PlayStation Experience Signals Bright Future For Sony

The Game Awards started the weekend off hot with a killer show on Friday night, while Sony rocked it on Saturday with PSX. The PlayStation Experience paid homage to not only the PlayStation’s first codename, but also 20 years of history. One of the biggest franchises over the past decade has been Uncharted, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End started things off. We’ve known the game was coming, but we got our first glimpse of it in action. While it is more of the same, when that means you’ll be getting another industry-leading graphical showcase alongside what should be a compelling story and fun combat with both melee and gunplay, it’s not a bad thing. Nathan’s brother was introduced, so we got a fantastic hook for the future as there will definitely be folks dissecting future trailers involving him for possible plot spoilers.

Bloodborne following it showed that PSX wasn’t all about Sony, but instead celebrating how they’ve embraced third parties as a major part of their consoles. Peter Moore announced three free games for the duration of PSX – one for each platform, with the PS4 getting the fairly new Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Vita owners getting Need for Speed: Most Wanted and PS3 owners getting Mirror’s Edge. Unlike PS+ games, these are completely free forever, and should have done some good to help smooth over some rough edges caused by the Xbox One-exclusive EA Access program. Nine-month exclusive content with Destiny furthered the notion that Sony is serious about third parties, as did Capcom’s big news. Beyond Ultra Street Fighter IV coming to PS4, Sony’s latest platform will be the only platform Street Fighter V appears on. Now, while a lifetime exclusive on this is indeed big news on the surface, it does require a deeper look. A surface-level look with a magnifying glass thanks to Ultra makes us wonder if this exclusivity covers “Street Fighter V” or “Street Fighter V and all derivatives” because there’s a big difference. If it’s console-exclusive until the next version of the game, then that takes some wind out of the sails of the announcement. However, that would probably be two years away, so practically-speaking, even if it does just cover SFV, it should be fine since most people are going to stick with one console family for a franchise barring a huge deal or a game being made free via a premium subscription service.

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Killing Floor 2 and Orcs Must Die! Unchained gave smaller games a showcase, while the indie mega-hit Shovel Knight was announced as not only coming to the Vita, PS3, and PS4, but with Kratos in tow as a boss. Hopefully, this means we get something like  The Spades of Fate as a weapon for beating him, because it looks like he’ll be a tough boss and a far cry from things like an evil hot shop owner. His placement in the world is going to be interesting since the core game world just feels so perfect, but it’s easy to imagine a new little sub-area being thrown in like the Hall of Heroes where it’s slightly off the beaten path. We went from a Shovel Knight to the Dark Knight with the reveal of the Scarecrow-themed PS4-exclusive DLC, and seeing a Godzilla-sized version of Scarecrow going through Gotham sold me on the PS4 exclusive content being worth a purchase of that version – although hopefully for fairness’s sake, it also hits the Xbox One and PC.

History was revered with the reveal of Final Fantasy VII coming to the PS4 and  Suikoden I and II coming to PSN and playable on the PS3 and Vita on December 9. Vita owners will also get Towerfall Ascension, while action-platforming fans will also be able to enjoy Super Time Force Ultra on the PS4. New content includes Shohei Yoshida as a playable character who attacks with the power of Tweets. Third-parties got more love with the nice trailer of Grim Fandango Remastered, while first-party content was bolstered too. New trailers for Tearaway Unfolded alongside the debuting Fat Princess Adventures showed that the PS4 has a big 2015 ahead of it. the PS3 isn’t going to be shut out either, with the release of Yakuza 5 as part of Sony’s Third Party Productions group.

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This arm of Sony’s publishing side takes third party IPs and brings them to Sony’s platforms. They started with Borderlands 2, but have been a bit quiet since then. Yakuza 5 was a release that people were dying for and it bears a bit of a resemblance to Shenmue II on the Dreamcast. While that platform was expected to go out with a blaze of glory with that game in North America, it was cancelled and moved to the original Xbox. It seemed like a similar fate might befall Yakuza, which would be a real shame since that series continues Shenmue’s gameplay style to some degree and retains its men in suits and black cars, but with a far more mature storyline. New No Man’s Sky footage was shown off, and that is definitely going to be a showcase title for the PS4.

It may not have seemed like it in real-time, but with just a little bit of hindsight, it’s clear that this was one of the biggest weekends the game industry has had in ages. It started with something showing the power of the press in The Game Awards being a one-man crusade, continued with PSX shining a light on a bright 2015, and then ended with the passing of Ralph Baer. Every big event that happened this weekend, and every major release that touts being bigger than a movie has him to thank, and hopefully a tribute is paid to him by every major system manufacturer at a minimum.