E3 2016 Preview: What Surprises Are In Store From Sony?
The pre-E3 press conferences will wrap up with Sony’s annual event. They tend to go very big with their E3 presentations and this year looks like it will be no exception. While the PS4K/Neo won’t be at E3, their E3 presser will have a lot of big games announced and updated from both first and third-party developers. Given last year’s big announcement, this year has a lot to live up to and just might pull it off.
Much like Microsoft, Sony will have some new hardware but aren’t showing it off at E3. While the Xbox Scorpio isn’t expected to launch until 2017, Sony has their upgraded PlayStation 4, code-named Neo and/or 4K, that is expected to launch this fall.
As we mentioned in the post about the Xbox Scorpio, the PS4K will see a targeted increase in processing power of about 2.25 times the current PS4 to 4.14 terraflops. That’s still about 45% short of what Microsoft wants from the Scorpio but that’s also working under the assumption that graphics are going to close the sales gap (the PS4 is outselling the XB1 by a ratio of 2:1) or that improved graphics will improve the Xbox experience. How many great games over the last few years haven’t gone for photo-realistic graphics and not suffered for it? Gameplay generally trumps shiny things.
Anyway, one of the reports we’ve read about the PS4K/Neo is that Sony is telling developers and publishers that they don’t want Neo exclusive games or game features. They’ll allow for improved graphics or framerate on the upgraded PS4 but they don’t want to split the player base between original PS4 and 4K owners. So while playing games on the 4K might be a better experience than on the base 4, it won’t be so completely different that you would kill the PS4 off.
That being said, we still have to see where PlayStation VR fits into the 4 vs. 4K battle. With the launch of the Oculus and HTC Vive this year, everyone expects the former Project Morpheus to also launch this year. It’s widely believed that the base PS4 doesn’t have enough processing power to run a VR device while the reported specs for the PS4 Neo will be able to run a VR device. We’ve been hearing the same thing about the Xbox One and the Scorpio. That would be a pretty big ask, though, considering that a Neo should cost around $400 (if Sony wants it to actually sell) and the PS VR headset is rumoured to run at around $300 to $400. So you’re looking at up to $800 which isn’t bad compared to what you’d need to be VR ready on PC but consoles are gaming for the masses compared to PC. A big portion of that appeal is the price so unless you’re jumping on board with this generation of consoles now, I’m not expecting a high Morpheus adoption rate right out of the gate.
And it’s worth noting that Sony won’t be bringing the PS4K/Neo to E3. It makes sense in that a grand unveiling of a new or upgraded console would kill the sales of those products already on the market. The reason Microsoft dropped the Xbox One’s price to $299 is because they’re trying to move those units with the Xbox One Micro/Mini/Slim coming this fall.
Anyway, there are games that will be coming to the PlayStation 4.
Naughty Dog just released Uncharted 4 but they’re expected to still be busy at E3. Three rumours keep floating around Sony’s premiere first-party developer. The first is that Uncharted 4 will get a single-player DLC similar to what we saw with The Last of Us. On that note, The Last of Us 2 is also expected to be announced sooner rather than later. And there is the perpetual Crash Bandicoot rumours that Sony and now Naughty Dog have absolutely no problem encouraging.
Elsewhere from Sony first-party studios, Guerilla Games recently delayed Horizon: Zero Dawn to 2017. While the name of the game might be terrible, robotic wildlife in a world that had some sort of cataclysmic event is still a very unique and therefore exciting prospect. Also coming to E3 this year but likely not seeing store shelves for a while is Detroit: Become Human which is Quantic Dream’s latest effort. After Beyond: Two Souls, I’m not rushing for David Cage’s latest game. And The Last Guardian is likely to get a release date attached at E3.
Third parties will also get some time at Sony’s keynote.
Given the number of PlayStation exclusives that Square Enix is pumping out of their Final Fantasy franchise, I would expect them to have a decent presence at Sony’s presser. After all, they have three PlayStation exclusive games coming in the next 18 months.
With a targeted release date of September 30th, Final Fantasy XV will drop on both PS4 and Xbox One. The former Final Fantasy Versus XIII is finally coming out after years in development hell. I would expect some more footage of the game to be shown at some point during E3 with the Sony press conference the most likely place since SquEnix doesn’t have its own presser this year.
In terms of PS4 exclusives, they start less than a month after FF15 with World of Final Fantasy. This game is designed to be accessible to children and the visuals certainly reflect that. Apparently, the battle mechanics will be a throwback to classic games in the franchise so that should appeal to long-time FF players. The downside is that the game is said to have a 100-hour story mode. That’s about standard for a Final Fantasy game but I wonder if long games in this environment are why SquEnix are splicing up FF7 Remake into pieces.
Speaking of which, the FF7 Remake is on track for a Q3 2017 release. How much of it will be released, we don’t know. Square Enix’s talking points revolve around the individual episodes being as long as a complete game. A complete $60 game nowadays could run as little as four hours. Could we be looking at your more standard 10-15 hour action game per episode released? While we’re over a year away from the first part of FF7 Remake, details on release plans are going to be a critical part of the marketing plan for Square Enix over the next fifteen months.
And Square Enix is also bringing Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to the PS4 next year. This is the FF12 HD Remaster in the style of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster that we’ve seen on PS3, PS4, PS Vita and PC (which I point out in hopes of this coming to PC). The Zodiac Age refers to the “Zodiac Job System” that was a part of character progression in an update to FF12 released in Japan. It’s going to be your standard Final Fantasy HD remaster with upgraded audio and visuals. This is scheduled for a 2017 release.
The other third-party publisher expected to make a big impression is Warner Bros. A recent rumour suggests that WBIE will unveil Shadow of Mordor 2 at Sony’s presser. The original Shadow of Mordor picked up quite a few GOTY awards so getting this as a surprise announcement is a big score for Sony. If Sony gets this WBIE announcement, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a little about Injustice 2 later tonight either.
Perhaps that last paragraph undersells Activision. They’re expected to take the stage at Sony’s presser to show off the new expansion for Destiny, Rise Of Iron, and the upcoming Call of Duty game, Infinite Warfare.
Don’t forget about Hello Games which recently delayed No Man’s Sky. Considering that the game has been closely tied to PlayStation, if it’s going to be at E3, it will appear with Sony. Given the recent delay and death threats devs received, I wouldn’t call it a certainty that No Man’s Sky will be at E3.
Missing from this post so far is the PlayStation Vita. Granted, that doesn’t surprise anyone at this point in time. While World of Final Fantasy is supposed to be on the Vita alongside PS4, the Vita is pretty much dead at this point. Even with the expected (as of writing) announcement of Xbox TV, we don’t hear anything about the PlayStation TV device which trumps the (rumoured) Xbox TV devices because it can actually play Vita games. And there’s that PlayStation Now service which came out the gate with some hype and they were immediately trumped by better backwards compatibility from Xbox. They need to give people, especially PS Plus users, a reason to pay for it.
So what surprises can Sony bring to E3? Well, Sony Santa Monica is supposed to be working on God of War 4 which will include Norse mythology. Knack 2 is believed to exist despite the mediocre reception the original received. Perhaps playing Ratchet & Clank will help the team to figure out Knack 2. Rumours suggest that Infamous devs Sucker Punch could be working on a Spider-Man game for the PS4.
If you want to go really outside the box with surprises, there is smoke that Red Dead Redemption 2 could be announced at E3. If Sony wanted a surprise reveal to match Final Fantasy VII Remake, this would do it.