I’m only going to say this once. Because you’re probably hearing it from every recess, avenue, and nook of the internet right about now. So, here goes, just the once: Sony destroyed Microsoft today.
Sony sat back and did what resourceful companies do; they observed. All of Microsoft’s weak spots, the negative reaction, even their own fans directly voicing their opinions through Twitter, blogs, and vlogs. Sony listened, waited, and after assessing the situation…they struck. Hard, fast, and not without some self-appreciative glee.
Sony and Microsoft have two next-gen consoles so similar in intent and execution, all the gaming public could do was look for the key differences. Those differences, unfortunately for the Big M, came down to a war of ideologies. And in this case Sony smartly – and deliberately – petitioned for the people.
Tonight, Sony actively responded to, and very openly attacked, Microsoft’s maligned Xbox One policies. They spoon fed us the message and we happily ate it up. PS4 does not restrict used games; the Xbox One does. PS4 doesn’t require an always-on connection; the Xbox One can’t make the same promise. PS4 never needs to “authenticate” your games; guess where Xbox One lands on that matter?
But those were just the softening blows. The bell-sounding knockout hadn’t even connected yet. Here’s where Sony slammed the gauntlet down with enough force to snap Microsoft’s back:
The PlayStation 4 is priced at $399. A whole hundred dollars cheaper than the Xbox One.
The war’s far from over. As Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett says, it’s crazy to declare “a ‘winner’ in this contest before a console has even been sold." But, after their conference, no one would call you a fool for going all in and placing every chip you own on the PS4. Yeah, we just watched history being made. Better yet, we watched the only kind of history that matters to the sort that put loving grooves in their couch and own multiple characters for a single game – we witnessed video game history. How about that?
Anywho, before console fever settles in, let’s focus on what really matters. The games, of course:
PS Plus 2.0
PSN’s all grown up, folks. It’s robust, socially conscious, and even has a nifty rewards program in PS Plus which has been winning over gamers’ hearts. Sure, it still has problems with punctuality, but it’s matured into a fine, young service.
So, inevitably, the once free PSN is now going the way of subscription. Coming in at about $5 a month (or $60 a year), PS Plus is now your only way to gain access to online multiplayer in addition to the standard Plus caveats like discounts and a host of free games (apparently, one PS4 title will be released for free every month). Already signed up on the PS3? Plus will carry right on over to both the PS Vita and PS4.
Opting out of a subscription, however, doesn’t convert your PS4 into a jagged husk. You’re still able to play a game’s single-player component and you’re not denied access from media apps like Netflix and Hulu (a certain company should take pointers…Ah, it’s too late anyway.)
Love Be to Thee, PS3
Sony felt it important to reaffirm support for the millions that have trucked with the PS3 through this generation before dropping knowledge on us over the PS4. A mix of downloadable and retail titles were shown. Notably:
- Batman: Arkham Origins - Listen until the end for Troy Baker’s Joker.
- Beyond: Two Souls - Watch Ellen Page go all G.I. Jane.
- Diablo III - Releasing September 3rd, Sony announced PS3-specific content including items based on Uncharted and Journey.
- Gran Turismo 6 - New tires, new suspension, new game. And, like a car, you can even trade-in your old one for it.
- Grand Theft Auto V - No trailer here but it was announced a $299 PS3 bundle including the game is headed to stores in September. Swanky.
- The Last of Us - You’re likely over saturated by trailers, and the game does come out in just a few days…But you’re going to watch this one anyway, aren’t you?
- Rain - I love ghosts and I love the rain. Code in some gameplay between those two things and I’m set. (Okay, it’s an invisible boy. Same as a ghost if you ask me.)
Life on the Vita
I’ll get it out of the way. No price drop for Sony’s PS Vita. Its resurgence in Japan – a land where handheld Sony products run freely and gaily – could account for the reluctance to re-price the system; poor domestic performance or not.
Several titles were touted for the Vita but, oddly enough, the majority are ports. It’s my belief a system cannot thrive on HD remakes alone but Sony seems to think otherwise:
- Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Big name, little adventure. It’s a MetroidVania title, so basically it’s why you own a handheld.
