PlayStation Experience Retrospective: Long Live Vita

It has been almost a year since the first ever PlayStation Experience, which took place right in my current residence of Las Vegas, Nevada. This year they’ve moved to San Francisco, and have began trickling out small information as to who will be there and what the playing card deck will be composed of. As we near the first weekend of December, I rewatched the keynote for PlayStation Experience 2014 to see what has changed at PlayStation since then, and what games have yet to be released on Sony’s platforms.

Uncharted 4 was the opening for PlayStation Experience, and despite Drake falling through the level, it was still a strong showing. Meanwhile this year’s MLB The Show was, well, shown off. Kill Strain was announced, and has silently been in beta form ever since then. Bloodborne was one of the best games of the first half of 2015, though has been forgotten about in the shadow of Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid 5, and Fallout 4. Destiny’s Dark Below expansion was detailed, with an exclusive Strike that will soon be available for Xbox owners due to Sony’s deal with Activision.

Ultra Street Fighter IV for PS4 was shown off, though when it finally launched that version had some severe issues. Killing Floor 2 has not been heard of since PSX, with the PC version still in beta. Darkest Dungeon was an early hit on Steam, though currently is listed to appear again at this year’s PlayStation Experience. The Forest is another radio silent game, but we did get Geometry Wars 3 on Vita which was favorably reviewed.

Persona 5 was just briefly mentioned, but sadly is not out until summer 2016 (we hope). Bastion released for PlayStation 4, though the Vita version is MIA, much like Volume and Axiom Verge. Orcs Must Die Unchained is also missing, and we did get Dungeon Defenders 2 in an early access form, with the developer promising a future free to play version. Skytorn was at PAX, though no news on its PlayStation release as of yet.

Severed will be appearing once again at PSX this year, with no news all this year except for a delay announcement. Shovel Knight successfully released on all platforms, including the Kratos boss battle, and even got its free expansion, Plague of Shadows. Batman: Arkham Knight fared better on PS4 than its PC cousin, and Street Fighter V has had two rocky beta sessions, with a tentative release date of February 16, 2016.

Yakuza 5 will hopefully come out this year on PlayStation 3, but Suikoden 1 and 2 did release on Vita and PS3 as promised last December. Towerfall Ascension, Octodad, Super Time Force, and Resident Evil Revelations 2 all found their way to Vita successfully, though the Banner Saga port has not been seen or heard of for quite awhile now. Same for Gang Beasts, though you can purchase that on PC already. Broken Age Complete was day and date with PC, and even became a PlayStation Plus game earlier this year. Grim Fandango Remastered was a January release, and while I found it obtuse to progress, was well received. Day of the Tentacle Remastered appeared at Day of the Devs on November 7, 2015, and will be making an appearance at PSX 2015 as well.

Fat Princess Adventures, Wattam, and What Remains of Edith Finch are all missing any solid release date. Fat Princess appeared at E3 and hasn’t been seen, Wattam had some gameplay videos appear earlier, and Edith Finch got a nice trailer with the vague release window of 2016.

The Order: 1886 did release, though nobody appeared to really want after it did. Tearaway Unfolded had a small release, as did Until Dawn, though the latter was vastly more successful and surprising. We have still not seen the PlayStation 4 port of Final Fantasy VII’s PC version, which was probably the worst troll in recent convention history. Meanwhile No Man’s Sky continues to play videos of shallow gameplay and the same zooming out gimmick at each appearance, and Drawn to Death has appeared every now and then for playtesters and members of the press. I’m sure David Jaffe’s vocabulary is just as colorful as it was onstage during last year’s keynote when he closed it out explaining the game.

Sony always seems to be playing the long game this generation when it comes to press conferences. As 45% of games announced at the PlayStation Experience last year have still not been released on any PlayStation platform. Kill Strain has been radio silent for quite some time, Persona 5 got pushed into summer 2016, Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation 4 was delayed after its release window came and went, and we have had two betas for Street Fighter V.

Now while it is disappointing that a lot of these games have not been released, we also got most of the major titles, Until Dawn, Bloodborne, Batman: Arkham Knight, Tearaway Unfolded, Grim Fandango Remastered, Broken Age Complete (which was even a PlayStation Plus game), and Shovel Knight.

The amount of independent games and published games announced and shown off was much more evenly split, with 19 indie games shown and 21 publisher games being shown. This number does not include EA’s announcement of previous titles being free for PlayStation gamers during the weekend of the PlayStation Experience. Sony has backed off the indie wagon a little with recent press conferences, as E3 had only about two indie games shown, one (Firewatch) if you don’t count No Man’s Sky as an independent game.

I’m hoping Gio Corsi and Adam Boyes once again take the stage to declare “Long live Vita!” especially given Sony’s recent back and forth over whether or not they are still even supporting the device with software. The handheld has struggled to remain relevant as PlayStation continues to neglect it at major showings such as E3 and Paris Games Week. Even Tokyo Game Show couldn’t save the Vita, as Danganronpa was announced to be cross-platform, and it even lost an exclusive with Gravity Rush being remastered onto PlayStation 4. My biggest hope right now is that Sony more than makes up for the lack of Vita talk throughout this year in December. If PlayStation Experience can’t resuscitate the system back to prominence, nothing can.

I expect some big things from PlayStation Experience this year. Their press conferences tend to last over 90 minutes, which allows for a lot of announcements to be stuffed into it. I have a feeling PlayStation will once again reaffirm its status as Indie focused with Firewatch, Severed, and Darkest Dungeon. I have a feeling Square Enix will let us down once again, appearing only to give the tiniest hint as to what is up with Final Fantasy XV, VII, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Electronic Arts will remind us about Star Wars Battlefront, and maybe finally talk about EA Access on PlayStation platforms. Guerilla will skip this convention, already having shown off what they have of Horizon: Zero Dawn at both E3 and Paris Games Week. Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4 will only appear in multiplayer form, as the beta will be running throughout the weekend so expect kiosks for that.

2K Games finally confirmed Civilization Revolution 2 on Vita, and with trophies and ratings listings for XCOM on Vita already live in multiple regions, I assume PSX is where we will get confirmation for that port as well. Far Cry Primal might get its first gameplay video thanks to PSX, though I don’t really know what to expect of Ubisoft. The Division has been delayed so many times I really don’t want to hear anything besides, “It is out tomorrow!” and even then I might not believe it.

There are a myriad number of hardware related announcements that may also take place this year. For a long time people have been rumbling about the patent filed by Sony awhile back for retroactively adding trophies to PlayStation Classics, though they have still been silent on if those games will even come to PlayStaiton 4. The inability to change your PlayStation Network name has become someting Sony has cautiously played off numerous times now, saying the challenge it presents is nigh insurmountable. Despite this, or perhaps fueled by those statements, rumors abound that at PSX this year Sony will let us know that it has been accomplished, much like Microsoft announcing backwards compatibility for Xbox One at E3.

Whatever the final outcome, I am very excited for this year’s PlayStation Experience. While part of me selfishly wishes it was still taking place in Las Vegas (since I live here) I love San Francisco so it is not much of a loss. As we draw closer to December 5, the hype train gains more momentum as I look forward to secret announcements that will be made and what games will be available to play. I hope to see some of you there, and that you are as excited as I am.

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Steven Santana

Born in Queens, raised in Vegas, living in Vancouver. 25, loves dogs, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and long form video critiques.

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