Woooo!! Part Twoooo!! Sony’s E3 2014 Press Conference

June 10, 2014

Sony E3 Tim SchaferTwo years ago, Sony’s press conference was full of Woooo Boys, the kind of people that whooped and hollered at the drop of a microphone, hat or otherwise. It was also a different environment compared to today. Back then, Microsoft had the mild advantage and the PS4 was merely the dreams of fanboys and Sony execs. Back then, the Woooo Boys were a nuisance.

The Woooo Boys were back for this year’s conference, and sure they were still insufferable, but this time they accompanied a cocksure Sony, a company clearly in the lead.

The conference picked up exactly where it left off last year, with Bungie’s Destiny. This time, we got a story trailer featuring a droid that was clearly a fusion of Guilty Spark 343 and a team of copyright lawyers. The game will be released on September 9, alongside a White PS4 bundled with the game.

We then took a proper look at The Order 1886, which was first shown off at last year’s conference. It seems like a different game to that shown last year; sure the Steampunk Guns and Steampunk Moustaches are still there, but combat seems to be a lot more methodically paced, with Steampunk Warewolves easily able to tear you into steam-chunks.

After a trailer for Infamous: First Light, a stand-alone pack starring Second Son’s Fetch, we went straight into a LittleBigPlanet 3 on-stage demo. The game will introduce an array of new creatures alongside Sackboy, including sack-dog Oddsock and sack-bird Swoop. The onstage demo was…very much a live demo, but despite the constant mess-ups and slips, I was no less charmed. It was great to see a genuine, uncanned demo on stage at E3; when the people on stage finally got through a section, their sense of achievement (or at least relief) felt real. Besides, if there’s one game that can charm its way out of a death-filled unscripted demo, it’s LittleBigMotherflippingPlanet 3!

The other game that could get away with a death-filled demo is Bloodborne, the successor to Dark Souls II from Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware. All we got was a CG trailer, but that was enough to placate the Woooo boys.

And thus began an absolute torrent of microphones hurled onto the floor with cavalier regard, as the Adam Boyes Power Hour powered on. We got brisk, lighthearted trailers for Dead Island 2 and Magicka 2. We got an Grim Fandango re-release for PS4 and Vita. We got an announcement of Suda51’s new RPG Let It Die and an extended look at Hello Games’ procedurally-generated sci-fi exporer No Man’s Sky. And this isn’t including the news that PS4 owners will be able to invite friends into their games — even if the friend doesn’t own it! By the end of Boyes’ shift, the stage floor was littered with metaphorical microphones, which only served to amplify the Woooo Boys.

Similarly, the conference highlighted Sony’s push towards the indie market. Entwined, a game about “two souls in love who can’t be together”, was featured prominently and consequentially made available after the event. We got a first look at Abzu, the first game from Giant Squid; it looks as interesting as a game from the art designer of Flower and Journey would. Much time was also dedicated to indie publisher Devolver Digital, and its raft of Playstation titles, including Broforce, Hotline Miami 2 and The Talos Principle, an environmental puzzler from Serious Sam developers Croteam.

But then the event lost its momentum and swagger. In the space of 20 minutes, SCEA CEO Shawn Layden lost the crowd as he earnestly promoted upcoming Playstation Network features including PS Now (not available in Australia yet), some Free to play games, new functions from the Playroom app and, yes, a brand new YouTube app. Sure, the Woooo Boys were cheering along, but their hot air could not fill the vacuum of the momentum lost.

This was only compounded by a segment from Sony Entertainment Pictures promoting a Ratchet and Clank theatrical release and an adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ graphic novel Powers. At this moment, Sony’s hubris got the better of itself, and it became the very thing it was deriding this time last year: Sony became Microsoft.

The event valiantly charged on with a medley of trailers for The Last of Us Remastered (which looks impressive, though the PS3 version already was pushing the technical boundaries of that console), Mortal Kombat X (which looks brutal, but should be released here so long as there isn’t a new character powered by ecstasy or the like) and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (interestingly, it was the starter to Microsoft’s E3 event last year).

In a reveal which surprised literally nobody ever, Grand Theft Auto V was announced for PS4 (and after the conference announced for PC and Xbox One). Handily, online profiles will copy neatly into this new version — even PS3 and Xbox 360 profiles saved into the Rockstar Social Club.

After a Batman: Arkham Knight trailer, which turned into a Scarecrow reveal, the night ended with a short trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. As the internet was keen to remind me, The Last Guardian, it was not. Nor was it, to go on a personal tangent, a Vib-Ribbon re-release. Sony, if you’re going to mention the game twice during your conference, at least re-release it — or mention it one more time so that it will Beetlejuice its way onto our Playstations!

Partway through the Adam Boyes Power Hour, Sony was the undisputed King of E3 — the audience were all-but-literally eating out of Boyes’ hand…when it wasn’t busy wielding microphones to drop. But that’s the problem when you set expectations that high: People start believing in miracles; they start to expect The Last Guardian or Vib-Ribbon. And when that doesn’t happen, when Sony spends time talking about how many times the Share button has been pushed, people start to turn. Sony had some great reveals today, but it also revealed its unwieldy corporate side, the side it’s hidden for the past year to great success.

Sony hasn’t quite lost its swagger, but it not the Emperor it was last year. Either way, Sony doesn’t risk losing its Woooo Boys.

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