Sage’s Gaming Corner Episode 4: Paris Games Week

by Sage Ashford

Sage’s Gaming Corner took a break last week, but we’re back this week with some news and discussion about Sony’s Paris Games Week press conference. Though PGW itself is held annually, Sony’s appearance here came as something of a surprise–usually game publishers don’t show up there, with the notable exception of 2015, where Sony shifted their usual Gamescom program several weeks into the area of Paris Games Week in order to make up for the small gap between E3 and Gamescom that year.

This year, Sony went out of their way to hype Paris Games Week for their brand, claiming that “E3 was only half the story”, implying that the show this past Monday would be that other half. And they certainly did show off a lot of games, boasting 7 new game reveals and 21 game updates in the pre-show alone, following up with a 45 minute press conference that showed off even more new games, including…well. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s a lot to unpack about this conference as it’s a pretty huge deal–in its own way, it really was E3. So I’ve broken this week’s episode into three separate parts: first we’ll talk about the biggest announcements, then we’ll get into what I thought of the show as a whole, and finally we’ll talk about what this means for Sony’s upcoming Playstation Experience conference.

The Announcements

I’m not going to recount *all* of Sony’s announcements in this week’s episode. They had way too many and talking about every single one would lead to this episode of the Gaming Corner winding up being way too long. If you want to see the whole thing, it’s available right here. I’d still suggest coming back to this article though, as I’ve got some educated guesses on what Playstation Experience might look like in lieu of this show. In any case, if you just want to focus on the main games, read on:

Ghosts of Tsushima: The company best known for the inFamous series, Sucker Punch, has finally unveiled their latest game. Originally rumored as “Sentinel”, it’s an open world action-adventure game set in feudal Japan, as the nation deals with the attacks of the Mongol empire. You play one of the last samurai alive, fighting back against the empire by developing a new way of battle–the way of the Ghost–to save Japan from the Mongol people.

Nate Fox and the folks as Sucker Punch have crafted a truly beautiful world from the looks of this trailer, and while they didn’t show us very much with respect to combat or what you’ll actually DO in that world, it looks a lot like a more realistic NiOh, which has its benefits and its drawbacks; personally I prefer games like this to have some sort of supernatural element to them.  But still, there’s much more left to unfold between now and whenever this game comes out, I’m guessing in 2019.

Concrete Genie: The good people at PixelOpus had before this Monday only been known for the small game Entwined, a rhythm game that launched on PS4 back in 2014. But this is a much larger, more ambitious game–set in the polluted fishing town of Denka, we play as Ash, a young boy who tries to escape his troubled life by painting gorgeous landscape designs that come to life, cleaning up the pollution of the city. More importantly, in a city where Ash is constantly bullied, these figures become something he needs more than anything: friends.

Arguably, I was more blown away by this title than any other new game at the show. All too often we talk about how violent video games can be (this conference can definitely talk about that), and how every video game problem is solved with violent conflict. But though this game is action-adventure, it seems the focus isn’t on beating up the bullies so much as it is the adventure of cleaning up the city. It’s a different kind of story from the hyper-violent games we’re used to getting on the AAA or even the AA level, and a welcome change.

Detroit: Become Human: Quantic Dream has been working on this title for quite some time. Debuting two years ago at Sony’s last Paris Games Week conference, Detroit: Become Human is another story-focused game coming from David Cage, creator of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Set in a future where humans have long achieved the ability to create intelligent artificial life, Detroit: Quantic Dream explores the nature of humanity, and man’s inhumanity towards one another and its own creations in several gripping tales, each following a different android character.

As someone who typically prefers there to be SOME action in his games, I have been trying to write this title and Quantic Dream off, but with each new character they introduce it becomes harder. This most recent one, of an android living in the house with a child and their abusive parent, is one of the most gripping stories I’ve ever watched in a trailer, and I’ve never seen a game fight for my money as hard as Detroit has.

Spider-Man: We got one more extended look at Spider-Man here, and it’s probably the second best glimpse we’ve gotten of the game so far. While the E3 trailer involved a single lengthy gameplay scenario, this trailer gives us some details on the world of Peter Parker and the city he’s tried so hard to protect. With the Kingpin finally locked up, Peter believes he can finally rest easy again…at least until Mr. Negative arrives to take over the power vacuum left in the Kingpin’s wake. This trailer confirms Miles Morales, while also showing us a playable Peter AND Mary Jane. From all accounts, this looks like every Spider-Man fan’s dream game, and the only problem with this trailer is that they didn’t leave any release dates.

God of War: This was the oddest trailer we got, topping out at just over a minute in terms of actual content, but it did give us an ever-so-brief look at another stage of the action title, and what Kratos looks like when he’s fighting opponents his own size (hint: it’s still terrifying).   The kid doesn’t seem to add much to the game, but as long as he doesn’t detract, I assume this game will do fine among both any potential new fans as well as old-school ones.

