Is it “Not E3” already? It kind of snuck up on me. Then again, that’s to be expected when an annual event gets its legs taken out from under it and dies a quick and quiet death. E3 used to be the biggest time for gamers all over the world and it looks like it won’t be coming back for a good while. But that still won’t stop game developers and publishers from holding their own versions of E3 styled press conferences and video packages.
Sony is starting out “Not E3” this year with their PlayStation Showcase. And they started out… meh. There were some games that tickled my fancy but a whole mess of them didn’t. That’s to be expected when the PlayStation Showcase mostly featured trailers and only a few seconds of actual gameplay. With so many games coming out that follow this trailer format, it can be hard to keep them from blending into each other without some kind of eye-catching gimmick to make them stand out. Thankfully, there were a few which did.
The first real game to grab my attention was Phantom Blade 0. Ever since the Soulslike genre became a thing, there have been a lot of gaming developers who have tried to add their own spin to it. Well, Chinese game developer, s-game Studios, is delivering their own take with Phantom Blade 0. This was the surprise of the entire PlayStation Showcase as, while showing off very fast-paced hack-and-slash gameplay, still feels very Soulslike. It certainly has that first impression. Now, here’s hoping it can stick the landing of delivering punishing but very addictive gameplay that the masses want.
Another game I’ve been looking forward to that’s been in previews for a long time is The Plucky Squire. It looks like a simple 2D action-RPG but with the twist of the characters being able to venture out of the story book and into the “real world.” It’s still looking like a fun and enjoyable romp with some imaginative twists on how they would implement gameplay elements from the real world.
Konami is the latest Japanese game developer to have jumped on the remake bandwagon. I’m guessing this glorified pachinko gambling machine maker saw the recent success of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII Remake and all of money Capcom’s been making with their Resident Evil Remakes so they had to get in on the action with Metal Gear Solid… Triangle? Anyway, it’s a remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The trailer leaves much to be desired as they only showed off a pre-rendered trailer with no gameplay. Color me cautiously optimistic as this is my favorite of the Metal Gear Solid games. However, Konami is Konami and they’ll find a way to irk gamers all over the world with some WTF choices. Prove me wrong, Konami! Prove me wrong!
Of course, being a huge Street Fighter fan, I was extremely happy to see more of Capcom’s upcoming Street Fighter 6. More specifically, we got a trailer for the game’s story mode, World Tour mode, where you create a character, travel all over the world to interact with other Street Fighter characters. It already looks like it’s going to be a massive time sink since, if you can meet up with the starting roster, that’s already 16 people you’ll have to shake hands with! Can’t wait!
Another Capcom property that looks like it’s going to be a banger is Dragon’s Dogma II. I’ve never played the original nor have I watched the Netflix series but I have heard good things about the first game. The trailer for the sequel looks like it’s trying real hard to make people like me who haven’t played the original game to try this out. Honestly, they did a great job.
Of course, the crowning achievement of the PlayStation Showcase is Spider-Man 2. And Sony really devoted a lot of time to making this game look special. Around 10 minutes to be exact. 10 glorious minutes of how fantastic Spider-Man 2 is going to be. What really sets it apart is the fact that this wasn’t a trailer. It was actual gameplay showing off the differences between Peter Parker and Miles Morales. It appears Peter Parker acquired the Venom symbiote and, as such, acts much more aggressive. Miles’ Spider-Man still seems to follow the same gameplay he had in his Spider-Man game entry. The new mechanic seems to be the ability for the player to swap between either Spider-Man characters depending on the situation or the story. Hopefully, they give players the flexibility to pick and choose which one most of the time.
You may be wondering why I didn’t mention Final Fantasy XVI yet. Well, that’s because I’m simply not all that excited for it. I will say what they did show during the PlayStation Showcase did get me mildly hyped. However, I’m more on a wait-and-see with Final Fantasy XVI at the moment. There’s still nothing that’s really clicking with me. The Eikon battles look fantastic but the bulk of the battles is going to be a flashing lights showcase which just isn’t pushing my buttons in the right way. Same can be said for the story, which seems just a little flat. The trailer for Final Fantasy XVI looked fine but nothing that really blew my mind.
There were a few other games that tickled my fancy but I really need to know more about them to really get excited for them. Helldivers II came off really strong with the Starship Trooper vibes. As a fan of the movie, I can appreciate the parody. But it does seem to be a heavy co-op game so that quickly puts it in my “probably not going to play” pile. Cat Quest: Pirates of the Purribean (should’ve been “Purr-rates of the Cat-ribean” but what do I know?) does come off as a little too cute-sy and simplistic for a lot of people’s tastes. But I do like how it tries something new. If it can be fun, then there’s nothing wrong with cute-sy and simplistic, right? Still, I need to see more for it to really grab my attention.
Alan Wake II also looked remarkable. With the survival genre getting a resurgence in popularity, it’s getting a sequel and we got a good look of what it has in store for gamers at the PlayStation Showcase. It looks like this time around, it won’t just be Alan Wake doing all the exploring as you’ll also be controlling a female detective embroiled in whatever the writer has become mixed up in. It looks promising.
Speaking of survival horror, Capcom is adding VR support to Resident Evil 4 Remake. The trouble is I don’t have nor do I have any intention of getting any kind of VR equipment. VR simply never appealed to me in any way. So, as cool as it looks, this is a hard pass for me. Honestly, I think this would be a blast to try out but I do wish they would add something like a first person mode first to the base game.
In fact, I guess we can lump in all of the VR stuff shown during the PlayStation Showcase. I get Sony has to plug this as their new VR setup is expensive and they want consumers to buy it. Sure, it’s probably the cheapest VR unit out there right now. But I don’t know anyone who would be convinced to get one with the games they’re pumping out. It has to be a really killer app that will make me wish I had a PlayStation VR headset strapped to my head. But when you promote the system with things like Beat Saber, Crossfire Saber Squad and Synapse, I don’t think anyone is going to be rushing out to drain my wallet for a PlayStation VR.
After those aforementioned games, everything feels like a blur as nothing really stood out. I don’t expect every game to be stick out in my mind but this seemed more like a problem of quantity over quality at times. The good games looked really good and the meh games were just meh. I guess you can take this positively as there weren’t any dumb looking games like Goodbye Volcano High, the emo game with dragons.
Still, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by this year’s PlayStation Showcase. While, like I said, the good games were good, there wasn’t anything that was really great this year. There wasn’t a killer announcement for me this time around. You can’t expect every show to hit it big but I can’t help it! That’s what E3 was all about…
…Then again, this is the era of Not E3. Maybe I should temper my expectations better.
What did you think of this year’s PlayStation Showcase? Were there any big name games which grabbed your attention? Let me know what they were in the comments section below!