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PlayStation E3 2015 Recap

PlayStation E3 2015

Sony this year came out with some heat. We all thought most of it would just be rumors because—let’s face it—a lot of it sounded absurd. A comeback? A remake? Oh come on. We should know better by now. Go back to your village and take your pipe dreams with you.

But wham, bam, holy shit. We really shouldn’t be calling out “winners” for this sort of thing, but this press conference did actually bring down the Internet. Feel free to read on or rewatch the entire thing.

The Last Guardian

Ummm, what? I guess sometimes vaporware comes back from the dead. After being in and out of development and existence for the past 2007, it was pretty safe to assume the long awaited project was simply dead and buried. After the trauma of numerous rumors, the latest rumblings that we’d see The Last Guardian at this E3 seemed to only freshen up old wounds.

But it’s all true. Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed it would release for PlayStation 4 in 2016. Coming from Team Ico and director Fumito Ueda, the same combo that brought you Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, its expectations were high. After all these delays, are they just as lofty?

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games, developer of the Killzone series, is throwing quite the delicious curveball here. Going from a stock FPS to this is rather incredible. Perhaps filling the PlayStation 4’s required space marine quota earned them some laterality.

But Horizon: Zero Dawn has a fascinating premise. Something along the course of humanity’s development caused them to plunge back into a pre-civilization structure except machines are still rampant and necessary. So instead of hunting for food, they hunt for parts. Sure, the gameplay looks fun enough, but that setup is incredible.


Even if you don’t care for the Hitman games, this is a well put together trailer. It finely composes the idea that he’s a killer of tactics, brutality, and skill. Also, the backing track that surreptitiously features ragged breathing slowly sinks in and is reinforced by the kill shot.

The trailer itself, however, doesn’t reveal much except that the series still animates people a bit too cartoonishly. I guess Square Enix assumes we already know what to expect from the game, which is kind of a sad notion anyway. Hitman lands on PlayStation 4 and PC on December 8. (Franchise reboots that simply start off with the same name is an organizational nightmare, by the way.)


Media Molecule is still very much about games in which you create, if you were wondering. The latest is Dreams, and while the trailer is very obtuse about what you’ll actually be doing, you’ll definitely be creating…something.

It looks like you’ll be using your controller to sculpt out characters inside of scenes. The “dreams” motif comes in where everything is fast and impressionistic rather than details and builds upon a previously known (read: made) lexicon of items. You can then grab your creations and puppeteer them to life. (The short demo preceding the trailer shows more than anyone could ever say with words.)

Destiny: The Taken King

While I found Destiny to be somewhat lacking in its original release, the more that Bungie puts out for the game, the more I want to go back and play it. It seems like they’re solving the two biggest problems simultaneously with each DLC, being the lack of content for a massive world and a refinement of how to use that world in interesting ways.

Coming September 15, The Taken King will cost $39.99 for the regular edition and $79.99 for the collector’s edition, both of which will also include Destiny itself. The expansion will include new Guardian subclasses and super moves.

Final Fantasy VII

Part of the crazy heat Sony threw around yesterday. Even more dubious than The Last Guardian comeback rumors, we heard voices on the wind talk of a Final Fantasy VII remake, something fans have been clamoring for since dinosaurs walked the Earth.

And now it’s happening. This isn’t a tech demo or a PC version or an upgraded PC version for PlayStation 4, but this is a remake. At this point, it’s unclear as to what that means. This could end up just an HD remaster for all we know, but hopefully they’re not just misleading us with the word “remake.”

The bigger question, however, is if anyone still cares. Tetsuya Nomura is coming on as director after guiding the Kingdom Hearts series (and directing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) while Yoshinori Kitase, original director of Final Fantasy VII, will be returning to produce. Is that enough to garner interest beyond the 18-year-old fan base?

No Man’s Sky

This is the first lengthy gameplay demo anyone outside of the press has seen from No Man’s Sky. Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray hopefully imparted upon the audience the sheer size of what they’re attempting with this procedurally generated universe simulator. (If you still don’t get it, read this piece over at The New Yorker.)

