Reaction: PS4's Variety Shines at Gamescom 2014, but Sony's Presser Lacked a Show Stopper
Posted by Sammy Barker
On closer reflection
Sony usually marches into Gamescom unobstructed. The platform holder has been holding press conferences in Cologne for as long as we’ve been running this website, even revealing the PlayStation 3 Slim – the redesign which would eventually reverse its flagging format’s fortunes – at the event some five years ago. In that time, it’s typically employed the event as a kind of E3 aperitif, focusing on all of the weird and wonderful titles in production for its suite of systems, as opposed to the gargantuan blockbusters. It adopted the same strategy today, and served up a smorgasbord of creative first-party and independent outings as a consequence – but it lacked that one show stopper to tie a big bow around all of the original ideas.
Perhaps it was a little short sighted of the organisation to not expect Microsoft to have anything of note. As expected, the Redmond-based manufacturer had very few new things to show – though its ID@Xbox programme is starting to strengthen, as the two console makers seemingly butt heads over console debuts – but it did drop a bomb in the form of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s purported exclusivity. The details regarding this remain hazy several hours on, but additional digging from those people in Germany, and the rigidness of Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s wording on the matter, suggest that the sequel will come to the PlayStation 4 a couple of years from now. Whether that will change over the coming months remains to be seen.
Either way, it’s the story that’s dominated the day, and we felt at the time of the reveal that Sony would need something seriously outstanding to break through the chatter regarding the Crystal Dynamics developed escapade. That announcement never came during the Japanese giant’s press conference – we were expecting a Grand Theft Auto V trailer of some kind to appease the more mainstream crowd – which made the entire spectacle come to an anticlimactic close. WiLD, the open world indie experiment from Rayman creator Michel Ancel, undoubtedly looked interesting, but it wasn’t quite the media briefing big bang that the millions of people tuning into these events ordinarily expect.
And that’s perhaps prompted the somewhat mixed reaction to the show on sites such as this. We didn’t predict a dozen or so internally developed exclusives would be revealed, but we did think that you’d get at least one, either from Guerrilla Games or Media Molecule. The latter did appear, of course, but to show off Tearaway Unfolded, a kind of adaptation of last year’s smash PlayStation Vita exclusive rebuilt for the DualShock 4. As far as we can tell, this is being crafted by the same splinter team that worked on last year’s game, which means that the bulk of the studio is still busy beavering away in secret. Of course, that remains true for the majority of the firm’s first-party teams, including London Studio, Guerrilla Games, Santa Monica Studio, Bend, and Polyphony Digital.
We’ve talked at length about how the firm is holding back these projects on purpose, but there’s a definite restlessness among early adopters right now that titles like Until Dawn, Alienation, and The Tomorrow Children are not going to quell. However, it seems unfair to undersell this unprecedented variety for the sake of not knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. Supermassive Games’ survival horror, for example, appears to have really progressed since it was first debuted for the PlayStation Move, while Housemarque seems to be following up Dead Nation with an isometric shooter that looks pleasingly frenetic. And in between all of that, there’s RIME, a vibrant adventure that evokes the same spirit as ICO.
And that was the real standout at today’s show: diversity. Microsoft had its fair share of original ideas for sure, but its conference hinged on known quantities. Sony had a couple of obligatory third-party eye rolls as well – the unprecedented partnership with Destiny is getting tedious at this point – but it once again proved that its first-party publishing arm stretches way beyond sequels and shooters. If that’s what you’re interested in, then we’re not here to tell you that you’re wrong – but if you’re coming out of today’s conference lamenting the fact that you didn’t see many first-party developer logos, then you’re potentially overlooking some interesting stuff. And while we do think that it’s time for the platform holder to open the floodgates on those internal projects, it’s not like they’re not coming at all.
Now that you’ve had time to digest all of the announcements, what are your thoughts on PlayStation’s press conference today? Was the variety something that pleased you, or would you have settled for just a handful of bigger games? Bicker and moan in the comments section below.