Breathless. That’s Sony’s 2017 E3 conference wrapped up for you in a single word. In recent years they’ve been quick to get to the games, and that was the same last night, but without context and without those stilted game developers being dragged up on stage, there were few moments of clarity to be found.
Firstly there were definite highlights, and some will readily argue that Insomniac’s Spider-Man is liable to be the game of the conference. Channelling plenty of Arkham Asylum, as well as the spirit of Treyarch’s and Beenox’s webslinger offerings, here is a game that is really making the most of its host console’s power, with some incredible environmental interactions tied to some of the slickest visuals we’ve seen this generation. And it’s not even finished!
Besides that, Monster Hunter World is finally bringing the franchise back to where it all began – as well as Xbox One and PC – and in spectacular fashion, with various new monster hunting abilities that look as though they’re going to add more depth to one of the most commitment-heavy franchises out there. It’s interesting what this will mean for the Switch/3DS games going forward as well – does this signal the end of Nintendo and Capcom’s ‘special relationship’?
Perhaps the most surprising announcement of a show oddly lacking in big new announcements and reveals, was that we’re getting a Shadow of the Colussus remake to go on top of last gen’s remaster. While this is landmark game, haven’t we probably had enough of it, at least for now? It certainly didn’t have the wow factor of a Shenmue or Final Fantasy VII announcement, and I can’t imagine there are many Sony faithful clamouring for it when they would have torn the roof off with something like Crash Team Racing. The last few years have seen Sony rely heavily on wish fulfilment, but Shadow of the Colossus was as close they came to this in 2017.
We got a brief glimpse of a number of interesting PSVR titles, which should reassure those who’ve invested in Sony’s headset that it remains a part of Sony’s current plans. Having fully expected software to dry up in the same way support for the Vita died off, it was definitely a pleasant surprise to see Supermassive Games’s psychological horror game The Inpatient and a handful of other that included Skyrim VR.
Beyond that, this press conference almost felt like a replay of 2016, with many of the games shown simply solidifying a 2018 release date. God of War, Detroit Become Human and Spider-Man, all looked excellent, capable of being real system sellers with huge ambition, but they simply went from being “TBC” to “2018”, and that leaves us wondering about the end of this year. Days Gone made a fresh appearance, with its gameplay reveal from last year replaced by something a little more story driven, but still with some impressive zombie horde action. The one fly in the ointment is that where this was previously penned in for a 2017 release and would give Sony a big action game to close out the year, any mention of a release date was missing. Not 2017, not 2018, nothing.
Funnily enough, this means that Sony’s conference actually put them on a fairly even keel with Microsoft’s in terms of first party exclusives. There’s a little more breadth and diversity to what Sony themselves are offering over the next six months, with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Knack 2, Everybody’s Golf and GT Sport due to arrive this year – oddly, only Uncharted got to take to the main stage, the others being relegated to trailers and release date announcements during the pre-show.
Besides other high profile third party exclusives like Ni No Kuni II, the near future brings the triple remaster threat of Final Fantasy XII, Patapon and Crash N.Sane Trilogy. Still, this isn’t the the cutting edge first party experience we always hope for.
Seemingly we’re at the mercy of the third parties for big action game releases, with cross-platform titles that will suddenly perform better on their competitor’s console come 7th November. Perhaps it’s Sony deftly avoiding the crush of games in October and November to let their own efforts breath, or maybe the release of the Xbox One X that is making them hold off, coupled with a spot of nonchalant assurance that there’s very little damage that a £450 console can do to their hold on this generation.
Whether coincidental or by design, can you blame Sony if they’re coasting a little in the second half of year? Vastly ahead in sales, which have just passed the 60 million mark, they can afford to wait and see while Microsoft has to go on a major offensive. As it turned out, Sony don’t really have much else for this year either, spinning their wheels while they prepare for the future. What it does do is give some breathing room to games that perhaps wouldn’t have had the immediate success they deserve, and Ni No Kuni II and Everybody’s Golf might get a well deserved bump.
Whatever the case, the future of PlayStation is looking phenomenal, it’s just a shame the present is feeling a bit drab.