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November 2018


Sony Pre-E3 2018 Media Briefing Summary

by Thomas Wilde on June 12, 2018 @ 1:45 a.m. PDT

During Sony's Pre-E3 2018 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Death Stranding, Ghosts of Tsushima, The Last of Us 2, Resident Evil 2, Spider-Man, and more.

June 11, 2018, 6 PM PT
L.A. Center Studios, Los Angeles

5:50 PM
This isn't the best idea anyone has ever had.

They herded us all into a big standing-room-only tent that's made up to look like a barn, with Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. Someone repeatedly asks over the PA system, "Take one step back from the queues." Very few people do. Half of them are too busy live-blogging on phones. There's always a weird core of serious Sony fanatics from across the world who show up for these pressers and are way more excited about everything than seems appropriate or real.

6:00 PM
It turns out this tent is a church, according to Sony. We're told that this isn't going to be like the church scene in "Kingsman: The Secret Service,"so we should just put that out of our minds. Too late. Too many cell phones in evidence. "We're mixing things up again this year... we're going to take you all on a journey" through this year's lineup. "We see gaming as a calling."

After a few minutes of live banjo music, we're shown a gameplay trailer for the forthcoming The Last of Us 2. A grown-up Ellie sips a drink and watches a woman dance with a male partner, in a room much like the one we're standing in right now in real life. The woman comes back to her, plants a big old kiss on her to manic applause from the audience — it's truly odd that the single biggest pop in this whole briefing came from a girl-on-girl kiss — and tells Ellie, "They should be afraid of you."

Smash cut to Ellie stabbing a guy in the neck. As you do.

Ellie is in a forest right now, watching the members of a cult as they gut one of their captives, intestines falling out of him onto the ground. She sneak-kills a couple of the cultists, using foliage for cover the way you can in Uncharted 4. The combat in this is crunchy, even by Last of Us standards; Ellie is leaving improvised weapons in people's heads, slitting throats, and leaving machete blades sticking out of people. Also, there are female enemies now, one of whom gets shot in the face by Ellie as the latter hides underneath the hulk of a parked car. Ellie can dodge melee attacks, and when she's wounded and in cover, will conduct bloody first aid on herself; she yanks out an arrow at one point with a hiss of pain.

The fight moves into the overgrown wreckage of an old mall, and things get cinematic. It's hard to tell how scripted it is, but Ellie gets thrown through a glass display case at one point, and crafts an explosive arrow on the fly to deal with one of her attackers. It's gory, vicious, and desperate, even more so than the fighting in the original, with no sign of Joel at all besides a sidelong mention.

6:30 PM
We get ushered from the TLOU tent across a short wooden bridge, where they've set up a small Japanese-style garden for us to look at while we walk. This is made difficult by every camera-wielding dude in the audience, which is to say, the entire audience, but it's a surprisingly peaceful scene.

We're brought into a bigger tent where the screen shows a wind-swept field of white flowers. The lights are low and blue, and we're being subtly serenaded by a guy in a conical bamboo hat blowing on a flute, who was not announced in any way; at first, I thought it was prerecorded. (Later research says the instrument is called a skakuhachi, and it's a classic Japanese flute made of bamboo.)

6:33 PM
The lights go slightly bluer, and a new trailer begins.

A guy in a conical hat leads a horse out of the woods into a storm-swept field. He kneels to pick up a leaf. It's day nine of the Mongol Invasion, and his path takes him into a battlefield full of mourners, cairns, and corpses, with a guy playing a flute just like the one who was on the real stage.

We're in the Otsuna Grasslands, a cut-in panel says, overlooking a massive field of waving white flowers. The samurai whistles for his horse, which picks him up, and they gallop through the flowers into another overgrown forest. This shows off some seriously impressive lighting and color. This game is pure scenery porn.

He dismounts, runs into the woods to find bandits slaughtering a peasant. They're wielding swords and wearing armor and creepy masks.  The first guy to attack gets instantly capped, iajutsu style. Quick-fast-paced, bloody samurai combat. Two more guys show up, slow-motion with sparks for a particularly good parry. Here's a guy with a spear. He gets dismembered for his trouble and then stabbed in the back to finish him.

An old woman with a bow kills a bandit: "You're late." She accompanies the samurai to a temple to find a third party, who's being tortured at "the temple." She falls in beside the samurai Uncharted-style and helps him silently disable two guards at the temple without being prompted.

She stays outside. "Just get that monk." Scales a wall to get to the roof, leaps to the building with the help of a rope, then ends up on another rooftop. Some of that Infamous parkour kicking in here. Now he finds his way into the main room of worship via a hole in the roof.

The samurai highlights several of his targets before dropping into the room for a vicious, bloody series of takedowns. Four men dead in 10 seconds. It's like Batman was a samurai.

It turns out the samurai's name is Jin, and Masako confronts him on his way out. She and he fight over the life of the monk because "he betrayed my family."

"If we fight, the Mongols win!" Jin yells.
"They already won."

The two warriors, Jin and Masako, face off in a red field of autumn leaves. They fight back and forth as the sun sets and the field around them catches fire, leaves and ashes drifting to the ground as one. She loses, but instead of killing her, Jin sticks her bloody sword in the ground next to her, so they can both challenge a rushing horde of Mongols.

Ghosts of Tsushima. A colorful, elaborate samurai movie.

6:42 PM
A banana shreds on a guitar. I'm ... not real sure what's happening anymore. A logo appears: Made in Dreams.

