A few other companies have done pre-show streams where they talk a bit about what the presenters are hoping to see or what they know will be shown. Sony went about seventeen steps further and actually announced things during their pre-show. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?
With the pre-show included it is quite a long show so settle down and let me tell you about all the things.
Things start innocuously enough with a chat about Abzu from Giant Squid. Swim around under the sea, stare at the pretty fishies, investigate sunken ruins with puzzles, hitch rides on sharks, gambol with dolphins. Coming August 2nd, 2016 it looks like a lovely, calming undersea exploration title.
Then, Plastic Logic arrive to announce their new game, Bound. In it, you are a ballerina. Really! You dance across the landscape, twirling and leaping between blocky platforms and, presumably, solving some kind of puzzles. A little reminiscent of Journey, but with more twirling. Things get a little awkward during the interview with Sony’s Sid Shuman asking the Plastic Logic gentlemen what about Bound will make it appeal to the “red-blooded PS4 gamer”. Maybe nothing? Is nothing okay with you, Sid? Maybe not everything has to appeal to everyone and can just be weird and arty instead?
Fortunately they have mech game Hawken next. It’s coming to Playstation 4 “Early Summer” and “very soon”, will launch with 30 customisable mechs and be free to play. Shooty mechs make man happy? Shooty mechs make man happy!
Supergiant, makers of Bastion and Transistor, are creating something a little bit similar in looks but focused more on being party based with RPG elements. Pyre isn’t coming until 2017, so expect more details at next year’s E3, probably?
And the first VR title makes its appearance! Eagle Flight, where you play as an eagle, flying around over Paris after some kind of cataclysmic event has left the streets filled with grass and trees. And it has multiplayer PvP. Squawk at other eagles to knock them out, capture the flag becomes capture the bunny.
Watch_Dogs 2 is next on show. If you’ve not seen the many other reveals and announcements the new game is set in the San Francisco Bay area and is a lot lighter in tone than the first. More hacking the planet for fun and profit, though DEDSEC returns and presumably there’s some deeper story in play. Whether it’s actually any good remains to be seen. Fool me once, shame on me…
Just as the pre-show hosts start talking up a Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer reveal they have to rush off as the main show is about to start. Given the way the actual trailer players out, this may have been a plan…
But the real show is finally commencing. With a live orchestra being conducted by Bear McCreary, who has scored basically all of your favourite TV shows for the last decade. Lots of deep, booming, sonorous singing accompanies the orchestra and it’s all a lot classier than you might expect from VIDEO GAMES.
Straight from the musical intro we head into a gameplay video. Cameras to the right of the main video give the impression it’s being played live but while the music probably is being done live we all know how easy it is to bullshit your way through live demos.
No introduction is played so this game could be of anything, from anyone. A boy plays in the dirt with primitive toys. Clad in animal furs he’s having a grand old time smashing them together, when from the house a deep voice booms. “Boy!” The mysterious voice informs the lad that his mother’s knife now belongs to him and it’s time to go hunt them some dinner. Seems a little overbearing, but the shadowy figure looms forth into the light and… it’s KRATOS!
You might know Kratos from the God of War series, a third person action-adventure-fighting game that popularised the “quick time events” the industry has been so fond of ever since. This Kratos looks a bit older, with a thick beard adorning his face. The red stripe is still there but in place of his chained blade he has a gigantic axe strapped to his back. He follows the boy to offer guidance on the hunt, earning some tracking experience as they close in on a deer. The boy finds the deer first and rushes a shot, scaring it off and after a lecture, the boy and Kratos resume the hunt, only to be ambushed by three trolls. The first is dispatched with heavy axe blows, a second is pinned to a nearby boulder with a throw of the axe while the third is beaten to death with Kratos’ fists. Another ambush waits just ahead, with a much bigger troll that requires cooperation between Kratos and the boy. The boy knows how to shoot some kind of lightning arrow, which stuns the troll and allows Kratos to throw his rune-lit axe into the troll’s face, before recalling it to his hands and smashing the troll again and again. When it comes time to put the troll down the lad hesitates and misses the shot, hitting Kratos in the shoulder. Kratos kills the troll himself, lectures the boy and moves on.
They finally catch up to the deer, the boy shoots it and then hesitates when asked to finish it off. With Kratos’ hand guiding the blade the animal is done and Kratos declares the boy ready for a new beginning. God of War is back and it looks to be quite different to previous entries in the series.
A real life human finally comes out on stage. It’s Shawn Layden from Sony Interactive Entertainment. Before they begin the main portion of the show Shawn takes a moment to express his sympathies to the family and friends of those caught in the Orlando nightclub shooting. Like everyone else, Sony wants to make it clear that love and tolerance for others if very important to them. This is great to see from the leaders of these companies because, as we all know, gaming doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to LGBT acceptance.
