PlayStation Showcase 2021 Review
Contributed by DJMMT
Last week, PlayStation released their latest digital direct presentation, and it was quite good. It was a tight 42 minutes with a showing of 18 games. 19 if you count the Uncharted later years collection as two separate games. But you know what, it could have been even tighter. I prefer PlayStation’s presentations to Microsoft’s for the same reason that I prefer Nintendo Directs to Indie World Showcase presentations. Way less bullshit. I don’t’ want to see two people banter on about how excited they are about upcoming games. I don’t want to see some influencer talk about how he already got to try the game that easily could have been distributed to the public as a demo but wasn’t because reasons. I honestly don’t even want to see developers talk about all the heart and soul they poured into the project. Unless someone has something to say that will contextualize the footage because they believe it’s too difficult to understand at face value, just show me the game footage and shut your mouths. But to be clear, that wasn’t a problem in this PlayStation showcase. The only wasted time in this presentation was the unnecessarily dramatic opening video and the two speeches. You know what, I’ll forgive one of the speeches. I actually like the fact that these companies force the CEOs to do the bare minimum and at least participate in the process of making millions to billions of dollars a year. So seeing Jim Ryan start things off with a short speech is fine for me. I also really appreciated the content of Herman Hulst’s speech about the importance of storytelling for PlayStation. The speech wasn’t even that long. I’m just saying we didn’t need it. I’d probably not even have cared if not for the time wasted on the elaborate chess video at the beginning. So let’s talk about the games.
Knights of the Old Republic Remake
This is an example of an announcement that’s NOT pointless. I already know what KOTOR is. I already know it’s quite possibly the greatest Star Wars themed RPG ever made. I’ve already played it before. I already know I’m going to buy it. I don’t need them to show me premature gameplay footage. I don’t need them to tell me what the story is about. I just needed to know it was being made. That’s all they had to do and that’s all they did. When you’re talking about something as famous and highly respected as KOTOR, you’re allowed to just do a single epic cinematic that accomplishes basically nothing except letting you know it’s a Star Wars related project. That’s fine . . . for KOTOR. Not for some unknown indie project with no previous history behind it. This was a phenomenal announcement to open with. It set the tone real quick and let you know that this presentation wasn’t going to be a waste of your time.
I went into this trailer not knowing anything about this game. I think I saw some gameplay footage on one of those Facebook clickbait gaming videos some months ago, but I didn’t even know what the game was called. This presentation sold me. No consideration. No maybe I’ll try a demo. Sold! I’m buying the game. It’s basically Bayonetta as an action RPG with a sword. I’m not a weeb but I’m ready to spend some time with that waifu and slay demons or angels or whatever it is you’re supposed to be fighting. This was such a clean presentation. Dramatic boss fight opening sequence that seamlessly cuts into a cinematic. The cutscene gives you the scale of the game immediately and then transitions back into more gameplay. No commentary. Just actual in game dialog played over gameplay and cutscenes. Epic post-apocalyptic landscapes, crazy monsters, robots, and did I already mention waifus? Game looks great and it was sold great here. I wish every game in every presentation was shown this well.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
I have a lot of negative feelings about this game and a gaming audience that justifies it being made, but I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a well-done trailer. I am absolutely not going to buy this game, but this presentation was objectively good. It told me everything I needed to know about the game, showed off the gameplay well, set the tone of what the experience would be like, and included the right amount of comedy for what this project intends to be without devolving into mindless stupidity. And the jokes landed the way they were supposed to. “Shoot and Lute” being the best example. Great trailer.
I’m really glad they showed some real depth to what this project is. Previous trailers shared a little gameplay and pretty much no context. This trailer was much clearer about what the game is both plot and gameplay wise. I’ll admit that I’m a little turned off by the normal person transported to another world narrative, but the game looks good in general. Good gameplay, good graphics, good acting, and a grand RPG story. The trailer was clear, conclusive, and honest about what the game actually is. I’m interested, but not yet sold. Great trailer.
