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E3 2014 Preview: Sony

the order

Sony arrives at E3 with the best-selling current-gen console along with the worst-selling console, so they have the opportunity to gloat along with some problems to solve. Their press conference is the final show on Monday at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET.

Sony is usually the company that spills the beans on a few of their announcements leading into E3, but this bit of success seems to have afforded them the ability to keep things a secret. We got word that Driveclub will finally be out on October 7 and The Order 1886 will be out early in 2015 along with some details and footage of each, but nothing major. It would seem like there’s a good chance of seeing both getting major demos as the next two big, and known, PS4 titles from Sony.

There is one other rumored game that has been making waves in Project Beast, the poorly-kept secret From Software game funded by Sony as a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls lead by Hidetaka Miyazaki, who skipped out on Dark Souls II to make this new game. We got screenshots and a bit of footage, which makes this potentially the biggest leak of E3 if it’s true with the way that the Souls games have made an impact on the industry in the past few years.

The secrecy that Sony has shown is due to their large stable of developers working on a variety of games and the fact is that Sony didn’t spill any beans on what many of them have been producing. We’ve got the likes of Media Molecule, Sony Santa Monica, Bend Studio, Polyphony Digital, and supposed second teams at Naughty Dog and Guerrilla Games.

We know Media Molecule was at the PS4 unveiling with a tech demo about the PlayStation Move controller and it wouldn’t be surprising to see their new game is for Project Morpheus since they’re a big supporter of new Sony tech. Polyphony Digital may very well already be working on Gran Turismo 7, supposedly an upgraded version of GT6 with a big focus on the community and could be released as soon as this year, though Driveclub’s delay could push that to 2015 just to be safe since Polyphony can always use some extra time.

Sony Santa Monica just tweeted an obvious hint that something God of War-related will be at E3, which could be God of War 4 as a much-needed reboot to reset that universe with a new mythology to focus on.

Guerrilla Games has long been rumored to be working on an open-world RPG with their second team, so the results should be surfacing at some point and E3 would be a good place to do that.

A new Uncharted is obviously the big new Naughty Dog game that Neil Druckmann has taken over with Amy Hennig’s departure earlier this year, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’ve got another team working on something that might be too early to show anyway since Uncharted is their flagship title and focus right now.

Sony has a lot more games that they’ve announced that can still make the show such as an actual reveal of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Rime, and some of their smaller titles such as Helldivers and Hohokum. Looking at some rumors, it’s our annual claim that The Last Guardian may finally reappear at E3 since it has to show up at some point with the way that Sony refuses to let it die. There was that leak of what is supposed to be at Sony’s press conference that could be legit or way off, so we’ll see what’s up with that next week.

A few of the more interesting details includes a Syphon Filter reboot, Wipeout’s return, a potential return of Quantic Dream with a new trailer, a Ninja Theory exclusive title, a big Sony London title, and some inFamous: Second Son DLC. Some of that seems likely, but others will make for big surprises if it’s true.

Third party publishers seem like a place where we can likely expect to see Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III from Square Enix, some Assassin’s Creed Unity from Ubisoft, and maybe even a look at Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain from Konami among others.

last guardian

Looking at the PS4 itself, there’s not much reason to expect a price drop to put the screw to the Xbox One’s drop. Sony has the mindshare and tech advantage in their favor, so they don’t have to sell themselves short like that. Project Morpheus should be a big presence at E3 if it’s really still coming sooner than later along with some games to really show it off beyond tech demos.

Sony has ramped up their beta of PlayStation Now, their streaming solution to combat their backwards compatibility issues, to the PS4 recently and a wider beta among PlayStation Plus members would be a smart bet along with concrete details of when it launches. I’d also expect to hear news of a big PS4 update that potentially adds MP3 support, DLNA streaming, and some other big features that PS4 owners have been wanting that were supposedly held out of the last major update.

The Vita is the black sheep of the PlayStation family with its poor sales to a very dedicated audience that keeps it going with great support for indies and smaller publishers. Sony has to finally push for some major price drops and SKU changes to give this system a shot in the arm. The introduction of the 2000 model came with a mandatory bundle containing Borderlands 2, an 8 GB memory card, and the Vita 2000 for $200, which suggests that there will be an inevitable standalone unit that signals a price drop for the new Vita.

Pricing it at $150 would be very aggressive, but $170 seems more likely with an included memory card to make it easier to encourage more digital purchases. Add to this the long-awaited launch of the 64 GB memory card in the US so Vita owners don’t have to import them would be great to accompany price drops on the rest of the memory cards. We need some Vita games to show up that are beyond the scope of HD collection ports and indie games, which may be the true test of Sony’s commitment to the Vita after the big Tearaway gamble failed.

The PS3 still has some life left in it, but I don’t see much in the way of big news here just like what we’re predicting for the Xbox 360. A price drop seems likely since their main models are $250 and up eight years after launch, so dropping that 12 GB model to $150 and the 250 and 329 GB models to $200. Sony has put all of their developers to work on PS4, so I’m not sure who they have that would be making PS3 exclusives at this point, which is kind of a shame.

Sony certainly has a lot of work cut out for them to show why the early adopters made the right choice to go with the PS4 and why those on the fence should join them. The Vita needs some loving from Sony with a big price drop, better memory card prices and options, and some new games to get excited about. The PS3 is basically on cruise control at this point, which means that Sony keeps the third-party train rolling along with a price drop to give that system a boost for a while.

I asked my fellow editors here at SmashPad to talk about what they’re expecting and hoping to see out of Sony at E3:

Danreb Victorio, Managing Editor:

“Of the big three publishers, Sony has disappointed me the most despite their current standing at first place with the PlayStation 4 selling substantially better than the Xbox One or Wii U. Yes, they’re moving units, but they’ve also been moving dates back. We got what we wanted with the delayed inFamous, but it’s time to rekindle what got us excited–and I expect third party Japanese developers and publishers like Square Enix to take advantage of this situation. Bust out the Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV, and Uncharted!  Some indie stuff would be nice too.

On the Vita side of things, I’m on the side of the boat that thinks it’s just a niche system now, but they can always surprise by putting out bigger first party titles.”

Filippo Dinolfo, Senior Editor:

“Sony is coming off of a successful console launch. This year, I’m expecting them to showcase the good stuff we can expect to be playing in the next year or so. I’d like to see more of The Order, and if it wouldn’t be too much to ask, could we maybe get a little tease of Gran Turismo 7? Oh, and more Driveclub, let’s have some more info on that.”

Patrick Mifflin, Associate Editor:

“It would be an understatement to say that Sony has all the momentum coming into E3, having helped themselves to an early generation lead that Microsoft wasn’t even able to overcome with a heavy hitter like Titanfall. Between a glut of great retail titles in the pipeline and an already outstanding indie library available on the PlayStation Store, Sony is still selling PS4s as quickly as they can produce them. One situation to watch that could potentially be a game-changer is a likely planetary alignment of Sony returning to the PlayStation brand’s roots while the new Square Enix boss, Yosuke Matsuda, has vowed to give his company a laser-like focus on producing traditional JRPGs once again. Of course, there’s also that whole Project Morpheus thing that could make a splash this year, depending on how soon it’ll be ready for primetime.”

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