Everything you missed from Sony's State of Play

Gaming Editor Alex Darbyshire goes into detail with Sony's final State of Play presentation of the year

Alex Darbyshire
19th December 2019
Image: YouTube (PlayStation)
It’s been around ten months since Sony began their ‘State of Play’ livestream events, a kind of answer to Nintendo’s ‘Direct’ events, famous for their exciting surprises and friendly tone. Sony’s State of Play streams, by comparison, have been middling, failing to deliver quite the same punch.

That’s not to say that they aren’t getting better, however, as Sony’s presentation on 10 December may have been the strongest yet. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly shown this week.

In an attempt to stave off the seasonal depression just a little longer, I’m going to begin with what good Sony did bring to the table. Dreams, a game creation kit from LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule, was initially revealed in 2013. Subsequently, a trickle of information preceded the 2015 announcement of the game.

Fans have been able to play Dreams in early access since April of this year, but they’ll be happy to learn that it now has a release date. This powerful creation kit will be available on 14 February 2020, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this and have a play around with the countless tools it has to offer.

Ever since playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I’ve been a sucker for most anything PlatinumGames Inc. makes. I feel this fanaticism is not misplaced, however. Barring a few duds, such as 2014’s Legend of Korra, the Japanese hack-and-slash developer could do no wrong throughout the last decade. Hits such as Bayonetta 2, NieR: Automata and Astral Chain has proven that Platinum know what they’re doing when creating wacky worlds and thoroughly entertaining gameplay.

Platinum know what they’re doing when creating wacky worlds and thoroughly entertaining gameplay.

It’s no doubt, then, that I can’t wait to hear more about Babylon’s Fall, the latest feather on Platinum’s action game hat. While what we saw was incredibly brief, and clearly not yet in a playable state, some satisfying animation and excellent art direction intrigued me nonetheless.

Some fans worry that Platinum are spreading themselves a little thin, between this game and Bayonetta 3, with news on both being piecemeal at best. As for me, I’m remaining optimistic about Platinum’s quality assurance, albeit skeptical about having to wait until next summer to hear more about Babylon’s Fall

Another exciting revelation was the return of French game developer Éric Chahi to the industry, being quiet regarding new content since 2011’s From Dust. Chahi, most famous for action-puzzle platformers Another World and Heart of Darkness is experimenting once again, this time in the medium of virtual reality. Paper Beast is a beautifully rendered VR experience based on his work creating an interactive volcanic lava simulator on Réunion Island back in 2014.

Paper Beast is a beautifully rendered VR experience based on Chahi's work creating an interactive volcanic lava simulator.

This game combines an eery, paper origami-esque art style with aspects of god games such as Populous and Black & White. Players can manipulate their environment by interacting with both the creatures shown as well as objects in the environment, with the creatures’ behaviour adapting procedurally to the player’s actions.

My only worry for Chahi’s new project is that much of this incredibly interesting design will go over the heads of most gamers who simply want a fun experience, rather than an environmental simulator. Combined with the fact that the game will naturally sell fewer copies, as VR setups are far from cheap, I can’t help but hold my breath for this one. Paper Beast is set to release in Q1 of 2020.

Finally, there was the big reveal of the livestream. As had been rumoured in the weeks leading up to the State of Play, Capcom officially announced a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Appearing to be in the fashion of this year’s remake of Resident Evil 2, there was little to show besides the reveal.

Capcom officially announced a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

A flashy, albeit pre-rendered cutscene featured first-person perspectives and a similar art style to 2019’s RE2, but it’s unclear as to whether the actual game will feature this, or an entirely new control scheme. I do, however, have full faith in Capcom to deliver on this game.

While the remake of Resident Evil 2 was not perfect, it definitely breathed new life into an already spectacular experience, making it at least equally deserving of a play through as the original. I believe Capcom have begun to understand exactly what fans loved and still love about Resident Evil, and so what to give a touch-up for modern consoles.

While Resident Evil 3 may have been less popular during its initial release, I feel this will give Capcom an even greater chance to really deliver a thrilling horror experience, with over twenty years of hindsight to inform better design choices.

Capcom have an even greater chance to deliver a thrilling horror experience than with 2019's Resident Evil 2

Discussed above are the games I think you should be watching as we step forwards into a new decade. The State of Play events are never entirely good, however, and so I feel obliged to cover the weaker points of this short presentation. Let’s take a look at the more shit parts of the livestream.

It’s not extreme to say that the presentation began with a misstep. After a quick introduction teasing Untitled Goose Game on PlayStation 4, it was announced that Spellbreak, a magic-focused battle royale game was also coming to the console. The ironically named Proletariat Inc. released Spellbreak earlier this year on the Epic Games store, to little fanfare. The game combines some more classic RPG elements into a battle royale, which is an interesting idea in theory.

The execution of this looks messy, with little feedback for many of the spells shown. I don’t know how this game can occupy much of a niche in its current state, especially considering its £44.99 price tag, amongst free to play competition such as Apex Legends and Fortnite. It’s a shame that this game will likely be broken on the shore of PlayStation’s store before long.

Next on the shit-list is Predator: Hunting Grounds, which combines gameplay from Far Cry, Call of Duty, and Evolve in an attempt to create a thrilling asymmetrical multiplayer game, evoking the same emotions as the movies. The result, sadly, is that everything seems so derivative that the entire game appears like a beige mess of mechanics.

What IllFonic have attempted here looks wack, to say the least.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on IllFonic, creators of Friday the 13th: The Game, but even the former game appeared so much better at an early stage than Hunting Grounds. I’m glad IllFonic are experimenting with multiplayer systems, truly. It makes a change from every damn game including a battle royale mode of one kind or another. It’s just a shame that what they’ve attempted here looks wack, to say the least.

A small island in the derivative sludge was a short speech by former president of Sony Computer Entertainment Ken Kutaragi, regarded as the ‘father of PlayStation’. In what first appeared to be a masturbatory speech, with Sony patting their own backs, Kutaragi thanked innumerable people for making PlayStation the platform it is today. After thanking the many developers and journalists who helped get PlayStation off the ground, he expressed gratitude to us, the gamers.

Kutaragi's speech felt more or less like every other speech from a publisher for a milestone like this.

While the speech was very warm, and a nice way to more or less bookend the presentation, it also felt more or less like every other speech from a publisher for a milestone like this. I wonder if it’s the same person who writes all their scripts.

The final clip shown was a snippet of footage for Ghost of Tsushima, teasing that more would be shown at The Game Awards, the details of which we will be covering very soon…

To summarise this very whistle-stop event, Sony have come leaps and bounds in delivering information to their fans, but still have a long way to go when it comes to killer online content to contend with Nintendo.

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AUTHOR: Alex Darbyshire
Gaming Editor, part-time human.

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