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E3 - 2013 Coverage: Sony Press Conference Overview

Sony E3 2013

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, took the stage to welcome the audience to Sony's E3 2013 conference. Earlier in the day, Microsoft had revealed a healthy number of exclusives for their Xbox One platform, so Sony had a lot to live up to for the PlayStation 4.

Playstation Vita

Jack confirmed that, within a year of launch, more than 125 Vita-dedicated games have been released, with the average Vita customer having purchased more the 10 games, over 60% of which have been purchased through the PlayStation Store.

To further support Sony's handheld platform, more than 85 titles are planned to launch by the end of the year, including Batman: Arkham OriginsCounterSpy,Killzone: MercenaryDestiny of Spirits and Tearaway.

In addition to these new titles, several existing games will be remastered for Vita releases, including God of War HDGod of War 2 HDFlower and Dead Nation.

Also confirmed for Vita was The Walking Dead: 400 Days, a new episode for the adventure games series. It was confirmed that the Vita edition will feature 400 Days plus the entire first season of the game, as well as even more bonus content.

PlayStation 3

Moving onto PlayStation 3 content, we were initially shown a few teaser trailers for upcoming content.

The Last of Us

A cinematic trailer for The Last of Us was the first of these teasers, featuring panning shots of the overgrown cityscape and a compilation of action moments, as Joel and Ellie protect themselves from both other survivors and the infected.

the last of us

Puppeteer

This 2D, side scrolling adventure was the next to be featured, in which a scissor-wielding puppet makes his way through several levels of varying and different themes, including leaping through the cloud tops, over giant pumpkins in a halloween theme and fighting pirates ship-to-ship.

puppeteer

Rain

Very little was given away in this short teaser for Rain, in which the camera pans across a rainy street as transparent, ghostly entities wander and haunting music plays.

rain

Beyond Two Souls

Featuring talented voice acting from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, this trailer shows protagonist Jodie Holmes undergoing an intensive, military-style training regime as an induction to the CIA, before being tasked to locate and eliminate a regional warlord.

beyond two souls

The trailer is action packed featuring a mix of combat and stealth scenes, although a narrative driven story was central to the demonstration, as expected of a Quantic Dream title. Of note was that this trailer did not touch on the supernatural themes of Beyond Two Souls. Release date was confirmed as 10th August 2013.

Gran Turismo 6

Next in the line of teaser trailers was Gran Turismo 6, in which a slow-motion compilation of various cars and tracks were shown, demonstrating the games variety and graphical prowess.

gran turismo 6

Batman: Arkham Origins

In the trailer for Batman:Arkham Origins, we see principal antagonist, Black Mask, issue a bounty on Batman. This results in a Christmas Eve hunt, with a wide cast of DC villains hunting Batman to claim the reward.

arkham origins

Set 5-years before Batman: Arkham Asylum, characters joining the hunt for the Batman were shown to include Deadshot, Deathstroke and the Joker. Exlusive content was announced for PlayStation 3, including unique character skins and unique downloadable content.

Grand Theft Auto V

In a short announcement, Jack Tretton stated that a partnership with Rockstar Games will be bringing an exclusive GTA V bundle to PlayStation 3 on September 17th 2013. Also announced was an exclusive GTA-branded Pulse Elite headset. More information will be made available in the coming weeks on both of these.

PlayStation 4

Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, took over from Jack Tretton at this point to introduce us the the PlayStation 4, which was described as "a console of unparalleled power", which will feature a combination of powerful system architecture and cloud processing.

The console itself was then officially revealed, with a retro feel featuring sharp corners, black and gray colouration and a leaning-rectangular design. The console bears superficial similarities to the PlayStation 2 console design and appears smaller than Microsoft's Xbox One design.

ps4 design

Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, was introduced to discuss how Sony's many entertainment divisions will be coming together to create an immersive media experience on PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Network.

He announced that collaboration between Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Sony Music and Sony ATV Music Publishing will bring a wealth of entertainment to the platform, specifically tailored to the types of entertainment gamers want to see. Services such as Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited will be available on day one of the PlayStation 4 launch, enabling access to over 20 million songs and over 150,000 movies and TV shows.

President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide, Shu Yoshida, was introduced to take us through some of the planned gaming experiences on PlayStation 4.

He announced that Sony Computer Entertainment themselves had over 30 PlayStation 4 titles in development, not counting those being developed by external companies. 20 of those games in development are planned to be released in the first year following the PlayStation 4 release, and 12 of those 20 are brand new IPs.

The Order 1886

The first PlayStation 4 game show was The Order: 1886, a PlayStation 4 exclusive. We were shown a non-gameplay trailer compiled with in-engine footage.

