Sony’s approach to E3 wasn’t to be expected. The Conference begun in a venue that was starkly different than any we’d seen previously. Shawn Layden, the CEO of Sony, after making an odd joke about a scene in Kingsman that involved a church shooting (as the venue they were in was a church), clearly explains and illustrates that their conference wasn’t going to follow in the footsteps of previous conferences such as Microsoft’s, who showed 50 new games. It was instead going to focus on the games we either know of or have heard speculation of, and explore them in more depth,showing us something we haven’t yet seen.
THE LAST OF US PART II
The first item on the agenda of Sony’s conference is one of the most highly anticipated and they made an expert move in setting the suspense and tension high for what we were about to see, by allowing Gustavo Santaolalla, the composer of The Last of Us’s soundtrack, to play a brief melody. This re-illustrated the humanity of The Last of Us that was shown through the cinematic trailer we were treated with for The Last of Us Part II. Ellie’s back, in a church that looks interestingly familiar, and she seems to be enjoying herself – if we can call it that. We meet two new characters, Dina and Jesse, who seem to have some relationship problems, and we only hear brief mention of Joel. The cinematic trailer focuses on Dina and Ellie, and we see some very endearing dialogue between the two teenagers. There’s interesting dialogue regarding Ellie, who believes she’s the focus of no one’s attention and is “not a threat”, and Dina says “I think they should be terrified of you”, before we get a very natural looking kiss (one of the first for gaming) between the two.
Transitioning directly from the kiss, we next see Ellie gouging out someone’s neck in the middle of the woods, and some wonderful gameplay. Without spelling out everything that then proceeds (watch it yourself, you won’t regret it!) the gameplay that’s shown is, for lack of a better word, natural. Naughty Dog have done their best with storytelling – the people you murder have names, found by friends after their untimely demises.– Everything from moving stealthily and watching your foes, escaping from them upon detection, and fighting them when things get messy is made very cinematic. Every moment that we see feels personal and immersive, and yet has a polish and attention to detail so that even if the things we see in this gameplay feel repetitive and expected by the end, the game is still thoroughly enjoyable to simply watch. Also, Ellie is scary, competent, but also human and that’s incredible. Crystal Dynamics should look to Ellie when trying to make Lara Croft a “survivor”.
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA
Not to linger too much on The Last of Us Part II, no matter how tempting it is to praisehow amazing it looks, Sony didn’t stop there. Although there was a concerning lack of footage regarding Days Gone (a game that’s been in the works long enough for there to at least be a release date announced at the conference itself) through another musical introduction, Sony allow us to see the gameplay of Ghost of Tsushima. This is an RPG based around China and the Mongolian invasion, and looks gorgeous. The environment looks alive, rather than a predetermined landscape that was lacking. Cinematic and gameplay blend together excellently once more, cutscenes and gameplay seamlessly blending into one. If The Last of Us Part II doesn’t tickle your fantasy, regardless of its excellent storytelling, this looks like a very promising alternative – but that’s not to say you can’t play both.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Something that was a true surprise, and did go against what had been said at the beginning about the games being things we were already aware of, Sony released Resident Evil 2. That sounds odd, but it happened. The next game in the Resident Evil’s franchise puts us back in Leon Kennedy’s shoes and into his first story, but it looks beautiful. From the brief shots of gameplay, Resident Evil 2 looks like it carries a lot of the heart that was in its original, but has polished and modernised everything about the game. It’s not a remaster at all It’s a remake – and an exciting one. Many may desire to play the old Resident Evil games but find the gameplay and the like inaccessible; the remake carries the heart of its originals but suits the level that gaming is at now. Resident Evil 2 is scheduled to release on January 25, 2019.
Sony did go on to release many more titles but there should be an incentive to watch the conference and see what else they showed other than the three amazing titles that’ve been fanfared here. Although there’ll always be a huge debate about who’s won E3 this year, and there’s no intention to open up that can of worms, Sony must be seen as one of the strongest contenders for their excellent conference.
Image: The Last Of Us Part II / Naughty Dog