Over the weekend, Sony hosted their second annual PlayStation Experience conference. It’s kind of become a second E3 for Sony, where they’re able to show off their games right before the holiday and keep the buzz high on the coming year’s games. The keynote showed off a good mix of huge exclusives, but what I liked was the real focus on a lot of smaller titles. That said, there was one thing that kinda soured my feelings on the event – and it’s no fault of Sony this time.
First let’s talk about a few of those games they showed off. Opening the show with Uncharted 4 was a bold move. I wouldn’t say it’s a big stretch to say that game is Sony’s most anticipated exclusive – probably by a pretty clear margin. And while they really didn’t show off a whole lot, they did show a pretty big addition to the game – branching dialogue trees. There’s still plenty about it that we don’t know – including whether the different dialogue choices will have major impact on how the game unfolds. That, however, was pretty much end of the end of that level of game. Sure, Street Fighter V is a PS4 exclusive, and sure they showed some Call of Duty: Black Ops III – a DLC PS4 exclusive; but I think in general most of the games shown were a step down from Uncharted‘s hype level.
Where I think the keynote really shined was the last third – where Sony put the spotlight on third party and indie studios. We saw games like 100 Fr. Robot Golf, Ni No Kuni II, Ace Combat 7, and Golem all get announced. Also getting some strong time was the PlayStation VR. I think it’s a cool system, but VR is still so hard to show off on stage to really make it look exciting, plus I still think it’s a little gimmicky. What I think helps the PSVR out is that Sony has really bought in, and has a lot of developers working on games for it – and those games hit a number of different styles. There are more artistic games like Eagle Flight and Golem, very tongue in cheek games like 100 Ft. Robot Golf and Modern Zombie Taxi Company, and serious triple A quality games like Ace Combat 7.
Now, as cool as I thought the show was, there were two parts where I saw some issues show up. And like I said, they weren’t Sony’s fault at all. One revolves around Final Fantasy VII Remake – which we finally got to see some actual gameplay of. I thought that the Kingdom Hearts influence is perfect and helps bring that 20 year old game forward into the modern RPG world. That content isn’t where the issues showed up though – instead it’s that we got a press release Sunday night that seemed to say that the game will be episodic. Twitter exploded – I saw tons of professional people start complaining about it – and we don’t even have a release date yet! Never mind we don’t officially know that it’s episodic or how it will work. People really need to cool their jets on this and think about it for a second. Detach yourself from the fandom of the original. It’s a 20 year old game. If I want to play that game, I’ll play my copy of the original. I don’t want the exact game with fancy graphics. RPG’s have evolved a ton in those 20 years, and I think what Square Enix is doing could be exactly what the whole franchise needs. Think about what Square could do with an episodic set-up. Each episode could focus around building backstories for the characters. They already have built a universe around the original game with a couple spin-offs. I think that basically is a given now that stuff from those games will show up now. And I saw people worried about the story now. I would remind them that the pacing on the original was pretty damn slow. You have this intense first section in Midgar, then the pacing hits a wall. The story is still great, but streamlining it could actually be the best thing that has happened to FFVII since Advent Children. Focusing an entire episode just around the events in Midgar could help focus that section even more. I just think that people are really overreacting about the episodic announcement. Hell, if it is episodic, it could be coming out next year as opposed to 2017! Relax, enjoy the fact that we’re getting a remake of one of the best games OF ALL TIME, and one that we never even expected to get.
The other kinda nasty reaction was, perhaps unsurprisingly, in reaction to Destiny‘s announcement. We expected Bungie to show something off, and they detailed the new holiday event, which will begin tomorrow and run through the rest of December: the Sparrow Racing League. It’s literally content that we, as a whole community, have been asking for since the launch of the game; and I saw tons and tons of people yelling at Bungie: “That’s It?!” Again, relax, step back and think about this for a second. Yes, The Taken King is starting to reach its limits – I do think that Bungie needs to share with us the next content soon. But right now probably isn’t the best time. We’re expecting a massive live-game update this week, with a major rebalance to the weapon meta, along with the first class rebalance in a year. Which you might notice is another thing to we’ve been yelling at Bungie about forever, and can’t be a small undertaking. Add in the fact that this month holds the biggest commercial holiday of the year, at least in the U.S. with Christmas; which always brings with it a pretty sizable increase in players. Finally, after the Festival of the Lost, we kinda got the idea that Bungie was starting to figure out ways to have live-game seasonal events. Going into the weekend, I saw a few posts over on the subreddit wondering about a Christmas event. Instead of a specific one around the holiday, we get a three week long event with the SRL; which again, is something we’ve been asking for since launch. I think when you add those all together, this weekend wasn’t the right time to announce the next DLC. We are definitely getting close to that line though, so I hope Bungie has a good plan ahead for it; but again – chill out a bit folks. Enjoy the racing, enjoy the amazing games out right now, and remember that the point of playing these awesome things we call video games is to have fun.