The Order takes place in an alternate history, steampunk London and a group of characters in period attire are travelling by stagecoach, whilst preparing themselves for battle with a number of seemingly outlandish and futuristic guns.

The contrast of the period setting and the high technology becomes more apparent as the coach enters Whitechapel and the inhabitants embark into a misty street. Voices are heard over a radio and a train passes by on an overhead line.

order1886

Suddenly, the characters find themselves under attack as creatures come at them, silhouetted in the mist. The are obscured and never clearly seen, but appear apelike in their outline and movements. The protagonists engage them with a number of pieces of high tech equipment, including powerful grenade launchers and a gun that fires bolts of electricity. As the battle reaches its crescendo, the demonstration ends.

Following the demonstration of The Order, we were provided with a series of quick updates on four PlayStation 4 titles that were announced in February 2013.

Killzone: Shadow Fall

We were shown a brief demonstration trailer of Killzone: Shadow Fall which was set in a fairly open, rural, environment. In many ways the gameplay in the trailer was reminiscent of Far Cry, with the player character ziplining from ropes and executing enemies at close range with one-hit knife finishers.

Several items of high technology were witnessed in operation, from a seemingly one way force shield which absorbs enemy projectiles whilst allowing the player's through, to a scanner that enables the character to detect enemies through walls.

Drive Club

A fairly uninformative trailer, gameplay speaking, for Drive Club was next on the agenda and comprised of compilation footage of vehicles racing across a number of tracks. While this was not of much assistance in deciphering any unique gameplay features, it was noted that the graphics, in particular the backgrounds, were particularly lush and vibrant. However, how this translates from the trailer to the gameplay remains to be seen.

drive club

Infamous: Second Son

A story trailer in which Deslin Rowe, the protagonist, is arrested by his brother. Despite this initial setback, throughout the remainder of the trailer he is accompanied by his brother who would therefore appear to be a significant story character.

infamous second son

In the gameplay portion of the demo some of Deslin's powers are highlighted, which revolve around flame powers and include the ability to fly, to fire projectiles and, in a dramatic finish, Deslin shoots high in the air and then crashes down to earth in a ball of flames. Intense hand-to-hand combat is also showcased, featuring flame attacks and brutal finishers.

Knack

A very short teaser trailer for Knack was shown, in which the titular wrecking machine destroys hordes of goblins in a cartoon themed brawler.

The Dark Sorcerer

As a demonstration of the power of PlayStation 4 in producing an array of expressions and emotions beyond that possible on current technology, a snipped of Quantic Dream's concept tech demo, The Dark Sorcerer, was shown. It must be noted that this does not relate to a game in development, the is merely a concept piece designed to highlight the technology and the power of expression.

In the demo, an old, robed man makes an impassioned speech, condemning and cursing his enemies. The graphical effects are undeniably impressive, as his facial expressions clearly capture the emotive nature of his passionate dialogue and as his robes and surrounds are blown and buffered by a maelstrom of magical energy resonating around him.

dark sorceror

The dramatic speech is spoiled when the sorcerer trips over his own tongue and fluffs his line, at which point the camera pulls out and reveals the whole scene to be inside a recording studio. After a humorous back and forth between the sorcerer, his minion and the film crew the demonstration ends, although further footage will be available on the official PlayStation website.

PlayStation 4 Indie Developer Support

Adam Boyes Vice President of Third Party Relations, Sony Computer Entertainment America, arrived on stage and spoke of his pride at Sony's commitment to work with independent developers, who are now able to self publish content into the new 'indie' section of the PlayStation Store.

In this section of the show, a number of new and upcoming indie titles for the PlayStation Store were briefly showcase to demonstrate Sony's commitment to indie content, including : -

Transistor, from Supergiant Games, which will debut on PS4 next year. Featuring a unique artstyle and a man with a very big sword.

Play Entertainment's Don't Starve, a darkly humorous and challenging survival simulation.

Mercenary Kings, by Tribute Games, a retro-inspired, hand drawn, side scrolling shooter.

Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch, the surreal, slapstick parent simulator.

Switchblade Monkeys' Secret Ponchos, a blend of shooting and fighting, both mixed together with a spaghetti western theme,

Ray's the Dead by Ragtag Studios Steal, an action puzzler in which the player recruits their own zombie army.

Outlast by Red Barrels, a first person horror title.

Oddworld New and Tasty by Oddworld Inhabitants, an updated remake of the first game in the series, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.

Finally, 17 Bit Games, Galaxy, a side scrolling, bullet-hell, space shooter.

