Sage’s Gaming Corner Episode 5: The Game Awards And A Playstation Experience To Forget

by Sage Ashford

With both The Game Awards and Sony’s Playstation Experience happening back to back this past Thursday and Friday, last week was a pretty major for gamers. And as always when any conference/show announces a bunch of games, I like to talk about both the games and the conference itself in order to keep everyone abreast, so we’re back with another installment of Sage’s Gaming Corner!

Now first let’s dig into The Game Awards—an annual show occurring at the start of every December, hosted by video game journalist Geoff Keighley. The Game Awards were once a part of SpikeTV before getting reworked into a wholly online event that’s grown every year since its creation back in 2014, and they’re meant to honor the industry’s best and brightest titles made every year. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect a show that’s reflective in nature to focus on the future so much, but that’s gamer culture for you. They’ve long moved past “What have you done for me lately” and gotten to “What are you going to do for me” as well as “Why haven’t you done it already”.   It’s a regrettable state of things, but I can’t say that TGA hasn’t figured it out—they’re the only awards show people talk about, even though there are others in existence.

Having said that, The Game Awards certainly stepped it up—this year the venue actually looked like a place where one would hold a prestigious awards show.  Compared to 2014 when it looked like Geoff booked the abandoned set of All That, every year things have improved considerably both in terms of reveals as well as presentations.  And before I get into the games, I have to say thank you to Geoff Keighley, for his incredible passion for the industry and the games they create.  When Spike killed the Video Game Awards they could’ve died then and there if Keighley hadn’t cared enough to revive the show and attempt to give developers their just due for all the hard work they put in.

Setting that aside, the reveals this year were stellar:

World War Z: Coming from Paramount Pictures and Saber Interactive is a game based on the popular zombie film World War Z.  And honestly, I am baffled as to who this game is for.  Like…the film came out in 2013, and while people are supposedly doing a sequel filming won’t even start until next year, when this game comes out.  Name recognition isn’t really there, and quite frankly Days Gone is doing this idea a lot better than this game probably can.

Shadows Die Twice: As of yet we’ve got no name for this project. People are assuming it’s Bloodborne II, but in all honesty that’s highly unlikely. A while back FROM Software talked about how they were working on three titles, and with the exception of an Armored Core continuation the others seemed like they were all new IP.  Without Sony getting involved, it’s safe to just call this “FROM’s New IP” for now.

In the Valley of Gods: Campo Santo is most well-known for bringing us Firewatch in 2016, but I’ve got little doubt that’s about to change soon.  In the Valley of Gods follows the story of Rashida, a disgraced explorer and filmmaker trying to repair her ruined reputation by finding a certain archaeological treasure with the help of her former partner Zora, as desperation forces you to work with her once more. There’s no solid release date on this, but it looks positively gorgeous and like another indie hit in progress, so it’s probably best if the folks at Campo Santo take their time.

A Way Out: A Way Out was one of the best games to appear during EA’s conference for E3 this year.  A game forcing you to play co-op the entire way, it centers around a pair of characters who work together to escape prison, and then figure out how to live life on the run.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look.  Equally worth a look though, is A Way Out’s creator Josef Fares’ appearance on The Game Awards.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen it…well, I won’t spoil it.  And fuck the Oscars.

Soulcalibur VI:  “Does your Soul still burn?” With that simple question, Tekken creator Katsuhiro Harada and Soulcalibur producer Motohiro Okubo delivered what was easily the biggest, most surprising announcement of the show.   Intended to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise, Soulcalibur VI is supposed to combine the speed of the second game with the balance and mechanics of the fifth, and is scheduled to release sometime in 2018.  If you’d like to see more gameplay of the title, you can check that out here.

Witchfire: The thumbnail for this spoils a pretty sweet reveal. Initially intended to trick viewers into believing this game is another walking simulator by The Astronauts, the makers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the trailer follows up by reminding viewers this trailer was made by the creators of Painkiller and Bulletstorm as well, and switches into a pretty action packed FPS game with strong dark fantasy elements. There’s no scheduled release date for this game so its still early days, and the fact that they refuse to give any platforms out aside from PC/Steam suggests there’s a possibility the game might possibly release late enough to be ported to whatever next-gen systems Sony and Microsoft are working on for 2019-2020.  We’ll see.

Metro Exodus: Though this was revealed during Microsoft’s E3 press conference, it was still an unexpected surprise. 4A Games have switched the popular Metro series into something of an open-world, where you play a man named Artyom, a man leading a group across a post-apocalyptic Russia to somewhere in the East in the hopes of finding a place beyond the ravaged home they’ve known for decades. The game is scheduled to come out in the latter portion of 2018, and some people think they’ve even figured out the date.

Of course, the third parties didn’t get The Game Awards all to themselves–even Nintendo showed up and made quite the splash.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Champions Ballad: Nintendo came and brought information on The Champions Ballad, a DLC that starts a completely new adventure in Breath of the Wild, adding more info to the lore of the four Champions, a new dungeon, and a very cool looking bike for Link to explore Hyrule with called Master Cycle Zero.  Champions Ballad launched the night of The Game Awards, so its available now.

Bayonetta 1&2 Collection, Bayonetta 3 Announcement: Nintendo has a soft spot for the Moon Witch, as they’ve decided not only to bring the first two Bayonetta titles to the Switch console, but also fund the development of a third installment of her story as an exclusive title.   There’s no announcement date for B3 just yet, but Bayonetta 1&2 releases on February 16th, 2018, and will feature wireless co-op, amiibo support, and the ability to record and share direct capture footage to Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, Sony also decided to make an appearance, which is particularly baffling given their Playstation Experience showing, but more on that later.

