After E3 was announced to be a no-go this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, gamers feared that the annual gaming palooza would become a regular old week of lockdown. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Sony has stayed the course and will be releasing the PlayStation 5 this winter. And in case there were any doubts about the console’s catalogue at launch, Sony has shown off a slew of upcoming games for this next generation.
Kicking the event off, however, was Grand Theft Auto V. Yes, you read that right. The fifth entry in the series will be back for its third PlayStation console, with the promise of certain graphical enhancements, which weren’t even shown as the footage had been recorded on the PlayStation 4. The biggest drive for this re-release seems to be GTA’s online feature. Rockstar Studio stated in their trailer that current online players will receive $1 million every month until the game’s launch on the next-gen console. Meanwhile, PlayStation 5 players will receive access to GTA Online for free at launch. Watch out Skyrim, Rockstar is driving hard for your how-many-times-can-we-remaster-this-game crown.
After this odd opening, the show got back on track with a short teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is to be released for the winter season. 2018’s Spider-Man was already a visual treat with slick gameplay, and Miles Morales seems to be no exception. The trailer debuted his extremely comics-accurate suit and glimpses of the sort of threats you will be facing. Traces of Miles’ electricity powers are also coyly scattered throughout.
The morning after the event, Sony Interactive Entertainment EVP head of European Business, Simon Rutter, stated in an interview with The Telegraph that: “I guess you could call it an expansion and an enhancement to the previous game. There’s a substantial Miles Morales component – which is the expansion element – but also within the game as well there’s been major enhancements to the game and the game engine, obviously deploying some of the major PS5 technology and features.”
Rutter’s response seems to suggest that Morales will be akin to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, in that it will be a story-based spin-off that doesn’t skimp on graphics or story, but could potentially be a fair amount shorter than the base game. This wouldn’t surprise me because it has only been two years since the first Spider-Man and a true sequel is likely still in the midst of production.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales wasn’t the only game developed by Insomniac that was revealed during the event. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart was also displayed in a wonderful edit of gameplay and cinematics. A sequel to 2016’s Ratchet and Clank, which itself was a remake of the original game, Rift Apart will be a direct continuation of the franchise’s reboot series.
Meanwhile, both the Hitman and Resident Evil franchises are getting true sequels for the next-gen console. Hitman III doesn’t give too much of itself away. Though there’s probably very little to give away. Nevertheless, what the Hitman games lack in depth, they more than make up for with brutal hilarity and I’m sure fans will be happy to know that this will carry over into the future of gaming.
On the other hand, Resident Evil 8 or VIl.l.age: Resident Evil or Resident Evil 8: Village (I imagine this started as a brainstorming exercise and they couldn’t decide on it before the show) will act as a direct sequel to 2017’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Continuing the story of Ethan, Village will see him come into blows with classic character Chris Redfield as Ethan ends up in the mysterious village. Despite being set in the modern day, the village is antiquated with a Victorian aesthetic, which is carried over by the residents’ outfits and the presence of a werewolf-like creature. While recent remakes have brought back the glory of zombies, Capcom has clarified its dedication to variants of its horror ordeals.
Additionally, Tango Gameworks – the Japanese video game developers that created The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2 – is back with a new horror IP. Published by Bethesda, GhostWire: Tokyo combines cyberpunk with ghostbusting in an affair that looks as action-packed as it is creepy. Announced last year during E3 at Bethesda’s press briefing, GhostWire looks like it will live up to the boardroom pitch, but hyped fans will still have to wait another year to play it.
Proving to be an undying trend in the world of gaming, Sony unveiled quite the assortment of fantasy games. The first one to take centre stage though was Square Enix’s Project Athia – currently a working title. Not much is known, but the trailer featured some beautiful environments and landscapes, while the player character was outfitted in trainers – I feel like this is bigger than it sounds. If the gameplay and expository titles are anything to go by – and I’d really like to thing that they are – Project Athia seems to follow a woman that has breached into a new world where she’ll adapt (with parkour and chlorokinetic combat) to overcome and survive.
If you prefer a more cartoony art style, brothers Mark and Josh Grier from Ember Lab have got you covered. Introducing Kena: Bridge of Spirits, a new action adventure game that entails the titular character seeking answers around the demise of a village. Gameplay has demonstrated the versatility of the character’s staff, being able to transform into a bow and sword, all the while fighting an array of mystical creatures. The YouTube description states that it “seamlessly blends action and narrative into an unforgettable experience”, which, needless to say, is a tall boast that will be for the players to decide one when it releases sometime in the future.
Feeling a little nostalgic? Not a problem! Oddworld: Soulstorm – a re-imagining of 1998’s Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus – and Demon’s Souls – a remake of the 2009 title for PlayStation 3 – are both making a stand on the upcoming platform. While Soulstorm is taking a darkly comedic route to its gameplay, and its story is being greatly rewritten compared to the original basis, Demon’s Souls seems to be taking a more faithful approach to its adaptation, focusing on stunning enhanced graphics (courtesy of the masters at Bluepoint Games) and keeping a serious tone.
But what about indie fantasy? Well, developer Neostream is getting very close to releasing Little Devil Inside, a fantasy game that tells the story of an old, pampered man and his monster-hunting ward. The trailer was delightful and put me in the mind of a Wes Anderson film, particularly in the clay-like models being juxtaposed with realistic environments. For those who don’t know, Little Devil Inside began as a kickstarted back in 2015, hoping to debut on the Wii U. Yeah, I know, right? The Wii U may be long gone now, but it will be a timed exclusive for both the PS4 and the PS5 before launching on PC.
