It’s been more than two weeks since the Sony State of Play premiered, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Even after the countless Summer Game Fest livestreams and surprisingly shocking Final Fantasy VII anniversary showcase, I’m walking away thinking the Sony State of Play stream reigned supreme. It was a nonstop flurry of game news and announcements, plus some showstopper premieres that everyone was waiting for.
Short and Sweet
The main advantage the Sony State of Play had over the main Summer Game Fest stream was the shorter length. While the latter’s livestreams would last hours on end, the Sony State of Play ended up clocking at under 30 minutes. Taking from a page from the Nintendo Direct’s book, there were a total of 13 games announced, which was nearly one game announcement every two minutes.
I like developer commentary and behind-the-scenes footage as much as the next gamer, but respecting my time and showing me what I came for is refreshing in the age of talking heads and teasers of teasers. The Sony State of Play also knew how to manage its time, with a range of indie releases sandwiched between some heavy hitters. The pacing was relentless and entertaining, and it didn’t dwell on any one mood for too long.
What’s Old is New Again
Speaking of heavy hitters, who was expecting another iteration of Resident Evil 4 at the Sony State of Play? (Okay, everyone was, but it was still a great debut!) There was a lot to love here, featuring graphics made from the ground up in the new RE Engine and a new third-person mode. While the “haha, ANOTHER Resident Evil 4 remake?” joke rings true, there’s something about how the reimagining of the survival horror title still manages to impress even after countless generations of video game hardware.
Speaking of Resident Evil, we also got a glimpse of some new DLC for Resident Evil Village, which includes some choice footage of everyone’s favorite overgrown villainess, Lady Dimitrescu. But what could prompt another REpeat (sorry, I had to take it) playthrough of the game for veteran fans?
Back (PSVR) 2 the Future
It seems that the Sony State of Play offered up an inside look at the recently unveiled PlayStation VR 2 headset, which is currently in development. I personally just took up playing in the virtual reality space last year, and oh boy it’s something that I can see myself getting into in the coming months.
Seeing as how I skipped the original PlayStation VR headset, seeing the enormous amount of support that the PlayStation VR 2 received during the Sony State of Play made me feel like they’re in it for the long haul. Besides the aforementioned RE Village port, we also got word that No Man’s Sky will also be supported for the PSVR 2. Considering the underdog journey that Hello Games had gone through with that game, I’m excited to have PR players finally experience one of the best VR titles for PCVR.
In terms of brand-new titles, we got some more footage of Horizon Call of the Mountain as well as The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution (which is a mighty long title, if I say so myself). Honestly, if not for the other big hitters in this showcase, I would have already called the State of Play a winner at this point. I’m going to be guessing we’ll be seeing a PSVR 2-centric State of Play in the next few months, but a writer can dream…
With great (PC) power comes great responsibility
I have no dog in the fight when it comes to PlayStation games coming to PC since I’m a diehard console fanboy, but I’m glad that Marvel’s Spider-Man will be heading to PC very soon. It’s one of these moves that makes me glad that more gamers will be able to play one of the best superhero games last decade, and I definitely can’t wait for the mods that will inevitably come out of this new version.
Of Indies and AAAs
Finally, I wanted to lump my thoughts on the last few titles shown in the Sony State of Play together, which all vary in shape and form.
Stray is probably my highlight of the showcase due to how adorable and realistic the premise of controlling a cat in the neon dystopia of a cyberpunk-esque town. This title really shows how far the independent gaming scene has gotten; the graphics really look like something a AAA studio would have made years ago, but the fact that small teams can come up with something this beautiful is charming. It was also a great way to reference the new PlayStation Plus tiers (as the game will be available for Premium and Extra subscribers).
While personally still confusing for the general public, this was a great way to sweeten the pot for anyone still thinking to upgrade their PlayStation Plus membership.
In my eyes, the Sony State of Play for June had a great mix of titles for everyone, and it shows gamers that the PlayStation brand is prepping the big guns for the coming years with huge titles like Street Fighter 6 and The Callisto Protocol on the way.
Of course, these games were wedged between things like Eternights, Season: A Letter to the Future, Rollerdrome, and a Tunic port as well. Even the most jaded gamer had at least one thing to enjoy in this showcase, and the rapid-fire presentation with minimal fluff made for a speedy watch.
And finally, boy howdy was that Final Fantasy XVI footage a sight to behold! While last week’s 25th-anniversary stream of Final Fantasy VII ultimately overshadowed it, spending more time with the story and characters of Final Fantasy XVI while also announcing a release date (Summer 2023; a bold move, to be sure) was a great way to cap off an already bustling State of Play presentation.
