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Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Michael Newman

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Sony Playstation Experience 2017

On an absolutely beautiful Friday evening in Anaheim California Sony’s Playstation Experience 2017 kicked off with a bang.  Folks were lined up across the entire length of Anaheim convention center waiting for their first glimpse at what Sony had in store for them this year.

Playstation Experience 2017, or how it’s more affectionately known PSX began on Friday December 8th with an Early Bird Showcase for attendees who had purchased their tickets in advance.  People lined up several hours beforehand hoping to get a good seat for the festivities.  While the lines were long (I overheard one of the organizers stating that it was far more people then they had anticipated), it moved quickly and there were plenty of excellent seats to be had in the arena. 

The show started off with Shawn Layman and Sid Shuman from Sony commenting on the state of Playstation in 2017 and the significant titles that were released, including Persona 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Uncharted Lost Legacy to name a few.  However, the real draw wasn’t where Playstation has been in 2017, but where it is going in 2018.

Sony, continuing to show their support for virtual reality and their own PSVR helmet, began with Firewall Zero hour, a 4V4 team based VR shooter.  In edition to this announcement, there was another announcement regarding a free playable VR experience based on The Last Guardian, that will be available December 12th.  This is a stand-alone experience not requiring The Last Guardian game to be owned to enjoy.  Finally, a VR remake of a classic Playstation game Wipeout was announced.  As a big proponent of VR, it’s refreshing to know that Sony continues to push out additional titles to take advantage of their equipment.

God of War followed with the gameplay duration announced, clocking in around 25-35 hours.  Unfortunately, no official release date was announced.  We did see some additional footage, and play through of the game, and while it continues to look amazing, I am particularly anxious for a release date besides simply 2018.

Dreams was on display next, a fascinating program, which I hesitate to call a ”game”, because it really is much more then that.  Dreams allows the player to create whatever they can “dream” of, we saw some demos of it on the showroom floor where a player was creating what appeared to be a water-color painting of a cabin in the hills.  Another player was building what appeared to be a fortress in a mountainside.  A story mode is also available, to introduce the player to what can be achieved in the game.  The creative capabilities seem absolutely amazing, from creating a platformer game, painting a picture, and sharing it with the world.  Release date was announced as only 2018.

Next on stage was Detroit : Become Human, in this presentation the audience was asked to participate in the actions taken on screen by a show of applause.  This introduced the audience to the different approaches that a player can take while playing the game and how the choices made impact the results.  The game looks absolutely amazing and I’m looking forward to its release as well.

The evening event concluded with the surprise guest for the evening, legendary game designer Hideo Kojima and a preview of his next major game Death Stranding.  The game stars Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, and honestly that’s about all I could gather from the preview.  Although they did joke about the fact that while the trailer seems strange, after about 4 or 5 hours it starts to make sense.  Here’s hoping we get to see even more gameplay and footage as the game gets closer to release.

Day two of the event was all about the games, merchandise and some star-studded panels.  The showroom was packed with people looking to demo some of the games that had been shown on the screen the night before and to pick up a coveted convention exclusive t-shirt or statue.  The lines to shop the merchandise shop out numbers many of the lines to try out some of the games.  Clearly the shopping is a key component to the experience, and people certainly did not want to miss out.

As one would expect all the big titles were on display with elaborate set pieces.  Shadow of Colossus had a giant Colossus that you could climb on, Far Cry 5 was set up to look like a bar that one would likely find in Montana, Storm Troopers were on-hand with Star Wars BattleFront 2 games being played in the background.  Also, a large assortment of PSVR titles, some of which had recently been released (Skyrim VR and Doom VFR) as well as some upcoming titles.  One of the most impressive sets and a game that I am very excited about was Days Gone.  The set was complete with its own living undead zombie who was nice enough to come towards me for some good photos, a group of people hanging upside down (the non-living sorts), and a zombie Bear attacking a motorcycle that adventurous show-goers could post for pictures on.  The set pieces were amazing, and intricate, something that gave you an experience even before any demos of the games.

It wasn’t just the big AAA titles that stole the show however.  There were a number of Indie games that were well represented as well.  I had the pleasure to speak with a developer for a new game out of Playdius games called Hover.  It’s a beautiful, colorful and fast-moving horizontally driven game, where the player performs incredible tricks and combos while rising up against an evil government.  The player can trick out not only themselves, but their pets that come along with them for the ride.  It’s cross-platform play allowing for PS4/PC gamers to join forces, or fight against one another.

I also had a chance to demo another of their games called Shape of the World.  A surrealistic first-person exploration puzzle game where a procedurally generated world literally grows around you.  It encourages the player to wander and relax in an almost serene experience, and shows that not all great games require violence.

Much of the rest of the day was attending the several panels in the Anaheim Arena.  The first panel focused on VR and as stated earlier, Sony’s continued dedication to this emerging technology.  Sony was definitely out to prove the naysayers wrong and demonstrate to the world that VR is simply more then a fad.  Justin Roiland and William Pugh were on stage to discuss their comedy VR game Accounting+ and VR game development in general.

IGN Scoop Podcast was next on stage to present their picks for best Playstation games of all time.  Each of the 5 podcast members introduced two picks for the best Playstation game, and then with the assistance of the audience, proceeded to rank those picks from 10 to 1. The number 10 honor went to Until Dawn with the number one pick…spoiler alert…The Last of Us.

The final two presentations completely stole, for me, the entire experience.  The first being the case of the Uncharted games, followed directly by The Last of Us Part II.  Nolan North, Emily Rose and Richard McGonagle were first onstage to discuss coming together for Uncharted.  Some of the behind the scenes footage of the voice acting and motion capture was shown.  Shortly after the majority of the cast from the rest of the Uncharted series joined them on stage.  Seeing all the people, behind the voices of the characters we’ve grown to love (or hate) throughout the series was incredible.

The Last of Us Part II panel began with a live musical presentation of the theme song for The Last of Us Part II performed by Troy Baker and Hana Hayes.  Halley Gross and Neal Druckman (co-writers of Last of Us Part II) then joined the two on stage to discuss not only the sequel, but some of work on the original as well.  As expected several of the new cast members also joined the panel to discuss their experiences with the creation of the game.

PSX was an experience like no other.  Having so many enthusiastic fans that come from all over the world to share their love for Playstation is something to behold.  There were no fan-boy rants, no arguments about 4K, or FPS or which exclusives were the best.  It was just about the games, and the joy that the games bring to the lives who play them.  Playstation Experience after all, is about the experience…experiencing what it means to be around a group of like minded folks who share a common love…a love of Playstation and the games.

 

 

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