2016 is a year that saw the release of some massive PS4 games like Uncharted 4 (opens in new tab), The Last Guardian (opens in new tab), No Man's Sky, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. On top of that Sony released three brand new pieces of hardware: PS4 Slim, PS4 Pro, and PlayStation VR (opens in new tab). It has been quite the 12 months, so who better than Matthew Pellett, Editor of Official PlayStation Magazine (opens in new tab), to reflect on a big year for PlayStation?
What went well?
I think it’s fair to say Sony has mastered the art of games conferences. After E3 2015’s fat slab of dream announcements, I truly feared for Sony’s E3 2016 keynote speech. How could it ever top the previous year’s? Well, by zeroing in on just the big games I think Sony pulled it off. The odd decision to revisiting Days Gone (opens in new tab) at the end felt weird, but otherwise it was a packed showing that ensured that PS4 was still home to the most exciting upcoming games, despite the launch of its marquee adventure Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
The live-streamed PlayStation Meeting in September to unveil PS4 Pro could have been better (I found it rather dull, though the hours afterwards when we actually got to go hands-on with the kit more than made up for it), but December’s PlayStation Experience again delivered the goods. Of course, any show bookended by Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last Of Us Part 2 (opens in new tab) was always going to be enjoyable – Sony could have sandwiched a tub of giant enemy crab meat in the middle and I’d have remained happy.
Still, it’s hard to believe that ten years ago there were large parts of games conferences taken up by boring sales charts. Now they’re proper celebratory events that are worth waiting 12 months to witness.
What could have gone better?
PlayStation VR and PlayStation 4 Pro are incredible pieces of hardware (yes, I bought the pair at full price at launch before you ask), but both suffer from the same issue: you only really understand the true benefits of them by actually experiencing them first-hand. I was fortunate enough to test the kit at preview events, hence laying down the cash for the pre-orders, but it’s much harder to let fans make informed purchasing decisions. And I can’t say I’ve seen a ton of advertising for either to try and help ensure they sell plenty. I love my PS VR headset, but the proof is in the playing and just not enough people have been given the opportunity to try it yet. No, GAME's ludicrous £5 trial doesn't count.
What was your personal highlight?
Aside from seeing The Last Guardian actually release? Personally it’d have to be playing The Witness right at the start of the year, because that game spoke to me like nothing else. I’ll refrain from my full The Witness sermon here – it’d be long enough to fill a book – but 100%ing that game without help ranks as one of my all-time gaming highlights from the last three decades.
Work-wise my highlight is a bit of a cheat: a November trip over to Osaka to play four hours of Resident Evil 7. I know, I know, it’s a 2017 game… but I’ve been doing this job for ten years and that was the greatest experience I’ve ever had sitting down with a chunk of preview code and just playing it through. I’ve written ten super-packed pages on the experience in the brand new 2017 Preview Special of Official PlayStation Magazine that’s on shelves, and I’ve said that if the rest of the game can match up to what I’ve played we’re looking at our next 10/10 title, no question.
What was your personal lowlight?
Seeing the abuse hurled the way of Hello Games after the launch of No Man’s Sky (opens in new tab) was incredibly unsavoury. It was a good game with some beautiful moments (and I genuinely think our review for No Man’s Sky were the six best pages we printed in Official PlayStation Magazine all year – it features a truly incredible deconstruction and analysis of that game), and it’s really improved in recent weeks. I totally understand why some players were left unsatisfied by the title, but the ferocity with which that manifested itself was really disappointing to watch.
What trends defined 2016?
In the latest issue we’ve crowned 2016 The Year Of The Grapple Hook (despite loud pleas from our Games Editor Jen Simpkins to opt for ‘The Year Of The Best Boys’ in the wake of Final Fantasy 15, Watch Dogs 2 and Let It Die) after the tool popping up in most of our games. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Titanfall 2 (opens in new tab), Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare (opens in new tab), Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Batman: Arkham VR, Ratchet & Clank, Windlands VR, Far Cry Primal, Dishonored 2 (well, near enough), Mirror’s Edge Catalyst… I guess it’s also been the year of 'horribly delayed games coming good', right?
But on a more serious note, it was just a damn good year of games. Sure, there was the odd letdown, but I’d argue that 2016 was the most solid 12 months yet for PS4 players – all year long we saw amazing games being released, and PlayStation VR is already home to some incredible experiences that make the most of the virtual reality tech.
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