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E3 Recap: Sony’s Press Conference

After the $499 bombshell and Microsoft’s lack of addressing the fears of the core gaming audience at their conference, anticipation was high to see what the folks at Sony would do at their E3 press conference to counter the moves of the Xbox juggernaut. Would they support used games? What titles would be announced? And what about online connectivity?

While the conference had its ups and downs, once the dust settled, it all became clear: Sony did what they needed to, and in about five minutes, they manged to completely turn the tide of discussion in the next gen console space.

The conference kicked off on a somewhat late start, opening with a classic montage of game footage sporting some of the company’s strongest exclusives and third-party games. Once the stage was lit, it was none other than Jack Tretton that trotted out, taking a surprise turn and talking all about the PlayStation Vita and the plans the company had in store for it. Things like the Vita’s cloud integration and remote play functionality with the PS4 were front and center (as they needed to be), and Tretton spoke of a litany of games set to be released on Sony’s handheld darling, including CounterSpy, Killzone Mercenary, God of War HD 1&2, Final Fantasy X and X-II HD, DeadNation, and The Walking Dead: 400 Days. It was an impressive list, but still surprising that nothing was mentioned by way of a price cut. My guess? We’ll see more bundles and maybe a drop around the same time the PlayStation 4 is released. Wishful thinking, maybe, but one can dream.

He then went on to discuss the strong lineup of games that have been released and have yet to be released on the current PlayStation 3, showing us new trailers for Puppeteer, The Last of Us, Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Gran Turismo 6, and Batman: Arkham Origins. A new $299 bundle for the Grand Theft Auto V was also announced, coming with a headset exclusively for the PlayStation 3. They did a great job of showing us these things in a quick and rapid succession, spending just the right amount of time on games that we already know about, but still want to learn more.

Once the PlayStation 3 reel ran out, attention turned to the next generation and Sony’s PlayStation 4, one of the main attractions at this year’s E3. And with that, the company wasted no time in finally showing us what so many have wanted to see since the console’s initial reveal: the actual box itself. And yep, it looks like a black rectangle alright, but with angled edges.

They scared everyone a bit when one of the Sony execs started talking about having the ability to use the console to watch TV, listen to music, and stream movies from companies like Flixster, Netflix, and Redbox Instant. It was a moment that had everyone hiding their heads in fear that it would turn into yet another “all in one entertainment system” discussions.

Thankfully, though, they rolled right through the discussion and brought out what matters most to the discussion at E3: the games. We had yet another look at previously announced games such as Killzone: Shadowfall, Drive Club, inFAMOUS: Second Son, and Knack, but little time was spent dwelling on and discussing these games at length.

Instead, we had a whole new look at a few new ideas, including an interesting new Mad Max game and a trailer for the mysterious The Order 1886. We learned about the existence of 1886 a few months back, but nothing was known of it until this moment. The Ready At Dawn/Sony Santa Monica joint looks to be a Steampunk supernatural thriller set in an alternate history London. And yes, it looks great. Check out the trailer below:

Remember the old man face from Quantic Dream shown off at the PlayStation 4 reveal? He also made an appearance in an impressive and surprsingly funny tech demo displayed by the Heavy Rain developers themselves. Not much more is known about it at the time, but expect to learn more about what exactly the demo might be indicative of in the near future.

Sony then turned their attention to where the PlayStation has absolutely shined for some time now: independent developers. They brought out two of the developers at Supergiant Games, the creators of Bastion, to show off a trailer for their upcoming title Transistor. It looked just as stunning as before. You can read more about Transistor here.

Along with Transitor, Sony also discussed a number of other Indie games set to come to the PlayStation 4, including Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve, Outlast, Mercernary Kings, OctoDad: Deadliest Catch, and Ray’s the Dead. They all looked unique and innovative in the same way that so many of Sony’s other past exclusive indie titles have, which left me rather excited for them.

We also learned more information about the future of MMOs on the PlayStation 4, including more details about exclusive content coming for Diablo III and the surprise announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online would also be playable on the PlayStation 4. It was announced that over 140 games are in development for the PlayStation 4, suggesting to me that the company does not want a bone dry launch for their next gen console much like the Vita and the Wii U had to suffer initially.

Sony’s conference lagged a bit during a faulty Assassin’s Creed IV demo and a Watch Dogs demo that showed…well, more Watch Dogs. They did end with a demo of Destiny that showed off the gameplay of Bungie’s MMO for the first time, much to the pleasure of the audience.

But the entire thing really came to a head the moment the company decided to take the gloves off and practically counter Microsoft’s next gen plan point by point when they announced no restrictions on used games, no online or authentication requirements, a free copy of Drive Club for PlayStation Plus members who purchase a PS4, and forthcoming cloud functionality in 2014. Basically, Kotaku put it best when they posted this picture after the conference had closed:

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All I’m going to say is this: PlayStation 4’s  pre-order numbers have jumped ahead of Xbox One’s. And that’s for a reason.