Player 2 Vs The May 2023 Playstation State of Play
Paul: I had hoped that we might see something from the newly acquired Haven Studios, but I thought it might be an outside chance considering the studios’ infancy. The tone of the trailer is cool, and as someone who is not at all a fan of most online games (give me a moment to shout at a cloud), I was surprisingly into the tone that was set. Of course, it was CG only and so that dulled the impact somewhat, but I’m certainly intrigued to see more.
Matt: Look I find it hard to get excited about two things in the industry at the moment. The first is CGI trailers with no gameplay for an unknown quantity and the second is games-as-a-service titles. Sadly the Fairgame$ reveal is both of these. This is not a judgement on what the final game will be, which in my head I have pictured as Watch Dogs crossed with Payday, just a comment on how it was shown off. Dig the style but need more.
Paul: This was one of the worst-kept secrets of the PlayStation pipeline and finally Helldivers II was revealed. Helldivers has gotten the Returnal treatment, taking a model that Arrowhead had already nailed (similar to Housemarque’s previous works) and running it through the AAA filter. The top-down perspective is gone in favour of an awesome third-person perspective and the humour has been amplified. I’m keen to get into it, and I’m keen to get into it now – Matt, this needs to be one of those experiences where the four of us editors need to jump in and play together!
Matt: Look I am worried if I am honest. I loved Helldivers and the shift to the third person means all of a sudden this is a game competing in a very very crowded PvE market. So many of these games are coming out and so many are disappearing just as quickly. It is going to have to be both well-supported and pretty darn special to stand out. That’s not to say they can’t do it, just that it is a tough road ahead. I do love that they are leaning into the Starship Troopers vibe and the shooting does look promising.
Immortals Of Aveum
Paul: You and I have been fortunate to see a bit more than Joe/Jane Citizen lately thanks to EA, so this trailer didn’t hit as hard with me as it might have with others, but with that said – I’m really into what Immortals Of Aveum is doing. I’m keen on the COD x magic pairing that will make me into an epic Battlemage. I hope it won over a lot of less familiar gamers, but for me this washed over me and had little impact.
Matt: It has been well established that I am old and as an old PC gamer I have always wanted a modern-day Heretic/Hexen game. While it doesn’t look like we are going to get that, Immortals looks like it could be the next best thing. It seems to borrow from Doom Eternal in both pace and mobility which is a good thing and the setting has me intrigued. The real key will be just how good the powers feel to use and if they measure up to a super shotgun to the face of a demon. If they can nail that, they are onto a winner.
Paul: Ghostrunner was awesome, but I sadly never finished the original. With this new game confirmed, and looking amazing, I desperately need to pull my finger out and get the first game done, to make sure I’m as ready as possible for this fantastic-looking sequel. I’m shocked that it’s coming so soon though. It feels like just yesterday that the original launched and yet here we are with the sequel within the next six months. What a gem of a reveal.
Matt: First game was rad, a cross between Titanfall and Trials that had you constantly repeating for that perfect run through the level. I expect nothing less from the sequel. Hopefully, there are a few new wrinkles in the mix and some changes to the formula because if I had one problem with the first game, it was that it really didn’t change too much over its runtime.
Phantom Blade Zero
Paul: I was certainly intrigued by what I saw in Phantom Blade Zero, and yet I feel like I’m in between something of a rock and a hard place. I cannot decide whether the game embraces more of a Ninja Gaiden or a Souls model, but both franchises have a penchant for kicking my ass, and so I’m damned either way. It looks cool but I suspect that it won’t be for me.
Matt: I think this looks killer and if it can capture the feel of something like Jedi Survivor as opposed to a full-on head smashing souls game I am totally down with it. I really dig the style and the combat seems to be super satisfying and pretty unique. Time will tell if it is a game for me, but it looks promising.
Sword Of The Sea
Paul: What Giant Squid have delivered with this debut trailer for Sword Of The Sea is a wonderful amalgamation of a trio of amazing games that they’ve been at least in part responsible for in the past – Journey, Abzu and The Pathless, and I’m all about those threads that are being drawn together here.
Matt: Getting the strong Journey vibes here and that is fine by me. How it all plays out will be another matter, after all getting lightning to strike twice is the hardest trick in games (see the good-but-not-Journey Abzu and The Pathless) so we will have to wait and see, but it is 100% a game to keep an eye on.
The Talos Principle II
Paul: I’m simply not smart enough for The Talos Principle, and so for it to be getting a sequel is awesome for that community, but for me, it’s an easy pass. Time to train my brain a bit further before I give these games another crack
Matt: Talos one was fantastic, I put it right up there with Portal 2 as some of the most fun I have had with a puzzler. Totally down for more, especially as it seems this genre is pretty quiet right now.
