Sony's E3 2014 keynote: Setting the stage for a strong second year for the PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 is going to have a rocking sophomore year if the slew of hardware, PlayStation Plus, and exclusive game announcements are any indication.

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PlayStation is for gamers

Bookending a long, long day of announcements, it's the other big first-party conference—Sony. Last year saw Sony systematically dismantle Microsoft's big Xbox One announcements by countering with some big left-right punches.

Today's shows, however, have been all about games. Hardware hasn't played a factor at all. Sony's conference changed that up a bit, starting off with the announcement that a white PS4 is dropping September 9, and outing even more new hardware throughout. Beyond those brief asides, however, it was one big-budget announcement after another—and the lineup only got stronger as the night went on.

It was almost like...Destiny

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You'd be forgiven if you watched the Destiny trailer and thought Halo had finally landed on Sony consoles. Bungie might be making a new game, but it's undeniably from the same people that made Halo. That's not to say it's unwelcome. Destiny seems intriguing enough, for a straight-ahead shooter, with epic vistas, an intriguing sci-fi universe, and multiplayer gunplay galore.

We'll understand Destiny's appeal more deeply later this week—the big news is that PlayStation 4 users will get to play the alpha build starting this Thursday, with a beta coming July 17.

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The Order 1886

Sony wasted no time getting to upcoming exclusives, leaping straight into The Order 1886. We saw a bit of this Victorian-era monster game last year, but this year got an extended look at something in between game and cutscene.
The Order is dark and looks almost like a survival horror game at the moment—slow, methodical gameplay with limited (and underpowered) ammo. The trailer today showed off the protagonist squaring off against some sort of...werewolf/zombie thing. Guess I'd better load up on silver bullets before the game releases early next year.

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After the gritty The Order trailer, it was nice to see some sunlight. Sony showed us our first small game of the night, Entwined, made by a bunch of recent graduates. The game looks like some sort of endless runner art game, but you don't need to take my word for it—the game is available for purchase right now for a mere ten dollars.

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We'd heard rumors that Demon's Souls/Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki was working on something new, and today we got our first look at it—Bloodborne, formerly known as Project Beast, and slated for a 2015 release.

Unfortunately we didn't get a look at the actual game. From the CG trailer I can tell you it's grim, grisly, and ultra-violent. But is it also ultra-difficult? Will it make you cry? Will you break a controller or five? You'll find out when the game launches in 2015.

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Little Big Planet 3

There's been speculation about a LittleBigPlanet 3 for a while now—the last entry to the Sony-exclusive game creation platform came in 2011, and after Microsoft launched Project Spark last year a Sony rebuttal seemed certain.
During Monday's conference Sony finally showed off the third installment, upping the complexity quite a bit and introducing new companions to series mainstay Sackboy. Of course, any game with user-generated content relies on outside forces. We'll have to see both what people do with the new tools and whether LBP3 makes it easier to sift through the terrible levels to find the few gems.

The game is also "backwards compatible"—all levels created for LBP or LBP2 are available in the latest game as well.

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Let it Die

The new Suda51 title is PlayStation 4 exclusive, and looks suitably weird to please Suda51 fans. Weird and violent and scary and...well, weird. Check it out.

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Far Cry 4

After bringing out Far Cry 4 during the Ubisoft conference today, we got another brief look during Sony's show—probably because you can invite your PlayStation 4 friends to join your multiplayer game even if they don't own it.

Other than that, it looks a lot like Far Cry 3—enough so that if you told me Monday's demo was actually a Far Cry 3 expansion I'd probably believe you. Liberating bases still requires taking out all enemies in the area, though now you have a kick-ass wingsuit/parachute combo. And rampaging elephants.

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Dead Island 2

Not to be outdone by Dead Rising 3, Sony showed off its own silly zombie game during Monday's press conference: Dead Island 2. Unlike the original Dead Island's infamous melancholy trailer, Monday's had a jaunty soundtrack blasting in the background. A typical all-American jogger turned into a zombie before our very eyes, before being run over by what looked like a weaponized taco truck.

It looks crazy. It looks silly. It looks (hopefully) more tonally consistant than the last two Dead Islands.

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The PlayStation advantage

An exclusive Diablo dungeon. An exclusive Disney Infinity starter set. Exclusive Destiny levels. An exclusive peek at Battlefield: Hardline.

Sony really hammered home the PlayStation advantage this year, detailing partnership after partnership—including a multi-game partnership with PC mainstay Paradox interactive. The studio's Magicka 2 was shown off during the show.

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Grim Fandango

That's it. E3 is over as far as I'm concerned. After 15 years, countless tears, begging, crying, slapping ourselves in penance, Sony announced it's bringing classic adventure game Grim Fandango to the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

It's the first time the game has been available legally for years, and to see it come to the PlayStation 4 is a major coup. We'll have to wait and see whether it's solely a Sony exclusive—I'd like to think the game is coming to PC also.

