From DayZ to Metal Gear Solid – what Sony did at Gamescom

Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes

After a confident Microsoft press conference, in which the Redmond giant made the most of its platform exclusives while claiming to be “the best place to play this Christmas”, Sony had to hit Gamescom with something special.

It did. Kind of. The company’s own press event was filled with interesting revelations – and its usual Gamescom haunt, the Radisson hotel over the road from the Koelnmesse exhibition centre, has been packed with demo events and roundtable interviews.

Among the most significant new announcements of the Tuesday press briefing was the news that Rayman creator Michel Ancel is working on a PlayStation 4 exclusive named Wild. The open-world game is set in a primitive, fantasy environment that Ancel claimed may be “as big as Europe”, and appears to focus on mechanics of survival and hunting. Ancel stated that the game let users play as any living animal, though how far that ability goes remains unknown. Certainly, hogs, humans and wolves seem abundant in the early gameplay trailer.

Sony also unveiled a new title from UK outfit Ninja Theory, which has previously crafted action brawlers such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved and DmC. The studio’s next creation, Hellblade, was revealed via a fleeting launch trailer, which alluded to a melee combat-based game set in a barren landscape. The teaser video appeared not to demonstrate gameplay footage, and sported a visual style curiously close to 2007’s Heavenly Sword. There was, however, no word on Hellblade’s status as an official sequel, or PS4 exclusive.

Other new games debuting at Gamescom are horror adventure P.T. by new team 7780s Studio, Ruffian’s squad-based combat title Hollowpoint, apparent twin-stick shooter Alienation from Finnish outfit Housemarque, and Q Games’ distinct revolutionary-themed indie release The Tomorrow Children. Here they all are:

Sony also welcomed Dean Hall of Bohemia Interactive to the stage during its press event to announce that a reworked version of survival horror PC game DayZ is in development for PlayStation 4. Initially a PC exclusive built from a celebrated ARMA 2 mod, the open-world multiplayer zombie survival adventure promises new features and tweaks to better suit the Sony console, with Hall stating his team “didn’t just want to port the game”.

DayZ is in fact still in-development for PC, but the Steam Early Access version has been well received shifting over two million downloads. But as with Hellblade, it is not clear yet if DayZ will limit its console ambitions to the PlayStation 4. One key theme of Gamescom so far has been the ambiguous platform exclusive...

Vita hit Tearaway joins the titles getting a PS4 remake, with many new control functions that, as with the original, strive to toy with the fourth wall. As such, the DualShock’s touch pad, light bar and motion sensitivity will all help players better connect with Tearaway’s papercraft world.

Similarly, Until Dawn was intended as a PS3 title but is now undergoing a major reworking to support PS4. Developer Supermassive Games was claimed to be rewriting the game’s story, code and controls for Sony’s new platform.

The Sony press evening concluded with development legend and Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima addressing the audience in his debut appearance at the show. He introduced previously unrevealed features of his coming stealth game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And it was controversial stuff.

For many years the tech thriller series has featured cardboard boxes, in which protagonist Snake hides from enemies. Well, these handy containers can now be decorated with various images. The brooding antihero can, for example, hide inside a box illustrated with an enemy soldier, or even a swimwear-sporting women, so as to distract guards and make stealth kills.

The crowd at Gamescom reacted to the reveal with cheers of delight, and the mechanics certainly continue a tradition of surrealism and sexuality in the Metal Gear series. But in an era of too few female protagonists, the use of bikini shots may well attract its own crowd of critics.

The Sony press briefing also confirmed that Destiny, Shadow of Mordor and Farcry 4 will all include PlayStation 4 exclusive content. Microsoft had earlier the same day made quite the impact in its own press conference with news that multi-platform stalwart Tomb Raider was to become an Xbox One exclusive with Rise of the Tomb Raider. This is to be a battle of many fronts, though, and both of these veteran console manufacturers know how to put on a seductive show. The best place to play this Christmas is, in reality, still to be decided.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Will Freeman, for theguardian.com on Thursday 14th August 2014 07.00 Europe/London

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