Why Sony won next gen already (Part 2)
So 5 months passed since my last blog about this topic
and I think it's a good time to recap it with everything that happened since then.
Last time, I wrote about all three but this time I'm leaving Nintendo out since the next gen launch is just around the corner and Nintendo is not really ready to compete with Xbox One and PS4 yet. (I might touch this topic again once franchises like Zelda, Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart have hit the WiiU)
This time, I'm starting with Sony first. Sony definately made good use of the last 5 months by not only focussing on the PS4, but rather all of it's platforms. The PS3 received Naughty Dog's masterpiece "The Last Of Us" while the PS Vita recently got "Killzone: Mercenary" - which both are strong contenders for the GOTY award on their respective platforms. "Puppeteer", "Beyond: Two Souls" "Gran Turismo 6" and "Tearaway" are just the big titles that we'll see releasing this year and I think that especially the PS3 lineup shows how commited Sony is to supporting it's platforms so far into it's life cycle. All those titles scream quality and uniqueness which is not a given for a 7 year old console - as can be seen clearly at the competition.
But people don't seem to care that much for lifecycle support - and that's were the next-gen talk comes in. Some say Sony has a weak launch lineup for the PS4 and I'm not even disagreeing with that at first - Knack seems like a filler title, not like a game were you spend 60 bucks without questioning it's value. Honestly, I think that Puppeteer would have been a much better launch title to appeal to a younger audience but that's just me - I'll give Knack a chance and I'm sure it will be pretty solid, but right now I'm not convinced whether it's worth being overly excited for. Maybe that'll change until launch.
Then comes DriveClub, which was finally shown at E3 & GamesCom and definately made a good first showing - for a launch title. We still haven't seen much of it but what we've seen definately looks next-gen worthy and I think that there will be some positive surprises once we're getting closer to release. But with so many racing games (Need For Speed Rivals, The Crew, GT6, etc.) on the horizon it doesn't feel like something special and outstanding. It looks like a solid racer that's worth a purchase (especially through the PS+ edition) but not like anything people will talk about a year later. Amazon gave me a 50€ discount on Drive Club as a thanks for preordering the PS4 so I've already preordered the full game but I think that this discount shows that it doesn't even try to be a heavy-hitter in the first place ...so more or less another filler title? We'll see.
Now to Killzone: Shadow Fall - the real but only megaton Sony has for it's launch lineup. Everything we saw from this game looks stellar and thanks to the PS4's power old KZ-issues like framerate, input lag or missing fluidness are gone for good. Both single and multiplayer have received tons of gameplay improvements and coupled with the gorgeous graphics and cinematic atmosphere this game doesn't have to hide from the other FPS that are going to release this year ...in fact, I think that KZ:SF will be ahead of it's peers simply because of being developed for PS4 exclusively - unlike BF4 & CoD:Ghosts which also have to run on this-gen hardware. Especially in terms of cinematic presentation I don't think that any launch title for PS4 or Xbox One can come close to it.
So that's Sony's first party lineup that has to compete with games like Ryse, Forza, Dead Rising and Killer Instinct. But first, let's look at the Xbox One as a console.
In my first blog I said that I don't think all of this DRM stuff will be true. Much happened since then, in fact it was true - but most of it was reversed by Microsoft in the months after it's reveal in May. Some say it was because of Sony, Microsoft says it was because of gamers reaction, and most think it was because of abysmal preorder figures.
We probably won't learn about the exact reasons but it's only important that it happened and that Microsoft was right in making that choice. But all those reversals won't change the fact that they TRIED all of this and also replied to criticism very inappropriate more than once ("Don't have internet? Get a 360!"). So all of this leaves a bitter taste and the poor damage control after that ("We're looking forward to when the truth comes out!!") doesn't really make it better. Kinect got some mediocre previews but as a core gamer I'm not arguing about it's value - some see it as a selling point, I simply dont - same for the PSEye camera that's probably even worse.
