State of Play (March 2022 Review)
Contributed by DJMMT
Last week, PlayStation dropped a new State of Play. Let me start by saying that logistically, this was everything I want from the State of Play format. Because it basically copied the Nintendo Direct format and made it even more streamlined. I was able to sit down and watch this presentation while taking notes on the 12 different announcements shown, for this blog post, in 20 minutes plus a couple pauses. There was absolutely no fat on that presentation. No annoying hosts. No snapping fingers sequences. No hardware plugs. Just straight to the games. Literally the presentation opened with a trailer announcement for a new IP. PlayStation came to play, literally. Not to waste my time. While I won’t say every announcement in the presentation was super meaningful, every second of the presentation respected my time.
I also want to commend them for taking another page out of the Nintendo Direct playbook by not hyping the presentation before hand. They made a simple announcement via PlayStation blog post and posted a tweet the day before the presentation. That’s how I found out about it, which means the method works. No ridiculous ads. No build up for a month beforehand. Just a clean drop that’s respectful of my time and attention span. This is how I want every presentation from every game publisher. Quick, casual, and clear.
So, now let’s talk about the actual announcements from this State of Play.
The presentation opened by jumping right into a trailer announcement for a new IP from Capcom. It was a bold statement to open this way and I really appreciated it. This game doesn’t look particularly good as much as it looks ridiculous. The opening to the trailer was actually really intriguing. A robot tells you that there is a dinosaur outbreak. Then you find out the dinosaurs are coming via portal. Sounds like a bizarre premise that could be awesome. Then you find out it’s just a zombie horde game but the zombies look like velociraptors with a few other boss dinosaurs sprinkled in.
I was intrigued by some of the things I saw. The exosuits looked cool with a seemingly large number of customization options for gameplay. It’s a cooperative experience for I believe four players, but that will need to be verified. The swarm mechanics looked unoriginal but crazy to see when it’s dinosaurs rather than zombies. The game didn’t look particularly original in gameplay. Seemed like Overwatch meets Days Gone with maybe a sprinkle of Godfall for flavor. But that’s not really a problem. People like familiar gameplay. I really appreciate a company trying to change the subject matter of zombie games while still delivering the gameplay people seem to still want. It allows for new stories while also giving the people something they know they will enjoy, if they’re fans of that gameplay genre.
I also think it’s interesting that this will be released on PS4 and PS5. Clearly the plan was for Sony to phase out PS4 releases over time, but given the supply shortage, the PS4 is alive and well. And let me tell you, I’m totally fine with that.
Every time I see a new trailer for this game, all I can think is why did they choose to ruin this with first person gameplay? I understand that since it’s a horror game and that first person makes for a scarier experience, but man does everything about these trailers scream awesome third person action game. The cutscenes look amazing and not at all conducive to a first-person experience. The gameplay looks so fluid but hindered by the focus on magical hand signs as your only means of problem solving rather than making use of other skills like mobility. It is clear that the studio wanted to use this game as an opportunity to focus on the cultural aspects of Onmyōdō magic and the hand signs are a big part of that. I can appreciate that. But not at the sacrifice of the gameplay experience. Everything shown for this game says third person action game but somehow it’s an FPS. It’s Cyberpunk 2077 all over again. It just screams “wait for the modded PC version”.
Another thing about this trailer I noticed was that it really leans into the Asian female ghost stereotype. There are lots of spirits and monsters in Japanese tradition. But movies like The Ring [originally Ringu (1998)] and The Grudge [originally Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)] made this specific type of Japanese ghost/evil spirit famous to the larger world, so now they’re just leaning into it. I hope there’s a lot more to the enemies in this game than just variations of that. This trailer showed like three or four different versions of that same archetype.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
I am so glad that they have finally released a demo for this game to multiple platforms. It was absolutely ridiculous when they released a timed demo exclusively to PS5. This game looks interesting but modern Final Fantasy has been one disappointment after another for me, so I’m really happy to be able to play a demo first. This latest trailer showed more of the combat, which already looked good. And it showed some familiar monster designs, which is par for the course for FF games. I’m being cautiously optimistic about this one but kind of expecting the story to be terrible.
It seems like the marketing for this game has shifted away from the writing and the character and gone whole hog on the gameplay. While I consider that sad, because I do want to see more games with POC protagonists celebrated for their writing, assuming the writing is actually good, but I understand that you gotta sell games before you can worry about people caring about the characters in them. This trailer does that quite well.
The combat seems fluid and aerial focused in a way that you just want to see on the PS5. Watching those elemental attacks as she floats and jumps through the air is so cool. She can’t fly so much as she falls with style and that style is a 10/10. What I noticed a lot in that trailer was how smooth the transition between cutscenes and gameplay appeared to be. That’s going to be really nice for pacing the game properly without breaking the immersion. There was a lot of slow motion in that trailer but it’s hard to say if that’s an in-game mechanic like bullet time in Bayonetta or if it was just for showcasing the gameplay in the trailer. I don’t have a PS5 yet, so I won’t be playing this at launch in October most likely, but I am excited for it.
