Sony’s E3 2018 press conference was unlike any we’ve seen before – and, if we’re brutally honest, any we’ll ever see again. The platform holder mixed things up heavily for its showcase, but one thing remained predictably consistent: industry-leading first-party games. We’ve pulled together our trio of editors to share our snap reaction to the Japanese giant’s bizarrely constructed briefing.
Stop Being Clever, and Get Back to What Works - Sammy Barker, Editor
Sony stumbled upon the perfect E3 press conference format in 2016, when it balanced the theatrics of a live orchestra with the perfect blend of gameplay demonstrations and brand new reveals – and it’s been trying too hard ever since. While it was undoubtedly a lovely idea to immerse attendees in one of The Last of Us: Part II’s settings, it added nothing for the millions of people streaming, and resulted in a hype deflating interlude that seemed to drag on for decades.
The good news is that when the games were in motion, they looked absolutely astounding: The Last of Us: Part II – a game which, to my surprise, I was the least excited for going in – blew me away with its dynamic stealth combat and top-of-the-line characterisation; Death Stranding seemed very early, but I can’t not get excited about Hideo Kojima with a blank chequebook; and Ghost of Tsushima was arguably the biggest visual feast on display – even if it still has some kinks in its combat to work out.
Finishing on Spider-Man may not have been the perfect closer given how much of the game we’ve seen already, but it was the perfect demo selection, showcasing not just one but several villains that will appear in the game on 7th September. And, forcing me into an avatar change for a few days, Sony actually did bring a handful of surprises in the form of Resident Evil 2 (Capcom are killing it, by the way), Control, and Nioh 2.
I’ve been nervous about this press conference and I’ve been eager to try and control expectations because I genuinely didn’t think we were going to get many surprises. The lack of release dates doesn’t really concern me; Sony’s generally been dating most of its games at the last possible minute. And the software showed that the firm’s first-party is still very much best in class. My main criticism is that, even with content as killer as this, the company almost f*cked it up.
It’s time to stop being clever and start getting back to what works.
Just Shy of a Complete Sh*tstorm - Robert Ramsey, Deputy Editor
Well that was almost a disaster. As is often the case when E3 rolls around, Sony's incredibly strong showing of exclusive software saved the day -- only this time, the games saved the PlayStation maker itself, as the company came perilously close to making a complete mess of its own press conference.
That Intermission was a joke -- and not the good kind. I don't care if Sony was busy parading a gaggle of journalists towards a different venue -- there were hundreds of thousands of people watching online, and frankly, it was embarrassing. What on Earth was the company thinking?
Fortunately, as alluded, things did get back on track once proceedings were moved to a proper stage. I thought Ghost of Tsushima -- slightly janky animations aside -- looked hugely promising. Death Stranding absolutely has my attention as well, even if we've once again been left with more questions than answers. There were even a few surprises thrown into the mix for good measure, and they added some welcome spice to the event.
Again, though, I feel like Sony's really gotten away with one here. I think overall, it probably did have the best games on show out of all the publishers at E3, but this was a dreadful format from top to bottom. Even the transitions from one trailer to the next were sloppy, and the way the conference cut right at the end was jarring.
Uncharacteristic of a company which has perhaps been allowed to grow a little too complacent over the last few years.
An Unnecessary Wait Almost Overshadowed Some Potential Masterpieces - Stephen Tailby, Senior Staff Writer
Well, Sony said it was changing things up for E3 2018, and it wasn't lying. As the time drew near for the start of the Japanese giant's press conference, images started emerging on Twitter, depicting a tiny venue full of grumpy games journalists forced to stand. Quite what Sony was up to was unclear, but looking back on the presser as a whole, it's hard to understand what it was thinking. The aforementioned venue was simply window dressing for a gameplay demonstration of The Last of Us: Part II, and to be fair, it was a spectacular showing for Naughty Dog's latest, and the intimacy of the enclosed space created a very tense atmosphere that suited Ellie's stealthy infiltration of a mysterious bandit encampment.
It was all looking up after a worrisome start, but then we had to sit through an intermission while those grumpy journos were ushered into the main hall for the press conference proper. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that this completely crippled the pacing of Sony's showcase. Sid Shuman and his guests did their best to fill the 10-15 minute void with meaningful conversation, and in fact provided a couple of announcements, but it simply went on for far too long. What's even more frustrating is that, once it got going again, the show was great.
All four of Sony's tent-pole exclusives shone in their respective segments. Ghost of Tsushima was breathtakingly beautiful, although it was clear the gameplay and animations aren't polished as much as the visuals yet. Death Stranding continues to utterly baffle me, but it's impossible not to be captivated by its excellent trailers, and this was no exception. Finally, Spider-Man's combat-heavy sequence got me sufficiently hyped for September with wonderfully dynamic fights with several new villains. We even got a decent handful of other announcements, such as Remedy's new title Control and Nioh 2. The games, in the end, won me over, and I do think Sony managed to pull together a solid show, but the terribly misjudged beginning almost brought the whole thing crashing down.
So what did you think of Sony's E3 2018 press conference? Do you agree with us, or do you see things differently? Feed us your delicious opinions in the comments section below.
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