Paris Games Week 2015 Sony – Shadows of the Empire

Palpatine

We were not ready for this. Paris, for the first time, would become the center of the gaming world. For this very first conference held for Paris Game Week, Sony gave to France an unexpected influence by a major presentation far beyond the odds.

Still, the show starts slowly by a look back on 2015, not very relevant since Bloodborne had been the only important exclusive those few past months. Then there was stuff known already : Call of Duty Black Ops III, Horizon Zero Dawn, Street Fighter V, Tekken 6, etc. Harada and Ono might be talented showmen, Dhalsim coming to Street Fighter V and Tekken 6 being on PS4 are hardly meaningful surprises, and motorbikes in DriveClub won’t impress the public either. We do learn that Black Ops III DLC will have the traditional 30-day excusivity period, this time on the Playstation Store. CoD die hard fans have no choice left : they need to drop their Xbox if they want to keep up.

After that, the real announcements start pouring. Housemarque, already know for Resogun, unveils Matterfall, likely a 3rd person shooter in a futuristic setting. Boudless by Wonderstruck is an adventure game set in a heroic-fantasy universe with a childish look where the player is at the crossing of countless world, the doors of which being mirrors. Both projects are still a little hazy, but strengthen the long list of PS4 exclusives.

The heavyweights have come and the mean business. Star Wars Battlefront blesses us with a last trailer before hitting the shelves on which it won’t be for very long. The E3 and Gamescom trailers were quite the thing but this last one is the coronation of all. The perfect choice of the music at the beginning, the expression of the rebel soldier as Ackbar urges them to not give up, Darth Vader storming the base and the Emperor enjoying his coming victory with the Death Star in the back… everything was fine-tuned for that every Star Wars fan remember the emotional power of the trilogy. And graphically damn… never a gaming system has displayed this level of spectacular before : explosions everywhere, spaceships and vehicles coming from all sides within a flurry of beams! Save the date, November 19th will a day to remember.

No Man’s Sky gets back with a short trailer well directed and like the last time, the background music gives it a perfect pace. The game has further improved graphically and its large galaxy is increasingly taking shape. Let’s recall that the the concept is about and adventurer who travels to unknown planets, with consequently strange life beings and conflicts in outer-space. No Man’s Sky is special because it wakes up a old dream, space exploration like it was defined by 2001, A Space Odyssey 40 years ago. Last but not least, it is confirmed to be a PS4 console exclusive.

We are pleasantly surprised to see Kat again in a few action sequences of Gravity Daze 2 that show how the power of the PS4 is put to good use (better be, I tell you…). Colors are a lot livelier than in the first game and interactivity has improved dramatically. Kat is not alone for Paris Games Week : Raven also appear for tag battles which lets us think there might be a multiplayer mode in the works. This strong presence of Japanese gaming in the French capital is more than welcome.

But the most important part of the conference is the emphasis put on Playstation VR, Sony’s virtual reality helmet. Lots of games are shown : Rigs offers to revolutionize e-sport with its strange sport played on mechas, Until Dawn will bring the horror closer to the player, Battlezone will do the same for the frontline, Tekken 7 is VR too and Robinson – The Journey by Crytek is a sort a Jurassic World from a first person view. We can feel that the marketing plans are being finalized, whereas not so long ago VR seemed a distant dream from Hi-Tech shows.

Here we need to stop 2 minutes and think. Playstation VR games are starting to be increasingly high profile and developers seems to go on board. So investments in that technology look massive despite no guarantee it will be interesting from a gameplay point of view. That suggests and great confidence and maybe a certain ease at Sony HQ right now if they throw themselves in high risk high return projects like this. It’s like as if Sony had already gone beyond the mere console war to pioneer new innovations and extend its power. I’m not saying it will work out, but the plans are laid down and they are ambitious.

But the firm doesn’t intend to stop there and it’s now Gran Turismo coming for the first time on PS4 in a “sports” edition. No numbering, the title Gran Turismo Sport underlines the important partnership signed with the FIA to hold joint competitions between real and virtual. Polyphony Digital hence brings the real deal since the “season” of GT Sport will have you represent your country or your favorite maufacturer. The trailer is focused on the love GT players have for cars, as the series has always been about, and anticipates on a broader audience. The increasing rhythm of the music and and the evolution seen in images catch the eye as much as the exquisite prototypes.

GT Sport can change gears as it likes : its rival, Micorsoft’s Forza Motorsport 6 ended up vastly unnoticed by buyers. It didn’t appear in European charts, nor did it in US NPD. The Xbox series is half-dead at this point and the American manufacturer has lost the race while still on the starting grid. Whatever dubious press headlines say, the public wants Kazunori Yamauchi’s simulation.

Wild goes wild as Michel Ancel, the famous French game designer, comes to present its PS4 exclusive further. No lip-service here but actual gameplay. In this game, the player is a Shaman capable of asking nearby animals for help, or taking control of them. The immense world and the various species seen let hope for a quite rich gameplay full of different possibilities for a same objective.

David Cage comes to end the show with the reveal of his first PS4 game? He takes the world as witness when pointing out the success of its Kara video aired years ago now. Quite clevery, the French creator announces that Detroit – Become Human will tell what whappens after the Kara video, something that millions of people are curious about. No real indication of what the game will be in the trailer shown, the subject of androids having become commonplace these days. Let’s stress that Sony ends its conference here in Paris by two of the most famous French game creators : the ultimate weapon of seduction.

Those successive conferences and the unexpected scale of this one can mean only one thing : Sony is (re)building its empire. US, Europe, Japan, the triad of conferences, the empire on which the Sun never sets. Sony moves faster, farer and boasts more exclusives than the others which have nothing to keep up. Microsoft played his hand at Gamescom and Nintendo is still wondering how to make Directs again. More than the conquest of market shares, undoubtedly won already given the crushing line-up and the unmatched partnerships, Sony is actually challenging the whole entertainment industry. Future will tell if its ambitions are too big or not.

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