E3 2015: Sony relies on classic franchises to invigorate the PS4

Sony is second to show off its latest wares at E3 2015. Following Microsoft’s impressive lineup of first and third party games coming to Xbox One this year and beyond, was Sony about to keep up and keep the hits coming? Jump after the break for the full rundown.

The majority of Sony’s E3 briefing was dominated by game trailers and live demos. But before we get to all that, let’s briefly discuss Sony’s emergence into the cord-cutting market and its push into virtual reality.

Sony is expanding the reach of its cloud-based streaming service PlayStation Vue. In addition to New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, PS Vue is launching in the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area TV markets tonight. And starting in July, the service will offer a la carte channels nationwide making PS Vue the “first paid TV service to allow users to subscribe to individual channels without the purchase of a multi-channel bundle.” PS Vue’s initial a la carte offering will launch with three channels: Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, and a new PlayStation-exclusive channel from Machinima. If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you can subscribe to these packages at discounted rates. For additional pricing details, click here. Currently, PS Vue and it’s cloud-based DVR can be accessed on PS4 and PS3 consoles, as well as the recently released PS Vue iPad app.

Project Morpheus, Sony’s take on virtual reality, unfortunately was barely a footnote at the briefing. Sony’s Andrew House promises it will “create 360 degree experiences that truly immerse the player.” He went on to tease how the multiplayer experience will work with Morpheus: “Imagine playing a Morpheus game while four of your friends are inside the same virtual world playing alongside of you with DualShock 4 [controllers] on the couch.” A number of made-for-Morpheus titles were briefly glimpsed in video form including RIGS (developed by Guerrilla Cambridge), Eve Valkyrie (CCP Games), Godling (Sólfar), The Deep (SCE London Studio), World War Toons (Reload Studios), Wayward Sky (Uber Entertainment), and Battlezone (Rebellion). “Morpheus, like all of the entertainment features on our platforms, is a choice and adds value and life to the hardware,” wrapped up House. A likely dig at Microsoft who initially forced consumers into getting Kinect with Xbox One. But that dig is meaningless for two reasons: (1) Xbox One standalone SKUs without Kinect are now available on the market and (2) Sony failed to impress with its VR effort and it remains in Microsoft’s shadow following that impressive HoloLens demonstration. At its briefing, MSFT pumped gamers up announcing exciting VR partnerships with Oculus and Valve, and then they managed to top that with a jaw-dropping first-look at Minecraft running on their augmented reality headset HoloLens. Sony missed a major opportunity here to fully demonstrate the power and depth of its VR tech today, instead opting to continue its hype with mere words and flashes of gameplay. The fact that they didn’t even bring a working prototype on stage, at this stage in the game, is quite baffling.

These next couple of announcements were made outside of Sony’s briefing, but nevertheless they are worth sharing. A new 20th Anniversary DualShock 4 wireless controller ($64.99) and Gold Wireless Headset ($99.99), both adorned in the classic “original grey” finish sporting the original PS logo, arrive in September. The controller appears to be the same one that shipping with the limited edition 20th Anniversary Edition PS4 that was outed last December. If you were one of the lucky few to nab one of those consoles, this controller and headset will match it perfectly.

At last, a Media Player is coming to PS4! It hits the console tonight. PS4 owners will notice a new icon in the main content area; select it to download the new (free) app in the PS Store. The Media Player works with home servers as well as local USB sticks containing media. Music playback carries over into games for listening in the background. Click here to view all the supporting file formats and codecs.

Sony treated its loyal fanbase with a balanced mix of adored franchises and intriguing new IP. The PlayStation company kicked off its briefing with arguably the most anticipated PS4 title: The Last Guardian. The title, from developer Team Ico, the makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, has been in development for many years. In fact, PS3 owners were holding out for this game since 2009, but now that we’re in the next console cycle, the game will be making its way to the PS4 next year. Another pang of nostalgia came when a remake of Final Fantasy VII for PS4 was teased in a graphics-impressive trailer. New and exclusive IP will have combating AI machines in Horizon: Zero Dawn from Guerrilla Games and Dream, the latest innovation from Media Molecule (the makers of Little Big Planet), gives DualShock 4 wielders tools to create, explore, and share their very own beautifully stylized dreamscapes. Though Microsoft managed to bolster its upcoming games lineup with more first-party power, console exclusives, and free backward compatibility, Sony’s lineup still shows muscle so take a look:

The Last Guardian / Sony Japan / PS4 exclusive / Out 2016

Horizon Zero Dawn / Guerrilla Games / PS4 exclusive / Release TBA

Hitman / Io-Interactive / Out 12.8.15

*Beta coming first to PS4. Six unique contracts exclusive to PS4 at launch. It’s strictly a digital title that will be regularly updated with new locations and missions.

Street Fighter V / Konami / Console exclusive / Release TBA

*Beta coming first to PS4 on July 23.

No Man’s Sky / Hello Games / Release TBA

Dreams / Media Molecule / PS4 exclusive / Release TBA

Firewatch / Campo Santo / Release TBA

Destiny: The Taken King / Bungie / Out 9.15.15

The latest Destiny expansion brings exclusives to PS4 including new gear, a multiplayer map, and a co-op strike.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate / Ubisoft / RELEASE

*The game’s “Dreadful Missions” exclusive to PS4.

World of Final Fantasy / Square Enix / Coming first to PS4 & PS Vita in 2016

Final Fantasy VII Remake / Square Enix / Coming first to PS4 / Release TBA

Ronin, Eitr, Mother Russia Bleeds, Crossing Souls/ Devolver Digital / Coming first to PS4 / Release TBA

Shenmue 3 / Ys Net / Out December 2017

*Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for the long-awaited third entry in the Sega Dreamcast franchise. Not long after storming the Sony’s stage at E3, the campaign surpassed its $2 million goal.

Batman: Arkham Knight / Rocksteady Studios / Out 6.23.15

*The game’s “Scarecrow Nightmare Missions,” plus classic TV Batman, Batmobile, and Justice League 3000 Batman skins, exclusive to PS4.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III / Treyarch / Out 11.6.15

*Multiplayer beta coming exclusively to PS4 this August. PS4 gamers first to play all map packs from the Call of Duty series now and moving forward.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition / Disney Interactive / Out this fall

*Star Wars is joining Disney, Pixar, and Marvel properties inside the game. Launching first is Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Play Set, set during Episodes 1-3. Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire Play Set, set during Episodes 4-6, releases one month later. The latter set plus a playable Boba Fett statue are coming to PS4 first.

Star Wars Battlefront / DICE / Out 11.17.15

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End / Naughty Dog / Out 2016

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