September 2022 Game Presentation Battle!
Contributed by DJMMT
Last week both Nintendo and PlayStation would do their own presentations for the winter season less than a week later, ON THE SAME DAY! It’s truly insane that both companies just happened to pick Tuesday, September 13th for their presentations. I don’t even know what was special about that day that made them both choose a random Tuesday. I assume part of it was about being after the Ubisoft Forward, but that’s still kind of crazy.
Combined, the Nintendo Direct and PlayStation State of Play made 54 game announcements, including DLC updates. On top of that, PlayStation spoke more about their upcoming loyalty program, PlayStation Stars, and Nintendo announced more N64 games being added to Nintendo Switch Online, updates on both the Super Mario Bros. animated movie and Super Nintendo World them park in USA, and a Splatfest for the recently released Splatoon 3. I’m gonna be honest and say that I do not want, nor do I have the time to cover 54 (58) different game announcements for this post. That would also be insanely long. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t even read the whole thing. Also, a lot of the games announced, specifically on Nintendo’s side, with the lion’s share of those 56 games, aren’t really worth talking about. So instead, I’m only going to cover what I consider the top 5 announcements from each presentation and spend the rest of the time comparing the two presentations and trying to determine which presentation “won” the day.
As I watched the Nintendo Direct first, let’s start with Nintendo. This was a massive direct. It was 47 minutes long and covered 47 different announcements for a grand total of technically more than 50 games. For volume and efficiency, it knocked out both the PlayStation State of Play and the Ubisoft Forward. This presentation was long, but it had no fat on it. It can only be described as a hefty meal. Not all parts of that meal were necessarily good. But not a single announcement wasted any time. They got to the point and then moved on.
Of those 47 announcements, 17 of them were brand new, never before announced games. That’s more announcements than PlayStation discussed in total in their State of Play. If we only count new unreleased games, including those announced in the past, that still beats out Ubisoft’s presentation for total numbers as well, not including the pre-show announcements. The point is that no matter what you thought of the games shown, Nintendo made it a point of showing things that you hadn’t seen before. Structure wise, it was without a doubt the best presentation of the three. That being said, there was a lot of junk titles shown in this presentation.
There were like three or four different farming games shown in this Nintendo Direct. They weren’t all completely focused on farming but come on. Who needs that many farming sims? There were a ton of B and C tier JRPGs, many of which are from Square Enix. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but who has time to play them all? Especially when in that same presentation they announced two heavy hitter JRPGs that absolutely overshadowed all the other ones. In a way, the Nintendo Direct probably did a lot more than it needed to. But I’d argue, and have in the past, that this should be the point of presentation like this. To show games that otherwise wouldn’t get any attention.
One thing I always respect about Nintendo with their presentations is that many if not most of the announcements are relevant at the time of the announcement. Most of the announcements made will be releasing within the next six months. They even launched a few things, or at least playable demos, on the day of the Direct. PlayStation didn’t do anything like that and the best Ubisoft offered was signups for betas. Let it never be said that Nintendo Directs intentionally try to waste your time with obscenely early announcements in order to try to build hype.
Let’s talk about Nintendo’s top 5 announcements. Of course, these 5 are my subjective opinion. Others certainly won’t agree with all of them. My rationale for these 5 is not that they’re the games I’m most excited for. These are simply the announcements that I believe were the most impactful from the presentation to the current Nintendo player base. Please note that this list is in order of appearance in the presentation. I have not ranked them.
Fire Emblem Engage
I am not a Fire Emblem fan. I’ve actually never played any of the games, save for a few minutes of the Switch port of the original game. But the franchise is well loved by Nintendo fans and Fire Emblem: Three Houses was highly praised. I’m a little surprised to see a new Fire Emblem main title announced when Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes just released this year. Granted, it’s not a main title in the franchise. This newest game looks really good. I probably won’t buy it, but based on what was shown in this presentation, I’d try a demo before making a final decision of whether or not to pass. It had some really cool looking animations and gameplay features, and the general gameplay gave me strong Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle vibes, which I love. Even cooler is the fact that the game will release just four months from now in January.
Octopath Traveler II
I couldn’t even get through the demo of Octopath Traveler, but I know that game is well loved by much of the gaming community, on multiple platforms. I’m not surprised that they decided to make a sequel. I am a bit surprised that Square Enix decided to announce this after barely launching a mobile Octopath game just a few months ago. This game has added features like day and night mechanics. I am sure this sequel will do very well and absolutely meet the desires of the player base. This was the perfect third-party announcement for a Nintendo Direct.
