According to World Wide Studios Chairman, Shawn Layden, Sony’s showcase at E3 was all about the “four big pillar games” immediately on the release horizon: The Last of Us: Part 2, Ghost of Tsushina, Death Stranding, and Spider-Man. However, there were still a few ‘surprises’ thrown in, namely details about the Resident Evil 2 remaster.
But first off, those ‘pillars’…
The Last of Us: Part 2 (Naughty Dog)
“I’m just a girl. I’m not a threat…”
Our first look at The Last of Us: Part 2 came last October. The super-graphic and duper-violent clip caused some (micro) ‘outrage’ after it was shown at Paris Games Week, with some quarters trying to reignite the good ol’ video game violence / ‘won’t somebody think of the children’ argument. Well-trodden media-panics aside, the clip reiterated another cliched statement: humans are the real monsters. Yeah, we know.
Anyway, with the latest look at Naughty Dog’s most anticipated, we get a bit more of humanity’s utter contempt for its fellow man, and a (little) bit of context surrounding what has happened to Ellie since Joel (rightly or wrongly) bust her out of that facility in Salt Lake City.
The mix of violence and our own attachment to the touching, and often heartbreaking story of the game’s central characters was perfectly summarised during last night’s presentation: starting with a cutscene, featuring Ellie attending some sort of barn dance/school disco at, I guess, some sort of fortified community, we meet her more-than-a-friend, Deana. “I’m just a girl. I’m not a threat”, Ellie tells her. “Oh Ellie,” she replies, “I think they should be terrified of you.” Next comes the inevitable cut to Ellie knifing some guy in the face as she tries to infiltrate a camp of cannibalistic undesirables – and we’re into some gameplay footage.
After some initial screams of a man getting disemboweled somewhere in the distance, and images of bodies hanging from trees, we get a look at combat, crafting, and the return of my favourite weapon in gaming: the bow and arrow.
Combat looks more dynamic with more complex-looking counters (shiv), while crafting and d-pad based weapon selection looks pretty much untouched from the first game. The aforementioned bow and arrow is put to good use too – a genuinely fun and satisfying weapon of stealth which I criminally tended to overlook when I first played the original on PS3. In fact, it wasn’t until the wonderful DLC, Left Behind, that I realised what I had been neglecting.
Speaking of which. Left Behind’s reveal of Ellie’s sexuality was beautifully told (actual tears), and we get more of an insight into her personal development here, after we transition back to the initial cutscene. The kiss between Ellie and Deana will be talked about much more eloquently than I could ever hope to, so let’s just say that Shawn Layden’s comment of “powerful start” was so right on a whole host of levels.
Also, still no sign of Joel. We know Ellie will be the main character this time around, but his absence from the latest footage will further fuel the ‘JOEL IS DED!!’ rumours. Will he only appear in flashbacks? Or is he being held somewhere? Just two incredibly lazy pieces of baseless speculation for you there.
Ghost of Tsushima (Sucker Punch)
1st impression: Wow, that looks fucking beautiful.
2nd impression: Fuck! Is that a grappling hook? Could this be the answer to my long-suffering need for a current-gen Tenchu: Stealth Assassins?
I may have been late to the hype surrounding this, having paid little attention to its initial reveal last year, but I’m happy to finally arrive to the party…
Everything from the dynamic environments, soundtrack, incidental music, and perfectly choreographed combat scenes, propel this new original game from Sucker Punch to the top of my ‘most wanted’ list. It’s just an added bonus that on more that just a few occasions my mind was sent back to 1998 and my obsession with the first Tenchu game. Even the footage of chief protagonist, Jin, jumping down from the rafters to impale a Mongolian was reminiscent of the very first mission of my most loved PS1 game.
Death Stranding (Kojima)
Where to start? It’s fucked up. But that’s kinda what we expected. We may never get that long dead-in-the-water Hideo Kojima Silent Hill, but, as P.T, and many moments in MGSV: Phantom Pain showed, Kojima has some pretty neat tricks when it comes to freaking people out – those fucking Skulls, man.
Since its first reveal at E3 in 2016 we’ve had three ‘trailers’, each as confusing and bewildering as the last. And after this latest look, I’m still as confused as ever. But just as excited.
