Sony brought a megaton of first-party exclusives and gorgeous third-parties to E3 2014, including Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, The Order: 1886, Metal Gear Solid 5, Arkham Knight and even GTA 5.
Microsoft brought its A-game to LA this year, so we were excited to see how Sony returned that volley - especially after last year's one-sided battle. An ominously darkened stage heralded the first trailer of the briefing - a lengthy narrative set-up for Destiny which began on the planet Mars. As predicted, Sony is the primary showcase for Activision's other major franchise, as Microsoft hosted the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare blowout.
SCE group president and CEO Andrew House brought his delightful accent to the stage to describe the trailer as the "embodiment" of Sony's vision for the PS4, from its graphics to its immersive gameplay, or whatever. There will be a 500GB white PS4 bundle with a 30 day PS Plus voucher when the game launches in September. The beta kicks off next month.
Next we saw actual the The Order: 1886 gameplay. A character I'm calling Mr Fancy Pants (great coat, period facial hair, crossed swords) fought a werewolf, which called him a "swine", showing a remarkable insensitivity to its fellow animals. It wasn't clear how much was gameplay and how much was cutscene, unfortunately. There didn't seem to be a great deal of traditional action.
Sony then continued two of its finest traditions in 01) suffering audio issues and 02) showing a gorgeous trailer for an innovative title nobody knew a damn thing about while they were watching. Called Entwined, it tells the story of two entities in love. When players bring them together, they take on dragon forms, and create a unique living sculpture in the sky.
Entwined is available on PS4 in North America right now for $10, and will come to PS3 and Vita with cross-buy soon.
Sucker Punch’s new project is stand-alone expansion InFamous: First Light. You won’t need the base InFamous: Second Son game to play it, but if you do have it, you’ll score some exclusive content. The DLC seems to focus on Fetch, the neon conduit.
Next up was LittleBigPlanet 3 on PS4, making its debut. Media Molecule told us it wasn’t coming to E3, so either this version has been developed elsewhere, or Media Molecule was lying to us. In which case, well done it.
The PS4 version includes new characters. OddSock can double jump, and run much faster than SackBoy. Toggle is larger than other characters and can move heavier objects, but can also shrink and fit through tiny gaps. A third new friend, Swoop, can fly and blow air to lift obstacles.
Shuhei Yoshida was met with catcalls upon taking the stage, presumably because everyone was feeling a bit sore re: Media Molecule's fibs. Yoshida said all 7 million user-created levels from the whole LittleBigPlanet family will be available on PS4 immediately when the game launches sometime around Christmas - but with improved graphics. Huh. Cool.
Shortly after this I nearly shat myself because Yoshida introduced Bloodborne, the new IP from From Software. Led by Demon's Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki - who did not return for Dark Souls 2 - it's a PS4 exclusive that needs to be in my life immediately or I'll start to cry. Since it's not due till 2015, I am greasing my tear ducts.
Sony provided us with a new slab of Far Cry 4 gameplay footage. There's gyrocopters, falling from high places, shooting, elephants - the works. It's all very Far Cry, obviously.
Adam Boyes then rocked our gosh darned socks by saying that if you have Far Cry 4, you can invite your PSN friends to play with you, even if they don't own the game - a PSN exclusive. Holy balls, the future is now. Thanks, Gaikai!
Dead Island 2 is a real thing, Sony confirmed, debuting an all-cinematic trailer for the sequel. It's being developed by Spec Ops: The Line studio Yager. Original Dead island and dead Island: Riptide team TechLand is working on Dying Light and HellRaid. Also interestingly, the trailer was meant to be funny rather than heartbreakingly tragic. Expect this in northern spring.
Sony then discussed a couple of platform exclusives. The Last of Us enemies are coming to Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition when it launches in August. Battlefield: Hardline's beta is coming to PS4 first, as announced during EA's conference. Disney Infinity's new Marvel content will hit PS3 and PS4 first. Destiny will include a PlayStation exclusive multiplayer map and co-op adventure as well as a bunch of stuff like ships, equipment and weapons.
Here's an interesting thing: Boyes said every single one of the traditionally PC-focused publisher Paradox Interactive's studios are working on PS4 games. The first of these projects is Magicka 2, introduced by a typically amusing trailer.
Speaking of typically amusing, Double Fine boss Tim Schafer made a cameo as Sony announced a remastered version of Grim Fandango, coming exclusively to PS4 and Vita, apparently thanks to a partnership with Disney. Holy shitballs.
Devolver Digital's upcoming Sony line-up was then quickly showcased: Broforce, Titan Souls, Not A Hero, Hotline Miami and Serious Sam developer CroTeam's new effort, The Talos Principle.
Here's another neat Sony exclusive: Goichi Suda's next game, Let It Die, is only coming to PS4. It appears to be about killing things in a violent fashion in a gritty world, and is therefore remarkably conservative for the creator of Lollipop Chainsaw and No More Heroes.
As a nice little segue, Sony next chose to show the new game from Giant Squid, the developer founded by Matt Nava - art director on Journey and Flower. Scored by Journey composer Austin Wintory, it's called Abzû. The trailer is pretty lovely.
