Sony’s been on a roll. There’s no other way to put it. PlayStation 4’s reveal at the PlayStation Meeting in February, while with flaws, was a sight better than Xbox One’s reveal in May. This was followed up by a fantastic, knockout press conference at E3. Could Sony keep up the momentum considering the now near-level playing field Xbox One had achieved pre-show with the removal of an always-on Kinect and yesterday’s announcement it was to bundle FIFA 14 as a digital download for Day One Editions in Europe, especially when mainland Europe was Sony territory?
In a word: yes. Massively, in fact. Sony’s WWS president Shuhei Yoshida kicked things off with a demo of PS4’s UI, which was fine, but to then share a screenshot with message on tow as a tweet from the stage onto Twitter seamlessly was more impressive.
From there, PS3 was to properly kick things off with Gran Turismo 6 and a trailer that had the worst soundtrack in the world, but ended with a December 6 date for the Polyphony racer. In what has been the strongest year ever for PS3 – and this is before the likes of Beyond: Two Souls, Rain and various other first and third-party games have release (including GTA V, which was detailed last night in part thanks to numerous exclusive deals) – it’ll be on GT6 to help round off a brilliant period for the system. LittleBigPlanet Hub was also announced as a F2P effort, though no date was given.
PlayStation Vita got a bigger blowout than most expected from the conference, announcing Football Manager 2014 and Borderlands 2 – a game mentioned as a possibility at Rezzed last year for the system – as well as Fez, Velocity X2 and Starbound. The addition of two new WWS titles Murasaki Baby (from the creative director of Shadows of the Damned) and BigFeast, a game where you manage your own music festival. Add in the mix of five new titles from indies for the system – Rogue Legacy, Binding of Issac Rebirth, Mike Bithell’s Volume, Vlambeer’s Wasteland Kings and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (all announced alongside their PS4 counterparts along with N++ and Guns of Icarus for PS4) – and a long, long overdue price-cut, buying a Vita looks a better looking prospect than it was this time yesterday.
PS4 wasn’t getting off lightly with the new game love: The Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture looked utterly interesting with its debut, while Tequila’s Rime looked absolutely stunning: a mesh of Journey, Ico and Zelda: Wind Waker. But there was more in the form of Helldivers (Arrowhead), Resogun (Housemarque) and a reboot of Amiga IP Shadow of the Beast (Heavy Spectrum)
The roll of announcements didn’t stop: 20 new content providers in Europe coming to PS4, Music Unlimited from day one and Twitch, having previously thought to be an Xbox One exclusive service, will also be coming to PS4.
Back on the games side and third-party, Assassin’s Creed IV got a new look-in, featuring no crashing compared to E3, which must have been a relief to Ubisoft. Even more impressive was how it was being played on Remote Play on Vita. Add in that nearly all PS4 games can be played via Remote Play was massive. Minecraft was also announced for PS3, PS4 and Vita; while Gaijin Games F2P MMO WWII shooter War Thunder closed the games portion of the show, if albeit, it should have been Minecraft.
SCE group CEO Andy House spiced things up at the end by giving such a blatant dig at Microsoft and its Xbox One policy shifts, it could be seen from space, and to announce PS4’s release of November 15 in North America and November 29 in Europe, adding 32 countries would be getting the system at launch, and that 1 million units had already been preordered. Add into the mix Vita’s new price-cut and PS3’s €199/$199 reduction – albeit for the 12Gb flash unit – the ability to upgrade from a third-party PS3 game to a digital PS4 version at a massive reduced price (Activision announced this morning it’d offer the PS4 digital version of Call of Duty: Ghosts for £10 if you upgrade from the PS3 version) and Sony clinched it.
Despite a renewed presence from Microsoft and the addition of two of the world’s biggest franchises, Sony still delivered a terrific performance that deserves plenty of accolades than it does critics. Having gained the Triple Crown (a better console reveal, June’s E3 press conference and last night’s gamescom press conference), the onus is now on them to deliver the grand slam with their September 9 press conference for Japan, just announced this morning, and Tokyo Game Show presence.
But for now, Sony still remains the big next-gen favourite. On last night’s evidence, for good reason.