One Year Later, Did Sony (And Friends) Keep Their E3 2018 Promises?

Sony’s Shawn Layden kicks off an unusual PlayStation E3 showcase
Photo: Christian Petersen (Getty)
E3 2019E3 2019It's time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We've got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.

On the evening of June 11, 2018, at LA Center Studios, PlayStation’s head of worldwide studios Shawn Layden welcomed everyone to a tent where Sony was about to host an unusual E3 showcase.

In lieu of a “bombardment of new creative” (i.e. a trailer showcase of upcoming and new game announcements), Layden said Sony would focus on four previously announced games. While Sony did show extensive footage of those games—The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding, and Marvel’s Spider-Man—there were a few trailers for others and some other announcements, too.

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Layden welcomed musician Gustavo Santaolalla to the stage. Sony’s past two E3 conferences started with an orchestra playing God of War music in 2016, and with an ensemble playing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy music a year later. Which game did this somber banjo performance introduce?

The promise: After Santaolalla’s performance, the first trailer ran. A young woman stood looking at a small gathering where a dance was taking place under the lights in a tent similar to the one where the event had begun in real life. The Last of Us Part II’s Ellie was taken away to the dancefloor by a love interest, Dina, who noted that everyone staring at the pair was likely jealous of Ellie. Our protagonist claimed that she’s “just a girl” and “not a threat,” to which Dina replied that everyone should be terrified of Ellie. In the middle of the couple’s kiss, the scene cut to Ellie engaged in a fight with a person, stabbing him to death. For the next seven plus minutes, gameplay footage was shown of Ellie’s increasingly violent but stealthy takedown of a group of people and more, before returning to Ellie and Dina’s intimate moment at the dance. There was no release date or window provided.

Did they deliver? Not yet. There’s still no official word on a release date for the sequel since the violent E3 2018 showing and demo, which had creative director Neil Druckmann feeling nervous.

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It was at this point that Sony’s E3 2018 show became a little strange. Attendees were shuffled to another venue. Doing so meant that Sony had to fill time for the live online stream. They did this by having a group of hosts—Sid Shuman, Ryan Clements, Meredith Molinari, and Ramone Russell—discuss show reactions, conduct interviews with developers and others, and unveil light news updates to other games.

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The promise: In the first segment of this interview portion of the show, hosted by Sony’s director of social media Shuman and senior specialist of SIEA social media Clements, Layden was asked about Naughty Dog’s upcoming game, his role in helping games become successful, and more. But one of the questions posed was whether God of War would be getting a new game plus. The answer was yes but no release date was provided.

Did they deliver? Yes, actually. One was delivered on August 20, 2018. And it’s fun.

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The promise: Sony also had some game updates, too, announced during the panel-hosted segment. The first was for Call of Duty. “Back in Black” maps would be made available in Black Ops 3 with a pre-order of Call of Duty 4, which would launch in October 2018. And Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 would be released on PlayStation Plus later that day, available from June 11 to July 11.

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Did they deliver? Sure. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which was first revealed on March 8, 2018, released on October 18, 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game has received a stream of updates since. And yes, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, with those Back in Black maps, was part of PlayStation Plus that day and for the month.

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The promise: In the days before E3, Sony did a countdown to E3 where the company announced four games, in addition to a release date update for Days Gone, over a span of five days. The panelists presented a highlight reel of the games shown during that countdown. The games were Tetris Effect (fall 2018), Days Gone (the game, which was first revealed at E3 2016, would be released on February 22, 2019), Twin Mirror (2019), Ghost Giant, and Beat Saber.

Did they deliver? Yes, no, and not yet. Here are the games that made it: PS VR adventure game Ghost Giant was released on April 16, 2019. The gorgeous Tetris Effect was released on November 9, 2018 for PS4 and PS VR, meeting its promised release. Rhythm game Beat Saber released on November 20, 2018 for PS VR. It released on PC on May 21, 2019 too.

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It’s a no on the open world survival horror game Days Gone which was delayed yet again to April—its second delay since missing its initial 2018 release window. The game, with a familiar setting and dull story but some exciting horde encounters and cool details, launched during a relatively quieter release schedule on April 26, 2019.

Life is Strange creators Dontnod’s next game, Twin Mirror, is a ‘not yet’. It got a gameplay trailer back at Paris Games Week on October 29, 2018. As of that date, it’s still slated for a 2019 release and it’s also headed to Xbox One and PC.

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The promise: The next trailer before the main showcase was for a look at the next chapter of Destiny 2, “Forsaken.” The expansion would be out on September 4.

