The Road to E3 2016: Sony and PlayStation
Welcome to our Road to E3 Week here at Rocket Punch! This week, each of the members on the crew are taking some time to talk about each of the main conferences headed our way this month from our favorite game companies and developers. Each day, we are going to focus on a different company and platform, and talk about some of the games we expect to see, any hardware or software reveals we expect them to show, as well as throw some guesses out as to any surprises they may have in store for us. For Day 1, I will be taking a look at some of my thoughts and expectations for the Sony Press Conference. While this will definitely not be a comprehensive list, I will talk about some of the games I am excited for, some games that I expect to show up, a look at the potentially new hardware headed our way this fall, and what surprises Sony could have up their sleeve to make this a great E3 for PlayStation fans!
Be sure to check each day for a new article from each of us at Rocket Punch about a new company and platform, and make sure to tune in to our Twitch channel during E3, as we will be hosting pre- and post-shows of each conference and have live commentary during the best moments of the presentations!
FF VII remake
Did you have a pulse during E3 2015? Did you surf the internet at any point during that day? Then you probably heard the news (and saw that trailer) that Final Fantasy VII is being remade for PlayStation 4. Even if you are not a Final Fantasy fan, this was huge news for gamers, and one of the biggest highlights from last year's show. Since the reveal, a few more details have been released about how the team at Square Enix plans to change some aspects of the game, while keep the title Final Fantasy VII at its core. This includes some changes to the battle systems, revamped graphics using Unreal Engine, and potentially splitting the game into multiple discs, all of which have had varying response from the community at large. Will Sony reveal more about the upcoming title at E3 this year? Almost certainly yes. Should they? I think yes. Regardless of how far along the game is, and when it will likely reach our hands, this is a hotly anticipated title for Square Enix and Sony, and I don't believe they intend to leave us hanging on new details after the trailer tease last year. The only thing I would ask is that they be practical with talking about it: fans will clamor to any new details about the remake, but make sure to keep expectations in check, as this title is a good ways off, and there should be no delusions of grandeur about getting the game sooner. This is a game that Sony and Square Enix do not want to mess up for fans.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Since the teaser trailer last year at E3 2015, plenty of people (including myself) have been excited to see more from the newest IP from Guerrilla Games. There hasn't been much information revealed about the game, other than some awesome details on the Thunderjaw robot from the teaser and some behind-the-scenes clips on how varied combat can be, so I expect to get some more concrete details on the game along with another trailer during the press conference this year. Even though it was recently announced that the game has been delayed until February 2017, if the game turns out to be as exciting and thrilling as the visuals and trailers have showed thus far, then Sony and Guerrilla will have another hit on their hands. Also, even though I had a hunch that this delay was imminent, the ton of other games expected to launch this holiday season should tide us (and myself) over until next year.
The teaser trailer for this game, shown at Gamescom in 2014 by developer Ninja Theory, looked incredible, with breathtaking facial animations and movements, but I feel that the game has been largely quiet, as I have not heard much about it from the media for a while. But Ninja Theory has been working hard on the game, with a slew of Development Diaries being released on their YouTube channel that detail the processes and work that they are putting into this "independent AAA title". These video are incredible, as they give an intimate look at how the developer is crafting this dark and suspenseful world, and I would definitely recommend checking them out if you are wanting to learn more about Hellblade. The game is a console exclusive for Sony (it will also be released on Windows PC), so I expect , and hope, that we get a new look at the game and also some more information about the story and themes we should expect to face while playing.
The Last Guardian
I am a big fan of the previous games from designer and director Fumito Ueda (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus), so my excitement for The Last Guardian should not be surprising. since its re-reveal back at E3 2015, I (like many people) have been waiting for a release date to finally get our hands on this title. I expect to see possibly a bit more gameplay from developer Japan Studio, but the big news from them will need to be a release date in 2016, and a good promise that it will stick. The game has been in development for years, so at this point, I think all the people need is a release date so we can finally get some realization that this game will actually come out this year.
I will admit I have never really heard of the Persona franchise before, but since playing Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita, I have been all in on where the series goes next. With the next iteration, Persona 5, I expect to get another trailer for the game during the press conference. Also, the developer, Atlus, has been firm on stating that the game will release in North America in 2016, and I expect to also see a release date for the game here in the states, although I would not be too surprised if it did get delayed into 2017. The Persona series has been rising in popularity since its handheld counterpart found its way into the hands of plenty of PlayStation Vita owners, and I would rather Atlus take any extra time to get the game perfect, instead of forcing themselves to keep a placeholder date for fans, so that the series gets the recognition it deserves. If the game does release around the same time as it does in Japan (September 15), then that may also prove to be an entertaining matchup between them and Final Fantasy XV, so we will have to wait until the keynote is over to confirm.
This may (or may not) surprise some people, but some games I hope to NOT see during the press conference this year include Final Fantasy XV and No Man's Sky. Final Fantasy XV already had a big event earlier this year, revealing tons of gameplay details, new content to release alongside the game, and a firm release date of September 30. I am not sure what else can be revealed, and honestly, my excitement is high enough now that I am OK waiting to get the game in my hands this fall. That being said, do not be surprised if we get another trailer showing some more story and possibly a new area of the world. I'm sure Square Enix will not be able to hold themselves back, plus with the game coming to us soon, it would probably be in their best interest to tease everyone a bit more to keep the game fresh in our minds.