This game is long overdue. And not just because I’m personally a fan of the series. Pikmin 3 was released in 2013. They never even ported the first and second games to the Switch. This console deserves new Pikmin representation. They even said that an entirely new control system built for the Switch will revolutionize the gameplay. This is exactly the type of announcement that you love to see in a Nintendo Direct. While I wish they had given a clearer release date that just 2023, I will absolutely be buying this game day one.
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe
This was actually a hard choice for me. I made it a point of not including anything that had been previously announced in this top 5 list, otherwise I would have probably chosen either Bayonetta 3 or Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. Without including retreads, the only other option I considered was Crisis Core – FF7- Reunion. Funny enough, the other four highlights in this list were the same four Nintendo chose for their official spotlights list. They didn’t even pick a fifth. Even funnier is the fact that they, for whatever reason, didn’t even include Crisis Core – FF7- Reunion in their full list of headlines.
While I don’t like the fact that the industry has become so focused on remakes and remasters, this is a pretty meaningful remake for classic Nintendo fans. They’ve added a new power to the game, four player local co-op, and mini games. It’s a Kirby 30th anniversary closer worthy of the franchise after already releasing Kirby and the Forgotten Land earlier this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Ironically, this was the least impactful and detailed highlight in the entire presentation and yet most people will consider it the most important. They gave barely a hint of new gameplay, almost nothing in the way of meaningful plot details, and haven’t even detailed what the actual threat in the next mainline Legend of Zelda game will be. All they gave in this presentation was an official title and finally a hard release date; and everyone went wild. And that is exactly why Nintendo will never go out of business. They announced a bunch of new games, some of which look great, gave special updates on existing games, and released things on the day of the presentation. But all they need to do to break the internet is give a title and a release date with no serious gameplay updates.
What PlayStation’s latest State of Play lacked in volume, they tried their best to make up in substance. This presentation was only 22 minutes long and only announced 10 games. Honestly, this showcase was chock full of fat. But a lot of that fat was tasty. Depending on your thoughts about the PSVR2 titles shown, this presentation was all heavy hitter announcements save for one random indie about driving and fairly interesting looking JRPG about piloting a mech. Which needs no justification, because piloting a mech. This was nearly all AAA titles, three of which were never before seen announcements that will absolutely do well, given the studios and/or franchises they fall under.
On the flip side, much of the quality content PlayStation showed in this presentation is tainted by the fact that they took the easy way out. For instance, we already knew God of War: Ragnarök was releasing November 9th of this year. We’ve already seen previous gameplay footage, the special editions, and know that this game is going to be awesome. They spent 5 of those 22 minutes plugging a game that everyone is already going to buy. This was basically an extended ad, not for the game itself but for the special limited edition PS5 controller they announced during the State of Play. That’s time that would have been better suited for other games. Like rather than just showing a port of a Star Wars game and a dungeon crawler most people will probably ignore, they should have used some of that five minutes of Ragnarök time to give an actual update on PSVR2. This becomes even more obvious when they confirmed that PSVR2 won’t be backwards compatible via the PlayStation blog, during a podcast, less than a week later.
Generally speaking, it was a lot harder to pick the top five announcements for the State of Play. Again, my goal was not to pick the games I’m most interested in, but rather the announcements that were most impactful to the PlayStation player base. Sadly, that means including games that we’ve seen before. Only six of the 10 games shown were new titles. Of those six, two were indies that probably won’t be that big and one was the 8th installment of a 2D fighting game series. Once again, this list is in order of appearance in the presentation. I have not ranked them.
I struggled with whether or not to include this one. I almost didn’t because I felt Stellar Blade (previously Project EVE) was more important. But the announcement was less impactful, because it amounted to a name change and a release year with more gameplay footage, but nothing that made the viewers more interested than previous footage already did. The game looks great but including it here simply to announce a name change seems only slightly less important than announcing an inevitable sequel to a classic fighting game franchise.
Honestly speaking, this trailer looked very cool, but told us nothing. Basically, it’s Tekken 8 for PS5 and that’s it. No dates, only two staple characters shown, and no actual gameplay footage. At best, we can maybe assume that some of the moves shown imply gameplay relevant features. If not for the fact that we hadn’t seen an official announcement for Tekken 8 previously, I’d have not included it in this list.
Like a Dragon: Ishin!
This announcement was surprising on multiple levels. For starters, I had no idea that there was a spin-off Yakuza inspired title set in feudal Japan that released exclusively in Japan back on PS3. It didn’t even dawn on me until after the presentation that this was a remake. I thought it was an entirely new game set in the Yakuza universe. I don’t even know how to feel about that. It feels like a new direction for the franchise, given the changes to the Yakuza series in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but when considering it’s a remake, maybe this odd direction was part of the plan all along. In any case, there are way too many Yakuza related games to play, and I haven’t started any of them. This game looks great by the way.
