Sony Lets Exclusives and Gameplay Speak for Themselves at E3

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NATE CHURCH

Sony showed up to E3 with all of the expected fanfare and a meaty serving of footage from a rich library of upcoming exclusives.

From the opening notes of a band playing in front of a waterfall backlit with hypnotic patterns, we were thrust directly into a showcase of the madcap follow-up to the masterpiece that was last year’s Uncharted 4. Uncharted: Lost Legacy casts you as the most fascinating character in the Uncharted universe — anti-hero Chloe, who is less interested in museums and the wonder of discovery than lining her pockets with gold. There is every indication that this spin-off will be as gorgeous and engaging as we’ve come to expect from developer Naughty Dog, and it is easily one of the games in which I am most confident. Its strong showing was no surprise.

From there, we swept into the bitter wastes of Horizon: Zero Dawn – Frozen Wilds, an expansion to the far-future stone age of Sony’s hit post-apocalyptic open-world title. The cinematic trailer offered few details, save for a confirmation of main character Aloy’s return, and clear evidence that it will be as beautiful and epic as the first. If they’ve tightened up some of the more repetitive task-oriented gameplay from the previous entry, we could very well be looking at a title with the sort of polish that was originally promised.

Then zombies descended from the ceiling, as we were treated to footage of a game that just seems to get better every single time I see it. Days Gone looks like a simulator of The Walking Dead favorite Darryl Dixon’s life in the zombie apocalypse. In a world overrun by the walking — and running, and leaping, and screaming — dead, you are exactly the sort of motorcycle-mounted badass that what’s left of humanity requires. We watched our protagonist creep toward a group of bandits to save one of his friends, setting explosives to unleash a horde of zombies (called “Freakers”) on their camp, before a truncated negotiation with their leader in his makeshift tree fort. Everything about this game screams with potential, but we’ll have to reserve judgment until we get a chance to actually sit down and play.

PlayStation will also get Shadow of the Colossus and Monster Hunter brought into the current generation. Shadow of the Colossus gets a comprehensive remake that could have been — and was, on social media — easily mistaken for a sequel. Monster Hunter looks to bring all of the franchise staples into glorious HD, with the typical variety of crafting, stalking your prey, and then frantically running away to keep it from eating you alive in tow.

After that, we were formally introduced to Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite, clearly taking some cues from the Injustice-brand of storytelling to create a compelling single-player experience. Unfortunately, as visuals improve, the differences in design between the comic book and classic video game worlds become garish. Mega Man looked like a poorly designed fan mod in comparison to Strider, who still lacked the same level of detail present in any of Marvel’s heroes and villains. The plot is appropriately ludicrous, however, and with any luck will help to legitimize the bluntly wacky differences between the two licenses.

We caught a glimpse of Call of Duty: WWII with a bit of multiplayer footage, but we’ll have more about that in the coming days after getting our hands on it. Suffice to say it was very pretty, but very obviously sticking to the staples of a post-Modern Warfare franchise.

The next focal point was VR, and here the offerings on screen became a bit uneven. Skyrim VR looks like fun, but we’ve been playing the same Elder Scrolls game over and over since 2011. Star Child was an aggressively mediocre platformer that failed to offer any reason to experience it in VR. I’d love to be proven wrong, and I’ll be sure to say so if I find out differently on the show floor. Meanwhile, both The Inpatient and Monster of the Deep looked promising.

I was particularly impressed by Inpatient’s horrific visuals, recalling the most recent Resident Evil title more than anything else. Being treated like a mental patient will never not be unsettling. Bravo Team was essentially CounterStrike in virtual reality, and Moss was a positively adorable adventure, manipulating the environment as a ghostly guardian entity to enable a Despereaux-like rodent protagonist to complete his quest.

The show wrapped with its most anticipated titles. Dad God of War looks brilliant, though I’d like to see a little more than axe-play from the legendary Kratos. His son seems inoffensive as a character, but tag-along AI can easily grow tiresome. We’ll have to wait and see whether he’s an asset or detriment to the journey.

Detroit: Become Human is a little bit Watch Dogs, a little bit Deus Ex, and a little bit HBO’s Westworld. I was disappointed to see that the more interesting female character featured when the game was first revealed in 2015 has seemingly been replaced by a blank-faced crew cut with two different colored eyes, but only because he seemed to lack any real sense of identity. I’m hoping that the game takes advantage of its choice-based narrative to flesh him out into someone with a personality. Regardless, I’m excited to lead my own android revolution.

Destiny 2 continues to look solid, with little glimpses into the story and a focus on the exclusive content for owners of the PlayStation 4 version of the game. There wasn’t much to tell from the footage, except for some time spent with what is presumably the primary antagonist. He is a typically brutish gravel-voiced humanoid alien bent on domination — but we weren’t exactly expecting the unexpected in developer Bungie’s next sci-fi outing.

Finally, Insomniac’s Spider-Man debuted some extended gameplay that was, quite frankly, very short on actual gameplay. The snippet was predominantly a set of scripted sequences and quicktime events and felt a lot less like playing Spider-Man than watching him, with occasional breaks for mashing wildly on a button when prompted. It also failed to give any real indication of how the web swinging was going to be handled — something that diehard Spider-Man 2 fans have been wondering since the game’s announcement. I’m really hoping to get some quality time with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man on the show floor so I can get some sense of whether developer Insomniac intends to give us an experience worthy of the eponymous webhead.

We’ll look deeper into each title on the floor and give you a clearer verdict on each individual experience in Breitbart’s 2017 coverage of the Electronics Entertainment Expo.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both

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