Sony’s E3 Show Was More Remarkable for the Games That Weren’t There
You came wanting more 'Last of Us.' You left with the VR 'Skyrim' nobody needs.
‘The Last of Us: Part II’ screenshot courtesy of Sony.
In 2016, Sony showed off a whole bunch of PlayStation games at its E3 press conference that weren't out anytime soon. This year, just yesterday, they pretty much did the same. God of War, Spider-Man and Monster Hunter World all looked cool, but none of them are out this year.
There's a new Uncharted this year, this summer, in the shape of Lost Legacy, and Horizon Zero Dawn's getting a frosty expansion called The Frozen Wilds. But, again, PlayStation stalwarts are going to be kept waiting a while longer for a whole bunch of the biggest guns.
This, though, was no surprise. It's playing to past form, after all. What can be seen as unexpected, however, is just how little Sony actually showed off this year. Yes, there was a substantial flurry of third-party projects, from Destiny 2 to the next Call of Duty (is the Brutal World War II Aesthetics as an Audience Comfort Blanket after all that Far-Future Shit thing a concern to anyone else?) via Marvel vs Capcom Infinite (oh boy, now that is going to be a bananas story mode—and a demo is out right now). But first-party happenings? There were gaps. Massive, gaping gaps.
Now, I'm not so naïve to think that every new big gaming event must equal something new from big games on the horizon—but for Sony's most significant spotlight of the calendar year, perhaps excepting PlayStation Experience (depending on who you ask, and what color their lanyard is), to not include the smallest mention on the state of The Last of Us: Part II was a surprise. It was announced six months ago, at 2016's PSX—and it will probably be the case that the next update on Naughty Dog's anticipated sequel comes at this year's event.
But then, Lost legacy was also confirmed at 2016's PSX. It's a much smaller game, admittedly—DLC for Uncharted 4, technically, though it'll serve as a standalone experience, much as The Last of Us: Left Behind did—but that got itself a sparkly new trailer. Why not more on Part II, then? A squeeze to finish Lost Legacy, perhaps, to meet its August release date. Or, maybe, there's simply nothing more to say right now. A little musical flourish, a 15-second something, though, would have been better than nothing at all for those more-than-eagerly awaiting any and every update on what is one of Sony's genuine this-has-to-be-right releases of the next few years.
In the lead up to Sony's E3 show, Twitter was abuzz with possibilities, expectations, hopes that would ultimately be dented. Something new from FromSoftware—perhaps in the Bloodborne universe, perhaps not—was predicted, with Thomas Mahler of Moon Studios (they made Ori and the Blind Forest, which did get a sequel announced at Microsoft's conference) apparently "99% certain" that an announcement would be made. It was not.
Sony subsidiary studio Sucker Punch Productions—makers of the Infamous and Sly Cooper games—have been busy at work on something for a few years now, supposedly a brand-new IP for PlayStation. Many in the games media expected to see a reveal at this year's E3—but nothing on the subject was so much as whispered by host and SIEA president Shawn Layden.
Nor was there any on-stage mention of New Knack, either. Unless I was still asleep when it was. But Knack 2 had its release date revealed ahead of Sony's presser, anyway. September 5th, oh boy, can't hardly wait, mmm hmm.
Also missing were a couple of previously announced but largely unseen-since platform exclusives. Michel Ancel's open-world survive 'em up Wild is probably on hold, again, because of the renewed activity in getting Beyond Good and Evil 2 up, running, and ultimately out the door over at Ubisoft. That makes sense.
But where has Golem disappeared to? At a time when Sony really need to showcase some significant PlayStation VR titles—look, you might think you want Skyrim in 360 degrees, which was the biggest deal of the small handful of VR games shown, but you don't, you really don't—this one, being made as it is by ex-Bungie and Valve personnel, would have given fresh confidence to those looking forlornly at a dusty headset.
And it goes on. Honestly, nobody was expecting to see Death Stranding, and its director Hideo Kojima himself said it wouldn't be a part of 2017's E3 line-up—but since when have any of us absolutely believed what people in such positions say in the run up to showcase events? Smoke and mirrors, fake-outs and make-outs, or something. Likewise, no breath was being held for more on either the Final Fantasy VII remake or the cry-me-a-river proposition that is Shenmue III—but even the smallest update can be reassuring for people who have such hopes pinned on releases like these, games with such uncommon legacies that have fostered amazing personal connections with players.
And Dreams. Remember Dreams? Media Molecule's incredible-looking sandbox create-and-play tool… game… pigeonhole-shattering new slice of user-generated-content-ahoy software was announced at E3 2015, and immediately captured imaginations. Since then, though, delays have seen a proposed beta slip from 2016 to, we're told, later this year, and there's no release date so much as rumored. It'd have been so great, and reassuring to be honest, to have seen another sample of what Dreams is going to be capable of, on stage in LA.
Still, at least those Vita games were a surprise.