But Layden debuts with a wimper.
Cullen Plays LIVE stream:
- Mike Bithell (Developer, Thomas Was Alone & Volume)
- Ben Jones (Producer, OMUK)
- Tim Bowers (Tech Editor, So So Gay)
Alright, lets get the elephant in the room out of the way first.
Despite comments it was still in development, we didn’t get The Last Guardian. And to be fair, going under the assumption it could have somehow had something ready to be shown, it was an open goal for Sony after the cancelation report early Sunday morning UK time. Even just acknowledging it and saying it’s now a PS4 game would have done it. It was the golden opportunity to end all golden opportunities in terms of PR. Sadly, Sony didn’t take it.
But even then, Sony had another E3 press conference to remember, albeit not as infamous as the one last year. And it nearly ended up collapsing upon itself after the hard work of the conference’s first act which seen impressive debuts of LittleBigPlanet 3, Miyazaki and From Software’s Bloodborne (aka Project Beast), Entwined plus impressive showings of Destiny, Far Cry 4 and The Order 1886.
It was in the show’s second act we saw new SCEA president and CEO Shawn Layden introduced – the show up to that point and its final 40 minutes were hosted mainly by SCE boss Andy House – to announce non-software stuff like PlayStation TV (the western name for the mini-console previously known as PS Vita TV), PlayStation Now’s US and Canadian launch statistics not many people cared about.
Not to mention, he didn’t have that kind of bumbling yet somewhat slightly intimidating character about him that Jack Tretton had. He just seemed somewhat out of place. Then again, at his first presenting gig at E3 2007, Tretton was the same. As each year grew on, his character and confidence grew up to the point we saw him deliver that KO punch to Microsoft last year. As deary and boring as he was this year, give Layden some time. We saw how Tretton had become such a presence after given the time he needed.
That said, it’s also a bit weird to only see him host a portion of the show rather than most of it and leave it to the head of SCE itself to do the main hosting gig. I was there at Sony’s gamescom press conference in 2011 when House was about to leave Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to become SCE head, but he only introduced the start of the show and came back out at the end to announce a PS3 price-cut with the remainder of the show left to new SCEE boss at the time Jim Ryan. But I digress.
In fairness to Layden, it wasn’t all his fault: there was the entertainment segment where Sony detailed part of its original programming content, with the first program Powers detailed. Co-creator Brian Michael Bendis stepped out on stage to give a very boring presentation on the original graphic novel and the show. That was, sadly, a massive negative point on what had been up until then a very games heavy day with EA, Ubisoft and Microsoft being all about the games, nothing else.
So how the hell did Sony manage to salvage it and have the best press conference of the lot?
Simple: a decent ratio of diversity in its line-up comprising of a perfect mix of AAA and indies (latter more so than Microsoft) that also sprang a bigger share of surprises than its three compatriots before them shared. Not to mention most of the lineup had incredibly strong showings.
As disappointing as it was to have it burst before the show as it would have been one hell of a surprise, Bloodborne looked stupidly promising; LittleBigPlanet 3 was still charming as fook (even if Media Molecule isn’t handling this one); Entwined looked cool (and released same day); new standalone inFamous: Second Son prequel inbound this autumn; awesome trailers for Destiny, Dead Island 2, The Last of Us Remastered (albeit, very spoilerific) and Magicka II to name a few; a massive indie blowout on the part of Devolver Digital; cool announcements like a retold origins Ratchet & Clank game for PS4 and PSTV for the west, and big surprises like Grim Fandango; letting your friends play Far Cry 4 without having to own the game, Grand Theft Auto V’s current-gen announcement and an absolutely amazing Batman: Arkham Knight demo that was bookended by Scarecrow.
But there were two games that just about got Sony across the line first before anyone else. The first came at the end of the press conference when we finally got our first proper look at the next Uncharted, A Thief’s End. And with Sully ominously talking about going for it “one last time”, either someone’s going to die in this game or, the more likely scenario, this is going to be the last Uncharted game. Or possibly both. We’ll find out when the game’s out next year. Needless to say, with Druckmann and Straley now leading, the hype just went up tenfold.
And yet, it tells you a lot about the potential of how special No Man’s Sky could be that it was the best game Sony showed all night, more so than the next game from Naughty Dog with development led by two of the men behind one of the greatest games of all time. You just have to wonder how the actual fuck an eight-person team has the scope and scale to do something like it’s doing with No Man’s Sky.
To compare, 500 people – give or take – are working on Destiny right now at Bungie. Only eight people at Hello Games are creating this. And as much as I’m looking forward to Destiny – as of writing this, I am at the same time looking at my inbox to play the alpha beta of my most anticipated game this year – that is just incredibly impressive.
And anyone that has Sean Murray bashful in front of a audience of a good 2-3,000 people within a sports arena, along with millions watching online, gets bonus points. An extra point or two for having him being, to my recollection, the first Irishman on Sony’s E3 stage (Murray is a Tipperary man if my memory is correct).
So no, Sony was not perfect. That one segment in the middle of the conference really dragged things along, but the first and third acts really hit the ground running with great stuff and great demos with great
Also, NO MAN’S SKY. COME ON!
Game of the Conference: No Man’s Sky (Special Mentions: Uncharted 4, Batman: Arkham Knight, LittleBigPlanet 3, BloodBorne, Far Cry 4)