I guess there’s no reason not to make a 6v6 Gundam battle arena game, but this looks incredibly generic. There are three standard gameplay modes, all of which you can already play some derivative version of in HALO or Destiny. The gameplay looks fast paced like Overwatch, but for a Gundam game that’s not necessarily a good thing. I couldn’t really tell if the gameplay was first person or allowed the player to choose. But the UI seemed to imply that they were trying to simulate being inside the cockpit so I don’t see how it could be anything other than first person. And for me that makes a Gundam PVP game seem even more derivative of basic FPS PVP games. I can’t say that I have any real excitement for this game, but I might sign up for the network test.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection
So logistically this trailer was horrible. It was a trailer showcasing a collection of games but only showed gameplay from three of them. Or it showed gameplay from six of them and mislabeled three of them. Then it showed a rushed graphic of a bunch of them, leading me to believe it was a collection of 11 games. Further research informed me that it’s actually 13 games. As bad as this trailer was, it did an excellent job of getting its point across. That point of course being you can get TMNT Arcade on any platform you want plus a bunch of other TMNT games you can kill time with between runs of TMNT Arcade. I’m going to wait for a price drop, but yes, I am absolutely going to buy this collection. And by “this collection” I mean TMNT Arcade plus 12 other games I might try at some point if I’m bored.
It’s really disappointing that we can’t seem to get a solid licensed kaiju brawler in 2022 but a well-made knockoff isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Obviously, this super short trailer doesn’t allow me to assess if this game is well made or not, but I could definitely see the intentions here. It looks like a modernized version of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (2002), which to be clear is one of the greatest kaiju games ever to have been produced. GigaBash has four player PVP battles and city destruction mechanics, which is honestly all you really need once you’ve gotten the combat mechanics down. Hope to see a playable demo for this game.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle
I don’t know why people like this anime. I’ve watched all the episodes and I still don’t get the hype. It’s a weird, mediocre show with lots of terrible writing and silly characters. But I guess making popular anime into 2D fighting games is par for the course at this point. It looks like Fist of the North Star and Marvel vs. Capcom had a baby. Somehow there are 50 playable characters, which would be way more impressive if I didn’t know how trash some of the characters in that show actually are. I’m sure diehard fans will buy it but honestly why?
Trek to Yomi
While this was not the first time I’ve seen this game, this trailer did a good job of better selling the concept. While it might sound cliché, it looks like they were clearly inspired by Ghost of Tsushima but decided to apply the combat model in a 2D setting. It does not seem like a button masher as much as a game about timing and focus. I’m not a huge fan of the samurai games should be in black and white trope, but even the trailer was trying to evoke Kurosawa’s film style.
I like that they introduced supernatural elements in the trailer. That should add some depth to a game that is more than likely going to be exactly the same as games you’ve played in the past. I just hope the one hit kills with good timing works as well as it looks. What I find interesting is that the release date was listed as Spring 2022, but that’s like now. At this point there should be a date or this will probably end up getting delayed.
It’s really cool to see this game get continued support. I know many people will probably say it’s cheating, but I like the idea of being able to play Returnal cooperatively. Even if for a first playthrough. Additional story content and a survival mode all being added for free is a great way to breathe new life into what was already a successful game. I’ve only tried Returnal once, as I don’t have a PS5 yet, but this additional content definitely motivates me to buy it once I upgrade consoles.
The DioField Chronicle
Why is Square Enix so bad at naming their games these days? Triangle Strategy, Octopath Traveler, and now this mess of a title. Hire someone for goodness sake. This game actually looks pretty cool. It looks like a bit of a cross between older Fire Emblem games and XCOM. It’s broken into missions, which makes managing the gameplay way easier. The cutscenes are nice. And it’s releasing this year. I would probably pick up the Switch version myself if ultimately interested. I’d like to see how it compares to Triangle Strategy, which I ultimately decided not to buy at this point. Hope to see a playable demo for this.
To end on a Square Enix double new IP announcement was pretty bold. And I’d say both games were intriguing. This gave me a lot of Nier: Automata vibes. Female protagonist with sword-based hack-n-slash combat but set in a fantasy setting with dragons. There were some cool elements shown like zoom traversal mechanics. I saw a bit of collecting, which can be hit or miss in any RPG. They didn’t really give much, but it was a trailer that made me want to see more, which is the ultimate goal of an announcement trailer. And it also releases this year.
While nothing in this State of Play really wowed me, we need to be objective in what was shown. Credit where due, Sony dropped a State of Play with no warning that announced seven never before seen games, dropped a demo, and of the 12 games shown 10 will release this year. That’s pretty legit, all things considered. If every State of Play was like that and they did one every quarter, that would be an almost perfect system. Both Nintendo and Sony seem to have figured it out. Now I want to see Microsoft get with the program.