GAMESCOM 2014: Sony Conference Breakdown

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Tuesday, August 12, 2014

After performing what many felt to be a Mortal Kombat-esque execution of Microsoft at E3 2013, the tables have seemingly turned. At E3 2014, while the showings were more or less equal, I gave a very slight edge to Microsoft. Given the disappointing showing at E3, I was expecting Sony to come out swinging at Gamescom. Sadly, that wasn’t the case at all.

We started with a short montage of all the games we know about that will be coming out on the PlayStation systems – many fan favorites like Destiny, Batman: Arkham Knight and Little Big Planet 3 – were shown. Following that, Jim Ryan, President and CEO of SCEE, came out to take the stage. Leading us into the opening statement of the morning: the PlayStation 4 has officially sold ten million units. By that, we mean consumers have purchased ten million units, not that ten million units have been shipped to retailers with many of those being purchased.

The Tomorrow Children:

First up, we’ve got Dylan Cuthbert of Q Games, showing off their return to 3D gaming – The Tomorrow Children. A fascinating art style around a premise that the human race is trapped in a weird future, and their dreams are trapped. Creepy trailer, but can’t say I’m not excited to see more from this game.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter:

A gravely narration plays over a creepy camera pan from one portion of a graveyard to another. Very reminiscent of Murdered: Soul Suspect, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn’t tell you much, but it certainly leaves you wanting more.

Volume:

Up next we’ve got Volume, an old school stealth game based on Robin Hood. The game’s created by Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell. Bithell states it’ll be “coming first to PlayStation 4 and Vita”, which has become synonymous with timed exclusivity.

Hollowpoint:

Hollowpoint from Paradox Interactive is revealed next. Very similar to one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games ever – Shadow Complex. I almost thought it was Shadow Complex 2 at first. It’s a side scrolling shooter that also adds in elements of depth to the gameplay. The trailer was the epitome of teaser, but it definitely looks promising.

Runemaster:

Next up, also from Paradox Interactive, we’ve got Runemaster. For more information on both Runemaster and Hollowpoint, click HERE.

DayZ:

“There are no scripts, no cutscenes. You start on the beach with nothing and you can lose everything in seconds.” – Dean Hall from Bohemia Interactive, describing their insane zombie simulator DayZ. Mixing mass multiplayer, permanent death, persistence and freedom of choice makes DayZ one of the craziest games on the market. Hall announces the DayZ will be “coming first to PlayStation 4”.

HellBlade:

“If you stare into the abyss, the abyss will stare back at you.” From the creators of Heavenly Blade and Ninja Theory, HellBlade’s reveal trailer didn’t really show off much. But I still found myself oddly captivated by the trailer.

Rime:

This next one’s from a Sony studio Tequila Works. Rime is a cel-shaded game set around a beach and the beautiful vistas surrounding it. There’s definitely a WindWaker vibe to it. Rime, along with The Tomorrow Children, will also be PlayStation 4 exclusives.

Indie Montage:

Next we get a quick montage of a few indie games to expect on PlayStation platforms in the coming months and year, including: Snow, Dreamfall Chapters, Papers Please, Ether one, Nomnom Galaxy and more. Definitely some fun looking indie titles here. It also mentioned “first on PlayStation 4”. Timed exclusivity is definitely the popular trend now.

Destiny:

While it may not be an exclusive, Bungie’s follow up to the Xbox juggernaut Halo series has gone multiplatform. This time around, Bungie has decided to form a partnership with Sony, offering tons of exclusive content to PlayStation gamers first. Destiny launches four weeks from today (September 9th). After running down some of the statistics from the Destiny beta that concluded recently, it was announced that Destiny has become the most pre-ordered new IP in video game history. After a new multiplayer trailer showing off some brand new modes, they announced that PlayStation players will get a multiplayer map called Exodus Blue early, but the games first expansion – The Dark Below – will launch for all gamers in December. Also, if you did happen to partake in the beta, your character progress will not carry over.