Little Devil Inside isn’t the only indie fantasy game announced, though it does feel like it. Indie developers Counterplay are releasing Godfall, a modern fantasy RPG that’s to be released for the holiday season this year. The trailer primarily highlighted the action and overlaid it with a hip-hop soundtrack. The whole experience felt underwhelming, with the little-to-no sense of story and mismatch of setting and music making the unveil feel very generic. Hopefully, the trailer is a poor representation of the final product.
I’m sure you’re tired of reading about fantasy games by now, but we’ve got one more, and boy is it a big one! In fact, Sony deemed it so big that it closed the hour-long set of reveals. Yes, 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn is getting a much-deserved sequel: Horizon Forbidden West. A continuation of the original game, West will be set in far-future western America and Aloy (Ashley Burch) will continue to serve as the protagonist. A stand-out presentation, West doubled down on its numinous landscapes and bountiful biomes.
Although the fantasy genre dominated much of the show, science-fiction came a close second. Stray, a cyberpunk-style game, received a teaser trailer featuring a small cinematic sequence. The teaser followed a cat through the streets of the unnamed neo-city, populated by very cute robots that appear to be enslaved in a dystopian setting. Until the end of the trailer, I was certain that the cat would be traversing the city until it found an organic human, who would be revealed to be the player character. But the reveal that the cat is the player was so much better. In an over-saturated market, I am here for a cat-based cyberpunk experience.
Caught between sci-fi and fantasy is Heart Machine’s offering, Solar Ash. Using an art style reminiscent of The Game Baker’s Furi, Solar Ash treats players with surrealistic worlds and high-speed traversal. Like other indie games showcased, Solar Ash will be a timed exclusive for both the PS4 and PS5 before being released on Microsoft Windows.
On the other end of the financial scale, Pragmata – a game that is still two years away from release – was highlighted in a two-minute cinematic. You can tell that the game is still in its early stages, with very little context being given to the film. Another post-apocalyptic affair, it seems to be mixing neo-city areas on Earth with some sort of space exploration element. Oh, and it also features a cat.
Space exploration appears to be a larger element of Jett: The Far Shore. From the creators of Sword and Sorcery, The Far Shore uses its time in the show to emphasise its contemplative tone and dreary colour palette instead of its gameplay. A bold move by the developers, as the game is set to launch with the console and, personally speaking, the tone and sweeping concept of a civilisation moving to space didn’t exactly arouse much excitement.
Rounding out the more mature sci-fi offerings is Returnal, a Groundhog Day-themed survival game. After crashing her ship, a so-far-unnamed woman is forced to survive the planet’s hostile terrain and inhabitants. Stuck in a loop of death and rebirth, the woman (and players) soon discover that the planet is also reborn. It’s an interesting take on a worn-out concept and a middle-aged female protagonist is a refreshing change of pace. However, the shoot-em-up gameplay seems at odds with the self-serious monologue and cinematic tone.
Returnal isn’t the only game banking on the Groundhog Day concept as Deathloop is also making a stand on the next-gen console. Possibly the most stylish of the trailers shown, Deathloop highlights its bad-mouthed protagonist and zany art style, all the while explaining its concept of the world’s greatest assassins being placed in an endless tournament to kill each other. From Bethesda, Deathloop will launch as a timed exclusive and promises to give the players a greater sense of freedom in their approach to the game.
A couple of sports games were also announced, with Grand Turismo 7 taking the lead, while NBA 2K21 following shortly after. Unfortunately, I can’t offer much insight into either game, but the cars in Grand Turismo do indeed go very, very fast. If you prefer to crash your vehicles rather than drive efficiently, Destruction AllStars will provide all your demolition derby needs.
Despite a large portion of the event being dedicated to mature audiences, undoubtedly skewed to the expected demographic for the presentation, a few child-friendly additions were sprinkled throughout. Arguably the most exciting was Sackboy Adventure, a return to the beloved LittleBigPlanet series that served as the launch game for the PS3 at the end of 2006. Sackboy looks as cute as ever, while the game itself will surely be highly sought after for platform enthusiasts.
Astro’s Playroom, another return for a PlayStation mascot, also takes on the 3D platforming gig. What sets it apart, however, is the incorporation of technology with gameplay. Astro’s Playroom will feature four different worlds, with the gameplay utilising all of the Dualsense controller’s new features. A nice twist on what could otherwise have been a very conventional game.
Old properties aside, Bugsnax is a weird, borderline creepy game that children will run from in fear on Christmas Day. As the title alludes, Bugsnax features edible bugs made out of everyday foods. It comes from the developers of Octodad, which probably does a lot to explain this game’s existence. Despite how much it already makes me feel uncomfortable, I’m sure children everywhere will have a fun time recounting it a decade from now when they unlock the depths of their psyche.
Finally, Goodbye Volcano High eludes the more traditional output through its digital novel format. Taking place in a world of anthropomorphic dinosaurs, Goodbye Volcano High is almost entirely story-based (or at least I assume it is due to no gameplay being shown) and features a non-binary protagonist in an LGBT storyline. This format has become increasingly popular on PC platforms, particularly Steam, so the exposure it’s being given for the PS5 is a big stepping-stone for the genre.
The PlayStation 5 conference was much bigger than I think anyone was expecting and, although a sizeable amount of the games won’t be hitting shelves for another year, Sony has proven that there’ll be something for everyone at launch. In the meantime, more information will continue to come to light following the show, such as the Spider-Man Telegraph interview, and gamers will have to keep a sharp eye to see how the lead-up to launch plays out.
Last modified: 13th June 2020