What does the PlayStation 4 look like? That was perhaps the most anticipated reveal that we have been expecting to come out of Sony’s E3 press conference. And they kept us waiting for it.
After opening with the obligatory montage featuring a host of current and next-gen games Jack Tretton took the stage with the “welcome to the new age” line from Radioactive playing.
Making the point that 70 million gamers around the world who already have PS3s and PS Vitas want to know how their existing hardware is going to continue to be supported.
The PlayStation Vita, which SCEA were criticized for marginalizing at last year’s E3, was up first with reminders of some of the games coming to Sony’s handheld over the coming months.
From Batman Arkham Origins and Counter Spy to games we’re more familiar with like Tearaway and Killzone Mercenary to PS Vita ports of PlayStation favourites including Flower, Dead Nation and The Walking Dead, there’s plenty to come.
He was very keen to stress that the PS Vita still has a central role in the wider PlayStation ecosystem as that continues to grow with the addition of the PS4.
When it comes to the PS3 their “commitment is as strong as ever” so if you’re not planning to grab a PS4 on day one you shouldn’t be forgotten. Starting with The Last Of Us was perhaps to be expected with it about to be released though somewhat redundant with reviews, including ours, already out.
Other first party games we’ve already heard about were next up on the big screen. Puppeteer and Rain got short trailers while we saw some new gameplay footage of Beyond Two Souls showing Jodie receiving some military training before being sent on a rather MGS-like mission.
Of course the rollcall of first party titles wouldn’t have been complete without Gran Turismo 6, which got its own lengthy new trailer featuring some of the new tracks and cars.
Then it was time to shine the spotlight on some of the more eagerly anticipated third party games. When Batman Arkham Origins arrives on PS3 “this Fall” it will bring with it some exclusive PlayStation content including the ‘Adam West’ 60s-style Batman outfit.
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V will be getting an exclusive bundle when it releases on September 17th, priced at $299. Presumably it’s “exclusive” because no other console manufacturer can bundle a PS3 with their games?
And those are just a handful of the 300 games we were told that would be releasing on the PS3 this year.
Then it was time for the money shot. Andrew House took the stage to tell us how the PS4 will bring “unparalleled power” to console gaming, with the physical console itself having a “sleek and visually impactful” design.
Finally, we got to see the PlayStation 4 console and rather than a simple black box you’d be quite keen to hide, Sony’s design flair has taken a mix of gloss and matt surfaces and given the box a bit of a nudge to turn it into a parallelogram shape.
The rumoured blue LED stripe is present and correct and the overall impression is that you’d likely be happy to sit it proudly next to your TV and not hide it under your cable or satellite TV box. When held aloft on stage by Andrew House it also looked impressively compact.
Rather than push straight on with the games, there was a slight diversion as Sony Pictures’ Michael Lynton to us how that part of the Sony conglomerate were bringing “brand new programming” and exclusive content to the PSN and PS4. Content that would be focused on what gamers enjoy. Whether that’s necessarily a good thing…
His segment was thankfully short and Andrew House was soon back to tell us more about PlayStation’s media streaming services. Sony’s Music & Video Unlimited will be available on PS4 from day one and Redbox Instant, Flixster and a Live Events Viewer are all coming to the PSN. Thankfully for us gamers that was the end of the TV and sports announcements.
Shu Yoshida, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios was next through the revolving stage door and he chose to drive home the point once more about just how much his developers have been involved in the development of the PS4.
We were told that Sony’s studios are contributing 20 games in the PlayStation 4’s first year, 12 of which are new IPs. One of those new titles, from Santa Monica and ReadyAtDawn is The Order 1886, its cinematic trailer revealing a steampunked Victorian London where a group of players fought off monsters in the city’s, fenced off, Whitechapel area.
A new Killzone Shadow Fall gameplay trailer showed us a recon mission on the Helghan side of the wall that featured at the end of February’s reveal trailer. There were also new trailers for Drive Club, Infamous Second Son and Knack.
We were told that Killzone Shadow Fall, Drive Club and Knack will all be available at the launch of the PS4 while we will have to wait until Q1 2014 for Infamous’ next installment.
Continuing the theme from February of how the PS4 will enable developers to create characters showing a “wider and deeper array of emotions” enabling better storytelling and reaching a wider audience, it was time for a technology demo.
