Sony’s first State of Play: How I learned to stop worrying and love VR
Yesterday, Sony attempting to start a similar formula as Nintendo with their livestream “Nintendo Direct” shows that are designed to announce and detail upcoming games for their respective hardware. Sony had a small bundle of announcements set up for a stream known as “State of Play” in which they promised would announce new titles and discuss upcoming games that would make them tantalizing for PlayStation fans everywhere!
A particular detail they didn’t bring up was the abundance of PlayStation VR titles that would be featured in the State of Play livestream. While it is admirable of Sony to continue giving heavy support to the VR hardware, it’s fair to say that it’s hard to get a large portion of players tuning in excited for those games. The fact of the matter is, PlayStation VR sold about 3 million units in total. While that number alone may seem fairly impressive for a piece of add-on hardware with less than 3 years under its belt, it is merely a molehill to the mountain of actual PlayStation 4 owners, which is over 90 million. Do the math, and that means VR-only titles will can only realistically gauge the interest of about 3% of Sony’s audience.
While some may think new VR games can interest players that do not own the VR hardware, I can’t say these new titles look like big hits that’ll make people look twice. The first game out the gate was the newly announced “Iron Man VR” and, judging it as a proof of concept video, doesn’t look very engaging. The potential for a first-person Iron Man game is gigantic, they showed very little in this trailer. It looks about as exciting and intuitive as Gunstringer on Kinect.
More gameplay was shown of the upcoming PS VR-exclusive title known as Blood & Truth. It’s difficult to tell from what they’ve shown, but it appears to be more of a full-fledged action game than many other VR titles. A problem I have with many VR games of recent history is that they feel like they can only be played in short bursts due to their focus on a single idea. Whether it’s merely an on-rail-shooter or you mostly just interact with objects that appear in front of you while you remain stationary. There’s nothing wrong with that design, but they feel more welcome in an arcade scene. Blood & Truth could be something much more complex and engaging for a VR title, so I find it more interesting than many other VR games as of recent.
No Man’s Sky shows off more of its upcoming “Beyond” content that shows further that it has gained more diversity in its gameplay in spades since its original launch. While many people were initially disappointed in the game when it first released, including myself, I find it admirable that Hello Games continues to be persistent in improving what they started almost 3 years ago, rather than abandoning the game to begin anew. The fact that all the content is free to all players is very kind of them as well. VR mode has been confirmed as well, of course.
They also announced a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” Anthology of sorts that features a VR-centric design. It recreates many of the scenarios from the original 4 games and possibly Sister Location with significantly updated visuals.
Outside of the many VR-centric announcements, we received news on more traditional games coming later in the year. The remake to Crash Team Racing announces a launch date of June 21st of this year. On top of that, it will include content from the lesser-known sequel known as “Crash Nitro Kart” which makes this more of a remake of both games, rather than just the original PlayStation 1 title.
Readyset Heroes was announced as a PlayStation 4 title. A simple isometric action game that is designed as a 2v2 competitive party game, sporting both online and local multiplayer. This looked right up people’s alley, if they’re looking for a quick-to-the-action couch co-op game for the PlayStation 4.
Observation was shown off. It appears to be a story-driven game of a stranded astronaut in space, but you actually play the role of someone who can only witness between a bunch of camera feeds, and I assume help the NPC stuck in the space station by making decisions that will help her. It reminds me of “Night Trap”, a cult classic on Sega CD. It sounds like a gripping concept, but I can’t speak for how engaging it will actually be.
Concrete Genie was featured with more gameplay and information on the story. It has a very interesting concept that sports beautiful visuals. It appears to feature certain customization options for the creatures you create and befriend along the way. It’s expected to release in Fall of this year.
Days Gone, by Bend Studio. While the game itself sports impressive visuals, the mechanics do not look outlandishly unique from other third-person action games. What might make the game stand out, however, is the supposed focus on the motorcycle driving mechanics. It appears that his two-wheeled ride can be used in the midsts of combat as well. Unfortunately, the gameplay presentation for this stream only showed the more mundane aspect that is third-person shooting. It doesn’t look much different from other high-profile third-person action games. While this game could excite players from the company’s earlier days, seeing as how the two directors (John Garvin and Jeff Ross) haven’t worked on a project they created since the old Siphon Filter games, I think it’s safe to say this game will be a tough call, come the tail-end of April.
Another game featured in the State of Play coming would be Mortal Kombat 11. They announced more returning characters from the old school days, including Jax, the steel-armed terror from Mortal Kombat 2! Netherrealm Studios also showed off more of the upcoming game’s “Story mode” adding more intrigue to anticipate the release of the latest entry of gore-fueled Kombat. The previous iterations have been known to have a meaty and entertaining story-driven campaign that connected across most of the cast, and this one is shaping to be delivering in that department nicely.
These were all the announcements in Sony’s first “State of Play.” All in all, the feedback has been considerably harsh. Many compared it to Nintendo Direct and how they usually have at least one new announcement that generates hype for an upcoming game. People felt this “State of Play” lacked any sort of announcement that even attempted to pack a punch similar to that. Perhaps Iron Man VR, but people have been vocal by how unimpressed they were by that reveal, as well as just about everything else this event offered.
While I particularly find a handful of these games interesting, I do have to concur that it was rather underwhelming. It doesn’t help that I do not particularly have a current interest in VR gaming. I think what is also considerably disappointing is that people were hoping for this to be a bigger deal with more special announcements, seeing as how Sony is completely skipping out on E3 2019, which is only a few months away. I do appreciate the concept, though. I hope Sony takes the feedback it received into account for the next “State of Play” episode. After all, people don’t particularly want to see what is considered the biggest game company to fail at its efforts.