PlayStation 4 AAA Titles

Diablo III

A short announcement was made that Blizzard's Diablo III will be coming to PS3 and PS4, and will feature exclusive items from PS franchises such as Drake's Amulet from Uncharted and shoulder braces inspired by Journey.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII / Final Fantasy XV

The words Square Enix appeared on the screen and Tetsuya Nomura briefly faded in and out introducing the trailer to their 'versus' project. The trailer itself featured the signature stunning CGI graphics of the Final Fantasy that fans have come to know and love.

ffxv

Huge ornate cathedrals, impressive, steampunk-style airships, top hats and mysterious hooded figures look to be a standard part of Square Enix' next game. The battle footage on show was definitely fast-paced and action-packed, keeping away from the usual turn-based battle-system that the majority of the series uses. There are still the same imagination-baffling enemies and beautifully designed characters which make Final Fantasy stand out.

Oh and one last thing, it's not Final Fantasy Versus XIII anymore, it's Final Fantasy XV.

Kingdom Hearts

The Disney logo appeared and we all knew what was coming next, Kingdom Hearts 3. Square Enix' successful mixture of cute, cartoony graphics, with beloved characters from across the Disney universe as well as ones from their other games, is set to take the Sony systems by storm, although it is unclear whether this will be Sony exclusive, like Final Fantasy will be.

kingdom hearts

It also looks like Square will be bringing us a reboot of the original Kingdom Hearts game too, in of course HD, with Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

For Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag we were showcased a demo of actual gameplay. The demonstration was set in September 1717, in the West Indies, and protagonist Edward Kenway is in a coastside camp of pirates, drunks and whores.

Moving through the camp, Edward tails a target, avoiding detection by quickly darting from cover to cover amongst the available foliage and silently eliminating guards that get to close. The gameplay is familiar and consistent with previous series entries, with the player assassin proving nimble and dexterous in his movements and fast and lethal in his kills.

ass creed

After tracking his mark the assassin succeeds in a professional takedown, using his blade to dispatch his target and then finishing the nearby guards with a series of rapid pistol shots. Unfortunately one of the guards survives long enough to release a warning signal, and through the mists Edward sees a fleet of enemy ships appear.

As projectiles explode around him from the enemy ships' bombardment, Edward leaps his way across the rooftops and towards his own vessel, and upon taking the wheel pulls from harbour and commences naval combat in much the same vein as that encountered in previous entry, Assassin's Creed III. However, in an interesting twist Edward steps away from the wheel mid battle and leaps aboard an enemy ship, suggesting that he can switch between ship control and on-foot combat dynamically at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately the demo was marred by occasional freezing and it was unclear if ending at that point was intentional or not. Regardless, the gameplay looked enjoyable, if relatively familiar.

Watchdogs

In a live gameplay demo for Ubisoft's Watchdogs, protagonist Aiden Pearce is tasked with assisting his friend T-Bone, who has tripped an alarm while breaking into an apartment and is in danger of being caught by the police.

T-Bone calls Aiden to ask for his help, but Aiden has his own problems and before he can save his friend he must first save himself, as he is currently being pursued by the police. He begins by driving slowly and carefully though the city so as not to attract attention and hide from his police pursuers, but is soon spotted and a high speed chase beings.

watchdogs

Driving through the underground tunnel network to reduce police visibility, Aiden manages to pull off into a secluded side area and his pursuers shoot by unaware. As he leaves his vehicle and progresses on foot a member of the public recognises him as a wanted man and attempts to call the police, requiring Aiden to confront him and destroy his phone before he can report him.

In order to assist his friend, Aiden hacks into a surveillance system to scope out the situation, just as the police break down the apartment door. As T-Bone hides around a corner, Aiden hacks the nearby electronics to turn on several gadgets around the apartment, distracting the police and allowing T-Bone to slip out through the door.

The scene progresses with T-Bone making his escape while Aiden offers remote assistance, using his hacking abilities to create distractions and to manipulate the environment to create hiding spots. Action takes a turn for the direct as T-Bone makes his way to Aiden's location, and guards must be dealt with through a combination of stealth takedowns and direct confrontation.

watchdogs

T-Bone makes good on his escape, but Aiden is compromised and takes off on foot to evade the police, but is eventually cornered by a number of armed officers and forced to surrender himself... or so they think. As one of the officers approaches for the arrest, Aiden triggers a device causing all lights in the area to go down and uses the darkness and confusion to eliminate the nearby enemies and make good his escape.

Watchdogs has been announced for a multiplatform release, but PlayStation 4 owners will receive an additional hour of gameplay in exclusive content, as well as an exclusive character outfit.

NBA 2K14

For a demonstration of the new engine and capabilities of NBA 2K14 and PlayStation 4 we are shown video footage of Miami Heat's Lebron James talking to his own virtual counterpart, created using the in-game engine from NBA 2K14.

Following this, compilation of gameplay footage is shown, highlighting the game engine's capabilities and demonstrating impressive graphical prowess and realistic player appearance, animation and expression.