But now, on with the games! Bend Studio is bringing Days Gone to Playstation 4. Looks to be another post-apocalyptic setting, one man against the world. It looks spectacular but there’s little detail revealed at this point. That comes later in the show…
No break before the next trailer to waffle about things. It’s the giant bird dog and tiny burbling boy game again. Boy howdy, sure am sick of being promised The Last Guardian at every bloody E3 for the last thousand years. Get this over with and we can move on…
OCTOBER 25th, 2016! It’s really coming! The Last Guardian will actually be released before we all die of old age. The crowd goes wild!
And instead of more waffling, straight into another trailer! This one is the “robot dinosaur” game everyone fell in love with last year, Horizon: Zero Dawn from Guerilla. If you missed it last year the game stars Aloy, a scavenger for her tribe, picking over the machines that have seemingly taken over the world. It’s not clear whether this world is Earth or somewhere else entirely. In any event, this time we see Aloy shoot a cargo pod off the back of a harvesting spider robot, stealing some parts before making good on her escape. When she’s in the clear she uses some of those parts to put together a flame trap, then moves on towards a bridge. The bridge has a man fleeing across it, pursued by some kind of corrupted “robot dinosaur”. A short discussion ensues, with a radial conversation tree, which leads Aloy to learn the man’s village was attacked by some kind of monster.
Aloy is brave, Aloy will investigate. After finding, roping and taming herself a robot to ride. Arriving at the village the monster is corrupting more robots and Aloy is forced to fight. Examining her opponent she learns it is weak to fire, so she makes use of the explosive traps she crafted earlier, calls her tame mount to her side to ride around on in battle, firing from its back and eventually bringing the bad monster down so she can examine it more closely.
Looks great and is scheduled for release February 28th, 2017.
Straight into another game trailer, crikey! This one is for Detroit: Become Human, which has an android negotiator being sent in to negotiate the release of a small girl from a rogue android. Negotiations go badly and the rogue and child both plummet to their death off the side of a building. Did it have to turn out that way? Maybe negotiator droid moves sooner to save the girl, letting the rogue droid die. Maybe he pre-emptively shoots the rogue, or talks him down entirely. Not sure whether some kind of time travel or replay system is involved or if this is just a demonstration of the branching narrative, but the game sure looks intriguing.
Next, a VR enabled experience. Wake up, answer a ringing phone, get told to get out of the crappy abandoned house you’ve woken up in. Downstairs a video tape is on a table near a static-filled TV/VCR. The tape contains what looks like some kind of supernatural attack by… something. Were they investigating a haunted house? Was it the house you’re in? Get out get out get out!
Resident Evil 7. Get the hell out of the creepy ass house on January 24, 2017. Or grab the demo tonight (ie; now-ish) if you have Playstation Plus. Suspect a lot more people will have Playstation Plus tomorrow…
Instead of running straight into another trailer Shawn comes back on stage to reveal that Resident Evil 7 will be playable as a regular game experience, or playable entirely in VR. If you’re going to play the VR one remember to wear your brown pants.
As for Playstation VR itself? It’s coming October 13, 2016 in the US and will cost $399, with 50 games being available between launch and the end of the year.
Now, more trailers! Specifically, things you will get to play on Playstation VR.
Farpoint is revealed first, seems to be some kind of exploration, combat and mystery game on an alien planet. Drones whizz by overhead, scanning the terrain for… something. Being developed by Impulse Gear, expect to see more of this as the VR date gets closer.
Battlefront and Batman will both have a short VR experience made especially for Playstation VR. In Battlefront you can pilot an X-Wing in combat and Batman lets you… be Batman.
Final Fantasy XV is also doing an offshoot VR experience where you’ll play as Prompto, instead of Noctis. Still seem to be fighting monsters with other characters but I guess it’s a different perspective. It’s coming 30th September 2016. Yes, that is a date before the Playstation VR is out. I don’t know how that will work either.
The next game looks right up my own personal alley. Strolling around a large capital ship in space, pick out an assignment to tackle and launch in a fighter craft into a hectic dogfight. Tight turns, lots of shooting and taking out bogeys on tails, all in stunning detail. Get close enough to the enemy ship and you can bail out of the cockpit and work your way up the hull on foot, with assistance from a jetpack and a grappling hook. Enemies come out, trying to shoot you, fight your way through them to the bridge and use a breaching charge to open the viewports and vent the cabin to space, letting you get in and cripple the ship. Restore gravity, fight your way through the ship to the hangar bay – not clear why you don’t just jump back out the viewport – and get picked back up by your fighter craft as your capital ship tears into them with a massive space broadside. The whole thing looks amazing and original and unique and…
It’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. No. Freaking. Way.