Rainbow Six Extraction
If you did not watch the Ubisoft Forward back in June, then this was a good trailer. But if you’re really a gamer, you did watch the Ubisoft Forward back in June. In which case, this trailer was superfluous and included just to be included. It showed us nothing we haven’t seen about this game before. It gave us no new information and I don’t even think the footage shown was footage we haven’t seen before. The game looks great. I won’t be playing it, because I don’t have friends coordinated enough to play at this level, but I’m happy to see games like this being made. But this didn’t need to be included in this presentation. And not because it’s a Ubisoft game. I totally support the inclusion of large third-party projects in presentations like this. This trailer just didn’t accomplish anything other than remind you that the game exists. If it hadn’t been shown before, sure this wouldn’t be a bad inclusion. But given the context this was just a waste of time.
Alan Wake Remastered
This was a solid announcement and trailer. I’ve never played Alan Wake before and this made me interested. I also think it was included because Sony is clearly trying to play up the partnerships with Epic Games. In general, I consider this a good inclusion for the presentation.
Oh, enough already. This is basically the Rockstar version of Skyrim at this point. Yes, GTAV is coming to PS5. We know. It’s been said multiple times before. So is GTA Online. Who didn’t see that coming? That’s the most profitable part of GTAV today. What person is dumb enough not to have expected GTA Online to be coming to PS5 after the GTAV PS5 announcement was made? There was no reason to include this in the presentation.
Why in the name of all things unholy is this game in first person? I don’t even like horror games but this game looks so intriguing. Everything about it has me curious. The hand sign based attacks. The spooky atmosphere. The cult leader. The ghost enemies. It looks amazing. And this trailer was phenomenal. But I have absolutely no interest in a first-person magic game. I get enough of that with Elder Scrolls and barely use magic in that game for this very reason. Also, I have never said this before about literally anything, but this looks weird in English. This might be the first game I’ve ever said should be played in Japanese. And that’s having already played Ghost of Tsushima. This game looks really good but I don’t want to play a first person magic shooter unless it’s on easy mode. I don’t want the frustration of trying to play the game to get in the way of the horror experience. Because this game does not look easy to play, which is not necessarily a problem. But when gameplay difficulty gets in the way of what looks to be a plot focused game it becomes a problem. In any case, great trailer.
Guardians of the Galaxy
The more I see about this game, the more interested I am in it. As much marketing as they have already done for this, they continue to keep it fresh. Each trailer or gameplay reveal shows new things. And that’s how it should be. If you’re going to keep hammering away about the same game then you better have new content to hammer out. This is the exact opposite of how the marketing for Deathloop has felt. What really intrigued me about this particular trailer was that it appeared to show spaceship flight gameplay. Yes please! I’m still not happy that only Star-Lord is playable but I become more and more interested in picking up this game the more of it I see. Great trailer.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt
I have kind of a bias against this game because I’ve already played it and I really wasn’t a fan. It’s not a particularly bad game but as far as battle royale shooters are concerned, which I am generally not a fan of anyway, it’s just OK. That being said, this was a decent trailer. It showed new classes and sold the game well for what it is. I certainly wouldn’t say its inclusion in this presentation was a waste of time and the content they showed was quality content.
This game has been marketed to hell. At this point they just need to release a demo and let people decide if they want to play it or not. There’s really nothing more they could show me that will push me over the edge to buy it if I haven’t already made that decision. That being said, I’m glad this trailer focused more on plot development. Most of the previous showings for this game have been very limited in story and focused on the gameplay. You pretty much always get the same vague plot info about the time loop, the girl, and killing the bosses in one day. But this trailer gave more. So while I don’t necessarily consider this game’s inclusion necessary for this presentation, I will say that this inclusion was well done in how it was executed.
Kid Amnesia Exhibition
As I’ve already stated at the beginning of this post, this announcement was a complete waste of time, because it didn’t tell us anything gaming related. I wish it had included some actual information. Radiohead isn’t a selling point for a video game. A great game that involves Radiohead would be a good thing. But simply invoking the name Radiohead in a gaming presentation means nothing. I won’t say this game looks bad, because I don’t know anything about the game. And that’s my entire point. This was a bad trailer because it didn’t tell me anything about the game in a gaming presentation.
