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Sony concluded one of the least surprising PlayStation E3 conferences in recent memory with a pretty clutch closer: Spider-Man. The PlayStation-exclusive superhero game from Insomniac Games now has a launch window of 2018, and if its actual gameplay looks as sharp as its debut trailer, we’re in for the most stunning Insomniac game yet.
The eight-minute demo looked like a cross between the devs’ Sunset Overdrive series and the Batman Arkham brawlers—with, of course, a healthy dollop of web-slinging whimsy. A young-sounding Peter Parker cracked wise as he took down countless masked thugs, using equal parts stealth, combat, and web-slinging trickery. On-screen indicators popped up when Parker could either insta-jump at a location or spin a useful web. This resulted in some wild enemy takedowns, including one where a foe was caught and then flung over a rafter and others where Spidey whipped giant, iron bars around like Lincoln logs.
Eventually, the game’s claustrophobic, sneak-and-fight sequence opened up to a city-spanning chase between Spidey and a low-flying helicopter. It looked simple (and thrilling) enough for the demo’s player to chain together Tarzan web swings and high-speed wall runs while traversing a densely populated city. This downtown scene, by the way, consisted of a surprising variety of building types and textures along with tons of reflective window effects, dense foliage, and many denizens on the roads below. (I first assumed this was pre-rendered footage, but then I remembered what an incredible job Insomniac did with last year’s Ratchet and Clank remaster. If anybody can pull such a game off in real time on PlayStation 4 hardware, it’s those devs.)
More actual gameplay, less talk
The presentation kicked off with a no-surprises, all-action bang—and its hour-long run was only interrupted twice by Sony executive Shawn Layden to thank the crowd for attending.
Three previously announced games received new gameplay reveals. Horizon Zero Dawn will receive its first DLC pack, The Trident Winds, in 2017. While that DLC trailer saw the return of red-headed, spear-wielding warrior Aloy, it included conversations from a few new male characters. The DLC appeared to take place almost exclusively in snowy environments, and it closed with Aloy hopping on the back of an apparently new robo-dinosaur. “I’m not here for glory,” the game’s hero remarked. “I’m here for the mountain. For answers.”
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Days Gone received their lengthiest gameplay reveals since both games were announced last year. In the case of the Uncharted spinoff, which still has no release window, the footage was quickfire and scattershot, but it sure looked like more gorgeous, globe-trotting Uncharted adventure—with, of course, two female leads for the series’ first time. Days Gone, on the other hand, had a massive mission teased, and the game is starting to look more like a zombie-loaded version of The Last Of Us, thanks to its emphasis on stealth and shameless, violent brutality. Stabbings, jump scares, and sneaky attempts to deal with other human interlopers filled out one of the Los Angeles crowd’s favorite gameplay sequences of the night.
Unlike past Sony E3 conferences, this year’s had very little in the way of surprise old-game remasters or refreshes. The sole exception was Shadow of the Colossus, an apparent full-scale remaster of the 2005 Team Ico classic. A brief sizzle reel, made up of apparent gameplay footage, showed off improved draw distances and fidelity than the PlayStation 2 original but seemingly identical gameplay. (This appears to be a much bigger project than the game’s “HD remaster” on PlayStation 3 a few years ago.)
Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite had more of its playable characters confirmed by way of a cinematic trailer, and it went a long way to confirm apparent leaks of the game’s full character roster (including not-surprising-at-all new character Rocket). Heroes from Marvel and Capcom games gathered to get intel and take on foes from both series, all shouting at each other in dramatic fashion while surprise friends and foes appeared. (Mega Man, for example, seemed quite concerned to see Zero from Mega Man X appear out of nowhere.) The whole thing looks like a Smash Bros.-like Subspace Emissary quest mode. The fighting game will launch on both major consoles September 19, but a story mode demo is now officially live and free to download exclusively on PlayStation 4 systems.
Capcom’s other major E3 title, Monster Hunter: World, received its world-premiere trailer a few days after its existence leaked via trademark claims. Though the trailer only showed off a single warrior using the game’s variety of massive swords and guns to take down enormous dinosaurs and mythical beasts, Capcom announced that the game will emphasize online matchmaking for four-player sessions—and will strive to connect players in all regions, as opposed to more quarantined gameplay servers for prior Monster Hunter games. The game will launch on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems in “early 2018,” with a PC release to follow.
Call of Duty: World War II teased a mission in which a battalion storms a snowy Normandy. Shotguns, sniper rifles, grenades, machine guns, tanks, airplanes, and lots of explosions filled out a predicable-yet-sexy reveal for the latest in Activision’s long-running sales blockbuster. (For funsies, Activision set off actual fireworks inside its Los Angeles theater to time with the bangs in the trailers.)
PSVR: Skyrim and… uh… fishing?
Don’t have enough platforms to play Skyrim on? In addition to the previously announced Nintendo Switch version, Bethesda announced that it will release the fifth Elder Scrolls adventure on PlayStation VR. Skyrim VR’s reveal was missing a few details, but the biggies were confirmed shortly after the presentation: it’s coming in November, and it will include the full game plus all three of its expansion packs. We’re still curious about the trailer’s two-hand control system, and whether that means Skyrim VR will require PlayStation Move motion wands.
The rest of Sony’s PlayStation VR reveal segment was short on surprises or wow factor, however, with a cute mouse-as-hero adventure called Moss proving the biggest shock. This game’s gorgeous art style, combining the Mouse Guard series with Studio Ghibli-styled characters, wasn’t quite enough to make us wonder just how this Zelda-like game will benefit from being in VR. Additionally, Square Enix announced a first-person, fishing-based Final Fantasy game, titled Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV. Yeah, we don’t get it, either.
Two more previously announced Sony games received the spotlight treatment in the form of lengthy, actual-gameplay trailers. God Of War (the brand-new no-number reboot, to clarify) now has an “early 2018” release window, and its Kratos-as-dad story is starting to become a little bit clearer. A woman who may or may not be Kratos’ lover urged him to be kinder to the little boy who joins your adventure: “I knew who you were before. He is not your past; he is your son. And he needs you more than ever.”
To protect his boy, Kratos wielded a giant hatchet, which could be thrown as a boomerang, along with a shield that could change shapes, turn into a blade, and grow spikes depending on how Kratos wielded it. Pretty much every enemy Kratos killed exploded in a shining-orange burst of supernatural blood and guts, and the series’ predilection for massive beasts returned—especially in the form of a screen-filling, stories-tall serpent whose eye was many times bigger than Kratos.
The show’s second-place award for best trailer came from Detroit: Become Human, and the game appears to finally combine remarkable motion- and facial-capture technology with an intriguing plot and cool gameplay possibilities. Detroit‘s players will take on the role of various androids in near-future Michigan and analyze interactive environments to either overcome active ordeals or solve mysteries.
In one sequence, apparent lead character Marcus gets caught by police while trying to break into a building. The trailer then rewound time so that we could see Marcus make different choices to either hide from or confront oncoming police forces. From there, the trailer showed off a massive criss-crossing web of decisions and their ripple-effect consequences.
Whether the game’s plot and acting turn out anywhere near as interesting as the stuff in the trailer is still unclear—and we may not find out any time soon, since the game didn’t have a release date announcement—but incredible face rendering, complete with emotional, tear-stricken moments, makes me hopeful that beleaguered gaming auteur David Cage can finally pull a great game off.