Sony love a bit of a spectacle, don’t they? The console manufacturing and publishing giant had announced their plans to focus on four ‘pillar’ titles at their E3 2018 press conference well in advance of the show, but the overall format was a bit unexpected. Rather than hold the showcase in one venue, members of the press were ushered between a handful of purpose-built ‘experiences’ as the conference went on. I’m sure this would have made for a memorable show for the members of press in attendance but for those of us watching at home it was kinda weird and a little annoying.
The Last of Us Part 2
The presentation starts off in a church tent, with Sony Interactive president and CEO Shawn Layden on stage giving a general introduction. Shawn then calls on Gustavo Santaolalla to take the stage and play the main theme of The Last of Us. It’s a nice little mood-setting tactic to start the show with I suppose, and leads right into the first game on display.
Cut to the first bit of footage of the showcase and yep, it’s The Last of Us Part 2. Oh and we’re looking at a scene set in the exact church tent that the press are sitting in to watch it. Cute. We see an older Ellie talking with a couple of new characters, Jesse and Dina. A kiss between Ellie and Dena (who smells bad, apparently) cuts away to our first look at actual gameplay footage. What follows is pretty standard fare for The Last of Us with Ellie sneaking around an overgrown town environment wielding her bow and doing the usual scavenging, crafting and throwing glass bottles. The combat on display is quite brutal with Ellie pulling no punches when it comes to viscerally murdering her foes. Movement looks a tad more fluid than the first game but largely similar. So far The Last of Us fans have every reason to be excited about this one.
Okay so after this, the press have to move on to the next area and so we’re subjected to an intermission with a panel where Shawn Layden confirms a new game plus mode is coming to God of War. Then, we learn about some classic maps being remastered for Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty Black Ops 4. Oh, and Black Ops 3 is free for PlayStation Plus subscribers now, apparently. Next up is a short teaser for Destiny 2’s new DLC. How much do we think Activision paid to be featured in this intermission?
Ghost of Tsushima
Okay we’re back on. The audience are now under some kind of dome and we have yet another musical performance, this time from a white guy wearing what looks like traditional Japanese garb and playing some kind of woodwind instrument. This is weird.
Cut to what we actually wanted to see, the first footage of Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima. Boy does this look good. A wandering samurai named Jin and his horse, Nobu, set out across a war-torn field. An onscreen prompt tells us this is the ‘Big Otsuna Grasslands’ during day nine of the Mongol invasion. Jin comes across some enemy soldiers in a forest clearing and we’re treated to the first taste of combat in the game. Samurai swordfights look like a tense, tactical affair where every movement and every strike makes the difference between life and death. It looks awesome. Jin meets up with a lady samurai and the two sneak into a dilapidated temple to free a monk, showing off some stealth gameplay that looks just as cool. The demo ends with a one-on-one fight against a sunset backdrop with leaves kicking around everywhere and honestly it just looks goddamn beautiful.
Here’s a cool surprise – during the next intermission we’re treated to a few more reveals, starting with a new game from Remedy! The trailer on show is light on details but there’s a badass lady with a futuristic gun in a sci-fi setting, who then does some cool shit with gravity as she fights some dudes. Looks very much like a Remedy game. Hopefully we see more soon.
Resident Evil 2
You can practically hear WellPlayed managing editor Zach Jackson squealing with joy at this point. Opening on the subtle clue of a PS1 console in a dark room as a struggle goes on in the background, it’s not long before the nature of this trailer is revealed and we see Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. The whole thing looks very faithful to the original Resident Evil 2 and also very pretty.
Trover Saves the Universe
Justin Roiland’s development studio Squanch Games is back at it again with the reveal of their new title, Trover Saves the Universe. This looks like a positively insane, probably quite adult platformer playable both on PS4 and PSVR. Bathtub guy scares me but I’m down for this.
Kingdom Hearts III
Thank Christ this isn’t the same trailer from the Microsoft and Square Enix conferences for a third time. There’s actually a new world reveal in this one! Only downside is the Pirates of the Caribbean world is coming back. It didn’t work in previous entries and it looks just as awful now. Hopefully I’m wrong though. January 29 can’t come soon enough.
Alright, intermission over. Here comes the big one. I’m not even going to attempt to truly dive into what’s going on here but we’re definitely looking at snippets of gameplay for the first time. There’s a female character I’m not familiar with talking to Norman Reedus’ character Sam. After this we see Sam traversing a bunch of different environments carrying loads of varying size. It’s here that a lot of what I believe to be some kind of mechanic/plot point about the characters being able to rapidly grow their own clones comes into play. We see Sam carrying a very body-shaped package at least once, and after being set upon by the mysterious creatures that inhabit the game his contingency plans involves something to do with the baby he’s carrying around. There’s another new-looking female character towards the end as well. Who knows what to think at this point, right? No stage presence from Kojima though, which is strange.
Another intermission surprise! Not much to see here though, just a quick CG tease and a logo. I know a lot of people will be pretty happy with this, though it’ll no doubt be facing competition from the more canon Japan-flavoured Soulsborne game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
I actually wasn’t expecting to be all that surprised by Spider-Man’s presence at the Sony conference, considering how much of the game has already been shown in various capacities, but I was pleasantly surprised. In what seems like a possible opening sequence to the game, we see a bunch of villains revealed as none other than Electro frees some of Spidey’s most powerful enemies from a high-security prison. We’ve got Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture and Negative all teaming up against our friendly neighbourhood webslinger, with a mysterious baddie pulling the strings in the background. Combat continues to look a lot like the Arkham games on steroids, with Spiderman’s web abilities being used in all sorts of fantastic ways. No shortage of big set piece moments either as Spidey chases Electro around the outside of the crumbling offshore prison. Good stuff.
So at this point everyone is a little disappointed that we didn’t get any confirmed dates or windows for The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima or Death Stranding, but overall the Sony show brought a few cool surprises and some promising looks at those big titles.
The intermission panel guys come back post-show to talk a couple more games. First up is a neat-looking PSVR game by FromSoftware called Déraciné. Some kind of Ye Olde English vibe, but no real details just yet. After that we hear from a couple of people from MediaMolecule about Dreams, which continues to look like everything I’ve ever wanted and more. There’s also some awesome-looking Spider-Man footage in the mix there with a live gameplay demonstration focused on combat and city traversal. We then see a quick VR sizzle reel and that’s it from Sony!
Overall a pretty strong showing from Sony, despite some weirdness in the format. Still waiting on Medievil Remake though, guys!