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The 2023 PlayStation Showcase is now in the books, and as the dust clears – the general consensus is that while it was a decent show, it didn’t quite have the first-party pomp many gamers were expecting after such a strong year.
That’s not to say it was a bad showcase for Sony, far from it. There were some great crowd pleasing announcements – such as the confirmation of Metal Gear Solid Delta, and the deep dive into some new Spider-Man 2 gameplay was most welcome. As was the reveal of a bunch of unexpected new (or not-so new in the case of Marathon) reveals with the debut of titles like Fairgame$, Phantom Blade 0 and the aforementioned new version of the 90’s shooter from Bungie.
But there was a heavy reliance on third party titles carrying the show – Alan Wake 2, Dragons Dogma 2, Ghostrunner 2 – which are still very exciting and are looking great, but aren’t necessarily reasons to run out and buy a PlayStation 5 over any other console. It’s an issue that was made even more evident by a cheeky tweet from Xbox just minutes after the show, showing how many of those titles (including the big MGS3 remake) would also be coming to Xbox as well.
PlayStation also made a fairly big deal about hardware – with the announcement of their Project Q cloud handheld system and a whole section dedicated to games coming to PSVR2. But both of those had their flaws too – the former didn’t give us any indication of a price or an ETA – and seems to be similar in specs to recent leaks, so rather than the Vita successor fans wanted, is a decent handheld cloud gaming machine which is nice – but may have practical issues and will essentially still require you to own a PS5 first anyway.
As for the PSVR 2 – the games looked fine, and Beat Saber – as one of the most popular VR titles of all time – is most welcome, but the headset is still looking for its killer app, and though it might be premature to say, it didn’t feel like any of the games shown are going to be much better than launch game Horizon Call of the Mountain. For a relatively expensive piece of hardware (costing about the same as the console), that’s still a tough sell for many – and moreso during a cost of living crisis.
But it’s notable that three of the major announcements of the showcase – namely Metal Gear Solid Delta, Marathon and Fairgame$ – had zero gameplay shown. Yeah, we got impressive cinematic flavour trailers – which are all well and good – but they’re ideals, not tangible games we can see ourselves playing on our consoles. They get us excited, sure – but they also remind us they might be a while away yet, and there’s been plenty examples in the past of how a cinematic trailer can bear very little resemblance to how the final game turns out – and crucially, fans are all too aware of this.
Xbox hasn’t exactly been given a freebie – as I said earlier in the week, Starfield currently has to do a lot of heavy lifting for the console owner and the company really needs to show what it can do at its own showcase next month – but Sony’s big hitters; it’s Naughty Dogs, it’s Sucker Punches and it’s Sony Santa Monica Studios – were all notable by their absence. Yeah, you can argue the company has deserved to rest a little after a hell of a 12 month run of must have exclusives and system selling games – but as we saw with the PS3 following the PS2 era, Sony are just as capable of fumbling the ball after a high note. We’ll see if Xbox can capitalise on June 11, 2023.
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