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Did they deliver? Yes. Cayde’s fate was revealed when the expansion released on September 4, as promised, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Much has happened since Forsaken’s launch as the game continues to evolve.

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The promise: Back at Sony’s main stage for the company’s E3 2018 showcase, another musician took the stage to introduce gameplay for Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima. A samurai watched wheat-laden fields before calling his horse to ride through them, over a wooden bridge, and into a gruesome scene of a man being killed by a band of people. A fight between the samurai and the group ensued before continuing on to a quest to save a monk held captive at a run-down temple. Some grappling up to the rooftop and a surprise dropdown attack saw our samurai take out the captors, but not before reinforcements were called in. The game was not given a release date or release window.

Did they deliver? Not yet on the gorgeous-looking open world samurai game, which was first announced back in 2017.

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The promise: A woman with a gun stood at a door, looking into a lit space before a voiceover chimed in. Her gun seemed to morph, as did some of the space around her. At one point, time seemed to be at a standstill, with people suspended in the air. Control was revealed as Alan Wake development studio Remedy Entertainment’s next game, and it would be released in 2019.

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Did they deliver? Not yet, but the game is currently slated for release in a couple of months on August 27 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out Kotaku’s impressions of the upcoming action game from Game Developer Conference back in March.

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The promise: A fight between two people in a dark room followed next. The scuffle ended when we were treated to a shot of a zombie ripping into the flesh of a sheriff. It was a short-lived victory as a single gunshot to the head took the zombie out. The headshot came from none other than Leon Kennedy of Resident Evil series fame, freshly remade for a 2018 trailer. Resident Evil 2 would be coming back on January 25, 2019.

Did they deliver? Yes, indeed. The remake of the survival horror game crawled its way to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on the promised date for all the zombie nightmares we could handle.

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The promise: Next up was Bathtub Guy, a character from Squanch Games and Justin Roiland, the co-creator of the animated series Rick and Morty, who introduced Trover Saves the Universe. The sci-fi based platforming game would debut exclusively on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, at an unknown date because one was not provided. In March of this year, the game’s May 31, 2019 release date was announced.

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Did they deliver? Yes. Trover Saves the Universe released a few days ago on May 31 on PS4 and PS VR, and is out on June 4 for PC.

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The promise: Kingdom Hearts III received yet another showing (first by Microsoft) because that’s what happens for a game nearly 10 years in the making. It was a different trailer, of course, but this one showed the Pirates of the Caribbean world, among others. And lots of cool hair and clothes. The game would be released on January 29, 2019 on PlayStation, too. Oh but hey, there was also going to be a release of a limited edition Kingdom Hearts III PlayStation 4 Pro. Kingdom Hearts III, KH HD I.5 + II.5 Remix, and Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue would also be released in one package, only on PS4.

Did they deliver? As we know from the Microsoft’s E3 Promises article published yesterday, the answer is yes on Kingdom Hearts III meeting its release on PS4 and Xbox One. What about all those other [insert Kingdom Hearts unconventional naming schemes joke here] games, and the PS4 Pro? It’s a yes on both counts, too. Some people were not so lucky in snagging the PS4 Pro, unfortunately.

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The promise: Up next was an extensive look at a third big game. The trailer began with a baby in the womb (maybe?) showing its butt before flipping over to give a thumbs up, sparking internet memes afterwards. The footage followed Norman Reedus’ in-game character, Sam, through Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding world, introduced new characters played by Léa Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner, showed off shadowy human-like entities, and mentioned time being fast-forwarded as part of its plot, among other things. There was no release date or window provided, and the general consensus was that we were left wondering what the hell just happened.

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Did they deliver? Not yet. The game received a November 8, 2019 release date last week in a trailer that showed off gameplay, introduced more characters, and showed off even more weirdness. Maybe in November we’ll finally be able to make sense of it all.

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The promise: A fight between demons ensued in the next trailer for Nioh 2. Death would defy players on an unspecified release date as none was provided.

Did they deliver? Not yet. Game footage from a closed alpha was unveiled just a few weeks ago but we’re still waiting to hear even more about this sequel.

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The promise: The final of the four key titles was the focus of the next presentation, with web-slinging action and gameplay of Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac. Footage showed Spidey in a jailbreak scenario where many of his super-villain enemies were in attendance. Rhino, Scorpion, and Electro were all there, along with regular prisoners who were willing to fight the amazing Spider-Man, too, just to make things more interesting, of course. But the fun did not stop, because Vulture, and later Mister Negative, also showed up to the party for an all-out brawl with Spidey. The clip ended on a cliffhanger with an unknown assailant (or friend, maybe?) arriving on the scene and the trailer then cut away to the game’s title card. Players would get to know who showed up sometime in September, as later revealed.

