Once we’d prised EA off another sporting tirade after carefully considering whether there was anything in the world we could possibly care less about, they had a bloody decent smattering of games to show. Chiefly because they revealed Star Wars Battlefront, to a round of audacious, unhinged table flipping and wooping, at least from our end, and Mirrors Edge 2. They also showed a skyscraper dynamically collapsing in Battlefield 4’s 64 player multi – which even by modern standards is an impressive feat. Especially if overtly beige shooters are your thing anyway. Ubisoft also filled in some space delivering the most diverse offering E3 could muster, with the interesting driving-game-for-non-driving-game-fans The Crew, the beautiful Rayman Legends, the enrapturing-looking post-apocalyptic Tom Clancy’s The Division and Watch Dogs looked swishingly delicious as it has done consistently since its reveal. Hooray.
But it was Sony’s turn next, and by the time 2am rolled around and I’d taken to trying to staple my eyes open, they were undoubtedly going to have a job keeping me out of a coma. But boy did they deliver.
Sony opened slowly, the polar opposite to Microsoft, kicking off with what seemed a bumbling apology (though in fairness that might have just been course of habit for SCEA President Jack Tretton) for The Vita’s thus far superfluous existence, insisting that it’s only the beginning for the machine. He might be right too, considering the recent influx of indie support, and the fact he was able to squeeze in the announcement of Telltale’s excellent The Walking Dead, which is now available on every device in the world. Pretty sure the bathroom mirror here plays it.
Following that with a big waste of everybody’s time, The Last of Us, a game out in three days, shuffled on stage to awkwardly make me a little sleepier. With Beyond Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6 bringing up the rear for the Triple’s swan songs, it’s not exactly got me on the ceiling with raucous astonishment. That said, I didn’t expect anything more.
As we shift bodily to the PS4 though, things get even duller. As we saw the machine itself finally paraded about, an uninvolved Xbox One that somebody had leant on before the glue had dried, conversation moved to TV. Microsoft’s ace in the hole. Sony did, however, seem quite aware of the plummeting atmosphere than we can only presume accosted the room at this point, and the features were rattled through with an alarming pace that still didn’t quite make them interesting.
The Order 1886, a Victorian Steampunk affair that didn’t bother to show any gameplay, but on concept alone looked like a barrel of rampant beauty was next out of the gate. Followed up by the solid-looking core mechanics, yet undeniably, insistent explosions of Killzone: Shadow Fall, as well as Infamous: Second Son – which looks great, especially if playing as an angsty teen is the addition to the series you’d always yearned for. We were even treated to a bit of comic relief courtesy of Quantic Dream’s ‘Old Bloke’, the tech demo you might have sneered at back in February.
And then Sony glanced at the throttle, gently.
A procession of indie gaming greats were a welcome and well-presented addition to the conference; the whole segment was a bold as brass statement that proclaimed indie devs would be welcomed warmly into the vast arms of the Playstation 4. With Jonathon Blow’s newest The Witness already announced and Bastion devs Supergiant Games given a delightful amount of stage time for Transistor, the presentation gave us that warm fuzzy feeling inside. N’awh.
With Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV (formerly Versus XIII) and an exclusive PS4 beta for the riveting Elder Scrolls Online, it seemed the show had just about hit its climax. Whilst it had been a solid entry thus far, it wasn’t the sweeping steal Sony could have done with. At least, it wasn’t until the final fifteen minutes.
What happened next was unexpected. Sony proceeded to lay every single opportunity Microsoft had given them to capitalize out before them, and grasp it firmly with both hands, delivering a devastating, colossal blow, and had the crowd in a state of elation nobody saw coming. The presentation that followed was an E3 spectacle that you certainly don’t see every year.
When Tretton began, it were as if the room didn’t quite comprehend what he’d said. He picked up the pace, and began to tear every overbearing, restrictive, anti-consumer constraint that Microsoft had put into place and expected us to lap up with grateful zest down to an increasingly euphorically applauding audience.
The Playstation 4 will support used games. You will be able to trade them at retail, you’ll be able to sell them to another person, lend them to a friend or keep a hold of them for your collection. Tretton explicitly stated that the PS4 will not require you to connect to the internet every 24 hours, or at all, to play your games offline. It was a magnificent reign of DRM-less, customer-focused, glorious gaming fire, and just before Bungie’s Destiny would come out to finish the show off spectacularly, and proceeded only by the announcement of their comprehensive 2014 streaming system for PS3 games, Sony knocked it out of the park:
Was this the coup de grace for Microsoft? Can they do anything now but back pedal furiously? We’ll have a more in depth look at this state of affairs in a post soon, until then though – who’s your money with now? Have hands changed? Have you switched sides? Are you still excited about both machines? Let us know!