On Monday, June 15 at exactly 6pm PT/9pm ET — you know, presuming there are no delays to the schedule — the neon-blue lights will go down in the Los Angeles Convention Center and Sony will take to the stage for its E3 2015 presentation. It’s an event that’s been on the lips of the PlayStation faithful for months, and now that
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been pushed to 2016, one question is looming large above all else: which headline announcement will fill the void left by Nathan Drake and Co.? Please Be Excited
In the past, the Japanese juggernaut has been notoriously unpredictable; delegating an obscene amount of time to the divisive
Wonderbook demo one year, before blowing the doors off with the PS4 price point the next. But what about Sony’s dormant first-party studios?
The likes of Sony Bend, Media Molecule and Japan Studio have all been relatively quite in recent times, and June 15 could act as the perfect opportunity for these companies to unveil in-development titles on gaming’s biggest stage.
They’ll be competing with third-party titles and Project Morpheus for the lion’s share of the limelight, given that Sony’s virtual reality headset is set to have a big showcase at this year’s trade show following
the establishment of North West Studios.
Moreover, third-party titles will no doubt be an important factor in a few weeks’ time, with the company even going so far as to say that
No Man’s Sky has its full backing, promoting Hello Games’ ambitious space sim to a pseudo-exclusive in the eyes of PlayStation fans.
And while E3 is traditionally known for future-proofing a company’s slate, the play-it-right-now strategy may become more popular following last year’s
Entwined. This time around, our money would be on Grasshopper Manufacture’s brutal brawler Let it Die hopping onto PlayStation Store in time for when the curtain falls on Sony’s presentation.
But if the publisher’s E3 2015 conference is to echo the success of recent years, it’ll need to call upon its first-party studios; the heavy-hitters that can serve up a memorable announcement with one fell swoop. The time is almost upon us.
So, let’s recount the Sony-owned studios that have been radio silent over the past few years and speculate what they could announce on June 15.
E3 2015: First Party Studios
Likely Announcement: Open World RPG, Horizon.
Following an image leak last year, all signs point to Guerrilla finally lifting the curtain on its new IP, which is said to be titled
Horizon. Going off of the purported concept art, the game is shaping up to be an open world RPG mixing elements from the likes of Mass Effect and even Destiny. It would be a radical change for a studio so entrenched in the first-person shooter, but one that would be wholly welcome following their long relationship with the Killzone series.
Left Field Guess: Killzone: Shadow Fall Sequel
Guerrilla’s PS4 launch title may not have hit the ground running in the way that Sony would have hoped — despite its truly stunning graphics,
Shadow Fall was little more than a by the numbers shooter — but having sold relatively well there’s a slim chance the Dutch studio will revisit the Vekta and Helghast by way of a sequel. If it ever comes to pass, we hope the sluggish multiplayer gets a small overhaul along with a more captivating story, just don’t hold your breath for a follow-up yet.
Likely Announcement: The Future of Killzone.
Now acting as a sister studio to Guerrilla Games, it’s entirely possible that the London-based studio will take the reins of the
Killzone franchise following its work on Vita exclusive Killzone Mercenary. Not only will this help free up resources at GG as it crafts the alleged Horizon, it also gives Cambridge the opportunity to push Sony’s FPS flagship in a whole new direction. Besides, having filled in the narrative interlude between Killzone 2 and 3 with Mercenary, few studios are as well versed in the lore of the Helghast.
Left Field Guess: Killzone Mercenary 2
Despite existing as one of — if not the — most competent shooters on Sony’s handheld, we can’t help but feel that the possibility of a sequel to
Killzone Mercenary is little more than wishful thinking. Yes, it brought a high-profile, tactile shooter to a system in dire need of triple-A games, and one that was praised across the four corners of the Vita’s admittedly small audience, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense financially for either Sony or Guerrilla.
Likely Announcement: New Horror IP
Over the years, Sony Bend has carved out a reputation for high-profile titles on Sony’s handhelds, most recently with
Uncharted: Golden Abyss and card game spinoff Fight for Fortune. Now, the Oregon-based dev is ready to make the jump back to home consoles. Reports are swirling that Bend is engineering an open world survival horror title, one that is said to differentiate itself from the likes of H1Z1 by omitting zombies. There’s no doubting that the genre is in the thick of a renaissance thanks to DayZ and the ilk, so the possibility of Bend creating a high-profile survival horror game rife with production values is something we can certainly get behind.
Left Field Guess: Syphon Filter.