The Elder Scrolls Online

A trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online was shown next. Narrated by Michael Gambon, this footage took us across the breadth of Tamriel, showing the varied geography and cultures of the Imperial continent. Various enemy types were also shown, and Elder Scrolls fans would have recognised many iconic creatures such as Flame and Frost Atronachs, Dwarven Sentinels, Daedroth and Ogres - among others - all recreated in familiar and instantly recognisable art styles.

elder scrolls

In partnership with Bethesda Softworks, Sony announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to to PlayStation 4 and that Beta access will be available first exclusively on their platform.

Mad Max

In a post apocalyptic desert wasteland, a lone driver stops and finds a man lying in the dirt, inches from death. As he searches the stricken individual for valuables, he begs for the mercy of death.

The lone driver checks his shotgun and eyes his one remaining shell. Unwilling to waste it on the dying man he returns to his car and drives off into the desert. The man falls back, distraught at his fate, in disbelief that he has been left to his fate. The sound of an engine is heard, the man looks up. The driver, Max, is coming back for him. He's coming back fast.

mad max

The teaser trailer for the upcoming Mad Max video game doesn't give much away, but what was announced is that access to the Road Warrior Survival Kit will be a PlayStation exclusive.

PlayStation Console Details

At this point in the conference, Jack Tretton returned to the stage to talk about the PlayStation 4 console itself.

In a thinly-veiled criticism of Xbox One, it was confirmed that the PlayStation 4 will support used games and there will be no restriction on a players ability to lend, sell or trade a disc-based title - an announcement that was met with a huge reaction of cheering and applause from the conference audience.

It was also confirmed that PlayStation 4 disc-based games will require no online connection to play, nor any type of online authentication process, nor will they stop working if you fail to periodically connect to the internet.

Several new PlayStation Network capabilities were detailed for the PlayStation 4, including the ability to play games that are currently being downloaded, the abilities of the new share button to instantly upload content to social networks and the introduction of functional cross-game chat.

Further information was given with regards to the PlayStation Plus scheme, starting with confirmation that existing PlayStation Plus membership will carry over to the PlayStation 4, allowing one PlayStation Plus account to work across PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

On PlayStation 4, Plus membership will continue to offer benefits such as discounted games, cloud saves, automatic game updates, early access to game Betas and the instant game collection.

It was also mentioned, very briefly, that PlayStation Plus membership will be required in order to access online multiplayer on PlayStation 4 titles. Single player titles can be played without requirement for PlayStation Plus membership, nor will access to media services be restricted.

DriveClub PlayStation Plus Edition will be immediately added to PlayStation Plus instant game collection when the console launches, and Don't StarveOutlast and Secret Ponchos will also be instant game collection titles.

Destiny

The final game showcased at the Sony conference was Activision and Bungie's Destiny, with a substantial gameplay premiere taking centre stage. In the opening scene, the camera pans over a lake and valley, where a graveyard of rusted cars is seen and armed aliens move among them.

A troop ship is seen flying overhead, and drops a player character outside a giant wall structure. The player moves between the maze of cars, towards the entrance in the front to the giant wall. Before he makes it there, another player is dropped off nearby and the two join up together.

destiny

The two players go through the entrance in the wall, and begin moving through a series of corridors. It gets dark and the player we are following takes out his "Ghost", an electronic device which floats around the area, illuminating the surroundings.

It is eerily quiet, but the second player manages to turn the power back on and the lights inside the structure stutter into life. At the same time, both players are attacked by large group of enemies, the Fallen, who are fast, agile and attack with both melee and ranged weapons.

Combat is faced based and weapons do significant damage, with only couple of shots required to take down the enemy with the player's powerful pistol. After the initial wave is defeated a large, powerful and heavily armoured enemy appears and almost immediately disables player 2.

destiny

The remaining player circles around this large enemy, using the environment as cover and taking down the enemy, before reviving his fallen comrade. The two then collect the spoils, in the form of a looted weapon, in this instance a rare, upgradable machine gun. From what we see two things are made apparent; looting will play a significant part in progression, and each weapon is upgradable.

A third player joins the party at this stage, and a group of enemy ships arrives, triggering a "public event", in which a large number of Fallen are released from dropships. An extremely large, biological tank called a 'Devil Walker' appears as a boss for this battle, and several additional groups of players converged on the area to join the battle. The many players surround the Devil Walker, laying concentrated fire upon it until is defeated. This is followed by a cinematic section before closing.

PlayStation 4 Price

The final note in regard to the Sony conference was the announcement of the console price, revealed to be $399 USD, €399 EUR, £349 GBP.

 

Ewok | 12th June, 2013

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