The remastered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare also looks very nice and if you didn’t play it the first time around, you probably should. It’s why COD is the juggernaut it’s become.
Shawn’s back on stage now, to announce another thing that’s being remastered. Crash Bandicoot! A big crowd favourite, Crash 1-3 will all be remastered and Crash will also be appearing in Skylanders in October. Crash Bandicoot fans rejoice!
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is next. It looks exactly like you would expect, with the characteristic random injections of comedy and a subtle nod to Indiana Jones, with Han shooting a posing stun baton Stormtrooper. Blink and you’d’ve missed it.
Back to the stage again and this time it’s Andrew House. He’s introducing “one of the most creative talents in the history of gaming” and it’s going to be great seeing Peter Molyneux on stage at E3 again… kidding. Of course it’s Hideo Kojima. “I’m back!” Of course you are. He claims the footage he’s brought is running in real time but, well, it probably isn’t.
All we see at first is a bunch of dead crabs in black sand. Panning across we see handprints forming in the sand and filling in with some kind of black liquid that might be water, but looks a little too viscous. A naked body is lying on the beach, but all the rudey bits are concealed. And there’s a naked baby, attached by what looks like an umbilical to the naked man.
The naked man is Norman Reedus, and he looks quite unhappy about being naked on a beach full of dead sea life with a naked baby and a healing scar on his belly that seems to give the impression that maybe Norman Reedus had a baby?
There’s five humanoid figures hovering in the distance above the water. Did they kill the whales and crabs? Did Norman? The baby? Who knows! Find out in Death Stranding, maybe.
We’re nearing the end now, but an important question has not yet been asked.
Can Insomniac come out to playyy? They sure can and they’ve only brought SPIDER-MAN with them! Web slinging, swinging through the streets of New York, busting baddies and dodging traffic. Is this in-game? Don’t know, but it looks grouse! Is it Peter Parker in the suit or Miles Morales? Don’t know, but the suit looks grouse! Is there a release date?
No. Not grouse.
To round out the event we’re getting a better look at Days Gone, with what is touted as actual gameplay footage. There’s someone who does look to be playing the game as we once more join the oddly familiar looking Motorcycle Man as he rides his bike down the hill towards the encampment he was surveying at the top of the show. A voice on the radio warns him that night is fast approaching, so don’t be too long in there.
Wander in through a break in the hurricane fencing, find a crate inside a tent full of random bits and pieces, probably useful for crafting something. Outside the tent, two wolves are picking over a dead body. A harsh noise scares them away and Motorcycle Man confirms the victim is not whoever he’s looking for. Moving to a broken down truck he extracts an oil filter from the engine and attaches it as a crude suppressor for his pistol. Creeping through a nearby building, looking for more materials or clues to find the man he’s looking for, MM startles some kind of emaciated, scuttling humanoid that hisses and scurries away. A muttered oath from the next building over and MM recognises the voice as the person he’s tracking. Entering, Chased Man is fighting off something that might be some kind of zombie? Breaking free, MM points his gun at CM and tells him to stop, but the maybe-zombie jumps him instead, forcing a quick pop shot to put it down.
Following CM up onto the roof of the structure, MM is tackled off the side of the building, landing atop CM who has injured his leg in the fall. Unable to get up and move, CM is quickly swarmed by a dozen or more of the maybe-zombies while MM beats a hasty retreat. Which also does not go so well, as one of the creatures crashes through some flimsy wood and tries to tackle MM. MM jogs on past but looks to his right, only to see dozens more creatures. And they’ve seen him.
What follows is a tense chase up, down, over and under boxes, train carriages, buildings and walkways. The creatures charge forward in a rush, much like the hordes of zombies in the World War Z movie. MM tries to set himself to gun down as many as he can to buy himself time at various stages, throwing molotov cocktails into the packs and staying just steps ahead. Finally, crossing a walkway between one building and a nearby silo, he finally finishes the last of those chasing him. Whereupon the camera pulls out and we see hundreds more closing on the silo from every direction.
“Come on. COME ON!” Guess we’ll have to wait and see how Familiar Motorcycle Man makes it out of that situation. No release date. But I want it now!
… and we’re finally done! That was a hell of a long press conference but it was also just jam packed full of goodies, with a little bit of everything for all tastes, if you include the pre-show.
Stick around, we’ll have plenty more E3 coverage in the days to come!