Now this was a good indie trailer. Well actually, this was a great indie trailer. I was pleasantly surprised by what I was seeing until the character soul jumped into an animal. Then I was sold. Like instantly sold. That soul jumping gameplay looks so fun. This is how you make an indie trailer. Establish the focus of the setting and then immediately show off the core mechanic of the gameplay in the flashiest way possible. I have no problem with indie games being included in presentations like this, but it needs to be done well and this trailer was done damn well. Great trailer.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
I don’t have a problem with this being included but I really don’t care. What PlayStation owner hasn’t played the Uncharted series at this point? I think the more impressive part of this announcement was that these games will be on PC but why not all five games at that point? This wasn’t what I would call a waste of time to include in the presentation but it didn’t really do much for long time PlayStation users, who would be the target audience for a presentation like this.
This announcement only worked because Insomniac Games made Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. If pretty much any other dev showed that trailer and nothing else it would have still been a showstopper but I would not have considered it a good announcement trailer, because it gave us nothing except the name. But similarly to the KOTOR Remake announcement, context is everything. I wouldn’t call this a great trailer, but it was a great announcement. I just hope Insomniac Games doesn’t get stretched too thin with all these big, expensive projects.
It really irritates me that XBOX users put so much stock in Forza Horizon. Because that’s the only reason Sony wastes time including these long dramatic Gran Turismo trailers in these presentations. PlayStation users, on average, don’t care about a racing simulator. We’re too busy playing actual video games. This was included for as long as it was simply as a response to Forza. It looks good but who really cares? The tagline is “The real driving simulator” for a reason. And that reason is that gamers don’t care about realistic driving games. So calling it a driving game wouldn’t help with sales numbers. I have no problem with Gran Turismo because that would mean actually having to care about Gran Turismo. It looks good. Probably the best realistic driving game ever made to date. But I’d still rather play something less realistic like The Crew 2, because that feels more like a video game. Great trailer as in it does what a Gran Turismo trailer should do, but if I never saw a realistic driving simulator included in a gaming presentation again, that would be ideal.
A double helping of Insomniac Games Marvel goodness. With a Venom cherry on top. This studio is the new Naughty Dog. Best permanent acquisition PlayStation has made in a long time. Maybe ever. This announcement did exactly what it needed to do without showing any gameplay. We know what Spider-Man games from Insomniac Games look like. They don’t need to show us gameplay. Story development is all we really needed in this announcement, and we got it. Both Peter Parker and Miles Morales are in the game and Venom is in the game as not the main antagonist. Sold! We don’t need to talk about it anymore. Tell me more about Wolverine because you don’t need to put in anymore effort to sell me another Spider-Man game from Insomniac Games. Just release it and I’ll buy it.
God of War: Ragnarök
Similar to Spider-Man 2, they don’t actually need to show me anything to get me to buy this game. They sold it to me as soon as the credits rolled on the last God of War game. This trailer was absolutely phenomenal, but wholly unnecessary. I know lots of people complain about getting no news for extended periods of time, but personally I’m backlogged enough not to care about delays. There were so many cool things shown in this trailer, but none of it really matters. Because I was already going to buy the game anyway and so is everyone else who liked the last game. Whether you’re an OG God of War fan like I am or you just started with the 2018 one, you either are going to buy God of War: Ragnarök or you’re not and you’ve known that since 2018. Including it here is akin to Sony patting themselves on the back. No additional sales were made because of this trailer. Great trailer but we didn’t need it. All this trailer really accomplished was making me miss swinging that axe. But I’m too backlogged to replay the last game.
Overall, I thought this was a solid presentation. It was pretty tight for time and quality but it definitely could have been tighter. The announcements were mostly meaningful and more than one game I didn’t know about going into the presentation sold me on these showings alone. That’s the mark of a good presentation. If they don’t get you excited about new things you weren’t aware of, then they’re a waste of time. I can safely say I’ll buy at least eight of the games shown here at some point, but more importantly there are at least five games from that list of eight that I wasn’t sold on going into the presentation. I look forward to the next showcase.