May has been a big month for the video game industry as developers are scrambling to get their Summer messaging worked out in the wake of the collapse of E3 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Playstation has so far taken an unconventional approach to announcements to say the least. Sony has been trickling news, trailers and even game releases out in a multitude of ways such as through their State of Play format, the Playstation Blog, media interviews and super drowsy tech presentations. In a time where Microsoft is tuning their messaging to a fine sheen, Sony seems to have no real outline, or at least not one I can decipher, when it comes to letting the general public know what’s next for Playstation.
But don’t worry because I’ve done the legwork for you and gathered the most important Playstation news for the month on this, the debut of Playstation Megabits. So sit back and enjoy. There’s a lot to get excited about.
The Last of Us Part 2 Takes Aim at Release
The team at Naughty Dog has had a rough journey towards the release of their much anticipated follow-up to The Last of Us. The game has been hit with delays, bad studio PR and most recently a leak of pivotal plot points online from bad actors. But creator Neil Druckmann and his team are putting their heads down and barreling forward towards the games release this June. Studio heads are advising people to exercise caution on comment sections and message boards and have delivered another story trailer to try to rally the faithful to look forward to the next chapter in Ellie and Joel’s story, regardless of if you’ve been spoiled or not.
The Last of Us Part 2 is not only the sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed IPs for Sony, but also one of a handful of titles to close out the Playstation 4 catalog before the PS5 releases at the end of the year. In the latest trailer we see more of Ellie and Joel’s relationship and how it has progressed since The Last of Us, as well as Ellie’s journey into darkness as she appears to be hellbent on exacting revenge on an undeclared enemy. This game promises to be dark and haunting as Druckmann has previously summarized the game as being about “hatred”.
Players can find out for themselves how the next chapter unfolded when The Last of Us part 2 launches June 19th on the Playstation 4.
The State of the Ghost
Sony gave us 18 minutes of gameplay footage (yeah, actual gameplay) for Sucker Punch’s samurai adventure game Ghost of Tsushima during a dedicated State of Play on May 14th. The developers focused on a couple different game mechanic walkthroughs as well as some cosmetic bells and whistles they’ll be included in the game when it is released in July. One of Sucker Punch’s big pushes with this game is to have intuitive cues in the game directing the player through their own observation and curiosity and not by holding the players hand with waypoints and on screen keys. We saw this in the form of what the developers are calling “Guiding Wind”. When the player calls up the map and sets a marker for where they want to go, rather than that destination being displayed on a mini map or as an overlaid marker, the player calls upon the Guiding Wind with the press of the button and a gust of wind will blow in the direction of your point of interest. It’s a clever on screen prompt that doesn’t break the immersion of the world by placing a lot of distracting indicators on the screen.
We also got a look at the two distinctively different methods of combat in the game. Our hero, Jin, can initiate combat in an honorable samurai dual. These battles seemed to be about timing and precision as you choose on the fly between a multitude of stances, waiting for the enemy to advance, and then strike in the blink of an eye with your blade. The other method of combat is a more traditional stealth action style where you use tools, distractions and the shadows to kill your foes with stealth kills. The two battle styles were quite different and should help to keep the game engaging throughout.
The final thing that caught my eye was the decked out photo mode. Sucker Punch has spared no expense here with an incredible amount of options to capture this game in all its glory. One new element in particular that caught my attention is the ability to have animated particles in your image to create more than just a still. The game will pause your scene as in usual photo mode, but the elements can be manipulated to create truly striking images with things like gusting wind, dancing fireflies, blowing leaves and more. A real treat for digital photographers like me.
Ghost of Tsushima launches on the PS4 July 17th.
Next Gen Graphics are Unreal
As part of the Summer Game Fest reveals, Epic Games unveiled the in-development next gen engine, Unreal Engine 5 running in real time on Playstation 5 hardware. This was the first time the general public has seen any sort of software running on Son’y next gen platform and the results were nothing short of jaw dropping. While what was shown was not an actual game in development, but rather a technical demo to showcase what Unreal Engine 5 is capable of, the prospects for what games will look like in the coming years is impressive to say the least. The engine will not bear fruit for a couple of years so don’t expect launch games to utilize technology at this scale, so there are definitely a couple of things to consider when putting your expectations in check.
