E3 2017 Impressions: Sony Conference

e3 2017 sony

Now with fishing!

Another long one. I sure could use a drink…

Microsoft had itself one impressive conference the day before. Its Xbox One X was the most anticipated announcement of E3 and they trotted out a very respectable slate of games. The onus was on Sony to respond, and many of us at Digital Crack wanted to know how they would. Their response was…curious.

Sony has its own stable of heavy hitters, and they were very much on display. But I feel that some notable absences and a slightly muted message handicapped them. I’m not the only one of us that feels this way. Grumpy Joe, the resident Sony fanboy, was crushed by Sony’s showing. I was just meh.

Like before, everything will be listed in order of appearance. Titles that do not appear here will have their own write-ups on the site.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Developer Naughty Dog and Sony can’t very well leave the Uncharted universe alone. Do you blame them? The series is a big hit, and its fans don’t want it to end. Thanks to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, it won’t for now.

The Lost Legacy is actually a spinoff of the mainline series. Unlike the series in total, it does not star franchise protagonist Nathan Drake. Instead, the game follows Nadine Ross, a mercenary who debuted in Uncharted 4, and Chloe Frazer, who first appeared way back in Uncharted 2. The game takes place in India, and Nadine and Chloe are up to the usual treasure hunting. Along the way, expect much of the same movement, grappling, and fighting the series has served up before.

Unlike the games in the mainline series, however, this game places emphasis on team dynamics. There is banter between Nadine and Chloe, and I’m expecting that banter to persist throughout the game. One thing I wonder is if the banter will change based on their relationship as the game progresses. You see, in The Lost Legacy, there is a gameplay dynamic based on the standing of their relationship at the moment. If the narrative has them in good standing with each other, it’ll show in combat. If they’re at a rough point narratively, that shows as well. Without knowing the exact mechanics. I’m left guessing at how this will show. I’m guessing Nadine may not necessarily have Chloe’s back if they’re testy with each other. My guess is that will also show in the banter.

Visually, The Lost Legacy is just as stunning as A Thief’s End. It also looks a bit meatier. Naughty Dog is on record saying that this title will go back to showing off grand vistas and fantastical environments that the previous title may have skimped on. While A Thief’s End was a bit more subdued because of the focus on the narrative’s personal struggle, this title will return to showing off the almost-impossible structures that dotted the other titles in the series.

The return of the grand architecture will not be at the cost of the story. The wordsmiths at Naughty Dog have been crafting more complex characters as they’ve gone along, and The Lost Legacy will be no different. Their focus here was to flesh out both characters, primarily Chloe. Nadine was prominent in A Thief’s End, but is supposed to have more fleshing out here. It’s Chloe whose story has been pretty threadbare until now. She was prominent in Uncharted 2 and appeared in Uncharted 3, but hasn’t really had her background explained. In this title, that will be remedied.

Like many, I have faith in Naughty Dog and what they do. Info in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is somewhat scarce as of this writing, but enough has been shown that I’m intrigued. The game is expected to release on August 22nd for the PlayStation 4.

Horizon: Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds

The first full expansion for Horizon: Zero Dawn was announced. The Frozen Wilds increases the base game’s already massive size, adding a frozen tundra. Not much is known about the actual premise of the expansion. Aloy returns, but it’s not sure if it takes place before or after the events of the base game. Either way, expect more of the same brilliant gameplay from the original.

Horizon: Zero Dawn: The Frozen Throne will release sometime later this year.

Monster Hunter World

I’ve never played a single game in Capcom’s Monster Hunter series. But the series has a rabid following, and the announcement of Monster Hunter World is sure to have them frothing at the mouth.

This is the first game in the mainline series to appear on a Sony home console since 2011’s Monster Hunter 2 (the Monster Hunter Frontier games were MMO’s). And it is a mainline title, as confirmed by Capcom’s Yuri Araujo. The title, however, will deviate in a few ways from other Monster Hunter titles. It’s those changes that may give series fans pause.