Remember how many months ago Sony introduced a new game from the creators of Joe Danger, and it was called No Man's Sky and it looked perfect and wonderful and we all had to be physically restrained from not wandering into Hello Games' office and giving the staff passionate kisses? That's still a thing and we still want to give it passionate kisses.
Hello Games founder Sean Murray came on stage to discuss the fact that his tiny, tiny staff is making one of the coolest-looking sci-fi games on the cards at the moment. The universe of No Man’s Sky is procedurally-generated and infinite. Every player will start on a different planet, and have their own experience exploring from that unique point.
Sony sort of apologetically started talking about the PlayStation Camera, which is almost constantly sold out thanks to the popularity of Twitch streaming, before segueing into a bit of chat about Project Morpheus. It's on show at E3.
Newly-incumbent SCEA CEO and president Shawn Laydan turned up next. Did you know he was involved in Vib-Ribbon? Me either. He told us that 95% of PS4 owners are connected to the PSN. Over 1.25 billion hours have been played. there have been 1 billion multiplayer sessions. And finally, the Share button has been used 228 million times - a figure that will increase when Sony adds YouTube support to the Share button later this year.
PS4 has logged 150 million spectator sessions, also, and Sony is aiming to add more support for games which allow spectators to interact with the game session they're watching. A new set of PlayRoom DLC is inbound, allowing users to customise and curate their broadcast content.
Laydan emphasised that free-to-play games are coming to the PlayStation family in a big way - Planet Under Fire, Guns Up and Planetside 2 were mentioned. A sizzle reel showed off a bunch of Vita games, plus shooters, sandboxes, medieval combat and much more. Notably, he underlined the fact that free-to-play games on PlayStation are free - but we don't know if he meant that they're not locked behind a PS Plus subscription.
Streaming service PS Now will go into open beta on July 31, and is also coming to Smart TVs. You'll be able to access the service with a DualShock controller, presumably paired to your TV via Bluetooth. The upcoming beta includes new games like Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes and Ultra Street Fighter 4. PS Now is coming to Vita, too.
There are 100 titles in the works for Vita, including Tales of Hearts R, Child of Light, Tales from the Borderlands and Minecraft - the full console version, with multiplayer.
Laydan then shocked and delighted the room by announcing that PlayStation TV is coming to North America and Europe in northern Autumn. It will allow access to PS Now, play classic Vita and PlayStation titles, and can also be paired with a PS4 to essentially provide a second PS4 terminal in your house. It’s going to cost $99 or come in a bundle with a DualShock 3, memory card, HDMI cable and Lego: The Movie for $139.
Mortal Kombat X - it's "ecks", not "ten" - got its gameplay debut next, with some new characters shown. Looked a lot like Mortal Kombat.
Oh hey so Sony, like Microsoft, is making original TV content for the PSN (and likely broader network, the SEN). Its first series is Powers, based on the award-winning Marvel graphic novel series of the same name. Co-creator Brian Michael Bendis came on stage to celebrate Sony's greenlighting of two seasons. A lot of geekily-famous people are involved in the show and if you're into comics, TV, sci-fi and fantasy media you're probably already fully informed and shitting yourself in excitement, but I went to get a cup of tea and missed all the names, so.
The first episode of Powers will be free to all PSN members, but the whole series will be free to North American PS Plus members. Sony intends to bring all its original TV content to PS Plus, as well as various other Sony-owned media including Ratchet & Clank: The Movie, which is apparently a thing.
Insomniac Games is involved in the movie, and the first, original Ratchet & Clank game is being remade for PS4. A trailer was shown for the movie. Both will be available in the first half of 2015.
The Last of Us Remastered hasn’t suddenly stopped existing, and since E3 mostly exists to sell video games to the shops that want to sell them to you, as opposed to providing new information for the informed gamer, we had to look at it again. There were spoilers. It's coming out July 29.
90 minutes in, just when everybody was ready to maybe murder the next Sony executive to hit the stage, House introduced a new Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain trailer and we forgave them everything. It had Snake, and flames, and ravens, and serious faces, and music, and you know, Kojima madness out the wazoo. Snake was wearing a pony tail and put what I assume were Paz's ashes on his face and nobody marched out of the Sony briefing screaming "I am fucking disgusted" which I found deeply mysterious. VIDEO GAMES.
"Metal Gear Solid 5 on PS4 is going to be amazing," said House. Oh. Thanks for sharing this news.
Well, of all the bloody cheek; GTA 5 is coming to PS4. It's also coming to PC and Xbox One, but obviously Sony wasn't going to mention that. It's due in northern autumn.
Anyway, next we got a look at Batman: Arkham Knight, the Rocksteady effort that was recently delayed to 2015. Looked pretty good; watch for yourself here. Sony made a joke about having more smoke than EA, and said again that the PS4 version will be "amazing". It will also come with exclusive Scarecrow missions.
We ended on a really high note: a short cinematic trailer for the newly-titled Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Sony didn't share any details regarding Naughty Dog's latest during the conference, but expect an update soon.
For a full run-down of the rest of the conferences and ongoing reveals and demos in LA this week, use Steph's exhaustive E3 coverage guide, including an insane schedule from Twitch.