If there was a running theme in this year’s Sony E3 press conference, it’s the revival of many games and franchises once considered dead. Sony led with The Last Guardian, launched a Shenmue III Kickstarter for $2 million that’s raised more than $600,000 in under an hour, and revealed a remake of Final Fantasy VII. A TRUE remake. The internet practically broke at that news.
Unlike the other recaps I’ve covered (Bethesda and Electronic Arts) this year, I will give due credit to the announcements of Shenmue III and the Final Fantasy VII Remake despite neither one of them showing gameplay footage. They are the purest of announcements, and titles we didn’t see coming a mile away (Mass Effect: Andromeda, I’m looking at you).
There were so many titles, and unlike some other press conferences, Sony pretty much stuck to the games. There was a lot to write about and so very little time, but I did my best! So without further delay, let’s get to the highlights!
I’m Not Dead Yet
The Last Guardian led the pack, letting us know the game isn’t dead yet and also showing us some of the incredible gameplay. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, and the puzzle mechanics are fascinating. What struck me most of all was how much emotion they put into the creature companion. It felt and sounded like a puppy, and I really wanted to protect it just watching the game. They made the animations just right for it, and I can’t wait to see more of the game and where it goes.
Very few believed it would actually happen, yet here it is. Final Fantasy VII is getting a true remake. It’s not a port, it’s not a remaster, it’s a full remake and just those cutscenes look GORGEOUS. I would be especially happy if they re-worked the plot a little and made this feel more like an original game with ties to the previous vs. a direct story and combat system recreation. Right now details are sparse, but Square Enix does have a presser tomorrow, so I’m crossing my fingers for more details.
Back from the dead is the Shenmue series! The original creator returned to announce the Kickstarter for Shenmue III, a game I think very few people actually expected to see. There isn’t much here to see in terms of gameplay, but there’s definitely a lot of motivation. They also launched the Kickstarter project on stage, and I noticed a definite slowdown on the Kickstarter site right after the announcement. In fact, between the time it took me to write that opening paragraph and the time it took me to write this paragraph, the Kickstarter project raised an additional $200k+, sitting at a comfortable $840,000. This is a gravy train that won’t stop!
I know, I know, it’s a little tongue in cheek to include Destiny in this section, but the whole presentation felt like a reminder that Destiny does have a very active community still, despite many complaints when the game first came out. They’re also constantly releasing new content and it looks like they are doing a better job of making a more coherent story in the game.
I’m only including Batman: Arkham Knight because I feel like watching The Joker get cremated means he’s not dead yet. There’s no way he’s dead yet. It HAS to be a red herring. We’ll all find out in a week, but I am putting my money on seeing The Joker return. Also, that opening scene looks creepy as all hell and I love it.
The Hype Being Born
One of the coolest new IPs featured tonight was Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s a super post-apocalyptic future with robot dinosaurs essentially roaming the lands. You hunt and kill them, and the whole thing somehow reminded me of a high tech Monster Hunter. I’m INCREDIBLY interested in this title and I want more. Essentially it’s cavemen vs. robots, and I couldn’t be happier.
No Man’s Sky also gave us a tech demo, and the gameplay looks super satisfying. His gimmick of choosing a star and planet at random to explore worked really well, in my opinion, and really showed some of the cool ideas behind the project. It looks like it is absolutely going to be a massive sandbox title in the best of ways, and that’s just how I want it. Earn money by exploring and making new discoveries, and fight the inhabitants and sentinels guarding the planets.
World of Final Fantasy premiered at this press conference, and it looks like the cutest goddamn thing ever to come out of the franchise. It is specifically designed to be that adorable as well while calling back to many of the previous titles in the franchise. This thing is going to melt my heart despite it not being any Final Fantasy XV footage. Wait… where was that footage? They didn’t show any tonight? Square Enix… you gave me a 7 remake, you gave us this… but you had BETTER not forget about XV. I’m watching you tomorrow…
I Wish it Was Dead
Oh god, Call of Duty: Black Ops III. I understand it’s a big title and it’s going to sell a crazy amount of copies, but I just can’t get into the franchise anymore. I’m sorry, everyone. They showed a lot of gameplay, but I’m tapping out on this one. I just can’t work up the enthusiasm. Watch the trailer if you want.
It’s 11:30PM and I Can’t Think Up a Section Title
I’m tired, alright? Give me a break. Anyway, Devolver Digital, an indie publisher showed a lot of titles coming to the PS4 and Vita, and they look pretty cool. I’m always a supporter of indies, so I’m glad to see so many publishers taking the time to give these titles some love. We also saw a new title called Dreams which looks like a studio we can create our own games and/or videos in using the PlayStation 4.
One announcement that surprised the hell out of me was PlayStation View: a TV service where you can subscribe to channels a la carte. It’s certainly a novel idea, and one I think many people will embrace provided it’s priced properly. That’s going to be Sony’s big problem as they have shown they tend to have problems nailing down the proper price point on these kinds of offerings.
Other titles mentioned, but I don’t have enough space to write full blurbs for are Hitman, Street Fighter V, Firewatch, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Project Morpheus, and Uncharted 4. I’ve linked the trailers to you all, so feel free to check them out. In that list, Firewatch is the only real big surprise, and I would highly recommend checking out that trailer.
While Microsoft surprised us with the backwards compatibility announcement, Sony nailed their conference with a tour de force of titles many of us were clamoring for, and some we didn’t even know we wanted. The announcement of their a la carte TV service was especially impressive and attention grabbing, in my opinion. Sony succeeded mostly by sticking to the games and pretty much just the games without celebrities or mascots or crude jokes or silly fluff. I’m unwilling to say who I think won E3 until I’ve seen Nintendo’s press materials, but I will say I am super happy with most of the press conferences of E3 this year. One final note: In the time it took me to finish this entire article, the Shenmue III Kickstarter surpassed $1,000,000. Holy crap.