With June almost over, the “Not E3” E3 week demonstrated why we need E3 more than ever next year. First of all, it wasn’t even a WEEK. I feel like most of the official Summer Game Fest livestream presentations were bloated with banter and mostly uninteresting behind-the-scenes footage. Most of the specialized showcases (looking at you, Sonic) just couldn’t hold enough content to justify a separate video event.
If any event screamed, “It could have been an email!” most of the presentations would be it.
That said, the Sony State of Play surprised me immensely. It was a tightly succinct showcase with some developer input peppered in, but mostly it did what great showcases did best: Showcase games.
The State of Play was a great way to have indie representation alongside AAA greats without the video teetering too much between either. I honestly think PlayStation has a great year ahead of them, and if they can keep the momentum with future virtual events, they will be a force to be reckoned with this generation.
Today is an historic day for Chasing XP. We began our multi-platform indie game & game development magazine back in February 2021, and have been tremendously fortunate in working with amazing indie developers and publishers through our podcast, YouTube channel and magazine blog. The incredible talent we’ve shared has elevated our profile to a point we thought would take us years – not just a few months. We’re very proud. Very proud, indeed.
However, being approved to officially cover E3 2021 has just tipped the scales as being our proudest moment. This year’s E3 is incredibly important for indie development and the independent gaming industry as a whole. The IGDA (International Game Distribution Association) has partnered with the ESA this year to give a global, resonating voice and an extremely accessible platform for indies. Developers and publishers are being recognized for their contribution to the gaming industry by the ESA and IGDA, but – more importantly – are being offered a stage on which they can finally feel part of the conversation, rather than on the fringe.
Renee Gittins, appointed Executive Director of the IGDA in 2019, has been flying the flag for indies, making it known that – as an organization – the IGDA is very excited to see the new shape of the industry following this year’s E3.
“The IGDA is thrilled to partner with the ESA to uplift Indies during this year’s E3 and beyond. Indies provide heartfelt stories and groundbreaking creativity that lead progress of our industry. It is an honor to help Indies onto this grand stage for the first time so they can share their efforts and inspiration worldwide.”
Renee Gittins, Executive Director of the IGDA
The IGDA has mentioned that “special packages and opportunities” will be made available to indies, and with this year’s E3 being all-digital, it would seem that accessibility is the primary focus.
The President and CEO of the ESA, Stanley Pierre-Louis has said that indie developers are “a critical part of the video game industry” and also went on to say that the ESA has been “thrilled to expand our offerings to create opportunities to showcase their work worldwide.”
“We are reimagining E3 in a variety of ways,” Pierre-Louis said, “and part of that is engaging with indie developers by offering opportunities to help highlight them and their work on a global stage.”
This partnership effectively means that indie game developers are able to show their games off at E3 2021; one of the most impactful events in gaming. The exposure is not free, however. Indie developers must pay an entrance fee if they want to be part of E3 2021. What’s more, they will also need to be IGDA members. The jury is out on how effective this will be for indies, but for some, it may just prove to be their defining moment.
To the AAA gamer, E3 is a place they will visit with eager abandon, open wallets and a grin on their face that will last through to the Steam Summer Sale. This hardcore gaming audience is the exact demographic the indie developer seeks, so this IGDA partnership could have devs champing at the bit to sign up, one would think.
Chasing XP E3 Indie Coverage
We will be providing our coverage from the June 12th Guerrilla CollectivePart 2 and Wholesome Direct streams, but will also be mixing it up with editorial and interviews from June 8th – July 22nd.
You have 5⃣ sleeps until the 2nd day of Guerrilla Collective 2 happens.
We’re already arranging interviews with some of the incredible developers who are attending E3, and stopping by virtual booths from teams such as the minority and veteran-owned indie game development studio Burgos Games. Neka Ghost, Jump! is their first title, which we’ll be keeping an eye on. Freedom Games have a virtual booth at E3, so we’ll be checking out the roguelike, Dreamscaper and the utterly mental twin-stick shooter, Godstrike.
Some of the games featured in the first part of the Guerrilla Collective’s stream caught our eye in a big way. There’s far too many to mention, but here’s a few of our shortlisted games of interest: –
Industria INDUSTRIA is a first-person shooter that takes you from East Berlin into a parallel reality, shortly before the end of the Cold War. On the search for a missing work colleague, you decypher a dark past in a mysterious parallel dimension.
Rubi: The Wayward Mira Rubi: The Wayward Mira is a 2D action-adventure platformer game teeming with lush pixels, featuring ability-based progression mechanics (AKA – Metroidvania) paired with RPG elements in a sci-fi / fantasy setting, where science and magic come together. In addition to a solid core experience, Rubi features non linear gameplay, along with multiple playstyles and endings.