Paul: I’ve not yet given Gris a go but the critical and community feedback around the game has been universally positive and so I’m keen to both play Gris and get hyped for Neva because, while the trailer gave away nothing when it comes to the gameplay, it was certainly an attractive tone-piece
Matt: Stunning, though I suspect it isn’t my sort of game. Which is totally fine because it is the perfect fit for a lot of people. I really dig the art style, I have to say.
Cat Quest: Pirates Of The Purribean
Paul: I’m so confused by the presence of Cat Quest: Pirates Of The Purribean in the showcase. Like sure, the other games are apparently meant to be pretty good, but I’m not so sure that it was worthy of a spot in this showcase. That all said, it looked kind of neat.
Matt: Honestly, it is a big no from me. It looks super derivative and like something that would have been great as a GBA game 15 years ago.
Paul: Square-Enix gonna Square-Enix. For every Final Fantasy XVI there’s a FoamStars, and I expect that this one will join the ranks of The Quiet Man, and another recently adored Square-Enix live service title – Babylon’s Fall.
Matt: Take the joy of Splatoon and jam it full of live service garbage. At least this is how I imagine the pitch meeting for FoamStars went over at Square HQ. I may be on the harsh side there, but honestly Square is probably my least trusted of all the major publishers and I tend to see evil where there may not be any. Happy to be proven wrong.
The Plucky Squire
Paul: Aussies getting it done on the PlayStation stage! Every time that The Pucky Squire surfaces it looks magnitudes better than the time before we’d seen it. We’re rapidly closing in on the game’s release, and with the season of announcements only now kicking off, I’m incredibly excited to see more of the game over the coming months. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before the game launches.
Matt: Still looks fantastic and is such a cool concept. It is one of those ideas that is so good, you wonder why no one has done it before. Can’t wait to get my mitts on this one.
Paul: Teardown has been an acclaimed title that I’ve looked at with envy for quite some time as it has thrived on PC, but now us console-folk can get in on the action. No date yet, but I’m incredibly keen to creatively destroy these environments on my PS5 as soon as I can.
Matt: I am never creative enough for these sorts of games, but I love watching what the community can do with them so consider me a willing spectator on this one.
Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater
Paul: Another one of those worst-kept secrets in the business but it was nice for Konami to get the news off their chest, as well as share the other juicy piece of news that the initial trilogy of games Metal Gear Solid 1-3 will be getting bundled up and launched later in the year. The trailer for the remake didn’t give a lot away, and we technically don’t even know who the developer is, so it could still be a ways off.
Matt: MGS3 is a hole in my back catalog that I have been looking to fill and now I have the chance. I don’t have a history with MGS (my first was V) so I am not being pulled in by nostalgia, but I am being pulled in by the fact that so many say it is an amazing game. Keen.
Towers Of Aghasba
Paul: A beautiful-looking game that is enveloped in mystery. I’m into what I saw, but I also want to know more to give me the context that I need. I’ll happily receive it whenever the game resurfaces.
Matt: Looks fantastic, but from what I saw I think this is another survival game along the lines of Valheim and they have just never gelled with me. Once again though many, many people love that sort of thing and this at least looks like it will have the goods.
Final Fantasy XVI
Paul: Final Fantasy XVI is my most anticipated game of the year, and now, one month away from release, we’ve been given what I presume is the first of several launch trailers. I’m constantly trying to go into a media blackout, and yet, it keeps appearing in showcases. With the game now on our doorsteps, I just need to get it on my PS5 and dive into this world further.
Matt: I am not the biggest FF guy, but I do enjoy them enough to want to get in on this action. I am sure I will enjoy this one in my own time, but not on day one. It certainly feels like it is taking a more serious tone than 15 and the story seems appropriately dire. If it can marry that with satisfying combat that is entertaining for the likely 60+ hour runtime it could be a real winner.
Alan Wake II
Paul: Alan Wake II has been an incredibly long time coming, but to have a release date is a massive relief. The community focussed gesture of going digital-only launch to allow Remedy to keep the price down is fantastic while the product itself is looking scary in ways that the original game never was. I’m all in.
Matt: Feed it to me. My game of the show. I adore the first game, I love Control, Max Payne is my dude and even Quantum Break is a flawed gem in my eyes. I am a Remedy fanboy through and through and not only is this giving me more Alan, I am getting a whole new character to love along with more Sam Lake. Oh, and it looks as creepy as hell.
Assassin’s Creed: Mirage
Paul: Assassin’s Creed has been needing this moment for a while. The palette cleanser that the franchise has long needed is coming in the form of Assassin’s Creed: Mirage I’m pretty excited to try it out. Origins and Odyssey were excellent but Valhalla was far too big, so hopefully, Mirage starts to pull things back towards a sweet spot.