Still no release date, but we do learn that every world is fully destructible. Plus there are fish!

Shenmue III

And here’s the real surprise of the event. No one was even expecting this, but Yu Suzuki, creator of an immense number of classics like Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner, and Virtua Fighter, came out on stage to announce that he’d like to revitalize the Shenmue franchise through Kickstarter.

And then everyone lost their god damn minds. Which is the appropriate response, I might add. It brought down Kickstarter itself for a brief time as it rocketed up hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes. It’s already hit its $2 million goal in its first day. If you’re not jacked for this, then you’re a fool. Or you were too young to have played the first two.

Call of Duty

Now we know why Call of Duty was mysteriously absent during Microsoft press conference. PlayStation CEO Andrew House announced that Sony will get all of the military shooter’s map packs first. The deal will start up with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, coming to PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One November 6.

Map packs have traditionally gone to Xbox platforms first since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare back in 2007. While not necessarily everyone’s thing, this is a huge move for PlayStation.


Firewatch is pretty much exactly the kind of game I love playing. Or at least it’s the kind of game I love thinking that I would love playing based on the trailer because the trailer sells a very particular kind of game.

The adventure game from Campo Santo and director Jake Rodkin (co-host of the Idle Thumbs podcast) tells the story of a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989. Numerous mysteries begin to unfold as he goes about his patrols.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

While the return of the Uncharted series still doesn’t seem like the best creative decision, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End still looks pretty incredible. Like, visually, I mean. It seems like it’ll play like the other games, so you probably already know if you’ll be into that or not, but there’s certainly something to be said for a masterful refinement of a craft.

After a little technical hiccup where protagonist Nathan Drake froze in front of a still animating crowd, we go on a classic Uncharted whirlwind ride of shooting bad guys, running from overwhelming odds, shooting more guys, and (as a franchise first) driving a vehicle. Oh, and crackin’ some wise. Don’t forget that.

There are some other odds and ends that came out of the conference (like a new Street Fighter V trailer), but that’s the gist of it. There were several genuine surprises, capping off a rather momentous start to this year’s E3. Look for more coverage as the show continues the rest of the week.

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The Last Present Under the Tree

The Last Present Under the Tree

In that cliché sort of way, it’s a First World problem. Presented with some sort of wrapped gift, whether Christmas morning, the last day of Hanukkah, or your birthday, you are hopeful. It doesn’t matter the size or shape or what you just received from another covered parcel, you are filled with some blind optimism. I call it blind because you don’t know what you are expecting or want to expect, but your hopes are high. Without knowing what is underneath this Sunday funnies garb, it could, quite literally, be anything. You’ll pick it up, weight it, rattle it around, but whatever estimations going through your head are quickly cast aside in favor of that eternal positivity.

The thoughts often manifest in ill-terminated “what if” questions. What if…and some nebulous idea finishes the statement. A feeling of what could be possible takes hold, and feelings are always poorly defined. Even if it’s a giant, horse-shaped box with a bow on it and all you’ve ever wanted your whole life was a pony, the sensation of anticipating your new equine friend overtakes any amount of reason and words begin to fail. It’s an amorphous feeling of sanguine suspicion, not yet and never ready to be put into a tangible anything.

With video games, it’s a reaction I get, oddly enough, only when I finish them. It’s never when I’m playing them or even right before I remove the plastic shrink wrap on the case and put the disc into my console; it’s only when the credits begin to roll do I gain this impression that there’s simply more. Of course I get all jittery and anxious like some addict when I’m presented with a present—it’s only natural and I’m only human—but this is different. This is the last present. Everything you didn’t know you wanted is contained within the walls of your mind as you face down this one last gift.

Have you ever heard the bit of advice about flipping a coin when you can’t decide between two things? You pick one thing for heads and another for tails and you flip the coin. As it tumbles about through the air, your heart will jump and flutter but in the final moments before it hits the ground, your true desires will bubble up and you hope for heads or tails to roll around. It’s a bit of a romantic notion, but it generally holds true.

