While Microsoft rested on big-budget titles such as Tomb Raider, Quantum Break and Halo for its press conference at the Gamescom 2014 show in Cologne, Germany, Sony's PlayStation showcase today (Aug. 12) was all about the little guys.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO Jim Ryan told attendees to "enjoy some games that are just a little bit different," and he meant it. More than a dozen quirky indies were shown off, many of which are launching first or exclusively on the PS4.
We didn't learn anything new about upcoming Sony games such as Uncharted 4 and The Order: 1886, but there was still some triple-A action to be enjoyed in the form of new trailers for Bloodborne, Destiny and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Sony announced some key system updates in the pipeline, and even debuted a few new pieces of intellectual property.
There's plenty more to get excited about, so here are our highlights.
The Tomorrow Children
Among the indie highlights at Gamescom was The Tomorrow Children, a game that tasks you with rebuilding the world after a massive Russian experiment on the human race goes terribly wrong. You'll mine for resources, craft weapons and vehicles, rebuild towns and topple enemies, all within a gripping animated aesthetic that brings Pixar films to mind.
From the creator of indie platforming hit Thomas Was Alone comes Volume, a vibrant stealth game that looks like what would happen if Metal Gear Solid was crafted by art students. The game's story is a futuristic re-imagining of the classic Robin Hood tale, and the gameplay consists of bending the visually striking environments to your will as you sneak past guards.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Ready for something eerie? The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an occult detective game that has you investigate a young boy's disappearance following a brutal murder. Inspired by early 20th century macabre stories, this strange adventure promises to spook players without relying on violence.
Bloodborne: First Gameplay Footage
We saw From Software's Bloodborne debut at E3 2014, but all we had to hold us over was a tantalizing teaser trailer. Fortunately, Sony debuted some gameplay footage of the gorgeously gothic action-RPG, which features a mix of blade and gun combat and culminates in the player character about to get swallowed up by a hulking, werewolf-esque beast. Dark Souls fans will feel right at home.
Destiny: New Multiplayer Details
With exactly one month left until Destiny hits store shelves, Bungie took to Sony's Gamescom stage to divulge the game's full lineup of competive multiplayer modes. Skirmish consists of small team battles, while Clash mode promises all-out team warfare. Rumble looks like a straight-up free-for-all, while those who like having objectives to accomplish can opt for Salvage and Control modes. Combined Arms looks like the most action-packed mode of the bunch, offering a mix of on-foot and vehicular combat that should make Halo veterans feel right at home. Is it September yet?
Until Dawn looks like a horror movie digitized for the PS4, and it even has the real-life actors to boot. This spooky survival game features realistically rendered versions of star actors such as Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) and Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and though it was once slated for PS3, the game has been completely rebuilt for next-gen to deliver as realistic and terrifying an experience as possible.
Sony also took a moment to talk about the PS4's next major software update, which will add a pretty game-changing feature in the form of Share Play. Described by Sony as a "virtual couch" experience, Share Play enables you to give a friend control of your game or have them join you for co-op, even if that player doesn't have the game themselves. The feature requires PlayStation Plus and will launch as part of the PS4's version 2.00 software update, which hits this fall.
The Best of the Rest
There was plenty else on display at Sony's Gamescom 2014 show, including a PS4 port of PS Vita hit Tearaway and a hilariously bizarre Metal Gear Solid V gameplay demo that showed some interesting uses of a cardboard box.
We learned that Sony's PlayStation Now is coming to Europe, but there still isn't any word of updated price points or when to expect the program on non-PS4 platforms. Fans expecting more of games like Uncharted 4 or The Order: 1886 may have been left in the dust, but we expect to see plenty more PlayStation-related announcements during PAX Prime, which kicks off late this month in Seattle.
Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. When he's not writing about games, PCs and iOS, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+