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Analysis - Sony Surprises With Returning Franchises, New Hardware, And Revived Classics



It's been a crazy, eventful, and fun Day 0 here at E3 in Los Angeles. After working our way through Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft, our night closed with Sony. Not to be outdone, the house of PlayStation brought a number of exclusives, multiplatform reveals, and even new hardware.

What We Saw (And Loved)

Sony started the show with Destiny, which is currently in Alpha (and will be open to all PS4 users from Thursday through the weekend). It was a strong introduction to an evening largely (but not exclusively) focused on games.

Unlike Microsoft, which clearly broke the presentation into titles for this year and those for the future, Sony had some uneven pacing. Individually, the trailers and gameplay demos were strong. There just wasn't good flow in parts, best evidenced by the more business oriented segment broken up by the wonderfully ultra-violent gameplay reveal for Mortal Kombat X.

I was delighted to see Hello Games' No Man Sky get the spotlight it so richly deserves. After the exciting, show-stealing reveal at VGX, I'm thrilled to have seen more.

No Man's Sky wasn't the only indie title on hand. Devolver Digital has struck a deal with Sony, and a number of titles were on display, including Hotline Miami 2, Broforce, Not a Hero, and a new title from Serious Sam developer Croteam called The Talos Principle.

Sony also pushed on free-to-play, and suggested that over 25 titles in that category will be coming in the next 12 months. These include Kingdom Under Fire 2, PlanetSide 2, War Thunder, My Singing Monster, Gunza, Loadout, and a new or updated version of PS3 title Pain.

On the AAA front, both The Order: 1886 and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End looked great. Bloodborne (nee' Project Beast) from Souls series developer From Software put a smile on the faces of many a Game Informer editor. LittleBigPlanet 3 (coming this year) was a delightful surprise. Cross-platform titles like Dead Island 2, Far Cry 4 and, especially, Grand Theft Auto V for new-gen consoles and PC hit home.

On the hardware front, Vita TV has been rebranded for the west as PlayStation TV. The functionality is the same, and the price point ($99 or $139 in a bundle with Dual Shock 3, HDMI cable, and game) is reasonable. Especially with the upcoming public beta of PlayStation Now, the PlayStation TV is a smartly priced companion device.

What Surprised Us

While the Vita supposedly has 150 games in development, Sony spent so little time on it that it's hard to believe the handheld can be sustained as a standalone device. As a companion for cross-buy/cross-play and PlayStation Now, it has legs. It won't compete with the 3DS or mobile devices, though. I'm disappointed that Sony has abandoned the platform as a home for its major franchises.

Sony has struck a pair of deals with Disney. The first sees Infinity Marvel Super Heroes' Hulk exclusive to PlayStation. This is first platform exclusive we've seen for a toy-based game. I'm not a fan of the practice when it comes to toys that are supposedly platform agnostic.

On the plus side of the arrangement, Double Fine is revamping Grim Fandango for PlayStation platforms. This fantastic adventure title is in desperate need of a new audience, and it will finally get one.

Sony's decision to include entertainment in its presentation was baffling. As much as I like Brian Michael Bendis' work and as excited as I am to see Powers, an E3 stage is the wrong venue. It's almost impossible to make talking about a television show alongside concept art interesting (even if PlayStation Plus members will get to see the whole series for free).

Sony is putting faith in the summer months. The Last of Us has a release date. We'll be playing the updated PlayStation 4 version in late July. It will also be getting a cross-over with another summer title. The PlayStation versions of Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition will feature new clicker and bloater enemies.

Sony is also dropping some Fetch-focused Infamous: Second Son DLC this summer. There are lots of reasons to stay in the air conditioning and play.

What we didn't see

Some of the Destiny trailer. Sony's livestream production leaves a lot to be be desired, as the director kept cutting away from trailers to give us shots of the audience watching. I imagine those that carted off to a theatre to see this press conference were especially frustrated as it began.

Where was Quantic Dream? Last year, David Cage whipped up the "old man" demo. This year, he, his emotions, and his old man were nowhere to be found. Is it time to issue a silver alert?

Sony might have forgotten about a major exclusive coming later this year. Driveclub must have been caught in LA traffic. It was nowhere to be found during the press conference.

Under normal circumstances, The Last Guardian wouldn't make this list. We would have given up by now. However, Sony recently was forced to reaffirm that the title is not canceled. It also wasn't at the press conference, making us wonder if Duke Nukem is the new protagonist of the Team Ico title.

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