Matt: It certainly feels like it is going for that classic AC feel and I am down for that. Just when I was getting a little tired of the open RPG stuff of the newer games (Valhalla was just TOO much) this comes along as a nice palette cleanser. I hope that Ubi continues down this route, alternating between a sneaky one and a big RPG one.
Paul: As the prequel/sequel or seemingly somehow connected to Night In The Woods, there is some instant hype that is going to build around Revenant Hill. That said, the trailer told us a whole lot of nothing and so I was pretty let down by this one in the end.
Matt: Not sure what to think of this one. It certainly wants to remind me of Limbo and Inside, but doesn’t every 2D adventure platformer? It could be gold, it could be coal. No idea really, but happy to watch it on its journey to release.
Granblue Fantasy ReLink
Paul: Everyone is embracing the same visual style in anime-influenced JRPG-land at the moment and I’m not crazy about it. Tales Of Arise did it well but still had a harder edge that these other games don’t seem to have and so I just can’t get excited for games like Granblue Fantasy ReLink
Matt: Can’t say I am digging this one. A little too generic-JRPG look for me. I feel like I have seen this game a thousand times before. I need to be sold on this way more to get excited about it.
Street Fighter 6
Paul: I’m just not the fighting game guy. Never had the skillset when I was younger, nor the desire to develop one, and so here I stand in 2023 still unable to deliberately fire a Hadouken. Sorry Street Fighter 6, I’m out but I know Adam is salivating over you!
Matt: I love a fighting game, but I am too old and unco now to play them competitively so I am really glad that SF is finally going all in on the single-player content (something that MK has done for years) how that content plays out, I am not sure, but I am glad it is happening nonetheless and I will be grabbing this day one.
Paul: Ultros definitely has style about it. There’s still not a great deal to go on with this one but the extremely neon colour palette ensures that players will be constantly visually stimulated, but I hope that’s not all the game is going to have going for it. We’ll see soon enough I suppose.
Matt: That looks like one acid trip of a Metroidvania title. It will certainly stand out in a crowded genre because of its look. Gameplay is once again key and it is hard to get a feel for that from a trailer. I worry that the movement isn’t as smooth as it should be, but going hands-on is the only way to confirm.
Tower Of Fantasy
Paul: While sharing a visual similarity to Granblue Fantasy ReLink, a game that I expressed distaste for earlier, Tower Of Fantasy appealed more due to the way it projected its gameplay. It’s not a small difference as a result.
Matt: Well this game certainly has a certain look. I worry that it is more generic JRPG stuff. But to be fair I thought that about Scarlett Nexus, a game that this reminds me of visually, and I ended up having a blast, so I am open to being impressed.
Dragon’s Dogma II
Paul: Dragon’s Dogma never clicked with me when it first launched, but since that point, I’ve fallen in love with Monster Hunter, and with the pair sharing some DNA, I’m of the mind that there’s at least a chance that I’ll fall in love with Dragon’s Dogma II this time.
Matt: I tried a few times to get into Dragon’s Dogma but I could never quite fully commit. That said, I think with some modern touches I could totally be sold so I am watching this one closely. It has been quite a while since we have had a nice big fantasy RPG to dig into and with Dragon Age still seemingly yonks away, this may be the perfect stopgap.
Five Nights At Freddies: Help Wanted 2
Paul: Get out of my showcase
Matt: Pass. Nope. Not good. No idea how these became so popular. I am old. Get off my lawn
Resident Evil 4 VR Mode
Paul: Look, Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games of the year, and while I’ve not started it just yet, it’s near the top of the to-play pile – the VR version is not how I’ll be doing that though – my heart can’t take it.
Matt: Nope, but for different reasons to FNAF. This is because I am a giant chicken and not sure my heart could handle it.
Arizona Sunshine II
Paul: Would’ve liked for there to be a bit more representation of how the gameplay will be improved upon with this sequel because the announcement alone didn’t get the desired pop out of me. I am keen to see more though for sure.
Matt: A great VR game that will be a great addition to the PSVR 2 library. I enjoyed the first on my Quest and I will probably pick the second one up there too, but for those with the PSVR 2 I feel like this should be high on your watchlist.
Crossfire: Sierra Squad
Paul: The last (and only) Crossfire shooter (there was the quite good RTS game Crossfire Legion as well – Matt) that we’ve seen in the west was an absolute stinker in Crossfire X, and so forgive me for being hesitant to embrace Sierra Squad.
Matt: This is the sort of VR game that should do really well with the improved tech of the PSVR 2. I can see this one catching on if balanced right.
Paul: While I still sit here pining for Half-Life Alyx to arrive, I’m going to be satisfied if game’s like this are coming along. Synapse has presented incredibly well so far, and now we’ve only got a few weeks separating us from launch, so consider me ready and raring to go.