The first change is the most apparent one: the visuals. Later Monster Hunter titles were on the Nintendo Wii and 3DS, which are not exactly technical powerhouses. The move to the PlayStation 4 (and Xbox One and PC) has bumped up the presentation noticeably. Also bumped up is the map. Playing on a beefier platform allows the player to seamlessly travel from place to place with no load times. That is one aspect of the games that irked some players, who did not like the more segmented maps of earlier titles that forced them to sit through loading screens.

The second change is actually more substantial than the first. The trailer shows a lone player, traipsing through a jungle with a kind of zanbatou and scouting targets stealthily. The player then attempts to attack and take down a massive dino alone. That flies in the face of normal Monster Hunter tactics, which require a group. There is multiplayer, but it’s not executed like previous games. Instead of forming a group and starting a quest together, solo players can fire off a flare to let other players know that they’d like some help. The other players can then drop in and join the fray.

Past that, fans can expect the same kind of tense, action-packed gameplay they’re used to, only much prettier. Monster Hunter World drops sometime in Early 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Shadow of the Colossus

Sony announced that Shadow of the Colossus, the 2005 PlayStation 2 masterpiece, is getting the remaster treatment. In addition to the significant upgrade in visuals, you can expect the same excellent exploration and gameplay. Bluepoint is handling the remaster, just as they did for Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection. They know what they’re doing. Past that, it’s unclear if the narrative will be the same or if there will be some curveballs.

Shadow of the Colossus will release for the PlayStation 4 sometime in Early 2018.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

Capcom’s upcoming entry in its tag-team fighting extravaganza was on display during Sony’s presentation, and the nerdgasms for me were real.

The big news for the game is the reveal of new characters. For the Marvel side, Capcom showed off Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Gamora, Nova, and Thanos. Representing Capcom are Arthur, Dante, Spencer, and Zero (YEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!).

Other than that, the only other news was the announcement of a Story Mode demo that will be immediately available for download on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That’ll give prospective buyers the chance to try out some elements of the game early.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite will hit the airwaves on September 19th. I would’ve pre-ordered the game; I really like the loot in the $200 Special Edition. But after the farce that was Street Fighter V (which I didn’t pre-order either, thank Christ), I’m demanding that Capcom gets in my good graces before I throw any more cash their way.

Call of Duty: WWII

This part writes itself. Other than the return to the series’ roots with Call of Duty: WWII, this is the same Call of Duty formula that has helped publisher Activision sell an estimated kajillion bajillion copies of the series’ games. The trailer shown during Sony’s conference was a multiplayer trailer. Sledgehammer Games and the other developers who work on these games have pretty much perfected the multiplayer aspect of the games, so not much needs to change there. Fans will love the inclusion of Nazi Zombies mode and the frantic, over-the-top gameplay the mode offers. Really, what more can I do other than rename this year’s game Call of Madden 1939-1945?

Oh, yeah. The date. Call of Duty: WWII will be available on November 3rd for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR

Speaking of games that write their own impressions…

You knew PlayStation VR was going to rear its head eventually at Sony’s E3 conference. The first title mentioned for the peripheral was yet another port of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The only thing of note to mention about the port is the disembodied floating hands. I can only surmise that this means the game will support the PlayStation Move.

There is no release date for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Honestly, the game has been ported to so many systems, I’m halfway expecting a release on the Sega CD.

Star Child

The next PlayStation VR title is actually an interesting one.

Star Child actually looks to be a third-person side-scroller. That’s not the kind of game you would expect to play on a VR system. The game is being developed by Playful, who are also the developers of Super Lucky’s Tale on the Xbox One. There is literally no further information about the game. A look at the trailer gives me a bit of a Metroid vibe, though I’m not entirely sure why. There is no release info, either, other that Star Child is for the PlayStation VR.

The Inpatient

This PlayStation VR title actually has a bit of pedigree. The Inpatient is again set in the Blackwood Sanitorium, 60 years after the events of Supermassive’s Until Dawn. The setting may be similar, but the gameplay is more psychological horror than jump scares and Wendigos.

The players assumes the role of a patient with amnesia. The game begins the owner of Blackwood Sanitorium, Jefferson Bragg, saying he wants to help. During the game, you meet other patients as well as staff. How you react to them and what choices you make will have an effect on the game. Eventually, you’ll discover who you are, what you’re doing there, and what’s in store.

