Next generation hype has been a long time coming.
Proper hype for this next generation has been a long time coming, to be honest. I talked about this previously, but Sony’s event revealing PlayStation 5 games was their big chance to seize the mindshare for next generation conversation when all eyes are on them. And thankfully, they delivered in style yesterday. The PlayStation 5 event yesterday was easily the best show Sony has put out since 2016, with a relentless focus on games, and absolutely no filler. As for those games themselves, it helps that they look great, delivering on hype, and promising an exciting slate of software for Sony’s next generation console.
It was, all in all, a very good show. It was extremely well paced, we saw a ridiculous amount of games (I was actually keeping notes, but I lost track, because there were simply so many), and the content was spectacular too. Does this show demonstrate, as Jim Ryan promised, why this is the biggest generation leap yet? I don’t think it does. But in the end, I suppose that is an irrelevant point, because even if it’s a tiny generation leap, as long as it is backed by great games, people will come. And so, those games were the focus.
And they were great games, too. We saw Gran Turismo 7 (promising a full fledged campaign mode, for those of you who were letdown by Sport’s online focus), and it continued the tradition of a Gran Turismo game giving us a look at the graphical capability of an upcoming PlayStation console; Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks to be a great continuation of 2018’s webslinging adventure, this time starring Miles as the web-slinger; we got to see a brand new game in the LittleBigPlanet universe, made by Sumo Digital, starring Sackboy in his first 3D platformer (which seems to have taken a lot of cues from Nintendo’s excellent Super Mario 3D World); we got the announcement of Horizon: Zero Dawn’s long awaited sequel, Horizon 2: Forbidden West, which may just be the most graphically impressive game we have seen so far across all platforms; the long rumored Demon’s Souls remake was confirmed, and it looks gorgeous; and, in an unexpectedly delightful twist, we saw Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, the first mainline original game in the series in years, and goodness was it worth the wait. Arguably the most “next gen” looking game at the show, with spectacular graphics, and literal instant switching of entire levels at a time (thanks to that magical SSD), Rift Apart is far and away Sony’s killer app here.
Then there was the third party stuff; we had Square with the requisite cryptic project/tech demo; we had Bethesda show Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo (the former, especially, looks incredible), alongside the announcement that both will be console exclusive to PlayStation 5; we saw Hitman 3, and yes, it looks every bit as incredible as you would expect after IOI’s recent sojourns into sandbox design mastery; Rockstar confirmed GTA5 for PS5 (yes, really) launching next year; there were oodles of great looking indie games; and in the most stunning announcement at the show, we got to the incredible, mind bending reveal of Resident Evil VIII: Village, the next title in the series, which looks amazing, and far beyond anything that the series has achieved yet (Capcom also took this time to show off an intriguing new IP called Pragmata, but that isn’t due for a while, it seems).
Sony had promised an hour’s worth of look at games, and they absolutely delivered on that front. The amazing thing was that they went above and beyond (see, Microsoft? It helps to manage expectations). For instance, they revealed the PS5 bootup sequence; they revealed the console itself (it has an unusual look, which I think will be extremely divisive. I personally like it, and think it’s an interesting departure from the norm); they even revealed the existence of a (presumably cheaper) digital only model.
On all levels, this show delivered. The one issue, which I touched upon earlier, is that nothing here seemed to be “next gen” other than Ratchet and Clank in design. There is really nothing wrong with that (and diminishing returns are a very real thing), but this does directly fly in the face of what Jim Ryan and Sony had promised repeatedly – that this is the biggest generational jump in design we have ever had for a console. Think back to the massive jump from SNES and Genesis to Nintendo 64 and PlayStation; or from those two to PS2/Xbox/GameCube. Or from those to PS3 and Xbox 360. This simply does not seem to come anywhere close to those transitions, not visually at least. In terms of game design, there is massive potential for the SSD to be a game changing factor, but so far, the only game we have seen that seems to hint at those possibilities is Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (which, of course, is one more reason that I keep referring to it as the true killer app for the PS5).
There are still questions, mind you. We don’t know when the console is launching yet, we don’t know the price (though the fact that a cheaper model exists indicates that it may be touching on the higher side of things…). In terms of the launch lineup, the only confirmed exclusive games so far are Godfall, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Deathloop. Of course, multiplatform titles such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and NBA 2K21 are almost certainly also going to be available on the console at launch, so it’s not like you’ll have a shortage of things to play.
But we’ll cross those bridges when we get there. For now, Sony delivered on their promise: they showed off a whole bunch of upcoming games, and these did look far more “next gen” than anything we have yet seen for Xbox (though as I have mentioned repeatedly before, in terms of game design, only Ratchet seems to be a big leap). In less than 90 minutes, Sony undid their months’ worth of silence, and ended up completely dominating next generation discourse.
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