PlayStation Showcase 2023 Review
Contributed by DJMMT
Last month, PlayStation held their first PlayStation Showcase of the year. It was a beefy presentation at 74 minutes, and showed a whopping 33 games, if my count is correct, plus other announcements. Let me start by saying that this was an impressive presentation quality wise. First off, there was almost no fat on that meal. They opened with a short music sequence, which was actually pretty fire, if I’m being honest. Then straight into a trailer for a new IP. I’ll discuss the game later in the post. Then a short intro by Jim Ryan that said something of actual value. Other than the opening, a couple product announcements, and a plug for the Gran Turismo movie, this was all games. No annoying influencers talking. No speeches from developers trying to convince us that their upcoming buggy game is built with love. Just meat and potatoes. Even the usual PlayStation graphics sequences were shorter and less elaborate than usual. PlayStation showed up and said “we promised to talk about games, and that’s what we’re going to do.” This was a long presentation, and it felt long, but it was not a waste of my time. Even when they were showing games I didn’t personally care about, at no point did I feel like Sony was wasting my time with superfluous content. That’s what I like to see in every game announcements presentation.
As far as the non-game announcements, I feel like pretty much all of them were still relevant and fair to have included in this presentation. Jim Ryan’s opening speech made me really happy, because he basically said that the PS5, now being three years old, still has a ton of potential and is still considered as early in its lifespan by Sony. Good, because I just bought a PS5 at the end of last year; and I don’t want to buy another console any time soon. Additional announcements were for physical products. Specifically, a portable streaming player, that’s basically a Switch you can use to remote play PS5 games via wi-fi, and some earbuds. Both legitimate products that some people will buy (not me), that didn’t take up too much time in the presentation and absolutely make sense to have included in a PlayStation Showcase. So I wasn’t mad to see these announcements included. Now let’s talk about the actual games.
As they announced so many games in this presentation, which is a good thing, I’m going to focus on highlights that I was specifically intrigued by while giving a surface-level rundown of several others. The first thing I’ll say is that a lot of the announcements were for sequels and remakes. Some of them really great announcements and trailers that I’m looking forward to; but there wasn’t much in the way of new AAA IPs. The list of sequels and remakes shown includes Helldivers 2, Ghostrunner 2, The Talos Principle 2, Cat Quest: Pirates of the Purribean, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, Final Fantasy XVI, Alan Wake II, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, Street Fighter 6, Dragon’s Dogma II, Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2, Resident Evil 4 VR MODE, Arizona Sunshine 2, Destiny 2: The Final Shape, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
Half the games shown were based on established IP. I guess that’s not a ridiculous percentage, but when you consider the number of AAA caliber titles that were new IPs, the numbers become a lot more worrisome. Of the new games shown, without doing research outside the presentation itself, I’ll consider Fairgames, Immortals of Aveum, Phantom Blade 0, Towers of Aghasba, and Marathon potential AAA quality titles. And honestly, I’m being generous to at least two of those, if not three. So that means of 33 games shown, only five of them have the potential to be a new AAA titles worth paying $70 for. And of those five, two of them look to be live service PVP multiplayer games . . . And technically speaking Marathon is a revival of a 30-year-old, long-dead franchise, so even that isn’t really a new IP either. Towers of Aghasba looks AAA in the way The Legend of Zela: Tears of the Kingdom looks AAA. But the difference is this is a PS5 game that I highly doubt will introduce revolutionary gameplay mechanics like Nintendo’s latest game has. So that leaves Immortals of Aveum, which honestly looks fine. I’m not going to play it, because it looks like someone went “what if DOOM in a Lord of the Rings style fantasy setting?” Which, to be clear, isn’t a bad premise. It’s just not the type of gameplay I want to play. I like DOOM and I like fantasy RPGs. I do not like the idea of having a gun in a fantasy RPG. While the trailer makes it clear that you’re using magic, the gameplay is that of an FPS. Thanks, but no thanks.
