Prior to the PlayStation Showcase, we dropped a garbage time Soapbox, explaining that Sony couldn’t afford any dead air in its press conference today. But a bizarrely lopsided livestream had us sweating with ten minutes to go: the manufacturer had fallen into every single contractual pitfall we’d anticipated, including another three (!!!) minutes of Deathloop which we could do nothing but laugh at.
This was a bizarrely structured briefing from the Japanese giant, starting with its latest commercial (an odd choice) and ending abruptly with a burst of the first-party games that fans wanted to see. There was plenty of great content in the middle, from Project Eve and Forspoken to Tchia and Ghostwire Tokyo, but this ultimately wasn’t the barnstorming glimpse into the PlayStation 5’s future that Sony needed after a year on hiatus.
Insomniac Games continues to carry the company, and frankly embarrass its first-party peers. Having already released Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, it returned to confirm it’s working on Marvel’s Wolverine and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – with Venom, no less! Some will be frustrated to see the studio transformed into a comic book factory, but these games are killer and sell by the boatload. It’s hard to complain!
But these two titles – both years away – were the only new PlayStation Studios projects Sony had ready to show. Naughty Dog, surely feeling a little red-faced as it’s fast becoming replaced as the face of Sony’s first-party, served up Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection – a bundle of remasters from the previous generation. It’s great to have Nathan Drake back, of course, but in an era of free PS4 to PS5 upgrades the price point will likely smart – oh, and it’s coming to PC, too!
Not even Sony Santa Monica, with its inevitable first showing of God of War: Ragnarok – finally officially named – could wipe away the feeling that PlayStation Studios is holding back hard. The new game will surely be a critical hit, but in its second outing, the new camera angle feels a helluva lot more familiar – this could have easily been mistaken as DLC or, at best, a really large expansion pack. It’ll be great, but where was the shock and awe?
On paper, this was a strong slate of software – we’ve not even mentioned the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake – but whether coronavirus continues to cripple these companies or Sony is still keeping its lips sealed shut, this was not the curtain pulling moment that we’d expected for PS5 – far from it, in fact. It was a good show, a strong one even – but reserved, controlled, and, dare we say it, a trifle underwhelming.
In a year where PlayStation has effectively shut up shop and demanded patience from its most enthusiastic fans, we came away from this press conference not much wiser than when we started it. And while it’s reassuring to know that Sony hasn’t lost its penchant for big-budget first-party productions and selective third-party partnerships, we’re now left waiting for the next big press conference to tell us more.
The problem with PlayStation in 2021 is that we might not hear from the platform holder again for months – or, worryingly, more…
Do you feel Sony delivered with its PlayStation Showcase press conference? You can find a full list of What Was Announced at PlayStation Showcase 2021 through the link.