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Sony Pre-E3 2014 Media Briefing Summary

by Thomas Wilde on June 9, 2014 @ 10:00 p.m. PDT

During Sony's Pre-E3 2014 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Batman: Arkham Knight, Battlefield: Hardline, Bloodborne, Dead Island 2, Destiny, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V, Grim Fandango HD, InFamous: Second Son, Little Big Planet 3, The Order: 1886, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, Mortal Kombat X, and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.

June 9, 2014, 6:00 PM
Los Angeles Memorial Arena

We're packed into the basement seats here, and it's a big international crowd. The motto of the night, to go by my wristband, is "Greatness Awaits." They filled us with food and beer the moment we arrived, and now we're in a big dark room where the smoke machine's already going.

Sony's coming off the greatest up-yours in modern gaming history from last year's E3, and after Microsoft's somewhat-lackluster performance this morning, a lot of people seem to expect this conference to come off like a finishing blow. Then again, it's not like Sony is without its own problems.

6:00 PM
They're starting a bit late.

6:02 PM
Music comes down, Sony logo comes up, and we're off. The audience is pumped, as they always seem to be at Sony events, and the littlest thing gets a round of manic applause.

First trailer: a capsule makes entry onto Mars, and astronauts get out. It's "the Present Day," and three guys in spacesuits are exploring the landscape until they Earth on the horizon.

"Great cities were built on Mars and Venus. Mercury became a garden world ... it was a time of miracles. We stared out at the galaxy and knew that it was our destiny to walk in the light of different stars."

Then, as always seems to happen, "the darkness found us ... and that was the end of everything. That is, until I found you." Not Guilty Spark Really is narrating this in a first-person perspective. "We've always known the darkness would return. To finish what it started. To take our home. That's why I went looking for you. For centuries. There are only a few of you who carry the light of the traveler, who have the strength to fight the darkness. I'm not going to lie to you, Guardian. You are Earth's last hope."

"If you fail, everything you know, everything humans have anywhere, will be gone forever. So you know ... no pressure."

Is it just me, or is Destiny looking more and more like Halo with the serial numbers filed off? The same Messianic archetype, a lot of similar-looking tech, and even a floating drone ....


6:08 PM
Andrew House comes onstage to thank us for being here tonight and to reiterate the PlayStation's focus on connectivity and community. Destiny "will help define this next generation of gaming. You'll be able to play Destiny first on PlayStation."

PlayStation gamers will have first access to the Destiny beta starting July 17. For PS4, starting this Thursday and going through the weekend, PS4 owners can play the Destiny first-look beta.

Exclusive white PS4 bundle on 9/9/2014: 500-GB PS4, white Dual Shock, 30-day voucher, and a copy of Destiny.

6:11 PM
"Another new IP that is only available on PlayStation 4": a guy with a gun is trying to reactivate the power in a nearly dark basement somewhere. It's dark, oppressive, and something sounds like it's groaning out in the darkness. He proceeds carefully — over-the-shoulder camera shows us an open anatomical dummy on a table — but sees nothing until he finds a blood trail going into an open vent. He's using a big bull's-eye lantern to see, and it finally shows him ... a zombie, eating a corpse.

Maybe not quite a zombie; it's weirdly mutating as it notices him. He shoots it, runs, and it gives chase. Now it's gameplay, the thing not noticing gunfire as the player backpedals and slams him into a wall. It throws him through a window, he loses his long gun, and a QTE activates to slam what might be a syringe of medicine into his arm.

He's back on his feet, staggering away to his shotgun, but he's still hurt, and the thing's still out there. (Might be a werewolf, actually.) It's tracking his scent by the blood he's left on the ground. The player takes cover, fires at it, but it doesn't notice slugs from the long gun, either ... and fade to black.

It's The Order: 1886.

6:15 PM
New trailer. A colorful goldfish swims through a field of light, to meet what looks like an origami crane. The game is called Entwined.

A new team made up of recent graduates called Pixel Opus has been working on Entwined, which is their first game. Two souls are in love but cannot be together. It looks a lot like Rez; "a new twist on dual-stick control," where each stick controls a different character, and over the course of nine unique lifetimes, you must guide these characters to be together, at which point they become a dragon. You'll be able to use the dragon to create your own "aerial sculpture" out of the paint-like trails it leaves behind.

Entwined is available right now in the PlayStation Store for $9.99 (!), with PS3 and Vita to follow as part of their "cross-buy" program.

6:19 PM
He segues into InFamous: Second Son. There's a new piece of standalone DLC — you don't have to own the game to play the DLC — coming later this summer.

A snow-covered fortress, with a woman inside a cell, lit by a single beam of light: it's Fetch. "Please. Tell me what happened."

