Previously ... on E3 ... "Chief, you don't understand, it's $399!"..."Internal affairs wants to see you. Something about sharing a lot of games." ... "Remember me, detective? I went by the name Final Fantasy Versus XIII." ... "There's a catch. The D.A. says we have to have PlayStation Plus for online multiplayer." ...
The morning after, Sony's complete and total ownership of E3 does not want for metaphor. To some it looked like a 12th round knockout after a very, very long comeback. Others, it felt like a righteous monologue closing out a tense courtroom drama.
Yes, the biggest news may have been confirming that features or prerogatives we already expect and use in console gaming will be present in the PlayStation 4 experience. But after what has been written, said, and unsaid over the past three weeks, hearing a full-throated defense of the customer, on stage was cathartic. Sony got genuine, sustained applause breaks last night, and I thought we were all too cynical for that.
So, while it may be tempting, I don't recommend hitting yourself over the head with a brick so that you get amnesia and forget what happened so you can hear the news all over again and feel great. But you can do the next best thing and read this recap of last night's big moments.
The PlayStation 4 is $399, and already available for preorder at major retailers (GameStop has eight bundles, but not the machine by itself.) Yes, Xbox One is $100 more, but it comes with Kinect and all of those TV features. Hardcore gamers made it clear how they felt about that stuff two weeks ago.
Sony didn't show us the case back at the PlayStation 4's unveiling in February. Now we know what it looks like. I think it looks like a rhomboid PS2. The system will have a 500GB, upgradeable hard drive, but it will not come with a camera.
"We're equally focused on delivering what gamers want most, without imposing restrictions or devaluing their PS4 purchases," said Tretton, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, before unloading five missiles to the Xbox One's jaw.
"PlayStation 4 won't impose any new restrictions on the use of PS4 games." Twenty-second applause break. "When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that copy of the game, they can trade in the game at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever." Twenty-second applause break, with "Sony" chant.
"PlayStation 4 disc-based games don't need to be connected online to play." Twelve-second applause break. "If you enjoy playing singplayer games offline, PS4 won't require you to check in online periodically." Eight-second applause break. "And it won't stop working if you haven't authenticated within 24 hours." Ten-second applause break.
All of these were aimed at the weak spots of Xbox One, which in the three weeks since its introduction, divulged plans to require online authentication once a day to play games, a restrictive used-game buyback network, and further controls against sharing a game with a friend. Gamers came to E3 in a pissed-off mood, and Sony played to the crowd masterfully.
The goodwill Sony acquired onstage made this news tolerable, even if it was slipped into the fine print. But after offering online multiplayer for free over PlayStation Network, Sony now will require a PlayStation Plus subscription to use that feature. PlayStation Plus will still cost $50 a year, a subscription is good for every PlayStation device, and you still get a bunch of free games.
Given up for dead seven years after its first trailer was released, Final Fantasy Versus XIII made a dramatic reappearance at E3—as Final Fantasy XV. Rumors persisted that Versus XIII had been killed off, or had its work sent to the folks making XV. Square Enix insisted development continued on Versus XIII. Turns out they were both right.
Games, Games and More Games
The Order: 1886, an alternate-history sci-fi title set in Victorian England, led off the showcase of new games on the PlayStation 4. It was followed by the outrageous Dark Sorcerer from Quantic Dream, another PS4 exclusive. A Mad Max game from Avalanche, the makers of Just Cause, is not a console exclusive, but it was still quite a crowd pleaser. Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and Destiny both got long demonstrations.