Sony PlayStation 4 E3 2013 preview: 'Killzone: Shadow Fall,' 'Driveclub' explore PS4 possibilities
Sony seems to have won the console war at E3 with the PlayStation 4, and now the company is looking to prove it has a strong lineup of games to back the system up. With the promise of 30 PS4 exclusive titles on the way, 20 of which will be released within year one, Sony featured an array of its new games in its E3 booth.
Zap2it had a chance to check out four during a behind-the-scenes press demo of the games. "Killzone: Shadow Fall" is one of the most hyped new titles on the console, and features a less linear storyline than previous iterations of the franchise. In the demo playable at E3, players are given the option of three alternate objectives to achieve in whichever order to complete a mission.
The touch pad on the PS4 controller acts similar to the D-pad and allows gamers to access different items by swiping the central touch control. The D-pad allows access to different weapons and items. Like all the next-gen titles, "Killzone: Shadow Fall" features improved graphics from its predecessor and also a more vibrant color scheme. The title is expected to hit store shelves in late 2013.
On the other end of the spectrum is "Hohokum," which continues Sony's trend of supporting abstract indie titles. "Hohokum" is a seemingly directionless game which follows a worm-like colorful creature set in a two-dimensional world, but exploration reveals quests and puzzles within the various settings. In one underwater level playable at E3, the player needs to find a way to guide a mermaid to a sailor who is looking for it, while in another the creatures in a world need to be taken by the main character to new locations.
It's that same sort of open-ended, exploration-based, generally quirky and weird title that Sony has excelled at in the past with games like "Katamari Damacy" and "Journey." With "Hohokum" as one of the main PS4 titles being showcased at E3, it's nice to see that Sony's focus on less mainstream titles remains the same as it heads into its next generation of console. "Hohokum" comes out on PS3, PS4 and PlayStation Vita in 2014.
Less abstract but similarly intriguing is "Knack," a title coming from SCE Japan Studio, the developer of "Shadow of the Colossus." Director Mark Cerny discussed the game with Zap2it, and explained how his love of games like "Katamari" and his history with titles like "Crash Bandicoot" and "Ratchet & Clank" led him to create "Knack." Like "Katamari," main character Knack is a robot who can absorb objects around him to grow into a larger creature. The additions of elements like ice, metal and other similar substances not allow him to fight bigger enemy goblins bit also give him new abilities. The demo shown at E3 primarily showed Knack fighting against other creatures and smashing up the game's landscape, but also showed how switching between his various forms will help the player assist Knack's human allies.
"The biggest thing is he's a 5,000 part character driven by a custom physics simulation. That's our big next-gen thing," Cerny said of how "Knack" is taking advantage of the PlayStation 4's capabilities. "Knack" comes out on PlayStation 4 in late 2013.
Lastly there is "Driveclub," a racing game that, as technical art director Alex Perkins explained to Zap2it, is "all about picking up the controller and rewarding the player for actually playing the game." As such, "Driveclub" rewards players simply for playing and makes it incredibly easy to gain points and earn fame regardless of their skill levels.
"It's not about beating the best in the world. It's just about beating the person who's just in front of you," Perkins said.
Though there's an offline mode of "Driveclub," it's the online social aspect of the game that had Perkins excited. He said the race experience is improved by playing in an online "club," and that things like sponsored events and team races will keep people coming back for more. Users can play the game on the Vita using Remote Play, and can also spectate other races and manage their clubs using an app on tablets. The ongoing, dynamic social element is the way the title is taking advantage of the PS4's capabilities, Perkins explained.
"It's about getting a big wide community, but it's just the start," he said. "It's a service. Like, we will just keep rolling more and more stuff out, sending more challenges. Everything's done from our server end, so we'll just type it through to you. It'll be done of this old 'here's a patch, wait for a gig to download' stuff."
"Driveclub" will be available starting the day of the PlayStation 4's release. A total of 140 new games are in development for the system, with 100 planned for release year one. The PS4's hard drive will be 500 GB, though Sony hasn't yet announced if other versions of the system with bigger or smaller hard drives will also be released. The PS4 will come with an earbud headset, HDMI cable and controller. Extra controllers will cost $59.99, and the PS Eye camera will also cost $59.99. The PlayStation 4 is slated for a fall release and will cost $399.