Phantom Blade 0 looks amazing. We certainly have enough Asian setting action RPGs, but I’ll definitely buy and play more of them if you have them! That trailer was fire. Honestly, I think I’m more excited about that game than anything else shown in the presentation, with the possible exception of Spider-Man 2. But let’s be clear. In a 74-minute presentation that showed 33 games, only one of them was both a AAA caliber looking title and a new IP that I’m actually thinking about buying. That’s sad. Yes, I will buy multiple games shown in that list of sequels/remakes. But I don’t want a gaming landscape where I never experience new IPs, because they either aren’t getting made or don’t have the budgets to be made to a standard worth my time for the money being charged. They showed multiple new indies that I’m interested in, but I’m not paying $60 - $70 for any of those. I’m waiting till they’re $20 or less, depending on the specific game.
While I’m not interested in most of the PSVR2 games they showed, I was happy to see a dedicated list of titles for the platform. The fact that I own a PSVR2, that I rarely use, definitely makes me biased. That being said, of the five games shown, I’m interested in only two of them, and one of those two is a port of Beat Saber, which is a five-year-old game. The only other PSVR2 title they showed that I’d even consider buying was Synapse, and I’d definitely not pay $70 for that. All I’m saying is that it better have a playable demo at/before launch.
One additional note I think is worth mentioning is that a lot of the games in this presentation were advertised as “available on PS5 and PC.” Literally the very first game in the presentation had this note on it. This was actually a pretty brilliant move by PlayStation, because it made me think these games weren’t coming to XBOX at all. As it turns out, many of them are actually coming to XBOX Series X as well, which makes perfect sense. PlayStation just decided not to do free marketing for Microsoft, which again, makes perfect sense. As a viewer and PS5/PC player that doesn’t have an XBOX Series X or XBOX ONE, it really did leave an impression on me not seeing that these titles would be available on those platforms. I actively noticed that XBOX was being omitted while PC was being included. If they hadn’t of mentioned PC, I wouldn’t have thought about it. But it wasn’t until XBOX tweeted out that many of the games shown would be on their platform as well that I realized that. And that includes Marathon by Bungie. It’s not super important for me as a PS5 owner, but it definitely had an effect.
From this point forward, I’m only going to talk about the individual games that left a strong impression on me for one reason or another. This does not mean that I’m necessarily interested in buying/playing all the games mentioned. Nor does it mean that I think they were the best games shown in the presentation. This is a general list of the items in the presentation, good or bad, that I feel warrant specific discussion.
This was the opening trailer of the presentation. It was shown before Jim Ryan even gave his introductory speech. I really appreciated this move from PlayStation. Opening the presentation with a new IP sets a tone for presentations like these that all game companies should strive for. That being said, the more I saw of the trailer, the less I wanted to play it. It started off with me thinking it might be a Payday 3 release date announcement. Or a new heist game in the style of Payday. Then it implied that there is a PVP component, which immediately tanked my impression of the game by reminding me of Hood: Outlaws & Legends. Then they closed the trailer by showing a trio of guys in ape masks that was very, and I’d argue intentionally, reminiscent of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. Honestly, this trailer started strong, with perfect placement in the greater presentation, and just plummeted my expectations and interest from start to finish.
I hate the first Helldivers. I still have PTSD from trying to play it with two friends. Friendly fire absolutely ruined that game for me, and I have no interest in playing a sequel. But the trailer was very good. At first, I thought it was a Starship Troopers game. The style and tone of the trailer were very reminiscent of the film franchise. And the gameplay in the trailer, which is different from the first game, looks solid. If I didn’t hate the first game, I could see myself giving it a shot. And that’s the power of a good advertisement. I’m not considering buying it, but I’d play a free demo before making up my mind for good.
Phantom Blade 0
As I already stated, this trailer was amazing. It gave me Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty,
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Black Myth: Wukong vibes. My only concern is that I don’t know the studio or the publisher. That doesn’t mean the game won’t be great. It just means that buying the game at full price comes with a lot of risk. I really hope this one has an extended demo I can try before buying.
Sword of the Sea
Back in 2020, I said that I see the potential of Giant Squid becoming a Naughty Dog level studio in 10 – 20 years; and I continue to stand by that statement. Sword of the Sea looks great. Another addition to their fast paced, free flow style of gameplay, and an art style that’s beautiful. I’m excited for a game where I get to go sandboarding. But I would like to see them start to up their production value in their games. I want more voice acting. I want more narrative and less metaphor. They have the talent to break through the indie glass ceiling. They just need to do it. Now obviously that’s easier said than done. My point is that I can see them making games that are as highly praised as Uncharted or The Last of Us, given the budget and resources to do so. This is one of the few studios that I would actually support Sony, specifically, buying.