Remember the head we saw back then of the wizened old man? This time Quantic Dream’s demo gave him a body, dressed him in wizard’s robes and set him in a scene with impressive lighting and particle effects.
They then threw in a dash of humour too. We were only shown a short segment of the demo which will be getting its first full play at 1PM on the 11th.
A handful of small and independent developers were given the chance to display the “passion and creativity” they bring to gaming with their games shown on stage.
Perhaps the most interesting was Transistor, with its stylized artwork used in both isometric and 2D environments, from Bastion-creators Supergiant Games. It’s due to arrive on PS4 “early next year”.
Attention then returned to some of the big-hitting gaming franchises with Diablo III getting a quick mention before upcoming releases from Square Enix got plenty of exposure.
There was confirmation that Final Fantasy Versus XIII will now be known as FF XV and perhaps bigger news in the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3. If you like your Disney/Squeenix mash-ups then perhaps news that a Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD release is headed to the PS3 will also be good news.
The last bit of JRPG news was that Final Fantasy XIV is a console exclusive to PS3 and PS4. By this point though the word exclusive was feeling somewhat excessive but was far from done.
For those who prefer piracy to assassination, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag got an embarrassingly stuttering and seemingly crashing gameplay demo, along with an announcement that Aveline from AC:Liberation will be exclusive content on the PlayStation edition.
Watch_Dogs took a turn with a gameplay demo which showed little that was new but showcased the ‘press square to hack’ mechanic. PlayStation gamer’s are promised an hour of exclusive gameplay and a fresh set of clothes for Aidan. Presumably other platform could get a different exclusive hour and clothing though?
After what looked like some terrible real-life and rendered lip-syncing in NBA2K14 we got a quick look at The Elder Scrolls Online which will see you adventuring either alone or with pals in Spring 2014. PS4 gamers are promised that they will have access to the beta first.
A “world premier” of a brief cinematic trailer for the Mad Max game was accompanied with news that it would come with a “road warrior survival kit”, “only on PlayStation”. I think by now even those on stage were getting fed up with the word exclusive.
All those were only a few of the 140 PlayStation 4 games that are in development with almost 100 due in the console’s first year.
What you can do once you’ve played your copies of those 140 games was up next and there was much cheering when it was announced that Sony’s approach was to let us game “without restrictions or devaluing our games”.
Specifically, they are imposing no new restrictions on used games with the introduction of the PS3. Sony are equally happy for you to trade in, sell on, lend or keep your disc-based games. The crowd’s enthusiastic reaction led House to quip, “guess that’s a good thing”.
He had a particularly big grin on his face when he said that you wouldn’t need to connect to the Internet to play your single player games “and it won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated in 24 hours”.
Your PlayStation Plus subscription carries over to PS4 bringing with it all the benefits we’re familiar with, plus one restriction. The slide clearly implied that to play online with your PS4 that you will need a PS+ subscription.
As for your PS4 Instant Game Collection, at launch it’ll include a PS+ edition of Drive Club. What makes the PS+ edition special wasn’t disclosed. One PS4 a month will be added to the ICG including the Indie titles Don’t Starve, Outlast, Secret Ponchos.
Bungie’s Destiny saw a world premier of its gameplay, with a somewhat slow start in an area that was very rusty, leading to cooperative firefights with friends and later a “public event” that saw more players joining to take down a larger enemy.
With the press conference beginning to wind down we learned a little more about Sony’s plans for Gaikai, which as expected is how Sony is providing an all-access gaming library to bring streamed PS3 games to the PS Vita, PS4 and PS3. Arriving first in the US in 2014 the rest of us will have to wait for an unspecified period.
One last key piece of information was still to be revealed, the PlayStation 4’s price. A wildly enthusiastic response from the crowd suggested that they were happy with the $399, €399 or £349 price points.
With the sentiments that PlayStation is “without a doubt” the best place to play and that the trust of gamers is important to Sony, a lesson they likely learned the hard way a couple of years ago, the press conference ended the way it began, with a montage.
Those of us covering the news for you here in the UK came away feeling pretty positive, with only a faint shadow cast by the requirement for PS+ to take your PS4 online. We considered that Sony’s stance on used games and the Xbox One-beating price point gives Sony the edge.
What’s your take on it all?