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e3 2016

The Highs And Lows Of Sony's E3 2016 Press Conference

by Mike Futter on Jun 13, 2016 at 04:20 PM

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Here we are at the end of the beginning. It's been two days of press conferences, and we just wrapped up Sony's E3 2016 stage show.Tomorrow we transition from big news beats (and sweeping orchestras) to in-depth previews.

With Neo confirmed before the show even began and PlayStation VR a known quantity, we weren't quite sure what to expect. The Last Guardian release date? Crash Bandicoot's return? A surprise from Sucker Punch? 

Here are the big takeaways (both high and low) from Sony's presentation in Los Angeles.

HIGH: Two Brand New, Unannounced Games Open The Show

With a full, sweeping orchestra, Sony thundered into E3. Opening with a live demo of God of War set a powerful tone, especially as it seems that Kratos' – or someone who looks an awful lot like him – next adventure takes place in an open world.

Santa Monica Studio is changing the setting, and has found a way to create a slightly mellower hero. We don't know yet what brought him north, but showing him in the role as teacher and guardian is the kind of refocus the series needs.

The other new title, Days Gone, gave off a solid The Last of Us vibe. In fact, it wouldn't have surprised us at all were Sony Bend's name not at the trailer's start. Hopefully this deviates enough from Naughty Dog's post-societal setup. 

Leading with two new games was a smart move. Sony had a weak game showing in 2015, and while these two are both likely 2017 (or later), it's nice to know the drought will end.

HIGH: Resident Evil VII Isn't Just Coming Soon, It's Also A VR Game

Capcom and Sony surprised the heck out of everyone watching the PlayStation press conference. Not only is Resident Evil VII finally coming, but it's out in January.

A demo is available right now for anyone with PlayStation Plus, and the full game is going to be available as a PlayStation VR experience. This is the jolt Sony needed for its VR platform. Resident Evil is a known quantity and it showed well in first person at the conference.

It's unlikely RE7 is exclusive to PlayStation 4, but it had a darn good showing on Sony's stage.

HIGH: PlayStation VR Is Bolstered By Star Wars, Batman, and Final Fantasy

In addition to Resident Evil VII, Sony locked up two huge gets for PlayStation VR. Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission will put players in the cockpit of Star Wars' most iconic starship. 

Batman VR, developed by Rocksteady, puts players underneath the cowl. With Joker's haunting voice revealing the experience, we're not quite sure what to expect from this VR title, but we'll know soon. It's due out this October.

Finally, Square Enix is getting in the VR game. Players will be able to take the role of Prompto, one of Final Fantasy XV's characters. It's unclear how deep this experience is, but with Capcom, Warner Bros., and Square Enix all throwing in with Sony, the prospects for launch are looking up.

HIGH: A Relentless Flood Of Game Announcements, Many Of Which With Some Form Of Exclusivity

Sony brought its A-game to E3 this year. And while many of the trailers were for games coming further down the line, there is a lot to look forward to. God of War, Death Stranding, Days Gone, The Last Guardian (now with an actual release date), Farpoint, Detroit: Become Human, and a number of PSVR exclusives, all paint a rosy picture for Sony.

The press conference was all meat, with very little wasted time. Closing with a playable demo of Days Gone give us gameplay looks at a few new announcements.

And we can't forget Spider-Man. Is Marvel letting Sony lock this one up? And if so, for how long? Regardless, revealing it on stage ties the game (at least for a little while) to Sony's platform. The surprise after all the rumors is that it isn't Infamous developer Sucker Punch that's developing. In fact, it's Insomniac, which has become a multiplatform studio.

Update: We just found out that Sony has locked up exclusivity for Spider-Man.

LOW: PlayStation Neo Is A Giant Question Mark

Both Microsoft and Sony have effectively announced the death of the current generation. Console manufacturers believe we're ready for a mobile phone style ownership structure. The only way that works is with high value, platform holder-endorsed upgrade programs.

Both companies want software to make the transition from generation to generation, which is great news for gamers. However, shortening console refreshes to three or four years could become costly quickly. And if both companies are chasing 4K and VR specs, both major evolutions, will Microsoft and Sony both find reason to iterate so quickly? 

We didn't expect that new consoles would be coming so soon, but change is in the air. Whether it ends up bolstering the console market or crippling it is something we're eager to find out.