PlayStation State of Play: Astro Bot steals the show – BBC.com

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6 hours ago

Tom Richardson,BBC Newsbeat

imageSony

Sony has revealed a host of upcoming games to a mixed response.

The console-maker’s State of Play broadcasts are a short collection of trailers and gameplay footage of forthcoming games.

There’s been criticism that the company’s PS5 release calendar has been lacking the blockbuster exclusives that PlayStation built its name on.

It doesn’t normally show bigger games at State of Play – those reveals are usually saved for its “Showcase” branded events.

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And that proved to be the case again. But there was one exclusive title that did steal the show…

Concord

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Sony dedicated most of the presentation to its upcoming online team shooter Concord.

That’s not entirely surprising. The company has bet big on “live-service” games that receive regular updates to keep fans playing, and one of the company’s breakout successes this year has been Helldivers 2.

The Starship Troopers-inspired multiplayer game has sold more than 12 million copies since its February release, and its success has been put down to Sony’s strategy of making the game available on PC and PS5 upon launch.

It plans to do the same with Concord, but there was some doubt over whether it could capture gamers’ attention in the same way as Helldivers 2.

The detailed first look at cinematics from the game, along with gameplay footage, led fans to dub it “Overwatch meets Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Speaking of which, State of Play also featured preview footage of Marvel Rivals – another team-based online game that could provide some competition to Concord.

God of War Ragnarök hits PC

imageSony A bald character clad in leather armour and with a large axe on his back walks into a forest scene. It's realistically illuminated with shafts of sunlight breaking through the canopy of the trees.Sony

Keeping with the PC side of things, Sony revealed that its port of 2022 smash God of War Ragnarök is coming out in September.

It made a big deal of PC-exclusive features including unlocked frame rates, upscaling tech and support for ultrawide displays seen as an advantage of souped-up gaming rigs.

But buried in the small print on one screen of the trailer was a note saying that players wanting to experience hero Kratos’ most recent adventure on computers will need to sign up for a PlayStation Network account.

There was huge backlash earlier this month when Sony attempted to force Helldivers 2 players who’d already bought the game to register in order to stay logged on.

It eventually backed down, but there were still murmurs of discontent from those who spotted the warning.

Astro Bot steals the show

imageSony A small robot with a white body, black screen for a face and two bright blue eyes frolics in a green field full of colorful, identical flowers arranged in neat rows. Behind him, a giant tree with a smiling face and bright blue eyes looks over the jolly scene.Sony

Sony’s under-used robot mascot is usually reserved for tech demos and if you bought a PS5 it would have come with Astro’s Playroom pre-installed.

The colorful platformer starring the shiny hero was primarily a showcase for the console’s DualSense controller.

But he’s now been given his own game.

The trailer showed Astro soaring through desert, snow and mountain environments, and taking on a string of quirky enemies.

Just like the PS5 pack-in title, it also featured lots of references to PlayStation classics, with nods in the trailer to Uncharted hero Nathan Drake and OG rhthym action star Parappa the Rapper getting the most attention.

Judging by the many, many excited responses to this one, Astro’s Playroom is going to have to make room for this follow-up on many PS5 owners’ hard drives.

Sequels and remakes

imageKonami A male character wearing an olive jacket is seen from behind as he walks into a very foggy, ominous scene. The view is obscured but road markings, two skeletal trees and an an abandoned car can be seen. Leaves, frozen in the air in this still, suggest a windy atmosphere.Konami

While there were no new instalments in any major Sony franchises on show, there was a further glimpse of the visually revamped horror adventure Until Dawn.

The 2015 “playable slasher movie” from British studio Supermassive Games was a sleeper hit on the PS4, and featured performances from Oscar winner Rami Malek and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Another horror remake – of psychological classic Silent Hill 2 – got a release date and new footage, and top-down RPG Path of Exile 2 was also shown.

There were some original titles too – “open world dress up adventure” Infinity Nikki showcased a cutesy, anime-influenced look.

State of Play also included trailers for Dynasty Warriors Origins and Monster Hunter Wilds – updates to popular, long-running series.

Both, particularly Monster Hunter, are big sellers in Japan. Some reports have suggested that Sony is struggling to shift PS5s in its home country and sales of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth were said to have disappointed.

VR’s not dead…

imageSkydance A giant beast with an armadillo-like face and armoured body towers over the viewer. In the foreground we see two hands, denoting a first-person viewpoint. One is holding a knife.Skydance

Many have speculated that Sony has turned its back on virtual reality following the high-profile launch of its PSVR2 headsets.

It closed its VR specialist London studio and laid off staff at Firesprite – the Liverpool-based team that worked on flagship title Horizon: Call of the Mountain.

But those who jumped on the new tech may have a reason to dust it off.

SkyDance’s Behemoth threw players into a snowy landscape populated by giant creatures intent on stamping you out.

And Alien Rogue Incursion, based on the classic sci-fi series, sees players navigate a wrecked spacecraft, trying to avoid one of the iconic xenomorphs.

Open worlds and big swords

imageEverstone Studio A character seen in silhouette holds a thin katana-like sword out at their side as they stand on a rock overlooking a vast rural landscape. There are small rustic settlements in the foreground, turning into hilly, forested landscape in the distanceEverstone Studio

Sony’s other big games so far this year, Stellar Blade and Rise of the Ronin, feature epic sword battles. And one of the most anticipated multi-platform releases is fantasy open-world RPG Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.

They’ll be in good company. State of Play also included footage of Where Winds Meet. The swashbuckling battler from Chinese developer Everstone Studio has been compared to the beloved Dark Souls series.

Another China-developed game, Ballad Of Antara, is a free-to-play action RPG which sees players travel between two parallel worlds fighting supernatural foes.

Sony snuck its State of Play in before the launch of Summer Game Fest, the annual showcase event that’s seen as a replacement for E3, the games industry’s former big preview event.

That will include slots from giants Xbox and Ubisoft, plus dozens of games from smaller developers.

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