Looks like it's a solo scenario for Fetch called First Light. Coming August 2014.


6:21 PM
Little Big Planet 3 is on the big board. People are cheering before anyone can say anything. It's going to be on the PlayStation 4.

There's much more depth in the stages; a new power-up called the Pumpinator lets you spray water, which reveals a "new friend for Sackboy": Oddsock, who can wall-jump (although not without difficulty) and is faster than Sackboy.

Another new friend's named Toggle, who's the biggest and strongest of the friends. He can move big blocks aside, which opens the next arrow. At the touch of a button, Toggle can also become much smaller and lighter to move through tiny spaces.

A fourth new character, Swoop, can fly and carry other characters (although Toggle needs to shrink before Swoop can hold him, and the way Swoop struggles seems to indicate he can't carry any of them forever), and they're playing all four of them at once. The puzzles emphasize cooperation, with Swoop hitting aerial obstacles and Toggle moving through small spaces. Then they get each other killed with a swinging spike trap and hilarity ensues.

Ah, here's where the gut punch is: They're focusing on their exclusive IP that's coming out pretty soon, rather than "eventually" or 2015. LBP3 is coming in November.

6:28 PM
When LBP3 launches, you can go online and play any of the user-generated levels from LBP or LBP2 in LBP3, with improved graphics on PS4.

6:29 PM
They're introducing a "completely new IP from one of the industry's most respected game creators": Bloodborne, directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki.

It's a From Software game, set in a spooky quasi-Victorian city from the looks of it. A mob with pitchforks and torches is moving through the streets, along with some undead dog-lookin' thing. Somebody's dragging a corpse, and somebody's got a massive jagged sword, and he's killing whatever he can find. If I had to guess, we're looking at an action-horror game with ... werewolves again? It's a CGI trailer, and it's not being particularly obvious. It's coming in 2015.


6:32 PM
Far Cry 4 is introduced by the creative director is designed to "let you create your own story" in a country "filled with weaponized animals and ruled by an eccentric despot."

It's not the same footage from Ubisoft's conference, thankfully. You're on top of a mountain path, lined by colorful flags. Your goal is to locate a guy named Gadhi, but something explodes well below you. The environment is really lush and detailed.

You find a wingsuit and grappling hook, and to get across the gap, you latch onto a distant point and swing across. Another explosion shakes the area as you scale a cliff, finding a convoy that you have to destroy. You creep around to the side, snipe one guy with a crossbow, then plant a satchel charge on a keg of fuel and use it to blow up another guy below you. Sticking to the rooftops, you use the crossbow and then an SMG to blow up the guys below you, then drive off in one of their jeeps, bombarded by Indian music. You can shoot while you drive, and you do so to eliminate another vehicle. You can also jump to other vehicles while you're driving and jack them while in motion.

You dodge an avalanche that knocks you off the road, and then you deploy the wingsuit to survive when the truck goes off the cliff. You fly through the crevasse for a surprisingly long distance, past a tower, then glide to a halt in Ratu Gadhi. It's a place, actually.

You call for backup from "Hurk," who's the second player character. The first guy's name is Ajay Ghale. Together, they lay siege to the place with a machine gun from the side of a gyrocopter, freeing an elephant that attacks some of the guys on the ground. Then most everything blows up. It's a party.

6:39 PM
"Please welcome Adam Boyes," vice president of publisher and developer relations.

When you buy Far Cry 4 on PS3 or PS4, you can invite friends on PSN to join you in-game even if they don't own a copy. You will only be able to do so on PlayStation.


 

6:40 PM
Apparently, the letters that people have been sending into Sony have largely to do with zombies, so he introduces a trailer. A jogger covers up a zombie bite with a sweatband and breaks into a run, ignoring the zombies that maul a pretty girl who winks at him. Pretty messy, spectacular trailer, actually. Zombies are making a real mess out of some tropical waterfront location, right up until the bite kicks in and the jogger starts to turn, but he keeps jogging anyway, now accompanied by a host of similarly active zombies. Then somebody drives by in a van, hits him with a frying pan, and steals his shoes.

It's Dead Island 2!

In an exclusive themed dungeon for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, you'll be able to fight Clickers and Bloaters from The Last of Us.

A 30-day exclusive beta for Dead Island 2 is coming to PS4, along with an "exclusive character level."

6:44 PM
A new trailer for Battlefield: Hardline. I would've thought it was a Payday sequel if they hadn't told me what it was. It's got a whole cops-vs.-robbers thing going on. You can watch six minutes at battlefield.com/hardline; it has grappling hooks; and there'll be an early beta on PS4.

6:45 PM
In Disney Infinity: Collector's Edition for PS3 and PS4, you'll be able to drive around as the Hulk.

