This year’s PlayStation Experience was one of the worst live shows I have ever seen.
I really mean it, too. Over 1 hour and 45 minutes, Sony took the stage to show us a whole lot of nothing. A grand total of 12 of those minutes were spent on something remotely interesting- 12 whole minutes of interesting content. The shortest Nintendo Direct is longer than that. Of all the on stage colossal screw ups I can think of in recent memory, this is it. It’s obviously not Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal level bad, but that was different, that bungled the launch of an entire platform. On the other hand, I would say this easily ranks up with EA’s last few E3 shows, Nintendo’s E3 2008, or Sony’s own E3 2006. In the entire 108 minute runtime of this nonsense, I can think of 12 redeeming minutes.
Let me get those 12 redeeming minutes out of the way, first- I really liked the new footage of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It is probably the most excited any footage for Uncharted has made me yet. The game looks gorgeous, and while I understand that the dialog choices there are essentially pointless, and just provide an illusion of player choice, I appreciated their inclusion nonetheless. Then there was the debut footage of the Final Fantasy VII remake. Let me be the first to say that I am a little disappointed that they didn’t stick with turn based battles, but even that can’t dampen my excitement at just how amazing the remake really looks. It also looks like it is really far along in development, which for a game that allegedly didn’t even begin production until this E3, is impressive to see- especially considering this is a Square Enix title.
"The rest of the 101 minutes that followed were pure, utter tripe, except for the five minutes that we saw of the new Ratchet and Clank game (which looks amazing- as a fan of the series, I am so excited to get this game), as well as the two minutes spent debuting Ni no Kuni 2- which, in spite of my reservations regarding the first game, I can’t help but be hyped for."
The show started with those two games. ‘Just think, if we started with that, how packed the rest of this show will be,’ Sony’s Adam Boyes gloated on the stage. If only.
The rest of the 101 minutes that followed were pure, utter tripe, except for the five minutes that we saw of the new Ratchet and Clank game (which looks amazing- as a fan of the series, I am so excited to get this game), as well as the two minutes spent debuting Ni no Kuni 2- which, in spite of my reservations regarding the first game, I can’t help but be hyped for. It’s a big budget console exclusive JRPG from a developer with known development chops, and if Level-5 take the feedback from the first game into account, this is sure to be at least an above average game.
For the rest of the show, Sony attempted to murder all the goodwill they have managed to amass over the last two and a half years.
The entire show was a demonstration of something people always warn against- quantity over quality. Sony positively stuffed the show with games and announcements, except none of them amounted to anything. Nobody cared. The fact that Uncharted 4 and Final Fantasy VII were followed up by an excruciating segment on online competitions in Call of Duty and Street Fighter V. Which would have been fine, but Sony went on to spend over ten minutes on this nonsense. They spent nearly five minutes showing off a racing game mode in Destiny. They spent an inordinate amount of time on indie games. There were so many indie games.
"All of this is before we get to the PlayStation VR segment. Before this show started, I jokingly mentioned to a friend, ‘watch this be an hour of VR nonsense.’ I wish I hadn’t, because I have a feeling I jinxed it- this was an hour of VR nonsense. Sony spent the majority of the show on VR. They spent more time on VR than they did on any other thing"
Don’t get me wrong, indie games are great! One of my most anticipated games for next year, No Man’s Sky, is an indie game. The trouble is, no one buys a $400 console (or the $250 handheld that Sony actually mentioned by name eleven different times on stage today!) to play an indie game (especially since most of these will run on your computer- any computer, you don’t need a high end rig to run them). The other trouble is, Sony showed off a lot of them. Too many of them, and so many of them looked like the same fare we have been getting for the last few years. It was so hard to bring yourself to care for any of this- and let’s be honest, again, no one watches a stage show to see a never ending montage of indie games, no matter how fun the indie games are. There were some standouts for sure – Hob in particular looked great, as did Zodiac – but on the whole, this never ending stream of retro looking sidescrolling platformers is now getting tiring.
All of this is before we get to the PlayStation VR segment. Before this show started, I jokingly mentioned to a friend, ‘watch this be an hour of VR nonsense.’ I wish I hadn’t, because I have a feeling I jinxed it- this was an hour of VR nonsense. Sony spent the majority of the show on VR. They spent more time on VR than they did on any other thing.
In and of themselves, that is not a bad thing- VR is an upcoming medium, and it has the promise to change video games. But that was not evident in the way Sony showed it. PlayStation VR was on show tonight, and it came away with egg on its face. From bizarre tech demos, to games that looked like highly intense acid trips, to ‘games’ that looked like they would be fun for all of five minutes, to a game actually called ‘Job Simulator,’ Sony tonight might have done more harm to VR than anyone else have managed so far. Sony basically murdered VR on stage tonight.
"Even without the expectations, this would rank as Sony’s worst conference in a decade. They spent so much time talking, and managed to say absolutely nothing of value."
VR has promise for video games, if there are some actual, legitimately interesting experiences announced for it. So far, we have what seem to be highly unappealing, rough, and shallow tech demos for VR that look like they would be fun for all of five minutes before the gimmick wears off, or major games like Gran Turismo or Ace Combat 7 with tacked on VR features. I see absolutely no reason to actually invest in a headset right now- and certainly not the PlayStation VR.