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Did they deliver? They sure did. The PS4 exclusive released on September 7, 2018, with all sorts of interesting stories about its open world in tow. There was a Puddlegate scandal, along with the release of some decent and not-so-good DLC in the subsequent months since the web-slinger’s arrival.

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The promise: After a final drum beat from a Dreams sequence (many of these short Dreams videos were interwoven into Sony’s press-conference) closed out the main showcase, the PlayStation panelists returned for an aftershow presentation to discuss reactions to the games, and to announce a new one. It was revealed that Dark Souls studio FromSoftware was working on the development of a PlayStation VR game, noted as a departure from what the studio was known for. The trailer unveiled Déraciné, with lots of beautiful art and a story about fairies. Not much else was shown and that included an unknown release date. In September, a release date of November 6, 2018 was announced.

Did they deliver? Yes. The PS VR game, which we noted as “unsettling,” released on its promised date.

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The promise: During the interview session of the aftershow, Dreams Media Molecule creators, Alex Evans and Siobhan Reddy, revealed that a beta for the game would be released in 2018.

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Did they deliver? Yes. A closed beta for Dreams happened on December 19, 2018. On April 16 of this year, Dreams entered early access and people have been creating some impressive things since.

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The promise: A VR highlight reel was shown next featuring some games previously mentioned and covered, such as Tetris Effect, Ghost Giant, Beat Saber, and Trover Saves the Universe. A few more VR games were shown, too, which did not make the main presentation, namely Moss, Firewall Zero Hour, Doom VFR, Creed Rise to Glory, Evasion (2018), Star Trek: Bridge Crew, The Persistence, Star Child, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Jupiter & Mars (Q2 2018), Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Vacation Simulator, Superhot VR. None of the games received release windows or dates in the video reel shown during the aftershow. Some were previously announced while other games were already released prior to the segment.

These include Moss (February 27, 2018 for PS VR and PC—the game received a Twilight Garden expansion for more mouse adventures on May 21 for Oculus Quest, and is expected in June for other platforms), Doom VFR (December 01, 2017) and Star Trek: Bridge Crew (May 30, 2017 on PS VR and PC—a December 2017 update made it available without VR. The game also got Star Trek: The Next Generation DLC on May 22, 2018 on PS4, PS VR and July 24, 2018 on PC). The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (PS VR and PC on November 17, 2017 and April 2, 2018, respectively). And Superhot VR which released back on July 21, 2017.

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Did they deliver? Yes and not yet. Let’s take a look at the ones that have since been released: The PS VR exclusive squad-based shooter, Firewall Zero Hour, released on August 28, 2018. Boxing game Creed Rise to Glory released on September 25, 2018 for both PS VR and PC. Evasion, a sci-fi bullet-hell shooter, released on PS VR and PC on October 9, 2018. PS VR horror rogue-like The Persistence released on July 24, 2018. The underwater adventure featuring a pair of dolphins, Jupiter & Mars, splashed on to PS VR on April 22, 2019. PS VR exclusive Astro Bot: Rescue Mission launched on October 2, 2018.

Here are the games that haven’t released yet: Star Child, first announced at E3 2017, has not yet been released. Vacation Simulator released on April 9, 2019 for PC but PS VR owners won’t go on vacation until June 18, 2019.

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That’s a wrap on Sony’s E3 2018 presentation. As with Microsoft, Sony and its development partners played it safe by not making too many definitive promises, at least for the four games the company focused on. Of those, Spider-Man made its target. As a result, the other games presented or mentioned that evening yielded a mostly positive outcome for Sony. Apart from Star Child and Nioh 2 still missing for now, one notable broken promise was for Days Gone which, after an initial release window delay in 2018, received a second release date in the days prior to Sony’s E3 2018 showcase, only to be delayed once more.

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As weird and trimmed Sony’s E3 2018 showcase was, as we know now, it’s going to be even weirder this year as the company will not be present at the show. With details of PlayStation 5’s development recently surfacing, and their new video series, State of Play, which takes a page from Nintendo’s handbook with its Directs, we’ll see what Sony brings in the next few months—even if that means we won’t get the information at the company’s own conference at E3 2019.

In the final E3 2018 promises piece, we’ll take a look at what Nintendo presented and how well they did. That’s tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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About the author

Narelle Ho Sang

Narelle is a freelance writer with a New York State of Mind. She's an admin of Kotaku's TAY Blog, where she can be found musing about JRPGs, music and doing this ಠ_ಠ. Reach her on Twitter.