Another thing worth noting is while Unreal Engine 5 is not exclusive to the Sony platform by any means, the fact that Epic games made specific note to say that they have been working in concert with Sony to make these technological advances and paired with the fact that they chose specifically to call out the Playstation 5 platform for this technical demo means that Sony is indeed working hard to push what technology can do in this upcoming console generation. Get excited about the future of Playstation everybody, because if games can look and play like this demo, we are truly in for a revolution in video games.
The Walking Dead Surprises on PSVR
Skydance Interactive dropped The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners on us out of the blue on May 5th. This PSVR title puts you right in the thick of the zombie apocalypse like never before with virtual reality. This is another shining example of what can be done on the VR platform as developers get their sea legs with the device. The early stages of VR development delivered plenty of tech demos and experience software which while necessary certainly left an impression on the general public that VR was handicapped by products that were “less than” full game experiences. But anybody who is paying attention to the medium can tell you, we are now well in the age of full-length video game campaigns in the VR space. The Walking Dead aims to put its name alongside PSVR must owns like Astro Bot, Blood and Truth and Ghost Giant with this ambitious first person shooter-horror game.
Much like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Skydance puts consequence of choice as a pivotal feature to Saints & Sinners. The game features narrative branches based on your decisions in an effort to make every moment filled with tension, whether you’re fighting for your life or choosing which survivors to ally yourself with. The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners is out now for your PSVR.
Iron Man Takes Flight July 3rd
After suffering a couple of delays, most recently due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Iron Man VR is set to finally take flight on the Playstation 4 on July 3rd just in time for the holiday weekend. In fact Sony dropped a brand new playable demo on May 21st that allows players to play the tutorial level as well as the first chapter in the game! In addition to the demo Sony announced that Iron Man VR will get its own PSVR bundle complete with the VR headset, a Playstation camera, 2 Move Controllers and a PSVR demo compilation disc. The bundle retails for $350, which is quite a pricey proposition considering they offer a similar bundle but with Blood and Truth and Everybody’s Golf VR for the same $350. It’s interesting that we are seeing such a high price point at this stage but as a VR advocate and a huge fan of my PSVR, let me tell you it’s worth the money if you can swing it. Regardless, we’ve been waiting a long time to suit up as Tony Stark and there’s no better time when we’re all stuck at home than to imagine what it will be like to take to the skies and save the world as Marvel’s Iron Avenger.
Before we go each and every month here on Playstation Mega Bits we’re going to give you two game recommendations to try out on your Playstation and I won’t be doing this alone! My son Elliott will give you his pick of the month and then I’ll wrap things up with one of my own. So enjoy these Playstation Picks and hopefully you’ll agree these are two games worth putting on your playlist.
I’ve been playing Dino Frontier for VR. It’s a game where you build Cowboy village and there’s lots of dinosaurs around it. You get to build buildings and help your village. You can attack the dinosaurs but when the dinosaurs get hurt they die and then you get food. The hard part is the people bad guys actually hurt your guys and the dinosaurs actually hurt your guys and we don’t want that to happen because we want our people to be safe. I like it because I get to pick up dinosaurs and I get to help my people.
A year after it’s release I’ve gone back to finish Days Gone. I’m nearing completion on the game and while it certainly has it’s fair share of bumps in the road, Days Gone offers a really great immersive world that aggressively comes at you in new and surprising ways each time I play it. The dynamic changes in the environment are really what sells the experience for me. The story is solid, the acting is strong, and while the pacing can be impaired by typical open world trappings and awkward load screens, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
Thank you for joining Elliott and I for the very first Playstation Mega Bits. We’ve had a lot of fun showing our love for the Playstation and look forward to continuing to share that with you in the months ahead. Have a great day and thanks for listening.