Last night was a truly odd occurrence for me. I played a quick league of legends bots game with friends, and piddled around for a bit in Dragon’s Prophet managing to get level 20. All of this was essentially “busy work” as for my inner circle of friends, the main event of the evening was the Sony Entertainment Pre-E3 stream. After seeing it… there really is not much else I can talk this morning other than just how amazing the show was when contrasted with the Microsoft presentation earlier in the day.
Throwing the Xbone
Thankfully we have a lovely abridged version of the Xbox E3 conference that arrived on YouTube over night so I can link here for you all. Basically the Microsoft conference was a massive improvement over the reveal event and its obsession with television. They actually seemed like they might care about games… but then unfortunately they presented me with a bunch of titles I really don’t care about. All of their big reveals seemed extremely unexciting. While I am watching this I am desperately scanning the list for that one game that makes me want to own a console system.
Out of all of the games shown… the only title that stuck out for me… was Killer Instinct. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a new Killer Instinct game is pretty massive, as the original one was probably hands down my favorite fighting game ever. I was like a kid in the candy store a few months back when I managed to successfully get the Killer Instinct emulator running and got to revisit the original arcade experience. The problem is I just don’t feel like this is enough of a reason for me to spend $500 on an ugly black box.
Coming away from the presentation I still got the feeling that Microsoft doesn’t really care about games that much anymore. I still feel like they intend this to be some convergence device that causes people to change the way they interact with television. That is fine, but I already have a Roku… and it cost me way less than $500. Most of their killer features just are not that killer for me. I could give a shit about sports, and I never really seriously watch live television. So combined with games I don’t really care about… and making a big deal out of games that have been on the PC for over two years… I just really do not feel like Microsoft’s vision is where I want to be.
The Next Generation
I saw a tweet last night that essentially wondered what it was like to be Sony yesterday, having an entire day to soak in the Microsoft E3 presentation… all the while knowing that you were just about to nuke them back into the stone age. It certainly must have been an amazing day for everyone involved with the PS4 in any way. For as awkward and confusing at times as the Microsoft conference was… the Sony PS4 event was that much polished and keyed to the demographic that matters to them… gamers. There was an obligatory section giving someone floor time from the Sony entertainment division, showing off the movies and music libraries… but every other component of the show was about their serious line up of games.
For as nonplussed as I was about the Microsoft Lineup… I saw game after game that I want to play right now. The Order was this amazing steam punk meets diesel punk meets Victorian monster hunter game. The demo that was shown was an in game engine rendered trailer, and that really doesn’t matter… because it looks far better than most fully CG trailers today. In fact that was a huge theme with the show as a hole. Almost everything took painstaking effort to mention that what you were seeing was in game or in engine rendered footage. The end result is almost movie quality animation and brilliant special effects, there was just an unbelievable amount of eye candy being shown.
This is not to say that the presentation did not have its share of hiccups last night. Ubisoft decided to go completely blind and do their demos as a person on stage actually playing the game. They demoed both Assassins Creed VI and Watchdogs this way… and in both cases… AC especially they had some freezes in gameplay. Watchdogs however that has been in development far longer… had a few moments of slowdown but no lockups. This is the risk of actually doing anything live, because anytime I have had to demo software… it never goes 100% smoothly. I know the feels the guys on stage were going through… so to some extent this softens the blow of the fact that they had lockups.
Additionally there were some pretty awkward presenters… but nothing nearly as awkward as the Microsoft “trash talk” examples… and the really bizarre rape analogy as the man and woman were playing Killer Instinct together. Seriously Microsoft… what made you think it was okay to say something like that? At first I was like man… this is awesome an actual woman on stage playing a game… that is not a super model. Then you reduce her to a whipping boy as some jackass trash talks her and tells her to lay down and it will be over soon? Xbox One: The Console of Choice for Date Rapists everywhere!
Sony: Best Troll Ever
Anyways… essentially none of the bumps in the road for Sony were anything nearly as egregious as what we have seen from Microsoft. The big takeaway for me from the Sony conference is the fact that the games look like they are going to be amazing. Sony took every possible opportunity to troll Microsoft and make them feel bad for their current choices. The above is a great video highlighting one of the biggest features announced last night. Essentially you will be able to trade games for the PS4 the same as you could for any console previously. No awkward restrictions… you can buy used games and swap titles with your friends the same as you have been up to this point.
This is a huge boon for Sony, as the lack of used game support was likely to completely rule me out of this generation of consoles. I hate Game Stop probably more than most people, and I refuse to give them any business at all… however I still buy most of my console titles second hand. Very rarely is there a title for the consoles that makes me want to go out into the store and spend $60 on it day one. Instead I love the scavenger hunt that is going to pawn shops, and more equitable secondhand game stores like Vintage Stock, Game Xchange and Half Price Books. So the ability for a modern console to still give me that hunting for a bargain experience… is a huge boon.
Additionally the PS4 does not require an internet connection to work… however admittedly a lot of the features they were showing off in games were connected features. The console though has been designed to work in a connection agnostic state, which is again is a huge boon for Sony. There is no creepy Kinect eye always watching you, and with the recent flood of security concerns… giving Microsoft a box in your house that was always passively watching what you did was more than a little dystopian for me. I think Sony embraces the concept that actual gamers really don’t care much about minority report gimmickry… they just want to play the damned games reliably.
The biggest troll of the evening however was announced towards the end of the evening. The PS4 looks like a better console in every possible way, and have far better developer support with new and interesting titles. Playstation Plus is still far superior to Microsoft’s crappy gold program.. even after the announcement of getting 2 old titles per month. All of this goodness… and Sony drops the bomb in that it is $100 less than the Xbox One. While still expensive… the $399 price tag, and all the games that I want to play on it… really make this a buy for me. I may not get it new at launch, but I will definitely be picking it up eventually. I almost felt at the end of the night… that Sony should just drop the mic after the announcement and walk away… because they schooled Microsoft in every conceivable way.
Best Thing About The Show
While I am experiencing a massive resurgence of console gaming right now and am really looking forward to the next generation of console games… I am still very much a PC gamer at heart, and namely an MMO Gamer. Last night Sony got a major coup in that they announced that Elder Scrolls Online was coming to the Playstation 4 and would be available Spring 2014. Almost immediately Bethesda started in with the damage control and released the trailer above… showing that it would be coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac all within that Spring 2014 time frame. Elder Scrolls Online is the game I am looking forward to the most of all the titles on the horizon… and we finally have a projected timeframe.
The new footage looks absolutely amazing, and it includes some really solid first person game play. I’ve never had a problem with the idea of third person… and when playing Skyrim I switch back and forth between first and third regularly depending upon the situation. Having first never really seemed like a must have… but this is a huge boon for the Elder Scrolls purist crowd. Additionally the first person graphic for that Dragon Knight chain attack thingy looked amazing. This only further cements my desire to play one… I want to be Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. I wonder if like WoW… I can find an add-on that says “Get Over Here!” every time I press the attack.
I really need to get on with my morning. Today is trash day, and I have to finish gathering it, as well as give my cat some medication… and get on the road. The broad takeaway for the night is that Sony absolutely obliterated Microsoft. There is next to nothing they can do to recover in my eyes from the brutal beating they received at the hands of the Playstation 4. I want to start stockpiling cash now… so that I can pick one up in December when the console launches. I hope you have an amazing day… and I hope I did not offend any stauch Microsoft fans out there.