Sony decided to push the E3 Hype Train to full throttle this year. In addition to the usual live streams and teaser articles, this year they decided to hold streaming events in over 40 theaters across the USA and Canada. Ol’ Skare (who lives in Nowhere, New York) read this announcement with a “that’s cool” attitude, never dreaming there’d be a theater near enough to attend. Except there was. Buffalo, NY was on the list. They teased giveaways, 30 minutes of extra content for attendees and just general awesomeness. So I signed up. Then I immediately received a confirmation email saying I was in. Sweeeeeeeet!
This then, is my take on the experience of Sony’s event. I won’t go that in depth about games, news and most of the stuff the press conference covered because…they covered that already. This is more about
me bragging that I got to go evaluating the experience. Did they actually have giveaways? If so, were they cool? What was the extra content shown in the theater? Was it theater exclusive? In a nutshell, was it worth the drive?
So they promised giveaways and they delivered. First off, I’ll point out that my ticket to get in was all for the low, low price of FREE! So really anything they give on top of the theater experience was a nice bonus. I wasn’t expecting a lot but in all honesty, I feel like they were quite generous. Upon entering there was a table with a guest list. After spelling my kinda long and fairly Polish last name for them I was given a VIP badge (the featured image above from The Order is one side and the other side is pictured at the bottom of the article). The badge dangled from a glorious blue PlayStation lanyard. “I’m already ahead of the game” I thought. Then I noticed a code on one side and instructions to redeem it for the actual giveaway. Neat. Except they wouldn’t allow it to be redeemed online until after the show. Oh the suspense! I won’t make you wait like I had to. The code was redeemable for a “digital gift basket” they prepared for attendees. This includes alpha access to Destiny, beta access to Battlefield: Hardline, $5 in PSN cash and 30 days of Music Unlimited. See below for more detailed impressions of the event, but long story short it was worth the trip just for the experience. So the gift basket is pretty amazing in my opinion and was a killer topper to the actual experience. And oh yeah, on the way out we got a free poster too. It’s basically an advertisement for a few games but it’s nice quality. Way to kick some ass on this front Sony.
So we all saw the same trailers and interviews and whatnot during the actual event, but theater goers were promised 30 minutes of exclusive content. They reiterated this a good deal so I assume it was actually exclusive. I won’t cover anything that the main conference did, but there was definitely a little extra info about many of the games that I don’t recall being in the main show. Now I admit I might cover an item or two that I forgot was in the main but settle down. I tried my best to get new info. Also, I took notes by sending myself text messages. So I missed a thing or two. Ah whale…
Overall I didn’t note any real new video content regarding the games. There could have been but nothing stood out as “Wow, that’s new.” Most of the 30 minutes of extra content was developer interviews. While there should be nothing earth shattering below, they did provide the audience with a good feel for what they wanted to emphasize. The interviews felt a little more personal than the press conference and developers seemed enthusiastic and ready to point out what they felt were the main selling points of their titles.
- Uncharted 4: Neil Druckman and Bruce Straley gave us some additional information such as confirming we will play as Nathan Drake. Shocking. They also added that they went for a “More desperate Nathan Drake” and comparisons were made suggesting that they might have used their experience withThe Last of Us to influence this game to some degree.
- No Man’s Sky: Sean Murray and the whole team of four people talked up the procedurally generated…everything…and exploration. They added that you will need to build things, obtain resources and make upgrades to weapons/ships/etc.
- inFamous: Second Son, First Light DLC: Brian Fleming confirmed that the DLC is about Fetch (I haven’t played this so you might know more about this than I do). He stated that this digs deeper into her story, specifically her origin as a conduit. He called it her “coming of age” and that it would be “canon” with the series. He promised new environments but with a mix of old and new. When asked if there would be new weather effects since the trailer showed snow, he kind of dodged the question but a smile might be all the answer we need. They confirmed that you can buy just the DLC and play it without the full game but reported that, if you own the full game there would be “A little something” for you. This was definitely in the main press conference but the confirmation was nice
- Batman, Arkham Knight: The discussion focused mainly on the Batmobile. The way it was discussed was as if it were an integral part of the game. It sounded like the Batmobile would have two modes (speed and battle) which were definitely in the trailer. The “transformation” between modes was brought up as if it was not only a physical change but a fundamental game play or style change. They discussed that the Scarecrow is the main villain. This was already known but naturally I think this is awesome. I actually encourage everyone to NOT finish the game if they get it so that basically The Scarecrow wins. It was brought up that The Scarecrow brings the “Rogue’s gallery together” in his efforts to beat Batman. The PS4 exclusive Scarecrow missions were confirmed as day one DLC
- The Order 1886: Ru Weerasuriya mentioned that the E3 trailer revelead the lycan as the enemies in the game. He noted it was their version of a lycan and not necessarily the traditional versions. He characterized more than one type with the one being shown labeled as an “elder” which are typically older and more dangerous. Lycans in this story were born as a split of humanity hundreds of years ago. Ru indicated that strategic combat will be the focus and melee will play a big role. The goal is for a cinematic feel for the game which is reflected even in the aspect ratio they chose to use. I think they said the game will be in letterbox.
