PlayStation’s State of Play showcase: 'Resident Evil 4' and new VR headset create buzz

Sony strikes first as it reveals a selection of its hottest new games that will arrive over the next 12 months

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The games industry is bolting headlong into showcase season. Since the annual June gathering of developers and publishers at E3 in Los Angeles was cancelled owing to Covid-19, independent shows have taken over. PlayStation is first out of the blocks with its State of Play — a quick-fire video stream of its coming games.

The fun part for fans is that PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo rarely reveal exactly what will be shown, which drives up excitement levels. There are the crushing lows to contend with upon viewing these events, too, as underwhelming titles with little in-game action are occasionally shown. Thankfully, though, PlayStation delivered the goods with its first State of Play of 2022.

It began on Thursday with a remake of the classic Resident Evil 4. The zombie survival game was released in 2005 and is still widely regarded as the best in the series — despite the many sequels that have been made since. Rather than a scrubbed up, HD version, developer Capcom is remaking the game entirely and it looks even more menacing in 4K. Leon Kennedy’s nerve-jangling trip through a mysterious village, complete with sack-wearing, chainsaw-wielding denizens, has never looked better. It won’t be out until March 24, 2023, but in the meantime, there’s always Resident Evil Village that’s being remade for a truly immersive — and terrifying — PlayStation VR2 title.

The new PSVR2 headset. Photo: Sony

Industry chatter before the show suggested that PlayStation would use the event to provide more information about the coming PSVR2 hardware. Sony is pouring a lot of funding and resources into creating a virtual-reality experience that is truly mainstream.

Unfortunately, the reveals were limited to the announcement of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Retribution, which takes its cues from the TV show of the same name, space exploration and action game No Man’s Sky getting a VR mode and a couple of minutes of PlayStation exclusive Horizon Call of the Mountain — a VR spin-off of the blockbuster Horizon series. However, we’re almost certain PlayStation will provide another showcase around PSVR2 before it launches at the end of 2022.

Among the 14 games that appeared, the most interesting title is Stray. You play as cat, not a cartoon, twin-pistol toting one, but a regular feline that jumps and moves about the world as the household animal does. It’s set in a futuristic cityscape where the cat coexists alongside robots. It’s trying to make its way back to its family through platforming sections, hiding from surveillance drones and completing puzzles.

Rollerdrome, a skater/shooter mash-up, was another surprise and looks incredibly unique. It’s a cel-shaded title that has players survive increasingly hectic arenas full of enemies … while blasting them away on roller boots. It will arrive in August, so not too long until we get to lace them up.

Arguably, the biggest surprise of State of Play was the gameplay reveal of Street Fighter 6. Since 1987, the Japanese fighting game has been the benchmark to all that have followed. But in recent versions, the 1v1 action has become predictable and stale. Street Fighter 6 looks set to really shake up this formula for its next outing in 2023.

There’s in-game commentary on all bouts, which is in keeping with the shoutcasters (read: commentators) that are on hand at live tournaments. And stepping outside of the side-by-side action, there’s World Tour, which provides a single player storyline that takes place in an open world where you can fight random enemies on the streets. It’s a new twist on Street Fighter and it’ll be interesting to see what is done with it.

One aspect of this showcase that was slightly muted, but will have a big impact on PlayStation’s future, is that it showed former exclusive Spider-Man is coming to PC soon. The once untouchable exclusives of PlayStation were always pinned to its consoles as a way to tell gamers this is the only place to experience them. But Sony has been dipping its toes into launching on PC and even launched MLB: The Show on Xbox last year. It signals a new approach for the company as it taps into new markets. Only time will tell whether it dilutes the PlayStation brand for consumers. But as the first event to kick off showcase season, PlayStation certainly didn’t do itself any harm.

Updated: June 03, 2022, 12:28 PM
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