Also, on launch day for Destiny, you'll get unique armor sets and weapons, as well as an exclusive multiplayer map called Exodus.

6:46 PM
A new partnership with Paradox Interactive is creating a new, exclusive game for PlayStation: an unemployed wizard sits on the couch watching TV, petting his cat, polishing his staff, accidentally destroying his cat with the staff, reading the want ads ... and then he sees that Magicka 2 is now hiring wizards.

Magicka 2: Learn to Spell ... Again.

An entirely original letter mentions how you have to pirate old Tim Schaefer games in order to play them and asks if it's possible to bring "great games back from the dead." Oh, OK, they're in on it. Schaefer's the one holding the letter.

After 15 years, Double Fine is "remastering" Grim Fandango. It'll be exclusive to the PS4 and Vita due to Sony's partnership with Disney.

Also, Devolver Digital has "officially joined forces" with Sony to make their console debut exclusively on PlayStation platforms: Broforce, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong NumberNot A HeroThe Talos Principle and Titan Souls.


6:52 PM
Another letter: "Every time I play the game, I get to experience the imagination of an artist, and you never know where that will take you."

Suda 51's next "twisted trip" is only coming to PlayStation 4: some kind of crazed, horror-themed action-RPG called Let It Die. It's coming out in 2015.

6:54 PM
"You know what that game doesn't remind me of? Journey!"

The new studio Giant Squid is making the world premiere of a brand-new game: Abzu. It looks to deal heavily in underwater exploration. It's console-exclusive to PS4.

6:58 PM
"Our goal on PlayStation is to surprise and amaze you ... and we're just getting started." An example, which is going to make its debut on PS4: a space-combat shooter called No Man's Sky.

7:00 PM
Shaun, from Hello Games, a "tiny little indie studio" is onstage now. It's "inspired by the kind of sci-fi I grew up with ... worlds I wanted to escape to but never could." Every player starts on a different planet, so no two players will have the same experience. It's an infinite universe. "Every player ... is going to help us discover a little bit more." It's a procedural high-sf game where you seem to be able to freely go from world to world; he shows jungles, savannahs, forests, lots of different animals, space combat, shooting asteroids that deform under your gunfire.  "Every planet unique, every planet unexplored."

7:03 PM
At GDC in March, Sony unveiled Project Morpheus concerning the PlayStation Camera, and they got a big response. "Today, there are creative teams from around the world" working on ways to leverage the PlayStation Camera.


7:05 PM
Shawn Layden, the president and CEO of SCEA, takes the stage. He's talking about the "robust and ever-evolving" PSN. Nearly 95% of PS4s worldwide are connected to the network; nearly 1.25 billion hours have been spent gaming; the Share button the DualShock 4 has been pressed 220 million times; and they're bringing YouTube to PS4 later this year, which will let PS4 gamers upload video captures to YouTube with a push of a button.

Your friends' videos will also appear in your "What's New" activity feed.

While you spectate on a PS4 game, you can now interact with that person's game experience while they're playing; help them, harm them, but "you're right there with them." This does not sound like a good idea.

Free DLC will allow you to create custom broadcasting sets.

He just said "free to play." "We're committed to making PlayStation the best destination for free-to-play games. We think this category will explode on PS4 in the coming years." Guns Up, Kingdom Under Fire 2 and Planetside 2, all F2P on PlayStation.

"Free to play means free to play," which introduces a trailer with Big FestDestiny of Spirits on Vita, Fat Princess: Piece of Cake, LoadoutMy Singing Monsters, OnigiriPain (OK, that looks good, like Burnout with people)Reaper, and War Thunder. All are free-to-play on the PSN or the Vita.

7:13 PM
PS Now has been tweaked and refined since beta and will be available in open beta on PS4 starting on July 31. Shortly after that, it will become available on PS3 and Vita.

Later this year, they're bringing PlayStation Now to "select Sony televisions." If it's available in your area, all you need is a Dual Shock 3, and you'll be able to play their games. It gives access to more than 100 PS3 games from first- and third-party developers: Dead Space 2God of War Ascensions, MGS5, USF4. The open beta's to gather insight from users.

7:16 PM
In development for the Vita:
Tales of Hearts R, Namco
Child of Light, Ubisoft
Tales from the Borderlands, Telltale/Gearbox
Minecraft, including co-op

They announced another new console at TGS last year, and they're now preparing to launch it this fall in the United States, Canada, and Europe: the PlayStation TV. You can pair it with your PS4 to play your PS4 games via Remote Play in your home, with access to streaming services, PSOne and PSP classics. Disney Infinity 2 is coming to PlayStation TV and Vita early next year. It's about the size of a smartphone and costs $99; for $139 it's bundled with a DualShock 3, an 8GB memory card, a cord, and a digital voucher for the LEGO Movie Video Game.