Death Stranding: Brought to you by Sony Interactive Entertainment and Kojima Productions is Death Stranding, a game about….man, I don’t know.  And no one else does either, which is why the internet is full of theories about what this latest piece of insanity from the mind of Hideo Kojima is even supposed to mean. It’s sci-fi horror insanity at its finest, with invisible monsters, giant otherwordly beings, and a lot of psychobabble narration. Freed from the chains of Konami, this is going to be Kojima at his most insane, so enjoy an eight minute trailer of wackiness.

Dreams: Announced roughly two years ago, Dreams has mostly operated below the radar until its sudden reappearance here at The Game Awards. When we first saw it, it was a lot more abstract and people weren’t really sure where the game was instead of what looked to be an elaborate stage/game-maker-type game, but this looks far more solid and like a title us non-creative folks could reasonably play.

Now for the sake of time I only showed you the biggest and most noteworthy titles, but if you’re curious you can check out the full Game Awards.  It’s a great show that’s a significant step up from even last year, and I look forward to it only getting better.  Now with that out of the way…let’s talk about PSX.

Playstation Experience is another relatively new conference–a celebratory affair meant to reinforce the sense of community by offering a weekend where fans can try out upcoming titles, see panels with developer Q&As, and yes–attend a press conference where titles important to the Sony Playstation ecosystem are announced. Since it’s inception in 2014, Playstation Experience has slowly grown both in size and importance, and for fans of the console it often feels something like a second E3.

But this year, after throwing everything they had into an impromptu Paris Games Week conference in order to steal the thunder from the Xbox One X launch, they dialed PSX back a bit. There were initially rumors that the pre-show show wouldn’t be streamed at all, and though that was eventually proven false…I’m not sure avoiding streaming was a bad idea at all. Though Sony tried to set expectations by claiming their pre-show wasn’t even a press conference, no amount of downplaying could have prepared us for what we got: a masturbatory waste of an hour and a half in “celebration” of how awesome Sony’s 2017 was.

It was like a parody of what everyone thought PSX would be from the beginning. There were very few trailers (most of which containing content we’d seen before), and the developer Q&A was kept to fluff and pablum instead of genuinely fascinating questions until the very end, when Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller arrived to try and give a voice to the fans by asking legit questions about the direction of Playstation going forward.  Still, it’s not like the conference itself was utterly empty of reveals.  Over the weekend (though ridiculously NOT during the pre-show), several trailers hit the web.  Check them out:

Firewall: Zero Hour: Sony has a real dedication to VR and making the format a success that’s commendable. Since the launch of PSVR in 2016 they’ve had a continuous stream of new announcements for games that utilize the device, attempting to lure as wide a range of potential gamers in as possible. One such title is Firewall: Zero Hour, a team-based first person shooter that’s multiplayer focused, centering around two teams of mercenaries assigned to either protect or obtain a laptop containing sensitive information. You play either the Attackers or the Defenders, utilizing teamwork to defeat the other side and achieve your goals. This game comes to Playstation exclusively, in 2018.

Lost Soul Aside: The game with the Final Fantasy XV main character lookalike, Lost Soul Aside captivated people with its incredible looking battle system that heavily resembles Devil May Cry, and that it was being developed by only one person. Since its initial reveal, Sony has come along and given developer Bing Yang the support he needs to get the game out, and it’s turned into a Playstation exclusive title. There’s no release date on this game yet, but it’s looking positively gorgeous.

Monster Hunter World: One of the few noteworthy trailers to make an appearance at PSX, Monster Hunter World had a substantial story-based trailer, giving us an idea of the characters and world players would be encountering when the game releases in a few weeks on January 26th. They also included a cute little crossover with Mega Man, with players having the ability to equip armor that makes them look like the Blue Bomber, while drinking energy drinks and even going on the game’s monster hunts. It’s weird, but at least they’re doing their best to revive one of their oldest characters.

Concrete Genie: One of the most important things to come out of Playstation Experience’s actual pre-show was a ten minute gameplay demonstration of Concrete Genie, brought to you by the geniuses as PixelOpus while being interviewed by Greg Miller. They show off just how many options us non-creatives will have available to fill the world with unique paintings, while also explaining that there’s more to the game than meets the eye. They’re not ready to tell us exactly what that means just yet, but Greg manages to get out of them that the title has some action combat that will probably be shown when the game is much closer to release in 2018.

MediEvil: Complain though I have about the abysmal waste of time that was the pre-show to this year’s PSX, it might’ve all been worth it for the surprise reveal at the end. SIE President and CEO Shawn Layden has made it an annual tradition to tease the revival of classic Sony franchises by wearing T-Shirts based on those games. One year it was Wipeout, last year it was Crash, and this year..?  A certain undead knight.

MediEvil was one of the strangest, most unique properties to come out of the PS1 era. A hack and slash title following Sir Dan, a warrior brought back to life to save his land from an evil sorcerer so he can gain access to the vaunted Hall of Heroes. Apparently Sony has deemed it worth their time to give the entire game a Crash N-Sane Trilogy-like remaster, and quite honestly I just can’t bring myself to argue against it. We don’t know much about this game yet, but there’s a good chance we’ll see the full thing unveiled sometime between the start of 2018 and E3, as a remaster like this probably isn’t going to be terribly time-consuming.

Seventeen games and two game shows later, we’re at the end.  But fear not, faithful readers!  The gaming corner isn’t done–we’ll be back next week in order to talk about the upcoming weekend’s Jump Festa.  Expect talk about tons of anime games.