Why Missing the Big Games Didn't Ruin Sony's State of Play

Key Takeaways

  • Sony’s biggest upcoming PS5 exclusives were a no-show at the company's first State of Play since launching the next-generation console.
  • While news on the next God of War and Horizon entries were notably absent, the presentation included plenty of promising updates and announcements for 10 games.
  • The event’s biggest reveal was Final Fantasy VII Remake coming to PS5 with a new story chapter.
Kena from Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Ember Lab

Sony's 30-plus minute State of Play event was missing first-party heavy hitters God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West. While some fans may have been disappointed, the show tried to make up for the absence of these titles with quite a few other updates and reveals.

This digital event follows the launch of Sony's PlayStation 5 console last fall. While many of us are still struggling to get our hands on the coveted console, the preview event at least showcased some promising games we can look forward to playing once we finally secure a system. Many other events have gone virtual lately in the face of the continuing pandemic.

Longtime journalist Jason Fanelli felt Sony did right by their fans, even with the big game no-shows. “By showing 10 upcoming PS5 games,” he said in an email interview, “both brand new titles and upgrades for existing titles, they gave the fans something to look forward to.”

Playing Catch Up

Returnal screenshot with enemy and protagonist
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Fanelli cited the current, unstable state of the world as a reason for Sony's possible reluctance to update fans on these bigger projects. “As the effects of the pandemic are starting to take hold in the industry,” he said, “ I felt Sony played a decent hand with the cards they had. Sony, themselves, probably don't know what will be available to them in 2021, so they thought it best to hold things like [anticipated hit games] Horizon and God of War close to the chest, and I understand that.”

Alex Avard of GamesRadar+ shared similar sentiments, even conveying enthusiasm for the event forgoing the big-game hype in favor of giving the spotlight to some smaller titles. 

“State of Play showcased Sony's commitment to diversity of genre, tone, and budget, presenting an eclectic mix of indie and AAA titles that exemplified the medium's range on a mainstream stage,” he wrote. “As a result, no game looked quite like the other, and there was pretty much something for everyone.” 

Updates and Fan Favorites

Final Fantasy VII Remake with Yuffie Kisaragi
Square Enix

To be sure, the presentation included plenty of promising indie-related updates and reveals, from a fresh look at Kena: Bridge of Spirits—which has been building buzz since Sony unveiled it at their Future of Gaming event last summer—to Sifa, a new martial arts brawler from Absolver developer Sloclap.

While other smaller entries, such as Returnal and Oddworld: Soulstorm, also received large chunks of time to showcase new gameplay and offer updates, the event wasn't entirely about the little guys. In fact, the presentation closed with a reveal tied to one of last year’s biggest releases, Final Fantasy VII Remake. Square Enix’s acclaimed update on the fan-favorite entry is coming to PS5 June 10, complete with a new photo mode and more performance and visual enhancements than you can shake a Buster Sword at.

"No game looked quite like the other, and there was pretty much something for everyone.”

The bigger news, however, is that the PS5 version, dubbed Final Fantasy VII Remake Integrade, includes a brand-new story episode starring Yuffie Kisaragi from the original game. The PS5 version will be a free upgrade for you if you’ve already purchased the game on PS4, but you will need to pony up a yet-to-be-announced price for the extra chapter.

It’s also important to note this story-expanding content won’t be available on last-gen consoles, including the PS4, an interesting wrinkle Fanelli believes could increase demand for the already-impossible-to-find PS5. “The one group I can see with a new focus on getting a console is the Final Fantasy fanbase, after Square Enix's shrewd move making the new DLC episode PS5-exclusive,” he said.

It’s About Immersion

Perhaps more exciting than any game reveal, at least for anyone who's experienced the extra immersion delivered through the PS5’s DualSense controller, was news that an announced port of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time will leverage the technology. The peripheral’s haptic feedback and adaptive trigger functions received plenty of love from both players and critics upon the console’s release, but it’s yet to be determined if the tech will continue to be integrated and evolved over the long-term, or be forgotten as launch-game gimmicks. The fact It’s About Time’s portion of the presentation went out of its way to highlight the gamepad’s features—including allowing players to feel the acceleration of Crash’s jetboard—seems to speak to the former. 

Beyond learning we’d be able to “really feel the suck” from behind It’s About Time’s vacuum cannon, State of Play offered plenty of peeks at several games we’ll get to enjoy this year. While the absence of Kratos’ and Aloy’s next adventures was no doubt a disappointment, the presentation didn’t make us regret all those late nights and early mornings spent trying to secure a PS5 pre-order. 

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