Sony didnâ€™t have a lot it needed to do at E3 this year. The company has had a sizable lead this console generation over the Xbox One in terms of overall units shipped, and the PlayStation 4 platform is coming off an early 2017 that was filled with big software wins like Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, and Persona 5. While Microsoft had a lot to prove with the unveiling of the Xbox One X, Sony simply needed to follow up on its many announced titles.
And thatâ€™s more or less exactly what Sony did. The company played it safe this year without any real big surprises or reveals at the event. There was simply a steady stream of trailers and footage from upcoming PlayStation 4 and PSVR games, with extended looks at some games (like Insomniacâ€™s Spider-Man) and more context for others.
Given that E3 itself is just getting started, and weâ€™ve yet to get some hands-on time with most of what Sony showcased at its presentation, itâ€™s still too early to say whether or not Sony has come out as the so-called â€œwinnerâ€ of E3 this year. But can we break down Sonyâ€™s announcements at its event to see how things stand for the PlayStation 4 moving into the second half of 2017 and beyond.
Right: Big–budget exclusive games
In recent years, Sony has kept games its focus at E3, and this event was no exception. The entire showcase was essentially a parade of trailers and gameplay clips for big-budget PlayStation exclusives: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Days Gone, God of War, Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human, and an expansion for Horizon Zero Dawn. In fact, Sony only featured a couple of games that werenâ€™t exclusive to the PlayStation 4, including Destiny 2, which will have content available as a timed exclusive on PS4 and Call of Duty: WW2, which is getting an early multiplayer beta on PS4 this summer.
Itâ€™s a bold statement: if you want access to the most big-budget AAA games, then youâ€™ll need a PlayStation. The strategy stands out when compared Microsoftâ€™s somewhat lackluster E3 for blockbuster titles (which was basically just Forza 7, Crackdown 3, and Sea of Thieves).
Console-exclusive titles are bad for players, but they arenâ€™t going away anytime soon. And Sony showed at E3 this year that itâ€™s got a really strong lineup of big games for the PS4 going forward.
Right: PSVR lineup was front and center
Alongside the mainstream PS4 games was a dedicated section of the presentation for PSVR, which Sony seems to be taking more seriously than platforms like the Vita portable or Move motion controllers. Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games showed off trailers for some more serious VR games: the horror thriller Inpatient and a squad-based shooter called Bravo Team. On the lighter side of things, there was Starchild, a space adventure game with giant, glowing robots and Moss, which starred an adorable animated mouse warrior and is probably the closest thing weâ€™re ever going to get to a Redwall game. Skyrim is coming to the PSVR, in the event that you havenâ€™t played that enough times over yet. And letâ€™s not forget Monster of the Deep, for that virtual reality Final Fantasy experience you never knew you wanted.
Itâ€™s a diverse lineup aimed at multiple kinds of VR users, from hardcore to casual, and itâ€™s a reassuring sign that virtual reality and the PSVR arenâ€™t just a passing distraction for Sony.
Right: Shadow of the Colossus is getting a proper HD remake
There was one big surprise from Sony at the event, and it was a doozy. Shadow of the Colossus, one of the most beloved PS2 games of all time, is getting a full HD remake next year. Given that Sony already had released a PS3 remaster in 2011, itâ€™s hard to say that anyone was really asking for this, but the trailer looks spectacular, and unlike previous remakes of beloved games unveiled at Sony press conferences (looking at you, Final Fantasy VII Remake), weâ€™ll hopefully be able to play the redone Shadow of Colossus sometime next year.
Wrong: Nothing that uses PS4 Pro to advantage
While Sony may have done an excellent job at highlighting its slate of upcoming software, the presentation was conspicuously lacking when it came to any mention of hardware, particularly the recently released PlayStation 4 Pro.
Itâ€™s a glaring omission given that close to a year after the Pro launched, there are still few PS4 games that support the updated hardware. But itâ€™s especially strange given that Microsoft has put almost all of its focus at E3 this year on the Xbox One X, declaring it â€œthe most powerful console ever,â€ and with an emphasis that the One X is the single best place for true 4K console gaming without compromise.
Sony has already had difficulty explaining why people should pick up a PlayStation 4 Pro over a regular PS4, and now, with another, more powerful 4K console to compete with, the company did nothing at E3 to clarify things. Sony didnâ€™t say that any of its new games would look better on a Pro, or highlight any graphical improvements that gamers would see on the more powerful hardware.
Wrong: Barely anything new
Itâ€™s great that Sony had new trailers for a range of games. But, PSVR titles aside, almost none of these titles were new. Indie games were â€” as our friends at Polygon pointed out â€” weirdly absent. While the surprise of Shadow of the Colossus was nice, Sony spent most of its time on new trailers for games weâ€™ve already seen. There was little to indicate what it has planned next. We know of a number of other big-name PS4 exclusive that are on the way â€” including Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part Two, and Final Fantasy VII Remake â€” but all were absent from the companyâ€™s E3 showcase.
Wrong: Release dates
PS4 exclusive games at Sonyâ€™s E3 conference that have vague release dates or no release window at all: Days Gone, God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Shadow of Colossus, Horizon Zero Dawnâ€™s Frozen Wild DLC, Spider-Man, Skyrim VR, Starchild, Inpatient, Bravo Team, and Moss.
PS4 exclusive games at Sonyâ€™s E3 conference with an actual, semi-concrete release date: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (out August 22nd) and Monster of the Deep, the Final Fantasy XV fishing simulator, will be out this September.
Correction: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is out August 22nd. This post has been updated to reflect that.