Questionable strategy reversals aside, Microsoft is still convinced that it has the better launch lineup and of course I have to look into that when claiming that "Sony won next gen already". Let's start with Ryse, which on a first look seems to reinforce Microsofts confidence - but somehow fails to show that it's also fun to play. The fact that it was planned as a X360 Kinect release just shines through every gameplay released so far. Crytek, as always, focussed way too much on polishing the graphics while leaving gameplay and substance behind. Now the concept is great and the visuals are truly next-gen worthy but that didn't stop previewers from being revolted by it's clunky animations and boring gameplay.
Dead Rising 3 follows that somehow, although it's not that bad in this case. The first gameplay videos looked great because it showed a cool new concept but the second one proved that it's basically DR2 in an open world. The same mindless fun that loses it's challenge relatively quick and gets boring after you've tried out everything. Not to mention any framerate and graphic issues that some hands-on previews were complaining about. It's not a fiasco like Ryse but it's certainly not the mindblowing heavy hitter people were expecting after the E3 gameplay - so more or less in the same league as Drive Club.
Killer Instinct is, like all those F2P PS4 exclusives is not really worth mentioning for me ...it's just another Beat'Em'Up with a horrifying business model that no gamer should support. So still more or less a draw between both systems.
Then we're left with Forza 5 - and just like KZ:SF, this is the only real blockbuster title for the new console. The game looks simply gorgeous and definately next-gen worthy although I don't understand why there are still no weather effects - this should be a given in a driving game these days, especially after GT5 managed to do it so well.
But overall the Xbox lineup is just as weak/strong as the PS4 one - in my opinion there's no real winner in that department and every game has it's counterpart on the other system quality-wise.
But the blog is still called "Why Sony won next gen already" and now I'd like to explain why that thought was reinforced even further in the months since my last writing, and here's why:
First of all, I think that Sony's marketing department learned a lot in terms of their target group, the right marketing channels and effective announcement strategies. At E3 and Gamescom, we mostly saw the launch lineup, tons of indie announcements and the usual 3rd party stuff. The tremendous indie support alone would be worth writing a blog about and I think giving small developers the chance of growing on a home console will really pay off in the coming years. These guys will be so thankful for Sony supporting them that their next bigger projects might be exclusive to PS4 just because of that.
Back to the point, I'm expecting some huge AAA announcements in the coming weeks that are aimed at those who are not yet convinced by the PS4.
The conference for TGS tomorrow should get the ball rolling when The Last Guardian hopefully will be reintroduced for PS4. It probably will be accompanied by something regarding ATLUS / Level 5 / Yakuza / Persona / Deep Down and even if just one of those turns out to be true this could mean a lot in shifting opinions.
Until the VGA's in early December I'm expecting the real blockbusters being unveiled - projects from Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Media Molecule and/or Sony London - which should outshine most of the stuff we've seen yet based on those studios track records. And thanks to the now much simpler architecture I think that we'll see either reduced development times (= more first party exclusives from each studio) or even higher quality titles than we got on PS3. Last but not least, there is still PS+ - by still pushing PS3 and now also the Vita, Sony is taking the value of PS+ into a league where XBL simply can't compete anymore. The value we gamers get from this service is still unmatched on any platform.
So my conclusion still is that Microsoft won't be able to hold up with all that - they blew out a lot of their ammunition at E3 while not making enough of an impact with it to really challenge Sony's long term strategy. The launch lineups are more or less on par and even though Microsoft has Quantum Break, Halo 5, something from Black Tusk and a few smaller games in the pipeline, in the end they simply can't compete with Sony's tremendous indie support and even less with their first party studios - especially not in the long term.
And after seeing how this gen turned out for the X360 and how the reactions are to all those reversals, I don't think that people can be fooled twice - since this time, they also are missing the advantages they had back in 2006 - price, release date and of course console architecture to some degree.
So my thought still hasn't changed since the last blog and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.
I'll probably write another blog in late December to see how it all went until then and I'd love to hear some thoughts about my opinion on all of this. Again, the main reason for writing this is improving my english language skills so also feel free to point out any grammar and spelling mistakes. Thanks for reading =)