- Farcry 4: Dan Hay and some other guy (sorry for not getting your name other guy) indicated that the main character would be somewhat of a household name in the area in which the game takes place. Having left the kind of adventures depicted during the conference behind, the game is placed when he returns to his old ways. The character’s notoriety/fame is supposed to play a big role in how other characters interact with you. They stressed that it would an open world with an emphasis on choices. They clarified earlier promises by saying the game would come with “golden tickets” that can be given to friends who don’t own the game. As long as the person who purchased the game is online, all golden ticket recipients can play along with them.
- I missed an indie game here trying to catch up on notes. Sorry whatever game you were
- Nuclear Throne: It sounded like this will be a procedurally generated game in which you play as one of 11 mutants. They said the weapon count was at 60+ with more likely.
- Galak-Z: This was described as an old school shoot em up with new school physics, etc. There was a lot of emphasis on it feeling like a retro classic but still showing off what the current generation can do.
- Battlefield Hardline: Steve P. was asked about comparing and contrasting this to earlier games in the series. He called it a unique entry and restated the “cops and robbers” concept from earlier. He said it still uses the “rock, paper, scissors” formula of earlier games as well as a sandbox style. However, he noted there would be different vehicles, etc. due to the differences between military and police concepts. He provided an example that there would not be tanks, but bearcats would be a decent replacement.
- Destiny: Chris Barrett highlighted that they wanted the universe map to seem like an “old pirate map.” It sounded like that was the feeling they wanted to evoke with a “frontier” feeling and exploration being main goals. The world being “alive” was touched upon with chance encounters playing a big part of this. It was brought up that the players will have “authorship” of the world to some degree as their choices will have an impact. They promised a changing world with new enemies and events. An example of a random invasion happening was given.
Overall I was impressed. The theater staff was well aware of what was happening and directed me right away to where I should be. The event staff were organized and fast. The theater was comfortable with plenty of room for everyone (and there were a lot of people). It was a smooth process with a pre-show set of trailers and a countdown that turned out to be pretty accurate. The post show started right after the press conference ended and lasted the promised 30 minutes.
There were a few hiccups with audio and video quality. This was most noticeable during the trailers before the show. There was an extended Batman trailer that I was only able to really see a very small portion of. During the press conference, a few of Adam Boyes’ reveals had some difficulty as well. A few audio hiccups accompanied the video glitches and would have been fine on PC speakers. However, in a theater, any sudden noise caused by a faltering internet connection is VERY loud. But in the end, these were relatively short lived. In past years I’ve had the same issues streaming the show but more of them. Seeing everything on the big screen was immensely more satisfying than streaming on a mobile device.
While I can’t speak highly enough of what Sony did, the crowd really made the entire event an “experience.” I was unsure what to expect as far as etiquette. I was pleasantly surprised when the audience was so into the show that everyone started clapping along with the crowd there live. There was a lot of cheering for favorite series and letting out excited whoops when release dates were shown. I let out a loud “YEAH” the second I saw Miyazaki’s name flash on screen. I couldn’t attend the press conference “for real,” but with the crowd in Buffalo, NY (well…a suburb anyway) you would have thought we were right there.
This event absolutely elevated the entire notion of what E3 is for me. If they do it again, I’ll be the first person to say you gotta try this if you can’t make the show live. It was absolutely fantastic.
The evening was then capped off with an hour long drive home. I had plenty of time to reflect on the show, thoughts punctuated by small clouds of fog along the road. My only companion the steady red lights of the monolithic wind turbines dotting the hills. Regardless of how you felt about the reveals, the E3 Experience Sony whipped up made this my most memorable E3 to date.
Great job Sony! And thanks for the free stuff