The Last of Us Part II: WARNING! THIS TRAILER IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Normally I’m not about trigger warnings, but Naughty Dog’s segment of gameplay here is…different. Whatever they were aiming for with The Last of Us it seems they’re trying to take to an entirely new level with The Last of Us 2. There’s a brutal, visceral feel to the violence in this trailer that’s far removed from the usual “Hollywood” kind of stuff you see in your average Call of Duty or Battlefield title. Here it feels cruel, and it’s unflinching in a way that I hope people are able to respect rather than just seeing this as your average “dope” game trailer. ND seems to be trying to convey that this is a harsh, uncomfortable world where things can get bad at any moment.

In any case, that’s the six major tentpole titles that Sony showed off at their show, but there was actually much more than that so if you have any interest in indie games or VR titles, be sure to check out the full program. Now, let’s move on to my opinion on the show as a whole.

The Show As A Whole:

I’m actually torn on this show, as I can’t decide if it was superfluous or fairly good. It was light on reveals, but that just shows how exhausted Sony’s first-party line-up is after showing all their 2018 games two years ago while also releasing tons of quality first-party efforts since over the past three years. The worst part seemed to be that they didn’t really have much to show. Sucker Punch’s game was nice, but could’ve been revealed during E3. God of War barely had a trailer. Spider-Man’s story trailer was awesome but could’ve been merged with the E3 one to make the impact of both much better. Detroit’s trailer was great, but as someone else said: I don’t need to see any more of these games, I just need to know when I can play them.

And that was the thing that stopped this conference from being great. Despite claiming that all the titles we knew about would likely be out by the middle of 2018 right after E3, here we are with nearly all of 2017 done and dusted and we still have no dates for any of these games. It’s a string of trailers providing more footage of games that most fans are already excited to play, rather than using these new trailers as a way to announce upcoming release dates.

And yes, there are a lot of indie and VR games that Sony showed a lot of love to, and I applaud them for that. In fact overall I think this conference deserves a 7/10 because they showed a packed slate of upcoming games foir owners of the VR system, and just as many or more for PS4 owners who like trying new titles. Invector was beautiful. Hong Kong Massacre looked cool. The Gardens Between seems like it has the potential to be another one of those cute, viral video games. But because there’s so much we DON’T know I just can’t give it any higher than that.

What This Means for Playstation Experience:

Now the question remains: what does this mean going into Playstation Experience, the annual conference Playstation holds by itself to celebrate all the fans of Sony Playstation, which often boasts a lot of major surprises and upcoming games. Many fans claimed they either didn’t believe PGW would be that important, or hoped it wouldn’t, instead believing that Sony would “save” their big games for PSX, which is only 40 days away now.

And with Sony revealing Sucker Punch’s major title (a game that’s been a secret for two years now) here, and all of the remaining members of Sony first-party busy, I can sort of see their point. Especially after seeing this:

That’s from VICE Gaming’s Patrick Klepek, someone who doubtless has the connections to know what he’s talking about. So, should you maybe put a tamper on your excitement for PSX? Maybe. Certainly, if your reason for excitement is Sony first-party, PGW basically rolled out every game they have left aside from Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, and whatever projects that Sony Japan might be working on. The most we could get from Sony first-party at this point are those release dates I’ve already complained about. However. PSX has never only been a place where Sony exclusives were announced.

For one thing, there are a LOT of titles coming down the pipeline in 2018 and 2019 that need to have their hype cycles started. There’s Rocksteady, who’ve been silent since the launch of Batman VR but recently their game manager talked about how big a deal it would be when they started talking again. Sony’s always been tight with Rocksteady, and most of Rocksteady’s big reveals have happened outside of E3. Could that happen again?

Then there’s Square, which could fill Sony’s entire conference by themselves: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest XI, more info on Kingdom Hearts, and a potential resurgence of that so-called Avengers Project now that it’s incredibly close to 2018.

There’s also Michel Ancel’s WiLD, his Beyond Good and Evil 2 which was supposed to have a demo by the end of the year, more information on Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones, and whatever Devil May Cry director Hideaki Itsuno is working on, which was supposed to be announced this year. And that’s before you get to the indie games (like Bloodstained and Indivisible, both of which are due out next year), and the usual selection of niche Japanese games that usually fill up a fair chunk of Sony’s December show. There’s a lengthy list of titles from various developers that could ALL make an appearance, and the vast majority of them aren’t going to be able to keep quiet for another six months when the hype cycle can begin right now.

In the past two years PSX hasn’t really disappointed, and I feel like Sony knows what it takes to keep that from happening this year as well.