Sony Brings The Big Guns, Offers The PS4 For $399

Posted by Bob Muir on Jun 11, 2013 in Videogames |

PlayStation 4

Microsoft came out strong today, showcasing 13 console exclusives and even showing off multiplatform games playable on Xbox One. Sony, however, has an advantage in that it doesn’t have a horrible used game/online DRM policy, as far as we know so far. With that said, let’s get into what they announced during tonight’s last conference.

The PlayStation Vita needs some love, so Sony started the conference by announcing that Flower and Dead Nation are coming to the handheld. Also coming is The Walking Dead (the critically acclaimed adventure game by Telltale, not the mediocre FPS by Activision), with a new bonus episode, “400 Days,” that will bridge the gap between the game’s first and upcoming second season. They also promised the ability to play many PS4 games on Vita, a feature promised for PS3 games but not used very often.

Of course, Sony also wanted to cover PS3 games, so they had a new trailer for The Last of Us, out this Friday, June 14. Next was a trailer for Puppeteer, and then a trailer for Rain. Then, there was a new long trailer for Beyond: Two Souls, with new story scenes featuring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. Next up was Gran Turismo 6, which was basically a minute of fancy car porn.

The first big trailer was actually released earlier in the day — Batman: Arkham Origins for PS3 and PS4 (also available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One). Batman fights a lot of villains like Black Mask, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Bane, and the Joker. Surprisingly, both Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker sound excellent in their roles as Batman and the Joker, respectively. I still miss Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, but it shouldn’t be as annoying as I expected. Jack Tretton also announced that Sony consoles would receive exclusive costumes: a Knightfall costume styled after Azrael and a slightly-pudgy 1960’s Batman TV series costume.

Next up was Grand Theft Auto V, which didn’t get a trailer, but did feature a new PS3 bundle with the game, as well as a specially branded headset. Good stuff, if you’ve missed out on this entire generation.

Finally, the moment many had waited for came: the reveal of the PlayStation 4 console design. Featuring slanted designs and a contrast between matte and glossy surfaces, it looks like the lovechild of the Xbox One and the PS2. I think I actually prefer the design of the Xbox One, but the PS4 design still looks excellent; distinctive, but not drawing too much attention in the room.

PS4

Switching away from games for a moment, Sony has plans to expand the PlayStation Network’s Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited, specifically planning brand-new original programming for PS4. Both services will be available at launch on PS4. Meanwhile, Redbox Instant will be a new video partner available on Sony platforms, as well as a new Live Events Viewer that offers pay-per-view programming. Flixster is also being added.

After that brief detour, it was back to games, specifically a new PS4 game: The Order: 1886. Made by Sony’s Santa Monica Studio and Ready at Dawn, a trailer showed some sort of police organization using steampunk weapons to fight demons in foggy London. None of it was gameplay, but a note at the beginning claimed that everything was done in-engine, which was very impressive. As a new IP, I’m excited to see more, especially how it plays, but I’m down with the setting and concept.

The Order: 1886

Next up were new trailers for games previously shown at the PS4 reveal. Killzone: Shadow Fall had lots of action scenes composed of what looked like actual gameplay. Drive Club looks like more car porn. Infamous: Second Son focused more on the story, which seems more interesting to me than the first two games, before showing some fun action shots of a superpowered person tearing up the city. This segment closed with a short gameplay trailer of Knack, showing the character beating up some enemies and changing in size.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Sony console without a tech demo. Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) put together a concept called The Dark Sorcerer, featuring the creepy old man from their PS4 reveal tech demo performing dark magic rituals while a goblin looks on. Then he messes up a line and it’s revealed that he is doing it on a set, complete with green screen (though the goblin is real). It was actually quite amusing, and I’d love to see them do more with the concept. There’s more to the demo, but it will be revealed tomorrow at Sony’s booth.

Sony wanted to reiterate their commitment to indies, so Supergiant Games (Bastion) came up to reveal their next game, Transistor, will debut on PS4 next year. Some beautiful art was shown before moving onto some gorgeous isometric gameplay. This is one to watch, even if you’re not playing it on PS4.

Next was a run-down of several indie games. Don’t Starve, Mercenary Kings, Octodad: Deadliest Catch, Secret Ponchos, Ray’s the Dead, Outlast, the Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey remake, and Galak-Z: The Dimensional were all covered. All of these games are console exclusive on PS4 (though many are also available on PC.)

Diablo III is coming to both PS3 and PS4, but those versions will also receive special items from PlayStation games. Examples given include Drake’s amulet from Uncharted or shoulder bracelets from Journey.

Final Fantasy XV

A message from Tetsuya Nomura began to play, saying that he couldn’t show much, but that more would be forthcoming. Suddenly, we were seeing a trailer for the completely revamped, long in development Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The story elements were expertly cut together, as expected from Square Enix, but then the gameplay showed up. Unlike the earlier rough footage from several years ago, main character Noctis was jumping around, running on walls and throwing his sword like Thor to fly short distances. It looks like a joy of an action game, completely unlike the “realistic” Kingdom Hearts-style gameplay from earlier. The trailer finished to reveal that the name was now Final Fantasy XV, the next major installment of Final Fantasy.

