The PlayStation nation, PlayStation Underground, Suplex City:PSN County; whatever buzz phrase Sony marketing can cook up to label their fans, the results have been something to behold. Over 40 million PlayStation 4 systems sold has harvested quite a community of loyal globetrotting followers. Many from around the world descended upon Anaheim California for the third annual PlayStation Experience this past weekend. To no one’s surprise; it delivered two days of memories, surprises, friends and the promise of a bright 2017. Let’s look back on this IRL virtual summer camp.
As is standard, Sony opened things with their pep rally/keynote presentation. Some of the most devoted fans lined up before the crack of dawn for the internet notoriety of being able to say they were among the first in the make-shift mini arena. The live tweets over @comicsbeatlive run down the keynote as we witnessed it, but I would be remiss if we didn’t include the big O SH** moments that got the audience to pop like the news was being delivered by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Bookending the keynote was the best studio creating cinematic experience games, Naughty Dog. Instead of going the safe route and showing a hype reel of upcoming games, keynote opened with gameplay as a heavily garbed female snuck her way through a war-torn middle eastern town. At the time, only a handful of people knew what we were looking at on screen and they were all backstage while the rest of the crowd speculated Tomb Raider. As the woman revealed herself to be Chloe Frazer from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, it became apartment we were looking at the first gameplay from the Uncharted 4 : A Theif’s End story-downloadable content. For the first time in the game’s storied history, we’ll play substantially as a character other than Nathan Drake in 2017.
While Sony’s exclusive Spider-Man game was nowhere to be seen at the show, comic book’s did get some notoriety when Capcom confirmed and debuted the first footage from Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. The best reason diehard comic book fans had to put quarters in an arcade machine, MvC, stands as one of the premiere fighting game series of all time. That moment when we saw Iron Man and Captain Marvel on screen confirmed two things. Capcom is reading the pulse of Marvel as a publisher; along with Carol it wouldn’t surprise you to see Kamala Khan in the game as well. Second, it does look as though the number of X-Men will be minuscule; since every known Marvel console gaming project announced so far only deals with characters under their total rights control or those bargained to appear in the MCU.
The conference had the return of the “One More Thing” ending as Naughty Dog not only finally told fans The Last of Us Part II is on the way, but went a step further by showing a breathtaking trailer for the game. Hearing the harmonic guitar that complemented the atmosphere created in the first game sent shivers through everyone’s spine. Seeing a newly tattooed Ellie playing that guitar in a house full of slaughtered bodies brought gamers back into this world of brutal beauty. While the trailer itself was shot about 2 years ago, the game is still early in development, too early to talk about a release window.
As the floor opens the real fun begins. Two exhibit halls worth of games, both big blockbusters and indie were spread out curiously throughout the bustling floor. While recently released titles like Let it Die and Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2 resided towards the entrance, Sony’s own high profile games from internal studios were placed towards the back of the hall. Attendees had to venture to find games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Gran Turismo Sport, and even this week’s launch The Last Guardian. While from afar it seems an odd mapping design; from a logistics standpoint it worked on two levels; crowd control leverage and ensuring guests would walk past everything on the way to the “BIG” games. The latter is a delusion every show: comic, game, anime, and even trade shows tell themselves. Fact is as a guest, if you’re set on seeing something, no matter the distance, you’re not stopping. Sometimes those moves embarrassingly fart and sardine-can aisles serving to deter part of those genuinely interested in the games those particular devs want to show.
PlayStation Experience already has the best answer to the dilemma of how to ensure people stop at just about every booth. Once again the show used its experience PlayStation app and collectible cards. As you stopped at almost every table/booth, a staff member would scan your RFID-enabled badge which ,if linked to a PlayStation Network account, would unlock rewards such as digital themes for the PS4, content, and some even free full games to download. If more tangible rewards were your thing, you could continue obsessively gathering over 30 new collectible trading cards featuring art from games like Watch Dogs, Call of Duty, and Farpoint. The cards themselves have become a bit of a double-edged sword. While they were more attainable in 2016, without a checklist some people were never really sure how many would complete a set at this year’s show. For first time attendees, is there an appeal in joining a scavenger hunt you’re already a year behind on? While they’re a neat collectible, they also lack the usefulness of the playing cards given away at the first show back in 2014.
No convention would be complete these days without celebrities for fans to clamor for, even if they’re only known in this particular part of entertainment. PlayStation Experienced welcomed the legendary creator of Metal Gear, the brilliant Hideo Kojima. In an autograph signing session that was only suppose to last an hour, the line practically engulfed all the surrounding displays. It was one of the few mistakes the show had to quickly adjust to. Weird how almost every show this year has had issues handling the crowds for big celebrity appearances?
Kojima was also the focus of one of six panels that took place over the weekend. The developer talked with gaming personality Geoff Keighley about Kojima’s new production company and the Death Stranding trailer which included the Hollywood power of Guillermo Del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen. Some of the other games to get special in-depth panels were Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted: The Last Legacy, and The Last of Us Part II. Also coming home, was the crew from Kinda Funny recording the number one PlayStation podcast on the internet PS I Love You XOXO. If you ever have a chance to see Greg Miller and friends do a panel, it’s basically how to be entertaining 101 and a can’t miss.
While PlayStation, its games and community, are the focus of Experience; the library of titles available to try from 3rd party developers gives any gamer a big reason to attend the show. New content was shown from Star Wars: Battlefront, Destiny, and Resident Evil VII. Star Wars even brought the new X-Wing VR mission demo which put players in the seat of a fleshed out red leader X-wing. We’ll rundown our favorite games of the show in more detail tomorrow. From indies and Sony owned studios to publishers such as WB, EA, and Capcom; our schedule was packed with games.
Overall PlayStation Experience shows it’s the most fun and easy going weekend in video games. If you are a diehard PlayStation fan, it’s worth saving up every penny to travel wherever this show resides in the given year. Should you be a casual curious gamer, understand you’ll get fist bumps from random people you play 3-on-3 basketball against or attendees will strike up conversation while waiting in a line. It’s the community of PlayStation showing how their majority embraces all regardless of race, orientation, gender, identity, or disability. If it rolls into your town next year, go. One of a kind experiences are a rare thing this day in age.