LOS ANGELES – As the last of the major E3 press conferences, Sony had a number of tough acts to follow. The Japanese developer and publisher brought its A-game, however, highlighting a diverse range of fan favorites, new franchises and indie delights. Sony did not promise many groundbreaking features, but it arguably showed off the strongest lineup of games at E3 2015 so far.
The Last Guardian
Sony has been teasing The Last Guardian since 2009, and although many fans assumed the game had disappeared forever, it may finally come in 2016. The Last Guardian comes from the same team as platfomer-puzzlers Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and retains the same quiet, dreamlike quality as the first two games. It's about a boy and his gigantic gryphon, and how they help each other through an empty, crumbling castle. The game appears to combine precise gameplay and emotional resonance, and will debut on the PS4 next year.
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Final Fantasy VII Remake
Rumors about a Final Fantasy VII remake have been flying ever since Sony released the PS2, but it looks like now, 15 years later, fans will finally get their wish. Square Enix will completely remake its hallmark role-playing game, complete with top-of-the-line PS4 graphics and voice acting. Many fans are already heralding this as a dream come true, but time will tell whether that's just the nostalgia talking.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Colorful games are rare, new franchises are rare and female protagonists are rare. What do you get when you combine all three? Horizon: Zero Dawn, apparently. This open-world action title tells the story of a race of human survivors who must do battle with a race of hostile, animal-like robots after a crisis on Earth stopped the production of electricity. Sony showed off the game's heroine, a capable archer, taking down robots many times her size with all sorts of trick arrows, from exploding ones to ones that contain binding ropes. The game has no set release date, but will be PS4-exclusive.
Sony's E3 press conference saw the debut of a new Hitman trailer. Fans of the series know the franchise well for its over-the-top violence, open-ended gameplay and memorable lead character, Agent 47. While it's not clear exactly how this new game will fit into the series, the game will definitely make its way to the PS4, and have six Sony-exclusive contract missions. Players who want to get in on the beta will also need the PS4 version to do so
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter is one of the most iconic fighting game series on the market today, and Sony scored a major victory when it secured PS4 console exclusivity for the title (it will also come to PC). A trailer showed off combatants Cammy, M. Bison and Birdie locked in fierce, fast-paced battles, and seems sure to please anyone looking for a competitive fighter. A beta for the game will begin exclusively on PS4 July 23 for those who pre-order.
No Man's Sky
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." With these words from the late Carl Sagan, indie darling No Man's Sky returned to E3. The game debuted at E3 2014, and promised an endless open universe where players could explore innumerable worlds and engage in space combat. The game looks much the same as it did then, but its creator walked attendees through a test scenario of how players can discover new worlds, claim them as their own, and find new species and resources in exchange for credits.
I'm not sure what Dreams is – and if Twitter is any indication, neither is the rest of the Internet. This set of tools is arguably not a game, as there do not appear to be any win or loss conditions. It is, however, a fascinating set of tools, which lets players create dreamlike characters, objects and landscapes in a world that looks like a moving painting. They can then share these "dreams" with each other and make them as exciting, eerie and surrealistic as the dreams in our actual subconscious.
You don't need combat to create a tense, exciting game – smart dialogue and an interesting setup are often enough. Firewatch casts the player as a park ranger in a colorful, slightly cartoonish world, but make no mistake: this murder mystery in the Wisconsin woods is far from child's play. Part thriller, part horror story and part adventure game, Firewatch looks like a unique installment in Sony's upcoming lineup.
Destiny: The Taken King
At this point, Destiny hardly needs any introduction. The popular first-person shooter from Bungie (the developer that pioneered the Halo series) has seen two expansions already, and the game is by no means ready to stop. Destiny: The Taken King will add new weapons, new missions and new ways to cooperate with other players, all while spinning a story filled with revenge, intrigue and all the other elements that go into a quality space opera. The Taken King hits Sept. 15, and new fans can pick up a Legendary Edition of Destiny that includes the core game, its first two expansions and the new Taken King content.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
We've already seen a lot of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, but Sony's press conference highlighted a big part of the game that hasn't made a lot of waves just yet. Sony's trailer focused on Evie Frye, protagonist Jacob's older sister. Players will control Evie at various points during the stories, and taking control of her looks like a ton of fun. Evie is skilled with a hidden blade, a sword cane and throwing knives, making her both versatile and deadly.