And what are video games if not visual representations of the romantic? Exploration, at its very core, is about romance, that hope to find some love you didn’t know existed. I can tell you that Ferdinand Magellan didn’t get on that boat because he was bored; he hoped that whatever lies beyond the horizon was what he had been looking for his whole life.

Beyond that horizon for us gamers is what lies beyond the edges of the game. Ever since that Easter Egg in Adventure that squirreled away the sole credit of the game in some secret dungeon, players have been hypnotized by the notion that more lay just outside our grasp in these digital worlds. Search and scouring in the face of no promises and no guarantees just might be about the most romantic cliché there is.

Just today, there was a Eurogamer article about the entire practice of taking apart Shadow of the Colossus, the second PlayStation 2 classic from Team Ico. A dedicated group of “secret-seekers” have been using glitches and grand extrapolations of in-game lore to find that Last Big Secret. Threads years and years old would describe in painstaking detail theories and experiments in attempting to reach the top of the already known Secret Garden or find that elusive 17th colossus. This collection of passionate individuals was attempting to manually break down whatever walls Fumito Ueda had put up between them and the grand reveal.

All of this—years of studying and collaborating and tinkering—took place in spite of never being told that anything even exists beyond the edge of the world. Explorers just the same as Magellan with no promise that there was such a thing, they went at it using the few tools at their disposal: hope and ingenuity. They still saw that one last present and were shaking it for all its worth.

Romance, however, and the mysteries it contains is a finite resource in the oddest way. Each person comes to it and mines what they want or need from it and move on, using what is taken in the moment they scoop it up. The love of discovery dissipates and the gift is left battered and crinkled on the side of the road, discarded like a piece of trash. But the mystery is renewed when someone else comes along and wonders the same thing: what’s inside this box? It feels an awful lot like Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a novel about a boy uncovering the first secret of many in a long abandoned (or, rather, dismissed) scavenger hunt for untold treasures. Those before him have taken what they can from the hunt, but his love is new, and his bounty growing.

That gift, though, gets opened, and nothing is left to be renewed or harvested. Christmas ends, your birthday part is over, and Magellan makes it home. The mystery is laid bare and you finally know the secrets previously contained within. In the case of these secret-seekers, a hacker breaks the game wide open through an emulator and snaps them all awake. There is nothing behind Celosia’s door, there is nothing above the Secret Garden, and Shadow of the Colossus contains no Last Big Secret. It is a sobering realization, and one that leaves you feeling cold and abandoned by someone who was always going to leave you but you never believed.

That one last gift, that single box left still wrapped up in its shiny green and polka-dotted paper and its gaudy little bow, never really goes away, though. It’s not about unwrapping everything you see but finding the mystery that surrounds them and reveling in the romantic notion that anything and everything could be just one shred of paper away. These secret-seekers are just the same as you and I. We all subscribe to the same idea that the unknown is amazing and the unknown is stunning. Albert Einstein said that the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious, and in these moments of trying to look beyond the horizon to the edge of the world, I’m inclined to agree.

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New Last Guardian Media

Though I think Penny Arcade has it right, I still can’t wait for The Last Guardian. Team ICO has sucked so many hours—nay, accumulated days of my life away from the real world and into their disturbing yet beautiful world that no matter what happens with their so-called “Project Trico,” I will play it and I will love it. If you didn’t cry during Shadow of the Colossus, then, well, up yours.

Despite my obvious bias towards the game, I still have to say that these screenshots are just stupefyingly gorgeous. Whatever that gryphon/bird/cat/new best friend actually is, it looks amazing and I want to play with it more than Up‘s Kevin or Dug, which is saying a lot. Anyway, get a load of these newly released shots and, if need be, watch the E3 trailer as many times as necessary to quell your thirst for The Last Guardian.

Also, look forward to an extremely late review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That’s what you get when you trust the TTU campus mail system to get things done.

After realizing how incredibly huge these screenshots are and how incredibly small our available bandwidth and space for such superfluous media is, I’m just gonna link you to a Flickr set that has all 12 of the delectable high-res images.

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