2015 marked the second time that Sony put on their own showcase live event—the PlayStation Experience. From upcoming independent games and big-budget titles to tech demos and awesome reveals, it had everything you could ask for from a game industry event that isn’t E3. Sony definitely succeeded in exciting gamers everywhere with what’s to come for PlayStation device owners next year.
The PlayStation Experience also gave us a taste of where the gaming industry may be going in 2016 and beyond.
VR Continues Being Prepped As The Next Big Thing
The truth is, video games haven’t had any groundbreaking innovations in the past few years. It’s been mostly gradual enhancements like better visuals, online capabilities, and downloadable content. These are minor innovations compared to—say—the jump from 2D to 3D which began in the mid-90s with the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation consoles. Or when motion controls like the Wii were released in 2006. Or when the Apple App store burst on the scene in 2008 and quickly became a dominant gaming platform.
Although some are skeptical as to whether it will just be a fad or not, Virtual Reality is looking to be that next big thing that promises to offer an entirely new way to play games. Reminding Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens that Sony is also joining the fight, a good amount of time was dedicated toward PlayStation VR at the PlayStation Experience. No release date or launch price were given but there were a number of titles announced.
Rez Infinite is a port of the original that will run at 120 fps on PlayStation VR but can also be played normally at 60fps. The Modern Zombie Taxi Co., lets you live the dream of being a taxi driver for zombies; 100 Foot Robot Golf lets you play a city destroying round of golf as a 100 foot battle robot; and—as a last example—Job Simulator is a satirical VR take on jobs that include chef, office worker, and convenience store clerk. The game lets players interact with objects and environments with the use of both PS VR and two PS Move controllers.
People Still Want To Play Old Classics
Gamers everywhere were excited when Microsoft announced that the Xbox Onewould eventually feature backwards compatibility (e.g. old Xbox games would be playable on the new Xbox One console). While Xbox One owners celebrated this thought, PlayStation 4 users were left wondering if Sony would do the same for them. Unfortunately all Sony has offered to date is the poorly received PlayStation Now service, which allows you to stream PlayStation 3 games. The criticism of the new subscription-based service is that it doesn’t provide enough play value to warrant the cost. Sony originally priced the service as $20 a month (or $45 for three months), but announced at the PlayStation Experience reduced pricing at $99 a year.
The bigger news was that PlayStation 2 titles would be available for digital download purchase on PS4. This includes some of the best games the PS2 had to offer, including Dark Cloud, several Grand Theft Auto titles, and more. While it’s great that they’re up-rendered to 1080p and come with their own trophies to unlock, the $15 price tag on each hasn’t made everyone happy.
The point is: fans want to be able to play their favorite games on the latest console hardware. So far only Nintendo provides meaningful backwards compatibility with their consoles.
The Fighting Game Resurrection Hasn’t Stopped
There was a time when fighting games were the most popular genre on the planet. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Marvel vs. Capcom—the 90s were dominated by these games as gamers flocked arcades to play them. The console versions of these titles also consistently sold well enough to convince publishers to greenlight sequel after sequel.
The glut of sequels (SF2: Champion Edition, SF2: Turbo, etc) combined with a shift from 2D to 3D gameplay caused the fighting game to fall off the map. This remained true throughout the 2000s. However in 2009 Street Fighter IV reignited interest in fighting games and helped pave the way for excellent titles like Blazblue, Skullgirls, and the resurrected Mortal Kombat series.
The 2015 PlayStation Experience showed us that fighting games are maintaining relevance. Fans have been signing the praises of Street Fighter V and the newest fighter on PS4, FANG. SNK also gave PS4 fans a closer look at the upcoming King of Fighters XIV that promises breathtaking visuals, multiple modes, and more than four dozen playable characters.
Next-Gen Consoles Are Looking Better And Better
While the first wave of PS4 and Xbox One titles looked good, they certainly weren’t the graphical upgrade we were hoping for. This was expected since the first titles made for a new console is usually a learning experience for game developers. If you look at history of every video game console, you’ll see a pattern of the best looking games being released toward the end of its lifecycle.
Now it looks like next-gen fans are finally getting the stunning visuals they were hoping. At the PlayStation Experience we were shown a look at both Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Final Fantasy VII Remake, and they both look absolutely gorgeous.