PlayStation Home, the PS3’s Second Life-esque social environment, is getting another facelift that goes live tomorrow.
The service’s new look seems to take a bit of inspiration from Disneyland and other major theme parks by offering players more themed areas than it currently does and offers a few more free-to-play experiences, which Sony refers to as “freemiums.” While the service has garnered a following since its launch in 2008, it’s never held a mass appeal — after about two visits in the winter of 2009 I felt as though I’d gotten everything I needed out of it, that’s for sure.
The biggest change is that Sony is letting go of Home zones in favor of a hub area that connects to smaller themed areas. We’ll explore each of them a bit more after the jump.
Action District – Sony says this place is supposed to resemble the “gritty, urban feel” of first-person shooters. This is where you’ll go to find action and horror titles to spend time on.
Adventure District – Like its action-inspired counterpart, the Adventure District will be a portal to games and events that appeal to fans of titles like Tomb Raider and Uncharted. Speaking of Uncharted, there will be plenty of Drake’s Deception-inspired action to be had with the Fortune Hunter event, wherein players will enter a partial recreation of the Yemen stage from this year’s blockbuster Nathan Drake title.
Pier Park – Where you can get your carnival, arcade and mini-game fix. There’s a Ferris Wheel you can ride to scope out the terrain.
PlayStation Home Theater – It’s a pretty building where you can go to watch all sorts of videos like trailers, episodes of Pulse and Qore and video interviews from the PlayStation blog. There’s also a community theater where user-generated content can be uploaded.
PlayStation Home Mall – The name says it all: buy all your PlayStation Home swag here. Whether it’s clothes for your avatar or decorations for your Home pad, this is the place to grab it.
Sportswalk – It’s the sports equivalent of the three districts mentioned earlier. This is where you’ll be able to take part in a sports trivia game and at least one competitive card game, which we’ll give more details on in a moment.
All in all, it looks like some of the bigger changes in the service are in how you access different experiences. Just as I said before, it’s a bit Disneyland-esque in its layout. Now here are a few of the new freemium experiences we heard about from Sony earlier today:
Bootleggers ’29 – It’s described as a first-person shooter set in the “seedy underbelly of the Roaring Twenties.” What I’m envisioning is a Great Depression/Prohibition-era cops and robbers game centered around a Capture the Flag-type game, which Sony calls Capture the Cask. Bootleggers will be free-to-play, but don’t be surprised if some of the costumes for your avatar — yes, you can use your PS3 avatar — cost you real-world currency. Gunning down a rival gangster with a Tommy Gun would definitely make for an interesting experience.
PlayStation Home Hold ‘Em – No real surprises here. This game is found in the Sportswalk district and is, just as the title implies — or flat-out screams — this is Texas Hold ‘Em, Sony-style. Online leader boards and tournament play will be available, of course.
PlayStation Home Sports Trivia – More than 10,000 sports bits will be available for players to test their trivial mettle in the Sportswalk district.
RC Rally – Now we’re talkin’. This title will allow players to build their own personal radio-controlled vehicles and compete in everything from standard races to stunt competitions. Victory unlocks rewards with which you can upgrade your cars. RC Rally will be found in Pier Park.
Cogs 3D – If you remember the steampunk puzzle game that was available in the last iteration of Home, you know exactly what to expect here. Except this one’s in 3D. For those not in the know, if you’ve played BioShock, think back to the hacking mini-game. Yeah, it’s kinda like that, but instead of directing fluid, you’re setting cogs to complete a mechanical circuit.
So, PS3 owners: will you be checking out the new PlayStation Home space tomorrow? I’m definitely going in, but who knows if I’ll stay for long. And what can PlayStation Plus members expect, if anything?