Sony E3 2014 Press Event Verdict: Manifest Destiny

Sony E3 2014 Press Event Verdict: Manifest Destiny

Sony’s rather lengthy E3 press event just wrapped up, the fourth of the day and the last one before Nintendo’s not-live video finale tomorrow. So let the comparisons begin.

The PS4-focused event was pretty heavy on games, but not 100% focused the way Microsoft was with the Xbox One this morning. While Microsoft literally didn’t deviate from games once for the entire 90 minutes of its presentation, refusing to even acknowledge the Kinect, Sony was less shy about discussing a few of its hardware/platform plans.

Project Morpheus was not heavily featured, as some thought it would be. VR gameplay makes for awkward stage demos, after all, and it really is a “you have to be there” experience that probably wouldn’t be possible to replicate on stream. That said, giving it a two-minute mention in a 110 minute event doesn’t seem to indicate that it’s a huge part of Sony’s upcoming PS4 plans, at least not any time in the near future. I thought they’d paint a somewhat rosier picture of PS4′s VR dreams, but they barely brushed past the tech. It does seem weird to show off Project Morpheus on Jimmy Fallon, and not here on stage at E3.

Elsewhere in hardware news, Sony announced a white PS4 Destiny bundle, more information about PlayStation Now and PlayStation TV (100 PS3 games, beta starting in July). It wasn’t exactly hardware overload like last year, but it broke up the conference well and made it distinct from Microsoft’s palpable fear of discussing hardware.

As for the games, Sony didn’t quite rely as heavily on Microsoft on non-exclusive third party content, but did give ample space to Destiny, Far Cry 4, Mortal Kombat X, Metal Gear Solid 5, GTA 5 and Arkham Knight, so I guess it was pretty close in the end.

But in terms of exclusives, Sony might have the edge with The Order (though what was shown was a bizarre splicing of cinematics and gameplay that made no sense), Little Big Planet 3 (a tech demo where people actually screwed up, which was adorable), Uncharted 4 (which actually is still starring Nathan Drake, despite rumors to the contrary) and perhaps most interestingly Bloodborne (the rumored “Project Beast” from the creator of Demon’s/Dark Souls).

And yet, disappointments. No Crash Bandicoot resurgence. No distantly teased new God of War. No Last Guardian.

Still, overall it just seemed like more when compared to Microsoft. There were big cheers for Grim Fandago being remastered exclusively for PS4, and jaws dropped for No Man’s Sky, though I can’t say for certain if the ambitious space exploration game will be a Sony exclusive in the end.

Sony mirrored Microsoft with annoying exclusive content, DLC and betas, a practice that is starting to get out of control and will probably spawn an entirely separate article by me given how irritating it’s becoming.

The problem for Microsoft is that they went full games-only with their press conference, and Sony still seems like they had the more interesting mix of both exclusives and third-party, while talking up new hardware to boot. Sony seemed like they were looking more to the future, while Microsoft is just hoping everyone forgets the past (last year’s E3, Kinect, etc.). That’s why they played it safe, but also why Sony still comes out on top. No, it wasn’t complete and utter humiliation like last year (though Sony still got a few good shots in), but it’s hard to say Microsoft delivered the more impressive showing.

The last piece of the puzzle is of course Nintendo, stricken with stage fright for the second year in a row, content to broadcast their reveals through video alone, although that’s how most people are “attending” E3 anyway so I’m not sure how much it matters. They had a bad financial year, but are hopeful given the success of Mario Kart 8 and the pending arrival of Smash Bros. We’ll see how they stack up against the other two tomorrow morning.

So far, this hasn’t been a terribly revolutionary E3 outside of a few bright spots, but Sony performed adequately, narrowly appearing a bit more attractive than Microsoft. I did hope for more from both companies, to be honest, and it does feel like a rather safe year all around in many ways.

Press Event Metacritic Score: 84/100

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