Matt: This is the second time we have seen this and I still think it is the highlight of the upcoming VR titles. I always love VR games that go wild with the visuals and do something outside of just trying to look realistic. This is certainly doing that. Could be a real show stopper for the tech.
Beat Saber - With Queen Music Pack
Paul: I’m still shocked that it has taken this long, but I have my evening plans sorted out! Killer Queen will be pumping!
Matt: Playing out the Shaun of the Dead pool cue scene but in Beat Saber in my head right now…”Don’t stop me now…”
Paul: I knew of Marathon without knowing about Marathon, but now Bungie is bringing it back. PlayStation will forever get the priority treatment but it was nice to see Sony honour their agreements and allow the studio to bring the game to Xbox. More goodwill from both sides going forward please!
Matt: I have had a good time with some extraction shooters. I like the mix of PvEvP if it is well balanced and the fact that Bungie are behind this gives me confidence that balance won’t be an issue. I do find it interesting that they chose to dig the Marathon brand out of the closet for it though as it bears little in common with the Marathon games I played way back in the day.
Paul: This is the PvP FPS that Sony has been looking for apparently, but… I didn’t see it here. In fact, we basically saw nothing. Actually show us the game next time guys, and you’ll have my interest.
Matt: Man… sure… whatever. Who knows?
Gran Turismo Movie
Paul: I’m actually bullish about this movie despite not being a car buff at all. Of course the trailers have spoiled everything about it so far (such is film these days), but I think it could be some good honest fun.
Matt: I give this about a 20% chance of being a good movie, about a 50% chance of being an ok sunday arvo Netflix session and a 100% chance of it failing to reignite Orlando Bloom’s acting career.
Paul: I’ve become a gigantic Remote Play fan in 2023 and so the reveal of Project Q comes at just the right time for me as I grow tired for being unable to use my phone for phone purposes while I remote play without neglecting those reaching out to me (and you should never ignore your wife!) or I have to disconnect from the game and reconnect which can take a little while. Give me a dedicated device with a high quality screen and the Dualsense features that I can’t get through my Backbone right now and you’re set. Cannot wait for this one!
Matt: I know you are keen on this Paul, but I just can’t be. To me it is going to be an expensive way to do something your Phone, Tablet or Laptop can already do perfectly well. I think this is a missed opportunity in a world where portable gaming is a booming market. I have experienced the Joys of the Switch, Steam Deck and Ally. I can’t go back to being tethered to Wifi to enjoy gaming on the road.
Paul: Sony does audio well, and so I’m sure that they’ve got these earbuds on lock in the quality stakes. I’m in no great rush to get them because I already have several options, but they could be great for what they are, and may become a future purchase that I can really get around.
Matt: From all reports, the PS branded headset is fantastic, so I expect the same quality out of these. That said, I am not sure I can buy into earbuds for long gaming sessions. Over the ear gives me better comfort and more than likely better performance.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Paul: I had this pegged to open the show and set the tone for the first party magic that was to come, but without the other big guns coming along, it made sense for Spider-Man 2 to close the show in style. Kraven being present is cool, as was being able to control Peter in the Symbiote costume. Now to see how it all develops. They’re still saying Fall/Spring which is a shame, but I’m sure we’ll see the September reveal to force it head to head with Starfield soon enough.
Matt: I thought this was a fantastic slice of gameplay and has me well and truly on the hype train. The switching between two Spideys, the set pieces, the new stealth mechanics. Man this looks the goods. Fantastic. Day one. Must buy. But that is hardly a surprise now is it?
Paul: Look, there were some fantastic titles, and as a major proponent of Remote Play, I’m stoked to have the ability to grab a dedicated device to make my life a bit easier, but overall, this showcase was really disappointing. The bulk of the first party studios failed to show up, save for Insomniac with Spider-Man 2, and Haven and Firewalk with Fairgame$ and Concord respectively. There are definitely some highlights, Alan Wake II, Helldivers II, The Plucky Squire, Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy XVI and more, but this showcase was plagued by the same things that Xbox suffered from a while back – a complete lack of gameplay. This was not the showcase I was hoping for given the wait. I know the deck is being stacked, and amazing days are to come, but we could’ve done with a little more teasing today.
Matt: Look for me it was an ok show. Not bad, but not mind-blowing. Spidey and Alan were my clear highlights with some games like Helldivers 2, Ghostrunner 2, AC Mirage and Marathon certainly grabbing my attention, even if I am not 100% sold on them just yet. Dragon’s Dogma 2 was also a nice surprise. In all though it seems like a quieter year for PS, especially on the exclusives front, but I think the 1-2 combo of FF and Spidey will be more than enough to keep fans of the blue happy on that side. Continued support for the PSVR 2 is also nice, I was really worried they would dump that quicker than the PSP Go. In all it could have been a more exciting show, but it wasn’t by any means a bad one.