Far Cry 4:

We had the chance to try out some of Far Cry 4 at E3, and we were definitely impressed. I was late to the party for 3, but I loved it once I finally got around to playing it. I’m excited to finally get my hands on Far Cry 4, but I still have the feeling it’s going to be delayed. While the trailer they showed off wasn’t too mind blowing, Sony showed off what PlayStation gamers can expect – the ability to invite friends who don’t own the game into yours to play with you, dubbed “The Keys to Kyrat”. While they won’t have access to the whole game, it will act as an extended demo, allowing friends to capture outposts and “create your own stories”. All of this is for up to two hours, but you will have ten keys to giveaway. Cool concept, but I still don’t see it executing well.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor:

This is easily one of my most anticipated games of the year. I’m still weary of a let down; but I’m in love with the features of the game. The idea of having so much power and influence is certainly compelling, especially while set in Middle Earth.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:

After Hideo Kojima explained it was his first time at Gamescom, we get one of the weirdest game trailers ever. I feel like it’s an awesome joke, but if not? Well, still awesome.

P.T.:

After showing off some Paranormal Activity-like night vision reactionary scare video, we’re told to go to the PlayStation store and try out P.T. Meh.

Multimedia:

The next portion of broadcast shows off Sony’s ventures into multimedia, from Share Play to Project Morpheus to PlayStation Now. With Share Play, your friends don’t need to own or have the game, so essentially what we described during Far Cry 4’s portion. Of course the feed to the conference died for everyone at this point, so some further details were inevitably lost in translation.

Next, Project Morpheus. An answer to Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus aims to bring virtual reality into the mainstream more. It still looks stupid.

PlayStation Now is announced for the European market, which looks to launch sometime in 2015.

PlayStation TV will allow remote play functionality via a second TV in your house. It’ll launch in Europe for 99E and will come with three free digital games.

Until Dawn:

It was announced a few years, but now its been completely re-done and will come out exclusively for PlayStation 4. “Everyone can survive, everyone can die. Every choice you make will define your individual path through this game as you take control of eight friends trying to survive a night from hell.” The graphics look phenomenal and the set up seems rather cliché given the normal plot for horror movies. While the conference teaser didn’t show off any true gameplay, a very small teaser of actual gameplay was shown postgame and it looked really cool.

Driveclub:

Driveclub wants to make it easy for “everyone to get in and have fun.” When your friends race and they’re in your club, you earn rewards as well. We’re okay with that. Graphically, the game looks stunning. They also speak quickly about DriveClub’s companion app, which allows you to follow your teammates and rivals. Driveclub will launch on October 8th.

Tearaway: Unfolded:

Media Molecule wants to bring the same story of Tearaway to PlayStation 4. The demonstration shows the PS4’s light bar shining into the world, lighting it up and letting things grow. Really cool. Finally, a use for the lightbar other than killing my controllers battery.

Wild:

Wine? Well, no, it’s apparently called Wild. It shows off this very intriguing world that seems to be set in a much more primitive time. We’re not really sure what we’re supposed to do, but those dogs are so damn cute!

Following the trailer for Wild, we get a few quick snippets that any CEO is supposed to utter, we get a “More games shared tonight than at any other Gamescom” And that’s it; a very, abrupt ending.

 

Final Opinions:

As expected, Sony focused a lot on indie games and unfortunately, a lot on their multimedia peripherals. Much like E3, they had a chance to really stick it to Microsoft again – especially given their systems sales – but their conference lacked any real WOW moments. While there were certainly some nice games announced – I’m especially excited for Until Dawn and Tearaway – all of their big games (excluding quick snippets of Little Big Planet 3) were multiplatform with, as I said, a good portion of their focus being on indie games. It was a bit disappointing to see no more information or content showed off for Uncharted 4 or The Order: 1886. We did see the latter post-show (sadly it was the same footage we saw at E3, but still), but unfortunately not during. One of the best announcements from Sony, in my eyes any way, was the that Journey, widely considered to be one of if not the best games of 2012, will be released on PlayStation 4. I never got to play it on PS3, so I’m excited to finally try it.

While some of their multimedia aspects seem great in theory (PlayStation Now and Share Play), we have serious reservations on how the final products will work, if at all. As I pointed out in my coverage of all the press conferences at E3, I have been amazed to see Sony take such a firm stance against Microsoft showing off multimedia features at E3 2013, while subsequently taking large chunks of their E3 and Gamescom 2014 conferences to show off these features. If they do end up panning out – which we hope they do – they could have a huge impact on the future of gaming. For now though, we’re going to remain a bit cynical.

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