World of Final Fantasy
Remember when Final Fantasy was cute and upbeat rather than dark and brooding? Square Enix wants to remind you of that time with World of Final Fantasy on the PS4 and Vita. This role-playing game stars two siblings who connect with past Final Fantasy heroes and monsters on a globetrotting journey. The characters vacillate between super-cute, tiny versions of themselves and ones with more realistic proportions, although it's not clear how this will affect gameplay yet.
Devolver Digital and its foul-mouthed fictional CEO Fork Parker can't stop making waves in the indie scene. With hits like Hotline Miami and The Talos Principle under its belt, Devolver has set its sights to the future. Action titles like Ronin, Eitr, Mother Russia Bleeds and Crossing Souls will make their way to the PS4 and Vita, and their offbeat premises will come right along with them. Between action titles, fantasy games, brawlers and vehicular combat sims, Devolver Digital has something for – well, maybe not everyone, but everyone who's looking for something a little off the beaten path.
It's been 14 years since the last Shenmue game, but that didn't stop Sony from bringing its creator up onstage and discussing the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter. If the fans really want the open-world role-playing series to continue, they just need to raise $2,000,000 for it. Easy enough, as the campaign is skyrocketing there overnight. As it hits its stretch goals, Shenmue 3 will gain translations in other languages.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight is only a few days away, but Sony wanted to remind gamers that it's coming, and that it's taking the Caped Crusader in a much darker direction than the previous three games. The death of the Joker tempered the crime wave in Gotham City, but as one police officer learned in a gameplay demo, that did little to stop the Scarecrow from introducing a new fear gas, as some PlayStation-exclusive missions will explore.
Call of Duty Black Ops III
Another year brings another Call of Duty, and this year, it's Black Ops III. This game takes place in 2065, and lets players fight against giant mechs, take control of deadly robots, destroy environments and, of course, play with a huge variety of ranged weapons. Developer Treyarch showed off trailers for both the single- and multiplayer experiences, and while it's not clear exactly what the game's central narrative is yet, it looks fairly futuristic and not entirely optimistic about said future.
Disney Infinity 3.0 and Star Wars Battlefront
Every company that produces kids' games seems required by law to have a toy tie-in, and Disney Infinity 3.0 will now take its plastic plugins to a galaxy far, far away. A Star Wars PS4 starter pack for Disney Infinity 3.0 will feature both Twilight of the Republic and Rise Against the Empire adventures. The former deals with the prequel trilogy, whereas the latter might help parents introduce the original movies to their kids (and will also be available to PS4 owners a month before those who play on other systems).
Electronic Arts showed off Star Wars Battlefront, the competitive first person shooter about George Lucas's beloved space fantasy trilogy, a few hours before the Sony press conference, and not much changed in the interim. Star Wars Battlefront will make its way to PS4 (as well as the Xbox One and PC), and bring large-scale sci-fi battles with laser blasters, lightsabers, X-Wings and TIE Fighters with it.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Life is exciting for Nathan Drake. He's a treasure hunter, a brawler, a gunfighter, an explorer and a wisecracker, all rolled into one charming person. Drake stars in the Uncharted series, which seems to be the cultural heir to Indiana Jones, and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End will tell the next chapter in Drake's story. During a gameplay demo, Nathan Drake hid behind destructible cover for gunfights, launched himself at enemies from high vantage points and drove a land rover in a high-speed chase, all on the historical trail of notorious pirate Henry Every.
Morpheus and PlayStation Vue
Sony's answer to the Oculus Rift is its Morpheus headset, which will work with PS4 systems. Of course, a virtual reality headset is only as good as the games it supports, which is why Morpheus will work with at least a dozen games right out of the gate. Space sim EVE Valkyrie, competitive shooter RIGS Mechanized Combat League and horror title The Deep will all get Morpheus support, which should help players feel closer to the action than ever.
PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to cable TV. Vue allows viewers to buy small packages of cable channels that stream over the Internet for much less than a traditional cable subscription. As of tonight, the service is available in San Francisco and Los Angeles in addition to New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Come July, it will be all over the United States, and begin offering a-la-carte channels, including Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, and Machinima.
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