We should have known.
“God of War marked the start of a press conference based on little more than exclusive, single-player technology so far and above anything you’re going to see or play on Xbox One for the next 12 months that you’ll have no choice but to keep your PS4 squeaky clean.”
After Microsoft’s blusterous E3 press conference earlier in the day, it seemed Sony faced something of a cliff built on a new Xbox hardware announcement and unique service offerings such as cross-platform play. We knew Sony wasn’t planning to talk about Neo, its 4K PS4 upgrade, so there had to be some strategy to slam-dunking Microsoft with games. And it did. From the touch-line at the other end of the court.
It became apparent we were in for something memorable from Sony when the conference kicked off with a full orchestra playing Wagner-esque power-strings at ear-splitting volume against a closed curtain for about five minutes. Shawn Layden’s waffling homage to the people who died in the Orlando nightclub shooting earlier in the week, coupled with him claiming PS4 has become a “temple to creativity and all that means,” only piled on the surreal. There was none of the glitz of the Microsoft press conference. It really was just a stage and a talking dude; you couldn’t even see a PlayStation logo. Then the curtain came up and it all made sense.
God of War looked so technically impressive, and lifted the conference crowd so far and so quickly, that it trumped every piece of software we’d seen in the Microsoft event within minutes. I want to play it more than anything else I’ve seen at E3 this year. God of War marked the start of a press conference based on little more than exclusive, single-player technology so far and above anything you’re going to see or play on Xbox One for the next 12 months that you’ll have no choice but to keep your PS4 squeaky clean and to keep buying Sony’s games. You aren’t going to have much of a say in it. Kratos’s axe flashed with its internal blue lightning and the crowd, to put it bluntly, went fucking nuts. You’re going to play it. And so are they.
It was like being punched in the face for an hour. Days Gone is zombies, yes, but that tech, the endless sky-box, the shading. The Last Guardian looked as beautiful as ever, the release date of which brought shrieks of delight from the crowd around me. The enthusiasm from those watching was on a totally different level from the atmosphere in the Microsoft conference. The Horizon demo only compounded it with its next-next-gen-gen visuals and a truly murderous boss fight. I mean, when your games look this good in comparison to your competitors (seriously: watch the full conference if you haven’t already), you can’t be in too much rush to release new hardware, right?
The theme spread through the entire conference. The VR stuff Sony showed made the demos I played last year look as though they were drawn in crayon. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and the Modern Warfare remake were running on some sort of fucking super-computer, apparently. Did everyone making games for PS4 find an extra PS4 in their PS4 when the world wasn’t watching, or something? What the hell happened?
I’m not complaining, but. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, seemingly a black-sand-pregnant-man simulator, was just bonkers, a game being made on a diamond space-console it’s now been confirmed. Kojima’s entrance was one of the funnier things you’re ever going to see in an E3 press conference, again playing to themes of over-power and exclusivity. Hello everyone, he said. I’m back. The crowd reaction nearly blew the Shrine Auditorium’s roof out.
Even Spider-Man looked phenomenal. We are on the verge of a future like no other, said Layden, cementing his position as gaming’s first truly post-modern executive. Quite frankly, as long as Sony keeps coming up with software this impressive, he can be as bizarre as he likes. What’s next for PS4 is the most amazing console tech you’ve ever seen, based on what we saw at E3 last night. In case you’re wondering, you can chalk that up as a win.
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