This year, I was lucky enough to attend PlayStation Experience here in San Francisco. Although I wanted to go on Saturday for the panels, I was only able to make it on Sunday afternoon. I spent about five hours exploring the various booths — loads of great indie games — and playing a couple demos. Here are a few highlights from the day!
“The Last Guardian” Interactive Display
For The Last Guardian, Sony put together an amazing wall display, which featured Trico from the upcoming game.
Trico was huge, looking down at passers-by and reacting to nearby people’s movements. People took turns walking up to the wall, sometimes with a barrel they would lift over their heads for Trico. Trico would watch them. Somehow it tracked their movements, sometimes pawing at the barrel or letting out a cute roar.
I don’t think the display was quite big enough to be proportional to the game — Trico is a lot bigger than the boy. However, it loomed over onlookers and really caught your attention even from across the huge expo room! This display was definitely the coolest and cutest thing I saw at PlayStation Experience.
“Eve: Valkyrie” VR Demo
EVE: Valkyrie is a multiplayer space shooter. You play as a pilot, taking down enemy combatants in team versus gameplay. I was interesting for a few reasons:
- It’s set in the EVE Online universe.
- It uses PlayStation VR technology.
- It’s a gorgeous sci-fi game.
When I got in line, I had no idea I would be standing there for over two hours until I had a turn. But it was worth it for the experience.
The PlayStation VR headset is lightweight and comfortable. You have to pull it down until the visuals are clear, which is how you know it’s sitting right on your head. You put the headphones over it. As soon as both are on, the rest of the world is gone. Just gone. You can’t see anything else, and you can barely hear anything else once the action starts. This immersive experience is really what VR is all about, and Eve: Valkyrie is a great game to show it off.
The game itself is stunning. It runs very smooth. You physically look around with your head while maneuvering the ship with the left stick. To fire at an enemy, you have to actually point the ship at them — not just look at them. I had trouble scoring very many points (even though my team still won!) because the controls were inverted from the last player. This made me slightly dizzy.
Flying a spaceship using VR is extremely fun, though. You have 360 degrees of freedom to maneuver. To make targeting easier, there are red icons with arrows pointing you in the directions of enemy ships, so it’s easy to figure out where you’re supposed to go even if no enemies are actually in your sights. I did get a little disoriented at times, when I basically flew upside-down circles chasing ships that were a little too close to me. Sometimes, I purposefully flew away from the action, then braked and turned back to it so I could target enemies from a distance.
To be honest, the experience reminded me of a VR version of Halo: Reach‘s “Long Night of Solace” mission. It was exactly like that, actually. The controls may have been a little different, but just imagine that Halo mission — only totally immersive in VR.
I’m not sure that I’m super interested in VR technology right now. It will be cool when it’s a holodeck. Until then, I’m pretty happy with gaming as it stands now. However, EVE: Valkyrie game a better impression of the immersive features of the technology than my slower-paced E3 demo did. Definitely a game worth checking out.
Read more about EVE: Valkyrie on its website here.
“For Honor” Multiplayer Demo
Next up was For Honor, a game being developed by Ubisoft Montreal. It features medieval, knight-style combat. The demo I played was four-on-four multiplayer, where each team scored points when they made kills and took control of areas in the game. We had an expert on hand walking us through the demo, which included a tutorial and then a short match against the other team.
The combat is very fluid and nuanced. For weak enemies, you simply tap the R1 button to stab them with your sword. As soon as you’re done, you turn your character towards another enemy and do the same. Moving from one enemy to another in this manner is smooth and fast-paced, and your character performs different actions to take down opponents, so things feel fresh and varied.
But the real fun is with your knight’s sword stance. For stronger enemies, you hold L2 to target them, then choose your sword stance with the right stick. You can lift your sword up, or hold it to the left or right. This affects how you attack your enemy and where you block. For instance, if an enemy is holding their sword to their left, you should attack on their exposed right. If an enemy comes at you high, you lift your sword (pushing the right stick up) to block the incoming attack.
It’s the perfect amount of diversity — giving you multiple ways to approach combat, but still easy to learn. You also get special moves that recharge after use, but to be honest, I didn’t even bother with these as I focused on taking control of the objectives!
The game is being called hack-n-slash, but the pace of combat is somewhere between, say, Bloodborne and God of War. It reminded me most of The Witcher, actually — even the medieval atmosphere is similar to the first part of The Witcher 2 (at the castle). For Honor is definitely on my must-buy list for next year! Learn more about the game on its website here.
“MLB The Show” Trophy Bar
I was really looking forward to having a beer at the end of the day. You could smell it wafting from the MLB The Show Trophy Bar, which looked amazing. It had couches where you could sit and play the game, as well as TV screens showcasing gameplay that looked like real baseball — just like when you go to a sports bar to catch the game.
But the best part was the bar itself. With a blue-colored theme, it featured a backlit bar area that included trophies rather than the traditional bottles of alcohol.
Sadly I ran out of time to enjoy a beer there. (Also, it got really busy after 1 PM, so it was hard to find a seat.) But just seeing the cool set-up was a highlight for me.
The event had collectible cards at many of the booths, for specific games. I picked up a few as I explored, which featured really pretty artwork. These are a few favorites!
Overall I had a really fun time at PlayStation Experience. It’s the perfect size for a convention like this — lots of things to do, but not so packed you can’t move. (I did have a little trouble breathing on the second floor though — that place was hot!)
In addition to the above, I spent time watching Gravity Ghost, Dead Star, and ABZU, all of which I wanted to play but too many people were already at the stations. I also hit the LEGO Marvel’s Avengers area and played some co-op there (first as Black Widow, then as Hawkeye), but after getting stuck on an early puzzle, I moved on to For Honor. Still really fun. LEGO games are always fun.
I only wish I’d been able to spend a second day there! Maybe next year… =)