Sony used its PlayStation (PS) E3 Showcase event June 12 in Los Angeles to tout key new game releases that include several titles featuring virtual reality (VR) as the company looks to strengthen the catalog of PS4 console games available for its PS VR headset.
The first standout new PS VR title was “Déraciné,” an adventure game from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) Japan Studio and FromSoftware that Sony announced for the first time and said will be released later this year.
The second was “Trover Saves the Universe,” a bizarre title from Squanch Games and Justin Roiland, one of the creators of the offbeat animated Cartoon Network TV show “Rick and Morty.” Sony provided few details about the game at its event beyond showing a trailer of it for the first time.
But Squanch said at its website: “In this game, your dogs have been dognapped by a beaked lunatic who stuffed them into his eye holes and is using their life essence to destroy the Universe.” That won’t clear up any confusion, but viewers of “Rick and Morty” likely know what to expect from the game, which will be released in early 2019, according to Squanch.
Other coming PS VR games include “Beat Saber” from Beat Games (which also uses PS Move controllers), “Tetris Effect” from Enhance this fall and “Ghost Giant” from Zoink Games. Sony, however, provided no update on how PS VR is performing.
Sony’s presentation was pretty much the complete opposite of rival Microsoft’s briefing at the show one day earlier.
Microsoft touted about 50 new games, announced plans for a new cloud-based game streaming service, touted a new FastStart gaming feature that uses machine learning, introduced a new controller, announced the doubling of its internal game development initiatives that included the formation of a new studio and the purchase of four other studios, and laid out other plans for the future including artificial intelligence and confirmation that it’s preparing for a new console hardware generation.
Sony, on the other hand, focused entirely on showing off a small number of upcoming exclusive games for the PS4 at its more intimate event. Those key titles included “Death Stranding” (starring the voice and likeness of “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus), “Ghost of Tsushima,” “Marvel’s Spider-Man” (being released Sept. 7), “The Last of Us Part II” and a remake of Capcom’s “Resident Evil 2” (Jan. 25).
“We’ve decided to mix it up a little bit in the way that we’re doing our E3 presentation this year,” SIE Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden told attendees. “Rather than a bombardment of new creative, we’re going to take all of you on a journey deeper into some of the key titles we’ve talked about before, but we’re going to talk about them in a different way tonight – a deeper way, so you can learn about what’s going on with these games and what’s coming up in the future.”
He added: “We really want to take our love for gaming and make it sing, and make it sing very loudly.”
Layden joked a bit also at the Sony event, but he made no announcements and didn’t provide any sales or other product or service updates like Sony has done in years past at E3.
“Welcome and thank you for making the time tonight to come to church,” he said, referring to the fact that the event was held in a venue that looked like a church. “This fulfills your obligation for the coming Sunday,” he joked, adding: “For those of you who may be a bit apprehensive because you remember that movie “Kingsmen,” this doesn’t end that way.”
The main news from the Nintendo Direct E3 video that was streamed live June 12 was that the game “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” will be released for the Nintendo Switch Dec. 7.
The latest entry in Nintendo’s popular game series will “include every single fighter ever featured in the series’ nearly two-decade run, making it one of the biggest crossover events in gaming history,” the company boasted. More than 40 million copies of games in the series have been sold globally to date, it said. The latest game is being developed by Nintendo, Sora and Bandai Namco Studios.
At its E3 booth, Nintendo is also giving attendees their first chance to play the recently announced latest games in its Pokémon game series: “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” and “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!,” shipping exclusively for the Switch Nov. 16 at $59.99 each.
The games use a new Nintendo accessory, called Poké Ball Plus that includes a pressable analog stick and button, so players can control the new games entirely with the accessory if they want. Nintendo announced two bundles, in which players can get either one of the new games with one Poké Ball Plus at $99.99 each.
Anybody hoping to hear Nintendo drop the price of the Switch console from its current $299.99 would have been disappointed. Although Switch hardware sales have been strong, eventually, Nintendo will likely have to drop the price of the console by about $100 to reach a much bigger chunk of the mass family consumer base that the company’s game systems have historically been targeted at most.
On the Switch console hardware front, Nintendo only announced a limited time deal in which U.S. consumers can buy a Switch, already bundled with Neon Blue and Neon Red Joy-Con controllers or gray Joy-Con controllers, with a free SanDisk 128-GB microSDXC memory card for the same $299.99 at Best Buy.
Once again, Nintendo opted to use one of its pre-recorded Nintendo Direct videos instead of a live E3 news briefing in Los Angeles like it used to do and like its video game hardware rivals continue to do.