Kingdom Hearts III

Speaking of Kingdom Hearts, a short teaser began to play. After a quick reminder of previous games in the series, Sora transformed into a new high-def model, as the Kingdom Hearts III logo was displayed. After an entire generation of waiting, the game is now “in development.” Finally!

To complete their trifecta, it was announced that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn would finally be exclusively coming out not just for PS3, but also for PS4. The troubled MMO launched on PC and was so bad that Square Enix let players play it for free while fixing it according to their requests. The game has now relaunched on PC, so it’s finally time for the game to come out on console.

Emotions were high after these announcements, as Ubisoft began the first gameplay demo for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on PS4. Edward Kenway threatened a man in a public square to lure another man out, then tailed that man through a thick, gorgeous jungle. He got the drop on some enemies, taking them out with pistols before being fired upon by ships in the harbor. Running through a burning dock, he jumps onto his ship, taking control and entering a much improved version of the ship combat from Assassin’s Creed III. After taking out a ship, he boards it to fight the captain. Unfortunately, by this point the demo was stuttering, and it ultimately crashed right near the end. But surprisingly, I feel good about that. It proves that it was running a real demo, not something prerendered or faked somehow. Most impressive was the complete lack of load screens between gameplay, ship gameplay, and cutscenes. All in all, it was impressive enough to make a fan weary of the series and disappointed by ACIII excited again.

Up next was a new gameplay demo of Watch Dogs, like Ubisoft was answering all my complaints about what was missing from their conference. It’s similar to previous demos, though in this one the character drives a car around in addition to all the hacking. In addition, players can help out their friends in co-op by hacking things on their mobile devices. Players who buy Watch Dogs on PS3 or PS4 will get an additional hour of content as well. It’s not that enticing, considering how lukewarm the extra content they give in Assassin’s Creed games is, but it’s still worth something.

After a brief reveal of NBA 2K14 with both digital and real-life Lebron James, a trailer begins for The Elder Scrolls Online. There is finally first person combat, and many creatures spawning from Oblivion. It looks much better than the World of Warcraft clone it initially was. The game will be released on PS4 come Spring 2014, with an exclusive PS4 beta in the works.

Mad Max

The next big surprise was a CGI trailer for a Mad Max game from Warner Brothers and Avalanche Studios. PS4 players will get an exclusive “rogue warrior survival kit” as well. No word if Mel Gibson is involved.

Then came the moment we all needed to hear: Jack Tretton announced that the PS4 would play used games for free. They will be able to trade it in, sell it, or lend it to friends. There will be no online requirement, and you don’t have to check in every 24 hours. Sony basically stopped just short of saying “Your move, Microsoft.” It is a major relief to know that Sony still respects the concept of game ownership. Shortly after the conference, this video was posted:

In addition, PlayStation Plus accounts will carry over to the new console at no extra charge, just like Xbox Live Gold accounts. PS Plus subscribers will get a new game every month starting with Don’t Starve, as well as launch access to Drive Club: PS Plus Edition, what sounds like a partial version of the full game. The only downside hidden in all the good will was the fact that you would need a PS Plus account to play PS4 games online. But unlike with Xbox Live Gold, there are so many additional benefits to PS Plus (like a giant free game library and monthly substantial discounts on digital games) that it will help soften the blow.

There will also be a cloud gaming service using Gaikai’s technology, allowing users to purchase streaming access to critically acclaimed PS3 games. As explained previously, the PS4 can’t play PS3 discs, but using Gaikai, Sony can run the game on its servers and stream the game to the PS4.

For its final reveal, Bungie comes up to show the first full gameplay demo of Destiny. The two futuristic players meet up in Old Russia and enter a wall, in which they fight aliens. One character finds a random item drop after beating a tough opponent: the “Thunderlord,” an upgradeable rare weapon. On the other side, they meet up with another character and are suddenly drawn into a public event, where a massive enemy and many smaller enemies attack. Multiple online players join in to take out the opponents. Last, some story scenes are played in a trailer. This looks pretty damn good, even if the core gameplay is similar to what Bungie has done in the past (not a bad thing, considering how well-made their Halo games were).

Before leaving, Sony announced that the PS4 would retail for $399, 399 Euro, and £349. That undercuts the Xbox One by $100, and makes it a very attractive machine with the lack of used game restrictions. It’s an excellent price that will likely make Nintendo consider dropping the price of its $350 Wii U Premium console.

Overall, this was the best press conference of the day. Microsoft showed some strong games, but there wasn’t as much variety as Sony’s conference. I could barely keep up with how many games were being revealed. While I’m sure only some of them will be available at launch, it’s an indicator of a solid library. Plus, I cannot overstate how important Sony’s used games policies are.

The only major conference remaining is Nintendo’s online stream tomorrow morning, with Square Enix holding a non-streamed press conference tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully they bring their A-game too!

[Some pictures courtesy of Kotaku]

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