We get a look at actual gameplay this time. There’s a lot of Norman Reedus’ character, Sam, lone-wandering through a series of deserted landscapes, both rural and urban. Then there’s quite a bit of ‘what?’ moments too, including his attempts to sneak past some rather ghostly-looking enemies (which can apparently “eat you”… But not kill you…?) by using that well-known gaming item-combo of ‘foetus in a bottle’ and telescopic strobe lighting. I’m sure that makes sense if you’re Hideo Kojima, but I’m happy to remain blissfully confused, for now.
“In my experience, if it looks bad, it’s usually worse”, says Spider-Man as his helicopter approaches The Raft – a prison housing many of the bad guys he’s helped put away over the years. And not any old bad guys: Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture and Mister Negative (no, me neither) are all here ready to break out and air their collective grievances in Spidy’s general direction. Or something. I don’t know. I stopped paying attention after approximately 1 minute and 10 seconds, when Electro uttered (shouted) the words “welcome to the party. Just in time for the fireworks”. Yeah.
However, one thing this game is not, is bad-looking. Not by a long shot. After the initial footage of gameplay showing mainly frantic combat – a mix of mele combos, the use of web-sling to move around, and hurl objects at enemies (as happens in every Spider-Man game I’ve ever played) – the post-showcase gameplay footage treated us to quite a impressive tour around an open-world New York City. It looks incredible.
Although I’m not quite sure what difference I’m seeing between this ‘open-world/sandbox’ Spider-Man game and Activision’s effort in 2012, other than the fact it looks amazing. Sure, web-slinging around looks fun, but when you’re someone who spent a good part of Christmas 2016 aimlessly flying around Hell as Kinzie Kensington in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, just for the fun of it, you become a bit jaded. I guess. Maybe I just need a bit more time.
Moving away from what everyone knew was coming, here’s a run down of what else had some coverage during the showcase:
Resident Evil 2 – Remaster (Capcom)
The clear pick of ‘the rest’, finally some images of the Resident Evil 2 remaster. We get a good look at how Leon and Clare will look on a PS4, and how the rest of Racoon City is shaping up too. It has also been confirmed that the camera will move to over-the-shoulder 3rd person.
Shortly after the showcase trailer, we got some actual gameplay footage.
- God of War is getting the much-requested ‘New Game Plus’ mode, allowing you to carry over your gear and upgrades into a brand new game.
- Destiny 2 is getting a new DLC called Forsaken. Due on September 4th, the trailer was as expected – dramatic.
- Call of Duty Black-Ops 3 is now available for free for Playstation Plus members in the Playstation Store. In addition, it was announced that Back in Black Maps (4 remastered maps from Black-Ops 1 & 2, set to appear in the upcoming 4th instalment) will be available instantly when you pre-order Black-Ops 4.
- A new game from Remedy (Alan Wake, Quantum Break) called Control. A 3rd person action shooter taking place in a world of shifting architecture, and Inception/labirynth-like wizardry. It looks trippy. From the video description:”Control: You are Jesse Faden, a young woman with a troubled past. You become the new Director of the Bureau of Control – Our frontline in researching and fighting against supernatural enemies like the Hiss threatening our very existence.”
- Following on from the Square Enix showcase earlier in the day, we saw more footage of Kingdom Hearts 3, complete with Pirates of the Caribbean crew (Jack Sparrow, whatever the name of the guy Orlando Bloom plays, and the other equally well-known Pirates… characters). Lee Hazel is right – this game looks expensive. Plus a special edition Kingdom Hearts PS4 Pro was announced, including the entire series collection.
- Nioh 2. A sequel to Nioh 1, I guess. Which came out last year and I’ve never heard of before. The trailer had a lot of fire in it.
- Trevor Saves The Universe – a squanchy looking PS-VR game from the mind of Justin ‘Squanchy’ Roiland and Squanch Games. Expect that kind starting-to-get-a-bit-tiresome-but-at-the-moment-just-about-holds-up humour when it eventually arrives.
Check out the rest of VH’s E3 press-conference round ups, here.