The Eternal Cylinder The Eternal Cylinder is an ambitious take on survival adventure games where players will need to explore a strange new world like they have never seen before. The game will be available for Xbox One, PS4 and Windows PC via the Epic Games store when it launches later this year.
Source of Madness Source of Madness is a side-scrolling dark action roguelite set in a twisted Lovecraftian inspired world powered by procedural generation and AI machine learning. Take on the role of a new Acolyte as they embark on a nightmarish odyssey.
Chernobylite Chernobylite is an RPG survival horror mixing free exploration of disturbing locations with challenging combat, unique crafting, and non-linear science-fiction story. Build your team, survive and reveal the twisted secrets of Chernobyl in the 3D-scanned recreation of the Exclusion Zone.
Trifox Trifox is a colourful and cartoonish action-adventure featuring a phenomenal fox with a multitude of talents! Choose from a trio of classes – Warrior, Mage, Engineer – or mix-and-match abilities to create a tailor-made hero! Inspired by the golden age of 3D platformers.
Tinkertown Gather your friends and come to Tinkertown – A refreshing new Multiplayer Sandbox Experience! Explore magical places filled with loot, danger, and creativity.
The Lightbringer The Lightbringer is a poetic adventure/puzzle platformer with light combat elements, set in a beautiful world claimed by a vile corruption. Guided by your sister’s spirit, you must prevail where she could not. Cleanse the corruption, become The Lightbringer. Coming soon to Nintendo Switch.
Retrograde Arena Weapons are your ultimate tools, not just for blasting enemies, but for propelling your customizable Drone around the maps at great speed! Mastering Retrograde Arena’s recoil propulsion and the impact of the various weapons is essential for victory in the neon soaked world of Retrograde Arena.
Zodiac Legion Zodiac Legion is a turn-based tactical RPG featuring lethal combat, squad management and strategic elements. Lead your heroes through daring raids and forgotten ruins, defend your land in a time of conquest and betrayal, and master the secrets of volatile ancient magic to restore a realm beset by the armies of undying fiendish sorcerers.
Aeon Drive Rush through the cyberpunk landscapes of Neo Barcelona in Aeon Drive, an action-platformer with a speedrunning twist! Whether solo or in up to 4 player co-op, sprint and dash through many areas of the neon-infused city – and use your time and space-bending abilities to get ahead.
Beasts of Maravilla Island Embark on your adventure as an aspiring wildlife photographer in the hidden, magical jungles of Maravilla Island. Explore this mysterious island and solve puzzles to discover extraordinary creatures, interact with them in their natural habitat, and photograph the enchanting, unique behaviors you reveal!
Onsen Master Onsen Master is a hot spring customer management game where players must create ingredients to match the various customer ailments, across the fantasy island of Izajima!
All-Digital E3 2021
The experience will certainly be different for all those who attend E3 this year. Though, after the thrills & spills we all had in 2020, surely everyone is used to hearing that things are going to be “different” when it comes to any event.
E3 being completely digital, however, is not such a big leap. It would be difficult to find a development company that does not have their online presence dialed-in. Streaming events live and offering video on-demand for games is going to be an extremely fluid affair for the public, with the main broadcast of the events viewable via the E3 channels on all major platforms: Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The ESA announced that the E3 2021 online portal and app is designed to be a key hub for the duration of the show, with virtual “booths,” hosted events, video conferencing, profile and avatar creation, online forums and more.
E3 Portal & App Teething Problems
The online portal and app have been created and developed by three powerhouses in their fields of expertise – Game Cloud Network, HCL Technologies Ltd and Revyrie Inc. Notably, Game Cloud Network is recognized as a pioneer in developing game-based brand engagement, after showcasing its “Tap & Field” game in 2019. “Tap & Field” uses the backbone of Microsoft’s Azure PlayFab services to allow players to race one other in near-real time, made possible by the sheer speed of 5G-connected devices.
One would expect the E3 app to perform incredibly well under pressure, then? The portal on the other hand has received mixed reviews. It would be fair to say that some of the media organizations were less than impressed at the portal outages they experienced, and one Matt Brown has been live-tweeting his experience. Matt was very much unimpressed with everything from the gamified experience through to the avatar creator.
What’s most concerning is that the ESA, despite grossly mishandling data in 2019, has enlisted a team seemingly unqualified to put together anything *resembling* a passable online experience. If this is what’s on the surface, what’s happening behind the scenes?
With a monstrous 300+ indie titles on show at E3 2021, we’re not going to be short of games to follow, however. We are going to be showcasing games, developers, creators and publishers in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.