Episode 160: Sony’s Perfect Focus on Storytelling in Games

Hiya!

Last week, I had to postpone my thoughts on how Sony performed during E3 to talk about, of all things, wrestling. But I love wrestling and I just had to get the word out that Money in the Bank was a spectacular show. But I still also wanted to talk about Sony showing during E3… and that time is now! When I compared their trailers and gameplay demos to the ones Microsoft had, I can safely say I was more satisfied with how Sony presented their games. At first, I couldn’t really put my finger on why. Initially, I thought it was just because I’ve been very loyal to the PlayStation brand. I have been using Sony brand consoles starting with the PlayStation 2 and I have played a few original PlayStation games since my brother’s console was still working when I was very young.

But, no. Actually, I would want to be amazed by Microsoft’s console. I’ve always watched game trailers that are exclusive for the Xbox consoles and there were times I would feel jealous of what was available on Microsoft’s side of the console war. I always dreamed of playing games life Fable and I was kind of envious the Xbox 360 had the technology and the gumption to manufacture the Kinect and the myriad of dancing games. But they were never really enough to get my very own Microsoft console because I did and I still think the exclusives for Sony consoles were always much better. And, sorry to Nintendo fans, but I never ever considered getting a Wii!

Ya gotta pick!

Ya gotta pick!

This is precisely why I love E3! E3 is the venue where all Sony and Microsoft try to win over the opposing fanboys with their new toys and games. And I do think Microsoft did try their best to lure me over to their side. But, honestly, I wasn’t biting. Microsoft’s show was good and had several mindblowing announcements like the new Xbox One S (XBoneS?) and Project Scorpio. But the games? I didn’t care for them! And, if I don’t care for the games on a console, why would I get the console?

When it came to Sony’s presentation, however, they grabbed me early with the reveal of a new God of War and followed it up with more games I wanted to get like Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Detroit: Become Human and Death Stranding among others. And, if I’m being honest here, I shouldn’t really care for a lot of these games! We don’t get the see what Death Stranding is going to be like as it was just a trailer and I didn’t really care all that much for the previous God of War games! But the gameplay of the new entry in the series made me suddenly care!

So, how did Sony grab my whole attention while Microsoft didn’t? Well, it would be easy to say it was a stronger focus on games. But how did Sony make me care for games I shouldn’t have really cared for? Well, I initially thought it was because it was because there was more focus on games rather than Microsoft’s conference. But that’s not exactly the entire story. I re-watched the gameplay footages and trailers for both Sony and Microsoft conferences and I realized something. It wasn’t just the focus on the games. Rather, I believe it’s more on the focus on the story of the games!

Now, you can say stories in video games shouldn’t matter. I mean, most of the classic 8-bit games don’t really have complex storylines. Super Mario Bros. has a chubby plumber running to the right to save a princess from a dragon. Contra had a couple of guys that looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone blast aliens. There were a few exceptions, of course, such as Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. But most of the time, games didn’t really need a story to be hits.

However, games have definitely evolved since then. Nowadays, gamers do like to follow some kind of narrative to push them along. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for video games is up for debate but it is the world we’re living in now. And, like most gamers today, I do appreciate a good story with my video games. In fact, the primary reason why I fell in love with video games was because of the weird stories. When I was younger, I didn’t really play video games. However, I still managed to enjoy Silent Hill 2 and Final Fantasy X among others even though I never played them as I would watch my brother go through them. I never felt bored watching him play because I loved watching what would happen to the characters! I loved watching what would happen to Tidus and company or what strange creatures James Sunderland would encounter as he would explore the misty town of Silent Hill. Watching how the story unfolded while my brother would play them made me form an emotional connection with the characters and to the game’s themselves.

Now, going back to Sony’s E3 presentation for this year, you could see that most of the games concentrated on giving us glimpses of the story. They showed Kratos try to teach his son how to hunt in God of War. In Detroit: Being Human, there was a lot of emphasis on how your actions will influence the events you encounter in the game. They showed the little kid in The Last Guardian comment on how the “guardian” has an injured wing.

But what made them work is how the stories were being told. They showed really powerful images of people displaying emotions, giving us powerful images. Seeing Norman Reedus cradling a baby in his arms and then suddenly breaking down in tears and then seeing him stand up to find him alone on a beach surrounded by dead marine life was simply amazing and made you want to get the game to see what all of this meant!

But not all of them have to be mysteries. In fact, I think the most powerful and most touching scene I saw actually came from the ending of God of War’s E3 gameplay demo. It’s after Kratos forces his son to kill the deer they’ve been hunting throughout the demo stage. The child tries to say something afterwards but Kratos just sits down and looks towards the horizon. The child then follows suit. And what happens next really tugged at my heartstrings and nearly made me bawl like a little kid again.

Kratos then looks at his son and he starts to reach out to touch him. To console him. But he then pauses. Instead, he gets the knife from the deer’s neck and pulls it out without a word. Kratos hands the knife to his son and tells him he is ready. It’s not the handing of the knife that gets me. Rather, it’s when he reaches out to touch his son but relents. It’s like he knew he shouldn’t comfort his son at this point in time as he has to force him to grow up. He has to harden him as early as now. But the mere act of reaching out shows that Kratos does love his son but has to be tough on him. It’s a really beautiful but subtle scene and I loved it! And it made me want to get this new God of War game!

*sniff*

*sniff*

Sony for me won E3 because of scenes like this. By focusing on these touching and soul filled moments, it showed that video gaming is much more than just killing and maiming or getting to the end of the stage. There is a lot of heart in them with the stories they tell as well. And I can’t wait for these games to be released!

Speaking of upcoming games, I guess there’s no better time like the present to tell you about what games I’m looking forward to after E3! Well, actually, there is a better time! That time is next week! See you then!

Who won E3 in your opinion? Let me know in the comments section below!

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