I remember the PlayStation press conference at E3 2015. I was there in the audience for Sony's masterclass in whipping up hype. The show is known for the three haymakers Sony delivered, starting with the assumed-dead The Last Guardian, and followed by teases of Shenmue 3 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake. On the last one, there was a slow rumble from the crowd as they realized what they were seeing, before bursting out in applause that the stuff of dreams was finally real.
People tend to forget that the rest of the show was equally impressive. The presser had those hooks that everyone talked about, but it also featured Horizon Zero Dawn, Street Fighter 5, No Man's Sky, Dreams, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and Uncharted 4. It was a mix of stalwart franchises, new ideas, and games we had only dreamed of at that point. Sony seemingly won the generation with its E3 2013 press event, but E3 2015 was the platform holder settling firmly into a fighting stance, challenging any would-be rivals.
Sony's PlayStation 5 reveal event today approached the same energy. That it's acting as the opener for this new generation and the upcoming PlayStation 5 makes that even more surprising. While Microsoft's Inside Xbox event played fast and loose with the idea of gameplay and lacked key titles like Halo Infinite, Sony was ready. After months of speculation about the PlayStation 5, it finally delivered with what we came for: the games.
It started soft with the reveal of Grand Theft Auto 5 coming to the PlayStation 5, but it followed that with another shot at the webslinger. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks to be similar to Sucker Punch Productions' Infamous: First Light, a semi-sequel side story before the full-on follow-up. But being able to jump back into the world of Insomniac's Spider-Man and in the spandex of young Miles Morales, I'm very excited.
The hits continued to come with a host of sequels. Sony made sure to anchor the entire thing with Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, but skipping to the end ignores the reveals of Gran Turismo 7, Resident Evil 8: Village, an extensive-looking remake of Demon's Souls, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Horizon Forbidden West and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart looked to be the best showcases of the PS5's power, especially with the latter title using that super-fast SSD to allow Ratchet to shift between worlds and locations.
A platform isn't just triple-A titles though. Those are the lighthouses that draw in lost players, but you also need to fill out the lineup with smaller games. So Sony peppered the event with indie and mid-range titles like Hitman 3, Deathloop, Destruction Allstars, Oddworld: Soulstorm, Goodbye Volcano High, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Stray, Ghostwire Tokyo, and Astro's Playroom. What Sony was trying to get across with this presentation is the fact that the PS5 will have enthusiast players covered, but it also wants to offer something for everyone.
Sony did tease all-new games coming in this generation. Project Athia is a game coming from Luminous Productions, the studio established by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata before he left Square Enix. Apparently, it'll feature work from "a crack team of A-list writers from the worlds of film, tv, games, and fantasy literature," led by Rogue One writer Gary Whitta. Unfortunately, it was hard to get a feel for what Project Athia is from the brief tease released.
There was also Pragmata, a brand-new title from Capcom. The suited astronaut in the trailer mirrored the Ludens mascot from Kojima Productions, and the entire thing, with strange growths in a city, anti-gravity occurrences, strange holes in a digital sky, and an end cap on the moon itself. Pragmata was an interesting question mark and I want to know who at Capcom is working on it, though I admit it probably would've had a bigger impact if it had been a Kojima game.
Creating these digital reveal events isn't easy. Nintendo has mastered the form with its Directs, but other recent examples like Inside Xbox and IGN Summer of Games show that it's very hard to pull them off. As a release valve on PlayStation 5 speculation and hype, this was a fantastic win. I could cut a minute or two here and there, or moved a game around, but overall Sony did what it needed to, and even surprised with the reveal of the system itself.
We're still bereft of the all-new gameplay experiences that will define this generation. There was more gameplay in Sony's Future of Gaming event than Inside Xbox, but outside of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the question of how this generation will change how we play is open-ended. Perhaps that'll be hidden within the system itself, as a large part of this generation was the rise in streaming and the ability to easily share unique, funny, and touching moments with others at the press of a button.
I said above that today's digital event "approached the same energy," rather than equalling it. That's because there was a tiny gap, filled by the potential energy of a wild new triple-A property or a title that no one could've dreamed of. E3 2015 hit so hard because we thought The Last Guardian was gone, and that we'd never see a Shenmue 3 or remake of Final Fantasy 7. I don't know if Sony could recapture that exact same storm of potential. A new Silent Hill from Project Siren? The next Final Fantasy? (Or a new Final Fantasy Tactics!) Half-Life 3?
That's the missing key to this being an all-timer of a presentation. That special sauce that causes an event to burrow into your mind and take up residence forever. It's a fantastic presentation to be sure, but I'm unsure if we're going to be talking about it like E3 2015, that halcyon moment of sheer shock and amazement. What it illustrates is the strength of the PlayStation 5, even if not every title shown today is going to be available at launch, or even this year. Horizon Forbidden West for example, wasn't even given a release window.
Now we know the games. Now we've seen the system. What's left is simply the price and release date. Sony has drained its glass and slammed it down on the table, and it's Microsoft's turn to offer a compelling counter-argument. With more planned events in July and August, perhaps Xbox can step up and provide some strong competition, because right now, it feels like Sony is going to run off with another generation.