No release info was given for The Inpatient.

Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV

A few members of the Digital Crack crew were able to attend a PlayStation Live event to see Sony’s E3 2017 presentation. I was absent for health reasons. When I spoke to them after the event, they kept referring to a game they would deridingly call, “Final Fantasy Fishing.” I didn’t see the conference in real-time due to unexpected company, so I was unable to see what they were goofing.

Final Fantasy Fishing” turned out to be Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV. It is an upcoming standalone PlayStation VR title that is set in the Final Fantasy XV universe and based on one of its mini-games. For me, the mini-game was ok enough, but I don’t know that I want to play a VR version of it only. Judging by other’s opinions (my son included), I may be in the minority there.

Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy is expected to release in September 2017.

Bravo Team

Supermassive showed off another PlayStation VR title, Bravo Team. It’s a cover-based FPS set in Eastern Europe. Not too much is known other than the fact that the game will allow two-player online co-op. No release info is available.

Moss

Polyarc showed off another third-person platforming VR title, Moss. The game’s protagonist is a mouse named Quill, who heads out into the wilderness with a spirit guiding him. It has the look and feel of an animated book, where players view the game from a static perspective. That’ll cut down on the motion sickness. The player can move his or her head to look around. Also, the game will be controlled with a DualShock 4 rather than the Move sticks.

Moss has no release date as of yet.

Destiny 2

I’m not going to pretend I know Thing One about Bungie’s Destiny. The MMO FPS did not sing to me when it first released, and its expansions failed to woo me. Again, I am in the minority here. My son loved the original, and Grumpy Joe enjoyed it as well. The fact that Destiny 2 exists and is highly anticipated is a no-brainer even to me.

The E3 2017 trailer for Destiny 2 focuses on Dominus Ghaul, leader of the Red Legion the big-bad of this game. Whatever his abilities, it was apparently enough to imprison the Traveler, who is nigh-omnipotent. The Traveler’s capture gives Destiny 2 an in-canon reason for why seasoned Guardians cannot import their maxed-out characters from the first game to the new one. It’s bullshit, but it’s canon.

Past that, there isn’t much information. The single-player story is supposed to be beefed up in the sequel. That’s a welcome bit of news as Destiny’s story was one of its Achilles heels. Another plus is the sequel’s handling of clans. In Destiny, players had to resort to third-party solutions for organizing clans. Now, clans can group up in the Tower and handle all groupings in-game. Further, the loot system is revamped for clans, giving them a unique system that rewards clan members with extra loot just for working together. That’ll please more than a few players.

Destiny 2 releases on September 6th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. PS4 owners get timed exclusivity for certain armor, weapons, and strikes. They almost assuredly get early access to the July 18th beta which is for pre-order customers only. There’s still no word on how the exclusivity will affect PC gamers.

 

Odds and Ends
  • Namco Bandai’s booth gave out limited edition steel books for the upcoming title Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. The steel books are exclusive to E3 2017 and are not supposed to be available any other way. As a Ni No Kuni fan and a resurgent collector, I hereby condemn Namco Bandai for doing me like that. Guess I can look forward to some scalper putting it up for sale on eBay for 36 pints of blood.
  • Gran Turismo Sport did not make a formal appearance during the conference. I’m not surprised. Polyphony Digital are probably still stuffing microphones in cars’ tailpipes just so they can recreate a Shelby GT500’s exhaust note perfectly.
Conclusion

Grumpy Joe, Digital Crack’s resident PS4 fanboy, lamented the lack of blockbuster announcements during Sony’s conference. Without Death Stranding and any hardware news to counterbalance Microsoft’s Xbox One X, he felt Sony’s offerings were punchless. I disagree. While not spectacular, Sony paraded a lot of games. Yea, some of them were cinematics only, not proper gameplay trailers. But PlayStation still has a slew of excellent titles coming out. I mean, if God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man can’t get you excited, maybe you’re just not that into video games.

Of course, you can always fall back on Final Fantasy Fishing when all else fails.

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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