The PlayStation Experience in Anaheim this weekend was all about Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, The Last Of Us Part 2 and Death Stranding, but away from the blockbuster limelight there was plenty of up and comers to keep an eye on. Here's our picks from the chaos of the showfloor.
Think a wild west take on classic real time strategy game Age Of Empires, mixed with Jurassic Park and that miniature farm set you has as a kid. It's all about upgrading a frontier town, collecting food, lumber and other resources – just with dinosaurs running around. The VR element works because you can stand over your town like an all-powerful thousand-foot god, picking up settlers and dropping them into buildings to assign them jobs. The highlight of the short demo? Sending my hunters to round up velociraptors that they could then ride to take down a troublesome T-Rex. The game is out in 2017.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
This narrative adventure gives off a kind of Shirley Jackson horror novel vibe with its strange, spooky old house and its twisted family stories. As Edith Finch you return to your family's home to learn more about your history, the story I played through featured young Molly, who is sent to bed with any dinner and ends up dreaming of being a cat, a shark, a man-eating sea monster. Dragging yourself along by your tentacles might be the new grappling hook, if a little more cumbersome (most recently seen in both Arkane's Dishonored 2 and Prey trailer). Every inch of the screen is packed with incidental detail and the whole thing is brimming with sinister potential. It's another one to put on your wishlist for spring of next year.
Full disclosure, this is not an easy game to master and I proved that on the PlayStation Experience showfloor. The very fact that I didn’t rage quit and flounce off to the food trucks, but stayed for a rematch, suggests there’s more to this than button mashing. Sloclap's game approaches fighting as a dance, with stances that flow into combinations and rhythm playing an important role – strike repeatedly at the right time and you’ll pull off more devastating damage. It's got a unique look too, more myths and legends than primary colored madness. There's no release date yet, but expect it next year.
It's got more gore than a butcher shop and it's proud of it. "Look at the way it drips off the ceiling" says the developer as I'm shotgunning monstrosities to pieces. Blood is indeed dripping from everything, and when I die the Game Over screen will tell me just how many gallons I split. A love letter to Doom and Wolfenstein and all those old school shooters you played on your dad's computer, but with modern shooter mechanics under the hood. It's procedurally generated too and every death means a new level to explore. It'll be out for PC and PlayStation 4 next year.
"I've seen things you people wouldn''t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion…" Well I've piloted a Dreadnought through an icy mountainscape, Roy, pursued by assassin ships and hampered by a turning circle that would make the Titanic seem nimble. There's an incredible amount of depth, choice and customization to this space combat game, but dropping into a eight-versus-eight match let me get a feel for both the tough choices and deadly mistakes (spending all your ship's energy on firepower cost me badly). The game will be free-to-play and the beta is accepting sign ups now.