Overdrive. The manner in which Crash Bandicoot was announced stole the show, with Sony’s executive walking out to the theme music, alongside Crash’s shadow and footprints on a sandy setting. The original 3 games – Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped are being rebuilt from the ground up (as opposed to a port) for the PS4. This will hopefully pave the way for a brand new Crash title.

OVERALL GRADE

A

I can’t quite recall a conference as exciting and thoroughly planned out as Sony’s in 2016. There was an extremely minimal amount of talking, having speakers only come out when it was necessary, whereas every other E3 conference featured far too much talking. Sony let the games do the talking, knowing full well that they would produce a show for the ages. The other companies told us why we should be excited, and how they are “revolutionizing” the industry.

Sony showed us.

+ Near perfect pacing, clocking in 15-20 minutes shorter than the other big conferences.

+ Games, games, games.

+ PSVR.

+ Games, little time spent talking, and more games.

+ Bombshell announcements like Crash Bandicoot, Resident Evil 7, Kojima’s new title, and Batman Arkham VR, just to name a few.

– Ending with Days Gone, a game that isn’t quite fitting of the top billing spot. Not to mention, we had already seen it earlier in the show.

Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s Founder. He is better than Brunner 1.0 at everything except for being a ginger.

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