No Man's Sky has been shown off at every Sony press conference since 2014, and I generally believe that everyone is simply at a point of just wanting to play the game now. The delay to August announced a few weeks ago was surely sad news to hear for some gamers (myself included), but as we always say, I would rather see a game delayed and improved, than get a rushed product that isn't the developer's, in this case Hello Games's, best work. There have been BIG whispers of the delays possibly allowing Hello Games to prepare a VR version of the title, so if it does show up at the conference, I would think that would be the main news to talk about. But no more gameplay demos about the worlds we will be able to visit. I am already sold. Just give me the game, so I can give you my money.
With the imminent release of PlayStation VR this fall, I fully expect some more information, or potentially more gameplay trailers and demos, for PlayStation VR to appear during the conference this year. Saying this, however, I hope to not see too much, if anything at all. VR has always been notoriously hard to demo to an audience, and for most potential buyers, jumping into a demo and trying it out for yourself seems to provide a better idea of if VR is something we can be interested in. If Sony talks more about PlayStation VR, and I am pretty sure they will, I hope that they keep it contained to a small section of the show keynote. Some trailers for newer titles would be nice, and maybe some new gameplay parts from other VR games that have already been announced would work, but otherwise, I hope Sony just hits a few points, and allows people to try the headset for themselves to be sold on the "future".
As most gamers well know, leaks for the "Playstation 4.5" have been flowing from the internet like holes in a styrofoam cup, with the article from GiantBomb being one of the latest to list specifics on the potentially newest console iteration from Sony. At this point, this announcement feels like a forgone conclusion, so I expect to get a lot more concrete details on what this "PlayStation NEO" is, and why it should exist in the console ecosystem. If this is real, Sony really needs to come out with all cards on the table, and talk to consumers about why the NEO belongs, and why potential buyers should care. Also, Sony will need to particularly look at early adopters for the PlayStation 4, and find some way, if at all, to assure them they will not get left by the wayside and show that they care about them as well as potential NEO buyers. This reveal has the strong potential to fragment the Sony ecosystem and community, so they need to be on point to make sure there is no confusion in the room about what the future holds for NEO, if their plans are to release it this fall, as rumors suggest. Personally, I think the main reason for the updated console is to drive more power to VR headsets, particularly the PlayStation VR, but we will have to wait until the conference to confirm that. I really have no initial issues with the system, but details will be key for myself, and others, for how Sony will handle this before I can give a final verdict. I do think it would be cool if Sony had some type of trade-in program for current PlayStation 4 owners, but I feel that may be more of a pipe dream from them (although I am sure that if the NEO is real, GameStop will gladly step in to jump on that opportunity).
PS4 Price Drop
With the (assumed) reveal of the PlayStation NEO, this move looks be a no-brainer, but I am still not sure if Sony will make it. Microsoft has already dropped the Xbox One to $299 "for a limited time", and all signs point to that price point potentially sticking, so giving the PlayStation 4 a price cut as well would help keep it competitive, as well as give consumers a lower entry point to the PlayStation ecosystem for those that are not looking to jump to the NEO. The tricky part with this is that Sony is still selling PlayStation 4 units like hotcakes, recently announcing that the system crossed the 40 million sold mark, and they could potentially keep the system at its current price until they start to see a slowdown on their console sales. Regardless, a price drop would be a good play to consumers, and could help keep console sales rolling for Sony, along with anticipated NEO demand. Also, why not drop the PlayStation Vita price too while they are at it? They have had a hard time selling the system, and the right price drop could help move some units to potential buyers too.
GAMES FROM OTHER FIRST PARTY STUDIOS
Sony has a pretty big roster of first-party studios under their belt, and a few of them have still been pretty quiet since the PlayStation 4 era. I honestly thought that some of them would have announced, or at the very least revealed, their titles last year at E3 2015, but it never came to pass. I will make the claim (and hopefully it comes true) that we should see what some of these studios have been cooking the past few years. Rumors have been popping lately about the newest game from Sony Bend being called Dead Don't Ride, and some potential reveals have appeared on a possible God of War 4 game set in Norse mythology form Sony Santa Monica, but we will have to cross our fingers and hope we finally get a peek behind the curtain at some of the work these studios are getting done. One of the sore points media and gamers have pointed out is the "lack" of first-party games from Sony, and now would be a good time as any to show what their teams have been hard at work on.
Since Hideo Kojima left Konami last year, created his own studio, Kojima Productions, and partnered with Sony to release their first title, people have been on the edge of their seats looking for any tidbits of info on what Kojima is working on. Kojima has been showing off bits of what the full concept of his company logo looks like on Twitter, and the internet has been loving it so far. But could Sony and Kojima pull a rabbit out of their hats, and show off some of what Kojima's team has been working on? I feel it is still a little early to showcase anything, but I would be shocked if Kojima appears on stage and surprises the audience with some concept footage from his next title. It would be pretty wild if this were to happen, but I am still OK being preoccupied with the full slate of games being released over the next year, so Kojima and his team can take their time until the game is just right.