I know that this game has been the focus of a lot of political discourse for a while now, but it’s objectively false to say the game doesn’t look great. Not just for Harry Potter game, which I personally have no interest in, but just as an open world RPG in general. The game looks great. I actually hate Harry Potter and even I am intrigued by what has been shown. That’s not the reason I included it here though. This game has already been talked about a ton and been showed in past presentations. The important part about it being included in this State of Play is that they announced PlayStation exclusive content. The PlayStation version of Hogwart’s Legacy will include an additional quest with an exclusive dungeon, a special cosmetic set, and something called a “Hogsmeade Shop”. I don’t actually know what that is, as I don’t follow Harry Potter. In a time where exclusivity is being battled out between PlayStation and XBOX continuously, this announcement is a pretty big deal. I won’t be surprised if Microsoft tries to spin the narrative and make it seem like they’ve avoided working with the game on special promotions for political reasons. Whether you’re interested in the game or not, this was an important announcement.
Rise of the Ronin
I think it’s funny that this game was announced in the same presentation as Like a Dragon: Ishin! I think it’s also interesting that it’s a Team Ninja game when they didn’t include Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, which they literally just released a playable demo for exclusive to PS5 and XBOX Series X. I certainly understand why this game was included in the State of Play. It’s being sold as a PS5 exclusive. Meaning they want it to be the next Nioh where they release it as a PlayStation exclusive, sell a ton of copies, then announce a sequel, and port it to PC. The model works and the success of Nioh has spawned multiple games from Team Ninja, including, in my opinion, the upcoming Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.
Not surprisingly, this game looks great. It screams Ghost of Tsushima inspired while adding the more imaginative action combat style of play that Team Ninja is known for. Ghost of Tsushima, which I absolutely loved, feels like a very competent Assassin’s Creed game. The trailer for this game made it seem like this would be similar to a very competent Batman Arkham game with the added bonus of being able to kill your enemies. It’s hard to say how much stealth will factor into a game about being a ronin though. Honestly speaking, this might have been the most actually meaningful announcement in the entire presentation. Certainly the most impactful announcement for an actually new game that we hadn’t seen announced previously.
God of War: Ragnarök
I’ve already said everything about this announcement that needs to be said. They showed more footage for a game everyone already knows they’re going to buy, gave a release date that we already knew before the presentation, and announced a limited-edition controller. I have no problem admitting that it’s a really nice looking controller. I don’t even have a PS5 yet and I’m considering trying to buy one. I don’t have a problem with the fact that they announced it during the State of Play. That’s the kind of stuff they should announce in a presentation like this. But they shouldn’t have spent 5 minutes of 22 minutes on a game that has already been featured in multiple previous presentations that’s a sequel to one of the most successful PlayStation franchises of the last four generations of PlayStation consoles.
Honestly, I don’t consider this a great State of Play. I can see myself buying up to eight of the games shown in the presentation. But at least three of those eight titles had already piqued my interest long before this presentation. When comparing it directly to the Nintendo Direct, it doesn’t really compare for overall quality, even if the games shown were more interesting to me personally. Of just the 17 new announcements shown in the Nintendo Direct, I can see myself buying at least six of them. That’s not counting all the retreads like Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope that I’m absolutely going to get. I’m just talking about the new announcements. PlayStation showed little and even that little was mostly easy pickings. They did very little to try to surprise me in this presentation. The Ubisoft Forward only covered like six franchises in their whole presentation and even they managed to show more games that we’ve never seen before.
When comparing the two, I have to say that Nintendo beat Sony in this head-to-head. I’d say they beat Ubisoft as well. But I’d say that PlayStation placed third overall. While I will probably buy more games shown in the PlayStation State of Play than the Ubisoft Forward, I was much more surprised and impressed by what Ubisoft announced, even among games I have little to no personal interest in. But Nintendo clearly takes the cake, and most of my money. If we count all the games they showed, I can see myself buying up to 16 games they presented at some point. Of those 16, I will for sure buy seven of them. Nintendo doesn’t just play for volume. They play for substance too. They have consistently done the best presentations the most often. I am surprised, however, that they did not show Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden. But I guess that’s because they actually released the game the day of the Direct. Square Enix had plenty of representation in the presentation. Why not promote this game as another example of Nintendo launching games with the Direct?
No matter who you consider the winner, we’ve had a lot of game announcements in the last couple weeks. It’s hard to keep up and my backlog only grows longer. Can’t wait to play some of the upcoming titles. The real winners here aren’t Sony or Nintendo, but the gamers.