After nearly two years since the last PlayStation Showcase, Sony intends to awaken from its showcase slumber this Wednesday at 4:00PM Eastern Time. The general feeling among PlayStation fans and the internet is that it will be a big one, setting the table for PS5 and PS VR2 for the next 18 to 24 months, if not more. Historically, Sony is very good about appropriately setting expectations for fans prior to an event, as we have seen with their State of Play announcements in the past. As such, I believe the subheading on the PlayStation Blog post announcing the showcase has set the tenor this time around:
“A wealth of new games and new IP are headed to PS5 and PS VR2.”
With that in mind, I offer three big predictions for the PlayStation Showcase:
Image: Naughty Dog
If you are a Gaming Nexus regular, you might recall that I have been driving this train since last year. We have heard many times now that PlayStation is diving head first into the games-as-a-service water, and what better way to make a huge splash than with (arguably) your most important IP. The Last of Us just produced one of the biggest television shows in HBO’s illustrious history, it is one of the most-anticipated games among PlayStation faithful, and this is PlayStation’s biggest stage in nearly two years – I think they go for it.
Bear with me for a moment. Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann has stated in recent months that the studio announced Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Part II far too early, opening the team up to grief from fans. We also know they have been working on the multiplayer project since before Part II released, meaning it has been in development for somewhere around four or more years. Druckmann said in March that we would be hearing “much more” about the game later this year, and considering that we still don’t have a release date for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – a game we know is coming out this Fall – it reads to me like PlayStation Studios are holding their cards until the last possible moment. Do we really want (or need) a years-long marketing cycle for games nowadays anyway? All of which is to say that I think it gets a proper reveal, and a release date for later this year.
Image: SIE/Team Asobi
There has been a lot of change within PlayStation’s Japan-based development scene since we last saw Astro in 2020’s wonderful PS5 pack-in title Astro’s Playroom. Sony Japan Studio as we knew it is no more, and now only Team Asobi remains. Asobi was formerly an internal arm of Japan Studio, but is now one of two teams operating in Sony’s native country alongside Polyphony Digital. It made its name as the creator and purveyor of the adorable Astro, but the studio is also tasked with testing new technologies and pushing boundaries for PlayStation hardware. Last year, in an interview with Games Industry, studio director Nicolas Doucet said their next game will be the studio’s “biggest to date”, but he said something far more interesting in that same interview that is the basis of my prediction:
“Any new technology, we like to take it for a spin. There’s the obvious way to use it, which is the first thing we are going to try, and then we are going to try to use it in ways you’re not supposed to. That leads us to interesting places.”
Doucet also noted at the time that Team Asobi are one of the first internal PlayStation teams to get their hands on hardware prototypes thanks to their proximity to Sony’s headquarters. They were designing Astro’s Playroom on a prototype version of the DualSense before other studios, and from that produced a critical and consumer darling of a game that is on every single PS5 across the world right out of the box. In other words, Sony and PlayStation trusts them immensely. Asobi has also proven on more than one occasion that they can deliver – Astro Bot Rescue Mission is widely considered one of PSVR’s best games, while Astro’s Playroom is lauded as perhaps the best launch game ever, for any system.
Enough time has passed that Team Asobi could be ready to show us what’s next – for Astro and for PS VR2. They have what it takes to produce at the highest level, and I think they are going to show us PS VR2’s first bit of headset-selling software, as well as its first Game of the Year contender. To be clear, I don’t necessarily mean overall GOTY, because let’s be real – VR simply doesn’t have that kind of cachet in the industry, but it could certainly challenge for VR GOTY, or even action-adventure GOTY.
Image: Arrowhead Game Studios
PlayStation has made it abundantly clear that live-service games are a major part of their formula moving forward, with more than 10 such titles currently in development. They’re all-in on the idea too, with the recent acquisition of Firewalk Studios making it three developers purchased in the last 18 months (Bungie and Haven Studios) that are all dedicated to games-as-a-service, in addition to other PlayStation teams and partners working on service games as well. These games are going to have to start releasing sooner rather than later, or PlayStation will run the risk of them cannibalizing each other. I think we get one before the show is over.
To that end, there are two extremely viable candidates for the honor of who gets to go first: Helldivers 2 and Twisted Metal. Both have been heavily rumored over the last year or so, but Helldivers is the one that we know with a degree of certainty is real. For starters, it was included in the massive NVIDA leak from early last year, which doesn’t make it a stone cold lock, but then there was the leak of what appeared to be part of a trailer for Helldivers last year as well. The trailer leak really seems compelling considering that the video’s owner slapped it with a copyright strike – something they would not necessarily need to do for a fake. Developer Arrowhead Game Studios has also been hard at work on a third-person co-op shooter for years now, and I don’t think we have to wait much longer at all to see the fruits of their labor.
As for Twisted Metal, it cannot be far from release itself considering a television adaptation is hitting streaming service Peacock at the end of July. There’s a major caveat, however, and that is that we only have rumors that a Twisted Metal video game reboot exists, with no tangible evidence thus far. In 2021, reports surfaced that Destruction AllStars developer Lucid was given the keys to a Twisted Metal project, only to later have its driving privileges allegedly revoked by papa PlayStation and transferred to now first-party studio Firesprite – the same studio behind Horizon Call of the Mountain for PS VR2.
It would certainly make sense for PlayStation to revive Twisted Metal as a video game considering the upcoming show, and because of their obvious goal to have synergy amongst its IP across mediums. I question whether its time is now for two reasons – it has somewhat recently changed developers, and the game feels like it’s in a weird spot where it needs the TV show to help bolster its modern-day relevance.
So there you have it - three audacious predictions ahead of Wednesday's showcase. What say you? Am I on to something, or totally off my rocker?