7:19 PM
"Yeah, give it up for Vib Ribbon." I thought he was about to talk about a sequel or something, but no, he's just using it as a symbol of PlayStation innovation.

He's gonna get .giffed right about now saying, "Fatality."

7:21 PM
World premiere: gameplay footage from Mortal Kombat X. New characters: some bug lady, some other fighter that's a woman on the back of some big silent dude. They're vaulting off walls, throwing barrels at each other, stabbing one another. It really looks like a bloodier Injustice. New Fatalities including bugs eating all the flesh off Sub-Zero's skull, X-rays are back ... damn.

7:23 PM
PS4 owners use a lot of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Music Unlimited. In a "new superhero twist," they're bringing more value to PS4.

Sony is developing "and curating" new original video content to the PS4. Their first original series is "Powers," based on the Bendis/Oeming independent comic (!).

Bendis comes onstage! He's the executive producer for the "Powers" TV show. It's been greenlit for two series from Sony Entertainment and PlayStation. He summarizes the series for newbies: Walker and Pilgrim are homicide detectives who explicitly deal with superhero/supervillain cases.

Heh. I can see the teleprompter, and Bendis is freestyling pretty heavily here. You can tell when he's not going off of it because he's way more excited.

The showrunner is Charlie Huston; the other executive producers have pretty impressive resumes (Falling Skies, Walking Dead).

"Powers" will be available in the U.S. in December. Every PSN user will get to watch the first episode for free.

7:29 PM
PlayStation Plus will include their original programming, so if you subscribe to Plus, you can watch all of "Powers" for free. They're also leveraging their franchises to bring new theatrical content, like Ratchet & Clank: The Movie.

Hey, it's Ratchet's original voice actor and everything. It's coming to theaters in 2015 and heavily features that Captain Hero guy who belittles him all the time. Insomniac Games are "heavily involved" in the movies, and the original R&C is getting "reimagined" for PS4. They'll both be available in the first half of 2015.

The Last of Us Remastered for PS4 has a new trailer, starting with the scene at the start of the introductory level, where Joel's holding his daughter. I hope nobody in this audience hasn't played it yet because this is the whole damned game right here.

I was expecting a new level or something, but it does look good "remastered."

7:34 PM
A new trailer for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, directed and edited by Kojima. Snake's painting his face with the ashes of dead soldiers ... or maybe it's Big Boss. Who knows. I can't follow this series. Which one has the eye patch? Also, somebody's putting out lit cigarettes on who I think is Otacon, so this trailer has it all. The song is "Nuclear" by Mike Oldfield.


7:39 PM
Here's another trailer, from a company that's "kept PlayStation gamers up late at night" for generations.

Oh, that's Trevor. He's talking about Rockstar. Grand Theft Auto V's coming to PlayStation 4 in fall of this year with a "host of new enhancements and details." You can also transfer your GTA Online progress and characters straight to the PlayStation 4.

7:41 PM
He introduces a project from Rocksteady and Warner Brothers, and Batman's suiting up in what appears to be the new Bat-Armor. He leaps off the balcony of his Bat-Apartment and deploys the cape, sailing a long distance through the city and dropping to street level. Then he gets into the Batmobile. It looks good, and Gotham looks appropriately surreal and elaborate, although it's also a bit empty (otherwise, he'd be causing Bat-fatalities right now, with how he's driving). The Batmobile transforms ... is that a Bat-Tank? He can do that? He engages a bunch of the Penguin's thugs, blowing up their vehicles and really trampling all over that "Batman doesn't kill/Batman doesn't use guns" thing.

Then he ejects, and I can already tell I'm going to spend most of my game time sailing all over the city because wow, he can fly really well in this. He lands, takes out three thugs, and then walks right in to the Penguin's underground lair. "Don't worry about Batman," says the Penguin, worrying about Batman.

I thought the demo had crashed, but no, there's somebody new on the screen. "How many more bones will you crush? How many more lives will you destroy in the pursuit of what you call justice?" Wow, they have pyrotechnics live onstage. I have no idea who this villain is, either.

Arkham Knight comes with Scarecrow Nightmare missions that are exclusive to the PlayStation.

7:46 PM
"...one last title, from one of the greatest studios in the world..."

Everyone's asking if it's Last of the Guardians right now. It isn't. It's Naughty Dog, and it's Uncharted 4 footage running off a PlayStation 4.

Nate's been "out of the game for a long time." He wakes up in a muddy pool somewhere, grabs a gun, and Sully says "There's no such thing as a surefire plan." Nate needs back into the "game" and asks if he can count on Sully "one last time."

Nate reloads, goes into the jungle, and ignores all the gold-toothed skeletons hanging in wicked cages. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, coming in 2015.

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