- Dead Nation - Zombie twin-stick shooter; ported from PSN.
- Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD - Famed JRPG and its strange but beloved sequel; ported from the PS2.
- Flower - Pedal manipulating relaxation; ported from PSN.
- God of War HD Collection - The first two GoW adventures in HD; made the jump from PS2 to PS3 and now to the Vita.
- Tearaway - Third-person adventure from the creators of LittleBigPlanet; ported from – oh, whoa, an original Vita game?! Egad!
- The Walking Dead: 400 Days - Not only is the first season of Telltale’s surprise hit going Vita native, but the 400 Days episode (which is a bonus sixth episode that bridges into Season 2) is shambling toward the system as well.
Sony’s unprecedented open-arm invitation for indie developers to create for their system manifested in a classy little display of quirky, fun looking titles flooding their way to the PS4.
Some standouts include a brief look at Jonathan Blow’s The Witness (making its way to the PS4 first), OddWorld: New and Tasty, a full-on reimagining of the original PlayStation classic, a horrifying game called OctoDad which has haunted me since I saw it first, and the Bastion creators’ style soaked follow-up Transistor.
Sony did a run through of first and third-party titles already announced alongside the PS4’s February reveal. There were also some… big fucking announcements made, so let’s dig in real quick like and remember to hit the links for footage and trailers:
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag- This demo was going just swimmingly – luscious environment, incognito traveling, naval warfare – up until the game slowed to a standstill. Can’t say it’s AC unless you experience epic slowdown.
- Destiny - Oh, man, someone tie a rope around me so you guys can pull me back into the real world because I’m going to want to live in this game. Massive co-op battles, real-time events, Bungie developed FPS action…Goodbye, everybody. Tell them my story.
- DriveClub - Social thriving, competitive racing. There’s just something about launch racers that fills me full of yawns, though…
- Elder Scrolls Online - Ayuh, the next-gen is set on making MMO’s the norm for consoles. I can dig it. That’ll change once charging for subs quickly becomes the norm as well.
- Final Fantasy XV - Wonder what happened to Versus XIII? Just like I heard oh-so many moons ago, the years-long project has been converted into the next main installment of Final Fantasy. What’s more, it’s going next-gen. What’s even more, it looks fan-fucking-tastic. I think I’ve fallen in love with this series again…but I’ve been burned by Square before.
- inFamous: Second Son - This one is shaping up to be a real beaut. This’ll be one of the first titles to really let the PS4 strut its legs.
- Killzone: Shadow Fall - Killzone has always felt like this balancing act of functionality and stretching graphical limits, but was never quite able to transcend the status quo. Shadow Fall could be the series’ breakout game…Or just another sequel.
- Kingdom Hearts III - Yeah, the game every KH fan has been ceaselessly begging to see at E3 for the last several years – it done went and got announced. Square’s reveals paired with Sony’s surprises will lodge themselves into gamers’ minds for years to come. This year reminded us why E3 is so worth looking forward to.
- Knack - A platformer more keen on interesting gameplay than getting obsessed with visuals, this is another on the fence title I need to see more of before dropping the verdict.
- Mad Max - Not sure what the hell is going on with the long gestating fourth film, but the folks that brought us the modern cult hit, Just Cause 2, are bringing Max’s wastelands to virtual life. Soon, I’ll get that Running Man game I’ve always begged for.
- The Order: 1886 - This left-field oddity turned some heads last night through its somber mixture Victorian design and modern technology including assault rifles and electrified bullets. From Ready at Dawn, the studio behind the surprisingly solid PSP editions of God of War, I’m interested in seeing the results of what they can do when they really let loose on a big boy platform. We need us some original IP.
- Watch_Dogs - Equipped with a perpetual deus ex machina of a smartphone, bending Chicago to your will is exactly what I want from the next-gen. Seriously, there’s a post-it note here that says: "Bend Chicago to my will." Just, you know, I’ll have to settle for doing that in a video game.