A woman with a gun looks at an open door. "...this shifting place. No rules. No rituals. You can keep traveling deeper." Some kind of constantly shifting environment, matching the shifting gun she's holding.... surreal Escherian environments, bright reds and blues, constant percussion underlying the action, large-scale telekinesis...

The game's name is Control. Okay, but... the Remedy logo? Remedy is making a PlayStation game? Wow.

6:44 PM
A dingy room with a leaky pipe somewhere. Something is crawling around on top of a table, near a greasy-looking slice of pizza. Two people are arguing. In first-person view, we climb around the table and up onto a shelf full of stored dry food as a fight breaks out. The shelf tips over, spilling goods everywhere, and our viewpoint character goes with the shelf to the floor.

Is this the RE2 remake?

Food goes everywhere, and we discover the viewpoint character was a rat, who's now dead, pinned to the ground by the fallen shelf. A man in a sheriff's uniform is brought down and killed by a zombie, who looks into the camera with a mouthful of the sheriff's neck ... and Leon Kennedy shoots the zombie from behind.

It is the Resident Evil 2 remake.

We're shown a smash-cut series of scenes from the game: Marvin Branagh, Sherry, Claire — audibly not voiced by RE2's Alyson Court — the late Eliza Warren, a spray of blood on the throat of the famous statue of justice in the lobby of the RPD building, a Licker crawling along a wall, a woman in silhouette who's almost certainly Ada Wong...

Release date Jan. 25, 2019. The rat gets back up as a zombie and attacks the camera to end of the trailer. You can pre-order RE2 today.

6:49 PM
Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer. Sora's happy 'cause he gets to be a pirate again, even though they're just on a raft. But here comes Jack Sparrow and the whole crew of the Black Pearl, including Will Turner., ship-to-ship cannon combat in Kingdom Hearts 3? That's kind of crazy-looking.

Hades and Hercules show up, the Toy Story characters, Anna from Frozen, Elsa... Monsters Inc.? I'm not following this at all. Kairi's back and looks like she's had a makeover.

1/29/2019. Busy month, that. The PS4 is getting an exclusive limited edition for KH3,as well as an All-in-One HD package.

6:53 PM
Three singing celery stick-lookin' things (I don't even know anymore, man) introduce ... Kojima Productions's Death Stranding.

I have no idea what's going on. "I can't help you with that. I make deliveries. That's all." Norman Reedus's character Porter picks his way across rocky terrain and wades through rivers, at some point after some long-gone apocalypse, often accompanied by hovering suitcases, but the general idea seems to be that he'd better not be out in the open when it's raining.

Reedus is shirtless often in this trailer, and has a strange tattoo of a skull with Xs for eyes on the back of his hand. There's a bit where he's caught out in the rain with a photograph of who I assume is his family, lying in the mud, when it's flattened by some invisible creature leaving handprints in the mud. A woman in a black suit hushes him, and they cower against a cavern wall as the handprints move slowly away. Apparently, in this world, the rain also brings invisible monsters.

This music sounds a lot like something Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) would do.

Death Stranding co-stars Mads Mikkelson, Lea Seydeoux, and Lindsay Wagner. I have no idea what's going on.

7:01 PM
Koei-Tecmo debuts a very short story trailer for Nioh 2. "Defy Death. Death Defies You."

7:02 PM
A helicopter approaches the East River in New York City. The Raft, the supervillain maximum-security prison from Marvel Comics that gets broken into once every 15 minutes. It's Insomniac's Spider-Man, where he and his cop buddy Yuri Watanabe (from the comics! Briefly!) are here to investigate a potential prison break.

And here's their version of Electro! He shoots down the helicopter, and Spider-Man saves them both with a web.

"Welcome to the party, just in time for the fireworks!" Elector unleashes dozens of prisoners from the supermax supervillain prison, the Vault. Time to show off that new Spider-combat engine, everyone! Lots of mid-air, multi-directional web combat. A big room-clearing special move that sprays webs everywhere and knocks out the rest of the crew all at once.

Here's Insomniac's Rhino! He hopes we like surprises.

Here's Scorpion, too! Yuri goes mission control as Spider-Man beats up a bunch of guys with riot shields. Electro's luring you through several rooms, into ambushes, across the Raft, testing your web-slinging and wall-crawling at speed .... and then the chase ends with the Vulture ganking you. That's most of the Sinister Six, I think.

Now we're chasing Electro again across the outside of the Raft. The entire prison population has escaped, including five of Spider-Man's worst enemies. It's a neat scene where Spidey goes right through the one gap in a wave of electromagnetically thrown shipping containers. This is really showing off the rate at which the action can switch up.

Mr. Negative shows up to join the party. Now there are six of Spidey's worst villains surrounding him, and a fight starts, which ends when Scorpion lands a hit. A big beatdown ensues. Spider-Man's defeated, a spotlight falls on him... "Wait. You?" Flash to title.

That's more or less the official end of the briefing. We're sent outside to eat a lot of food from carts, play the Spider-Man demo, and check out a bunch of cool, related booth-style objects they're commissioned for the purpose.

Final take
Resident Evil 2 was the surprise I was hoping for, but Spider-Man is looking better and better as time goes on. Ghost of Tsushima is easily one of the prettiest games I've seen so far, but I'll need to get my hands on it to see how it controls, and Death Stranding is... I don't know what it is. It's visibly insane.

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