Apologies for the lateness of this report. I've been busy Actually Playing Video Games. I know, right? And there was you thinking I came all the way to E3, in Los Angeles, to simply look at what everyone around the world can see on live streams. That, and I had to let everything from the conference in questions process properly. As, once again, after a blinding 2015, it's Sony's showcase presentation for upcoming PlayStation titles that's stolen the E3 show. IMHO, obvs.
And, disclaimer: it might be worthwhile noting that Sony themselves flew me out to LA. I'm here on their dime. Or, rather, several of them. Does that have any bearing on what I'm about to write? None whatsoever, because what they showed off was, for the most part, certifiably terrific. Colour me excited for a whole bunch of this stuff.
Stuff like Horizon Zero Dawn, which was given plenty of time on the big screen. Guerrilla's set-for-early-2017 title showed off a gameplay section where the protagonist Aloy had to journey to a neighbouring village, on the back of a reprogrammed robot cow thing (called a "broadhead"). On getting there, she faced a boss fight with a strange, violent, archaic and out of place robotic creature. We saw a few tricks that previous trailers had revealed, like arrows that act as tethers, attaching Aloy's foe to the ground and restricting their movement; but plenty of new things, too, like a crafting system and radial-wheel dialogue options, a la Mass Effect. There's a Monster Hunter vibe to proceedings, albeit with a far grander world as a playground. And colossal robot dinosaurs, obviously. Watch the trailer in full here.
The reveal trailer for 'Resident Evil VII'
Stuff like Resident Evil VII, subtitled "biohazard", which used Capcom's VR tech demo Kitchen as a starting point for some up-close-and-personal (not to mention incredibly dirty) survival horror shits and giggles. With a spooky old house to poke about in, and a flashlight for company/safety, this is a far cry indeed from the adrenaline-soaked action of Resi 6. A demo of the game is available now on the PlayStation store, with the full version – which is PlayStation VR compatible, assuming you enjoy skidmarks – out on January the 24th, 2017.
Stuff like Insomniac's new Spider-Man, merely teased right now with a minute-twenty cinematic trailer. That's a hell of an exclusive to call your own. And it wasn't the only superhero game on show, as London studio Rocksteady's been beavering away on Batman Arkham VR, which comes out in October, alongside PS VR itself ($399/£349, launching on October the 13th). A VR X-Wing game is also incoming, supplemental to EA's content-light-at-launch Battlefront.
Stuff like a new God of War, titled simply God of War, which looked rather like Horizon, but with a bigger axe and a gigantic troll instead of a red-light-flashing robot and an arsenal of arrows. Look at this gorgeous thing in motion, won't you, via the moving images above.
That's the stuff that got me most excited, wriggling on my seat like I needed a piss (I sort of did, by the time Spider-Man was on; these things can go on a bit). Just before then came a Certifiably Big Reveal, as Hideo Kojima appeared on stage to introduce Death Stranding with a trailer that was So Kojima I'm amazed that it got through US customs. Norman Reedus, the actor who was set to star in the canned Silent Hills, is Kojima's leading man for it, and his Instragram game right now is commendably pithy. Have a look at this thing and see if you can discern any sense from it whatsoever.
There was more. So much more. It just kept coming, like Sony couldn't stick the lid on it, however much they tried. A VR spin on Final Fantasy XV's "Episode Duscae" looked like a lazy cash-in on the tech (and plays like it to, speaking to some people after the show). Better is Farpoint, a sci-fi shooter using Sony's new sort-of-gun-shaped controller, PS VR Aim. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looked 1,000 times was impressive than I was anticipating – it's not a PS4 exclusive, of course, but Activision has partnered with Sony for this E3, and also showed off Skylanders Imaginators, set to star the returning Crash Bandicoot (three remasters, of the first game, its sequel and Warped, incoming). Then there was Bend's Days Gone – bikers and zombies – Quantic Dream's Detroit: Become Human – androids and investigations – and the small matter of a release date for The Last Guardian, October the 25th.
I played some PS VR titles after the presentation had finished. Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a point-and-click-and-flick puzzler that made me smile a great deal; 100ft Robot Golf is exactly what it says it is, and fun enough for a hole or two; and Rez Infinite is every inch as you imagine Rez in VR to be: pretty brilliant, basically, all beats and blasts and running man bosses. I'll be playing more over the next few days, hopefully including Rocksteady's Batman game. Now, though, bed. It's long gone half one in LA and unlike some other cities on this side of the Atlantic, this one likes to sleep.