Though a certain other super-spy ruled the roost in the late 90s, Gabriel Logan toplined Eidetic’s
Syphon Filter franchise, a stealth title touting an immersive storyline and political intrigue. It’s a franchise that has been gathering dust on the proverbial shelf for close to a decade now, and the fact that Sony Bend was the last developer to take the reins back in 2007 has led many to believe that the company is building a triple-A reboot of the cult series. A potential Syphon Filter overhaul has flirted with headlines for years at this point, and it’s hard to gauge whether the series still has the same cache to warrant a big-budget reboot. Color us cautiously optimistic.
Likely Announcement: New IP.
It’s been an awful long time since Media Molecule assumed control of the mic to talk about its new IP; not since the PlayStation 4 reveal event has the creative company discussed its intriguing project. Going off of that tech demo, it appears the studio’s latest orbits around Sony’s PlayStation Move controllers in some capacity, with players having the ability to craft whichever they please — a sandbox sculpting game, if you will. We’ve seen Media Molecule’s unbridled creativity through
LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway, which utilized every bell and whistle on the PS Vita wonderfully. Plus, with PlayStation 4 offering a much bigger, technically proficient canvas, we’re excited to see what’s next from Sony’s most creative party.
Left Field Guess: Tearaway Sequel.
Tearaway was many things to many people, but there’s no denying its excellent level design, unfolding like origami as you traversed across the joyous and imaginative world. Now that it’s made the jump onto PlayStation 4, the tale of Iota and Atoi has gained a bigger audience. Will this translate into Media Molecule and Tarsier Studios exploring a potential follow-up? Unlikely, but not necessarily impossible.
Sony Santa Monica
Likely Announcement: New God of War.
Following the middling
Ascension, God of War fans are chomping at the bit for another installment in the hack and slash series. An announcement looks to be imminent, too, with Sony Santa Monica’s Cory Barlog letting slip that a new entry into the series is in development during last year’s PlayStation Experience. Little is known about the title itself, and Barlog refused to confirm or deny whether the new iteration was shaping up to be a prequel. Either way, God of War is undoubtedly one of the crown jewels in Sony’s roster of exclusives, and PS4 owners can only enjoy remastered titles for so long. Still, will God of War 4 — or whichever moniker SSM slaps on — continue to explore Greek mythology, or will it buck tradition and venture into the rich lore of Norse or Roman? Time will tell.
Left Field Guess: New (Resurrected) IP
Admittedly, this is highly unlikely following news that SSM was forced to scrap an in-development title, one said to be an
open-world sci-fi adventure game. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and the concept has reportedly been dismantled. Rumored to be in development for a full four years, the possibility of Santa Monica assembling the fragments in order to salvage the enticing idea is a long shot, but E3 has served up bigger surprises in the past.
Likely Announcement: Gran Turismo 7.
Gran Turismo franchise has been curiously absent from the PS4 library hitherto. In hindsight, it’s simply been the case that the racing juggernaut failed to align with the release of Sony’s current-gen system, with GT6 arriving in December of 2013. As a result, the latest iteration sold a fraction of the franchise’s sales threshold, but there’s already an air of excitement for Gran Turismo 7. Polyphony isn’t exactly known for fast-tracking its titles, but given the prestigious status of the GT series, Sony could do worse than to open with a teaser trailer for the next iteration, even it isn’t ready to drift onto PS4 until late 2016.
Left Field Guess: Gran Turismo 7 Prologue.
We jest, of course. Polyphony may have a notoriously slow turnaround when it comes to new installments in Sony’s flagship racing series, providing the impetus to release stopgap versions to appease the ardent fanbase in the past. But with the transition to new hardware, the developer is no doubt weaning its resources onto the fully-fledged build of
Gran Turismo 7. Someone has to challenge DriveCub for the crown, after all.
Likely Announcement: The Last Guardian.
To say that a trailer, announcement or even screenshot for
The Last Guardian is long overdue is somewhat of an understatement. First announced in 2009, Team Ico’s third title achieved cult status soon after it fell off the radar, completely MIA. Despite persistent rumors, Sony has reaffirmed that the game remains in development, and has since been overhauled, leading us to believe that the long-gestating title is being re-engineered with PlayStation 4 in mind. How TLG can possibly live up to expectations is another question entirely, but every E3, Gamescom or Tokyo Game Show that slips by without an announcement only stokes the simmering embers of frustration. Both Sony and Ico remain adamant that development is trucking along, so will 2015 be the year that PlayStation’s forgotten son returns?
Left Field Guess: The Last Guardian.
Okay, we’re bending the rules on this one. But come on, Team Ico, your white whale has scurried from the limelight for almost a decade!