By Steven Petite
I never thought I would see the day when the great English poet, William Blake, is mentioned in a video game. But if I had to pick the most likely creators to do so, Hideo Kojima would be near the top of the list. When Kojima took the stage to announce his first game with his own studio, there it was, the opening four lines of Blake’s iconic poem, “Augerie’s of Innocence.”
“To See a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
The teaser trailer for Kojima’s latest game, a PS4 exclusive titled Death Stranding, was mysterious but undeniably mesmerizing, veiled but strangely open with its intentions, extraordinary but with everything we have come to expect from one of the greatest game developers of all time. A beach full of bones, hypnotizing music in the backdrop, mammoth handprints pressed against the sand beneath a dreary sky. In a fitting remembrance to PT, the canceled collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, Norman Reedus lies battered and naked on the beach. He cradles an infant in his hands, but as he rises from fetal position, the baby is replaced with blood soaked palms. He turns toward the sky in confusion, and the camera pans out.
In what was arguably the greatest E3 press conference of all time, Kojima reminded everyone why he is regarded as one of the most influential and innovative figures in the industry.
Backtracking a bit, the show opened with a long look into the re-imagining of God of War. This time around the game seems more tonally aware, and the world is incredibly wrought. More footage from Horizon Zero Dawn followed, and it was, as it always has been, fantastically compelling.
There was so much greatness packed in this conference that it’s hard to talk about it without sounding overly excited. I’m not one to gush over these sorts of events because, at the end of the day, nothing really matters until the final game is released into the wild. But man, Sony—Sony really outdid themselves with this one.
Quantic Dream’s Detroit was back in action and it looks as if the developer known for Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls has taken cues from last years surprise hit, Until Dawn.
The reveal of Resident Evil may have been the most noteworthy inclusion had Kojima skipped this year’s festivities, but regardless, Capcom’s rebranding of Resident Evil looks like it will, finally, return to its horror roots. What they showed was grim and gruesome, and with the announcement that the game will be fully playable on PlayStation VR, disturbingly unsettling in a much appreciated way.
Oh, and PlayStation VR, that will be released on October 13th for $399. I wasn’t excited for it before, but considering that Sony is firing on all cylinders and then some, I’m really intrigued by it now. Unlike their failed “Move” venture, they seem to be acknowledging that VR integration on AAA scales is how to properly introduce the product to consumers effectively. It has a greater possibility for staying power with this sort of move.
They talked about Star Wars VR from Criterion, and it looks far more promising than I had imagined, too.They nodded to the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and revealed a Destin-esque space shooter, Farpoint. Another major surprise came with the announcement of the first three Crash Bandicoot games remastered for the PS4. To be honest, I thought this franchise was dead and gone, and this seems to suggest that they are preparing for a new Crash game down the line as their approach mirrors that of Capcom rereleasing the last three iterations of Resident Evil throughout this year. The only way I would have a problem with this is if Naughty Dog spends too much time and resources on Crash, and that is almost assuredly never going to happen so all appears to be well. For me, Crash was an unexpected bonus, and a welcome one.
Sony’s Days Gone is a new open-world survival game peppered with throngs of the undead that looks really strong and promising, and The Last Guardian, the 10-years-in-development game at Japan Studio received a new trailer and a concrete release date of October 25th.
In the end, I kept going back to Kojima’s reveal. Ever since the conference finished, I’ve watched the trailer for Death Stranding about a dozen times. Captivating and original, Kojima seems to be aiming for an utterly profound experience that is not often found in AAA video games. Sony’s press conference was a masters class in how to put on a showcase. They stuck to essentials removing nearly all extraneous details, and gave gamers exactly what we tune in to see: new games to get excited for.