The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena emptied tonight to the sound of applause and cheers, from media and fans alike. After weeks of rumors and announcements that both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 would require a constant online connection, digital rights management and high price points, Sony disproved them all –– at least, on Sony’s end.
The Playstation 4 will not always require an online connection, it supports used games, and is priced at $399, one hundred dollars less than its competitor, the Xbox One.
“Playstation is in a state of rapid evolution,” Andrew House, president and CEO of Sony, said at the company’s E3 press conference. “It’s defined by breakthrough content that resonates with gamers of all kinds.”
While this corporate presentation jargon has been heard at many a company’s press conference in the years between each E3, Sony made due on their promise.
Emerging from development limbo was Final Fantasy Versus XIII. However, that name no longer exists; it’s been re-branded Final Fantasy XV, checking another one of several boxes off of struggling developer Square Enix’s list.
Next box on that list is Kingdom Hearts III, the sought after title that was finally announced at Sony’s press conference tonight. The teaser showed shots of previous series entries, followed by protagonist Sora finding a keyblade on a deserted beach. This marks the first numbered entry since Kingdom Hearts II, which released in 2006.
Sony also revealed that previously-announced titles Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Watch Dogs will have content exclusive to the Playstation 4, including missions and outfits for both. New gameplay demos aired for both, showing a suave Edward Kenway spring through a burning village and a decisive Aiden Pierce make short work of an entire city.
The first gameplay demo was then shown for Bungie’s Destiny, in which Bungie’s co-founder Jason Jones took to the stage to play a cooperative game in which he and his partner explored an abandoned Russian wall. New partners continually joined the play session, until a total of eight players were fighting together on an open beachhead.
The Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to Playstation 4, allowing players to team up to fight the forces of Oblivion for the first time in an Elder Scrolls title.
As for new IP, Sony revealed The Order: 1886, a steampunk shooter set in19th century White Chapel. The Order is a Playstation 4 exclusive developed by Ready At Dawn studios, and published by Sony Santa Monica. The trailer showed four fighters emerging from a stagecoach to defend against a slew of zombie-like creatures under the shadows of zeppelins and demonic creatures.
After the reveal of several new IP, after the promise of third party exclusive content and after several new gameplay videos, Sony made good on another promise: to support independent developers.
Klei Entertainment, developer of Shank and mark of the Ninja, is bringing its newest title Don’t Starve, to the Playstation 4. Other independent titles coming to Sony’s new console include Outlast, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Transistor, Ray’s The Dead, Secret Ponchos and New n’ Tasty, an Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey remake.
Sony wants to ““continue to lead the console space as the most open and inclusive console for independent developers,” Adam Boyce, vice president of third party relations told the audience.
These independent titles will each be free for one month for Playstation Plus members. Also: Playstation Plus memberships carry over from the Playstation 3. In fact, players will receive a free version of Drive Club, a new racing game exclusive to Sony’s upcoming console, for signing up for Playstation Plus before the Playstation 4’s release.
The only major difference with Playstation Plus is that online multiplayer on the Playstation 4 will require the former, whereas it’s free on the Playstation 3. Both next-generation consoles will require a membership in order to play online multiplayer, but Sony is not requiring an Internet connection to play single player; Microsoft is.
Sony made its conference about the games; it made its conference about the consumer, about independent developers making games they’re passionate about, and about allowing players to play them. Sony made a plethora of bold moves tonight, and it’s up to Microsoft to recover.