I played GRIS. I thought it was OK. Normally, I wouldn’t even mention a game like this in one of these posts, but the trailer for this game hurt me emotionally. It was very clearly inspired by Princess Mononoke (seems to be a lot of that going on recently). I just didn’t need to see that momma wolf die in the middle of a PlayStation Showcase. As a dog owner, I took that personally. I’m sure the game will be as good or better than GRIS.
Why does Square Enix continue to just make the most outlandish, incorrect decisions? Who in their right mind decided that not only would a studio try to copy the success that is Splatoon on other platforms, but they would put the management of that studio under a company that has like the worst competitive and multiplayer track records for a major publisher? And don’t try to come into my comments section mentioning Final Fantasy XIV, as if an MMO is the same thing as a competitive shooter. If Square Enix wants to get into Esports, they need to do what I’ve been asking for since 2001, and make a Blitzball game. This game better be free to play. Because if they think people are going to pay them $70 for this mess, then they’re gonna have yet another Avengers debacle on their hands.
Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater
I have played every mainline Metal Gear game from the original Metal Gear (1987) through Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I’ve also played Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Snake Eater is the best game in the franchise with Gun of the Patriots being in a respectable second place. But I don’t like the idea of starting with a remake of Metal Gear Solid 3. They should have started with a remake of Metal Gear Solid (1998). But I don’t even really want to talk about the game. I want to talk about how much that misleading trailer pissed me off. That trailer had nothing to do with Metal Gear. It was an amazing animal survival trailer reminiscent of the opening sequence of the film Sukiyaki Western Django (2007). I believed I was watching a trailer for a new animal survival game inspired by amazing games like Tokyo Jungle, which I still wish they’d make a sequel to. I was truly enthralled by this trailer. For it to end with a Metal Gear Solid reveal made me so mad. Even when Kojima isn’t involved in the project, I still gotta deal with Kojima level bullshit.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage
There’s not much to say about this trailer, and that’s what’s good about this trailer. This looks like a true to form classic Assassin’s Creed game. A focus on stealth, but a way out for players who can’t hack it. Parkour as the main means of navigation through the environment, hopefully with less janky movement, and a solid counter system in the occasions that you do have to use combat. This is exactly what I want from an Assassin’s Creed game in 2023. I’m tired of playing bloated open world action RPGs with almost no actual stealth gameplay in this franchise. I don’t need another 200-hour fetch quest collectathon experience. Just smooth stealth and a good, focused narrative. I still need to finish Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but I am excited for this one.
I don’t anything about this game. I have never heard of the original trilogy, which is also by Bungie. But the trailer was pretty cool. It gave me West World in space vibes. This could end up being PlayStation’s answer to Microsoft buying Activision. This could be their new Killzone. A genre I don’t personally care about, but the success of Destiny cannot be ignored. I myself was a big Destiny 1 player at launch. To be clear, the trailer looks like a PVP game. But the Wikipedia page about the original games tells me that this will probably end up being like Destiny where it’s a live service game with lots of expansions and a PVP mode. If nothing else, the trailer was very effective.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Insomniac doesn’t really have to sell this game, since the first one was quite possibly the best single-player comic book game ever made. And yes, I know that the Arkham games exist. But we can all agree that Marvel’s Spider-Man is a masterpiece. The trailer starts off weak, by focusing on Kraven the Hunter, who is apparently the big bad; but why? Who cares about Kraven the Hunter? I barely consider him mid-tier in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. But once they get that out of the way, shit gets real! Venom suit reveal at the start of the combat sequence. Swapping between Peter and Miles. The most bad-ass version of Lizard I’ve ever seen. Over water sequences. I really need to take the time to play Marvels Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
All in all, this was a good presentation. While most of the games shown weren’t exclusives, there is no way to legitimately argue that the PS5 has no games. And what I really appreciated was that Sony took a page out of the Nintendo playbook and basically only showed games that will be released by next year. None of that five years down the road nonsense. I’m excited to be a PS5 owner in the coming months. I just wish I wasn’t so backlogged with PS4 titles.