It’s that special time of year again, the weather changes, snowfall turns into a magical event, lights are slung up on every home, and nerds are flocking to the PlayStation Experience in Anaheim, California. This year Sony decided to blow our collective brains away with arguably their best showing at PSX yet! PSX 2016 has come and gone, and for this man it was one hell of a cathartic experience.
The line began at 12AM Saturday, ten hours before the keynote would begin. I decided to arrive at around 7:30 am, finding that to be a huge mistake as the line had wrapped around the entrance of the convention center and around the block. It was nothing I had ever felt before; showing up and the energy from all of my like-minded friends in the air was palpable. Finally after the long wait, we were let in and no single person in that convention center could contain their excitement. This year’s PSX ran the full spectrum of emotions for those in the room and beyond. Sony did not stop the hits from coming for a moment, just set after set of hot hitting games like an AC/DC concert. Opening the keynote press conference with new Uncharted DLC (not involving Nathan Drake) certainly help, but the continued roll of the keynote that would satisfy any gamer in a broad stroke was what Sony nailed.
The crowd was unbelievably thrilled from Wipeout all the way to Nex Machina; needless to say they were elated. Crash Bandicoot, Patapon, Danganrompa, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, and so many more were announced and shown rounding out an experience that could not be matched in gaming in 2016. All platforms across Sony’s family were shown immediate love coming from new IP’s and old PlayStation classics alike. Gio Corsi coming out Vita in hand was the affirmation many Sony fans had been looking for and did he ever deliver. Every game announced during his time on stage was another confirmation for the Vita. Everyone’s favorite karate styling rapper even made a grand return. Now, I understand where some people may not be accepting of Crash and Parappa, but they are icons to those kids that grew up with PlayStation. Now only if we can get Ape Escape back…We all know at this point that along with the old school PlayStation games, the fighting genre was well represented. Marvel vs. Capcom easily stole the show the second it was revealed; the rumors had been flying for a few days and once it was shown, the room exploded. Not only was there a trailer but there would also be an extended version at the Capcom Cup the same evening. Promptly after those announcements, Street Fighter was given its own spotlight with the release of Akuma. This PSX was something PlayStation fans have been looking forward to after almost a year of classic Sony missteps and fumbles.
Sony has clearly learned a lesson this past year and has doubled down on its focus of games and gamers, the full return of Crash should be enough to prove that point. Even if it isn’t though, I think most were blown away by Naughty Dog’s announcements of its two most beloved franchises, Uncharted and The Last of Us. Not only did they open the conference, but they closed it as well ,once again solidifying the fact that they are the most influential company in gaming. Coming down from the high of the PSX keynote was short lived as the floodgates to the show floor were opened and every single person began acting as they were newly freed animals. Immediately in your face were hordes of Capcom titles with Naughty Dog and Super Giant Games having (no pun intended) super giant displays for their games. We all comprehend that AAA titles are the highlight for a good percentage of gamers out there, but my comrades and I were more concerned with the indie games that nobody knew about. While those massive titles and VR consuming up 50% of the floor, the smaller indie devs were left to share small booths with each other. This was not a major issue as they would be within ear shot of their counterparts and allowed ease of movement to play the most games in the shortest time. Multiple games had a hold on me enough to play multiple times and ignore smaller games next to it. Two games being pushed by the legendary Dan Adelman- Chasm and Mages of Mystralia were amazing old school games of challenge and puzzles that ring nostalgia to anyone and breathe fresh air into indies. Housemarque was present (in a smaller capacity for some reason) with their new game Nex Machina, another untouchable arcade challenge that truly shows why nothing could be more satisfying than perfect arcade gameplay while destroying your friends high-score and making them cry. The more intriguing ones I barely got to play were among Monster Boy, Vain, and Death’s Gambit, interesting and lovely little indies. It was more fun playing these games than it was waiting three plus hours to play Persona 5 (I’m going to hear it for that one). That is one thing they don’t tell you about shows is you must have a plan of attack to attempt to play everything; and here I was thinking I would play every single game on the floor.
Attempting to do that would be hazardous, as you could possible miss some of the great panels being presented to all of our ungrateful eyes. There were multiple Naughty Dog panels about both games that were announced, but there was another one hiding itself within the panels – the utter genius and machinations of Death Stranding. Hideo Kojima, the great creator himself was live at PSX and it was more than we (and Geoff Keighley) could handle. This amazing panel not only gave us another version of the trailer (with the hauntingly beautiful music of LOW ROAR) gracing us with the presence of Guillermo del Toro, but also brought out Mark Cerny and Guerilla Games Herman Hulst. By now, we know that Death Stranding is using the Horizon: Zero Dawn engine- Decima. The Decima engine (as they said repeatedly) is the engine of the future not only for Guerilla but also for Kojima; Cerny being the grand digital daddy of this deal.
Regardless of the keynote, panels, and games there were the people of PSX – all the game devs, games media, and gamers, it was one hell of a show. This year’s PSX was the best of them all and even among all the hype nothing was better than being with your fellow gamers that have loving anime eyes during the weekend. Conversing with these people and getting competitive about games that haven’t been released yet are something you cant even fathom – we were shit talking about games that we couldn’t even play yet. Only games could do this and I loved every second of it. PSX 2016 was a great success and reinvigorated Sony’s fan base and PSX 2017 cannot come quickly enough. Oh yeah, Knack 2 was announced.