By focusing on games, Sony has reframed the conversation around the next-generation. The platform holder put creative and innovative titles at the centre of its message, revealing a lineup of brand new PS5 games that deftly showcased the diversity and depth of Sony's first and partnering third-party studios that are currently in development for 2020 and beyond.
It was a powerful statement of intent, one that worked to demonstrate the power of the luxurious new hardware without drawing focus from the games. It was always going to be difficult to showcase the true potential of the PS5 and Xbox Series X during a global pandemic – particularly one that prevents any of their games from getting into the hands of players – which must be particularly frustrating for developers this cycle, given how much weight is being thrown behind tech advances that aren't immediately apparent at a distance. Without putting hardware in people's hands it's hard to relay how the new SSD will improve performance and load times, or how the DualSense controller and its new breed of haptics, and advances in 3D audio to change our connection to virtual worlds.
Welcome to the future
Sony seemed to recognise that this was an insurmountable problem and, instead, it decided to double down on its partnerships. We got to see what Insomniac – now a first-party studio – is capable of, as it revealed Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Two titles that not only demonstrate Sony's commitment to claiming control of the casual market, but the all-ages space too – think back to the Inside Xbox stream for last month, how many of those games were suitable for kids and adults alike?
It's an important gap to grasp a hold of, particularly as we stare down the precipice of a global recession and a potentially egregious price of entry to the next generation. Early adopters can buy a PS5 safe in the knowledge that they can enjoy it with friends and family members, no matter their age or experience. The same can be said for Destruction All Star (which looks like Twisted Metal for Zoomers) and Sackboy: A Big Adventure (which looks like a delightful departure into the adventure space for Sony's mascot, now in the safe hands of Sumo Digital).
We also saw Sony succeed in an area where Microsoft so typically falls short – Japan. A gorgeous remake of the legendary Demon's Souls, from masters of the redux, Bluepoint Games, was expected but no less impressive. It's perhaps one of the most important games of the last decade, although I'd wager few actually played it before jumping into its successor, Dark Souls. To see it front and centre of the line-up here shows that Sony understands the value in appealing to the core, and to ensure that important games from the past that may have been overlooked are given their dues in the present.
That was joined by a first look at the subversive action of Ghostwire: Tokyo, which appeared to indicate that Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is firing on all cylinders with his team at Tango Gameworks. And then there was a brand new IP with no information from Capcom scheduled for 2022, Pragmata, and our first look at Resident Evil 8: Village – an utterly astonishing return for the long-running series. Oh, and don't forget about Square Enix's mysterious Project Athia – a game we know literally nothing about, only that it has been developed exclusively for PS5 and that I'm desperate to know everything about it. Capturing this corner of the market is key for Sony, and by putting this calibre of game in this showcase it demonstrates a desire to draw from talent, experience, and ideas from around the globe.
Speaking of which, it's great to see Sony investing in independent games. There was a wealth of wonderful looking games from renowned developers on show – to be honest, the 20-minute indie focus in the middle may have been my favourite part. Goodbye Volcano High from GNOG developer KO-OP, Solar Ash from the team behind Hyper Light Drifter, The Pathless from Abzu's Giant Squid, and Bugsnax from the folks that unleashed Octodad: Deadliest Catch upon the world. There's plenty more, too; this showcase highlighted a commitment to supporting indie on PS5. That's great to see given how key these games are for widening the types of worlds, characters, and perspectives we can explore in interactive experiences.
It's telling that I've been able to type 600 words out onto a page before talking about the truly awe-inspiring reveals, isn't it? Deathloop, a timed exclusive for PS5, looks like the perfect successor to Dishonored, a 60s set romp with all of the style and precision of the aforementioned, only faster and weirder in just about every respect. It's the type of game only Arkane could deliver, and its presence here makes a statement to the core community of the types of games Sony will cultivate on the console in the months following launch.
And what about Horizon Forbidden West. Microsoft has committed to using its July showcase to reveal what its 15 first-party studios are working on, but it's got quite the hurdle to climb now. Horizon Zero Dawn was an impressive open-world game, and this sequel seems to be doing every right at a first glance.
This was the kind of shut up and look reveal Sony needed. In little over 60 minutes, the company has shifted the conversation away from specs and tech and put it squarely on the games. It's exactly what Sony needed to do. It's exactly what we needed to see. 28 games that show us what the next generation is capable of – it's a welcomed break from us all being caught up in impenetrable tech and specs talk. This was a showcase for those that care about what we can play on the box, rather than what's inside of it.
With this showcase, Sony has reframed the conversation around the next generation. There is no going back from here. From now until launch, it's all about the games. Microsoft is going to position its July reveal much in the same way, and that's great for all of us. It means that the next five months are going to be focused on exploring the games that will define the earliest years of the next generation, and that's a great place to be.
Wondering what the wider GR team thought of today's festivities? With the PS5 finally revealed: The GamesRadar team react to PlayStation's Future of Gaming.