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Devolver's indie games

Devolver Digital came to E3 with a whole suite of games: Broforce. Titan Souls. Not a Hero. Hotline Miami 2. The Talos Principle.

It's a large and varied lineup of semi-indies, and there's something for practically everyone here. We didn't see much from the ten-second trailers in Sony's conference, but we'll have more information later this week as I go hands-on with the entire Devolver lineup.

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I didn't expect a follow-up to Journey during Monday's press conference, but here we are. From Giant Squid Games comes Abzu, which is Sumerian for "Deep water." The studio name is appropriate—after all, the game appears to take place entirely underwater.

Austin Wintory is back to do the score, and the graphics are simply stunning. The game is a making its console debut on the PlayStation 4, so expect this one to make its way to PC also.

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No Man's Sky

After No Man's Sky showed off its procedurally-generated space vistas and full-blown worlds earlier this year, there were many that said it couldn't be done. And maybe it can't. We still haven't seen much of the game, nor gotten our hands on it.

But Monday's trailer made me a believer. After exiting a cave and emerging onto a field full of wildlife, the pilot jumped into his ship and zoomed out into space, joined by a whole fleet of other ships and flying right through a dogfight before entering the atmosphere of yet another planet, Soleth Prime. Whoa.

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Sony PlayStation TV

Not to be outdone by Steam's In-Home Streaming service, Sony is launching its own box. The PlayStation TV (known as the PS Vita TV in Japan, where the microconsole is already available) plays Vita and PSP games, but also streams PS4 and PlayStation Now titles to the device. And it's only going to cost you $99. For $139 you can also get a bundle with a DualShock 3, an HDMI cable, an 8GB memory card, and a digital voucher for the Lego Movie game.

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Even more PlayStation advantage.

Then we entered another big section of "PlayStation 4 Advantage." Two Project Morpheus virtual reality demos will be available on the E3 show floor. Free-to-play titles like PlanetSide 2 are still important to Sony. YouTube Streaming is also coming to the PS4 soon.

And, incredibly, PlayStation Now is actually on its way—Sony's streaming service, built off the back of its Gaikai purchase a few years back. Both titles from older Sony platforms and the PS4 will be available, and you don't even need Sony hardware. While PS Now is available on the Vita and PS4, it's also going to be built into select Sony TVs. All you need is a DualShock controller to access the content.

We also got a look at Sony's upcoming media content, including a show based on comic series Powers that's coming in December. You'll need a PlayStation Plus subscription to tune in, but all PS owners will be able to check out the first episode.

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Mortal Kombat X

Last Monday we saw a CG trailer for upcoming fighter Mortal Kombat X. This Monday we got our first look at gameplay footage, as Sony broke it out during the press conference. It looks...brutal. I mean, Scorpion threw a fireball through Sub Zero's chest and all that was left was Sub Zero's beating heart. That kind of brutal.

But if you're down for ultra-violent fighting, the last entry was (surprisingly) solid, and this one looks just as promising.

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Ratchet and Clank Remastered and a Ratchet and Clank movie

Yep, you read that right: A Ratchet and Clank movie. Alongside the film, Sony is also remaking the original Ratchet and Clank game for PS4. Both are coming in 2015, and Sony promises new graphics and story sequences in the new game.

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Last of Us Remastered

Continuing in the same vein, Sony also showed off the PlayStation 4 version of Naughty Dog's 2013 hit The Last of Us. Do the graphics look better? I guess. More importantly, if you were part of the (fairly large) crowd that never owned a PlayStation 3, this is your chance to get in on one of the last decade's greatest games on your next-gen console.

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Grand Theft Auto 5

After interminable rumors, the wait is finally over. Yes, GTA V will make its way to at least one next-gen console—the PlayStation 4. The PC? Xbox One? No word yet. Hopefully we'll have those answers soon.

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Batman: Arkham Knight

I don't know if you've heard, but Rocksteady is making another Batman game. And this time you can drive the Batmobile.

I'm a bit burned out on the series in a post-Arkham Origins world, but Rocksteady's Gotham City looks undoubtedly impressive. Assuming this was in-game footage captured on a PS4 and not simply technical wizardry, Arkham Knight is looking really solid. Most impressive? The lack of any stuttering or frame drops as Gotham's least-favorite protector soared around the city.

Plus there was a great moment during Sony's demo when Scarecrow caused the presentation to "glitch." So that was cool. The PS4 will receive exclusive Scarecrow "Nightmare" content.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

"If there's one thing I've learned in all these years it's that there's no such thing as a surefire plan," says Uncharted's mentor character Sully in this year's teaser trailer. Maybe there's no such thing as a surefire plan, but I can guarantee Uncharted 4 will be a surefire hit.

We didn't get much of a look at Uncharted—just a brief teaser trailer, really, for a game we already knew was in development—but Naughty Dog anything is worth a little excitement. Quite a way to end the show.

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