Reactions to the Playstation Showcase 2023
It’s been two years since we last saw a PlayStation Showcase. 2021’s affair was a 40-minute thrill-fest that showcased a ton of great games that gave a glimpse of what Sony’s new console (of the time) could pull off. Now, with the PS5 in its third year and well-established among players and developers alike, can Sony wow us once more?
In short… no. Still, there’s a lot they do want to show us. 2023’s Playstation Showcase was over 70 minutes long and had more than 30 games lined up. In no particular order, here are the ten things I found myself mulling over as game after game vied for my attention.
1 – There’s Very Little Originality in the World of AAA Game Design
It was hard to pull something from this bunch that really screamed originality. Not impossible, but hard. While we were treated to some pretty interesting ideas in titles like The Plucky Squire (gotta love the way the game and graphics alter based on the environment) and Towers of Aghasba with its beautifully conceptualised ginormous monster thingies, unfortunately, for the most part, it was a case of “been there, played something very similar to that” as each game blazed on by.
2 – Graphics Are Now Good. Period.
It used to be the case until two years ago when you’d sit back at a presentation like this and go “wow” at the graphics. Today, everything looks good. Yes, some things look more incredible than others, but it is just shades of mindblowing. Not a bad thing, for sure, but it’s hard to pick out a game for its graphics when they all are so polished. A standout mention has to go to Neva, however, for really nailing how to use modern graphical power in such a simple and delightful way – good graphics doesn’t have to mean photo-realistic.
3 – Franchises just go on Franchising
Street Fighter 6, Another Assassin’s Creed and Solid Snake is remade with an incredible-looking Metal Gear Solid 3 remake, while a whole host of games had a ‘II’ somewhere in the title. Yup, those sequels and franchises just keep on churning. Good on ‘em, though, because there’s nothing like touching the nostalgia nerves to really sell a trailer. When Snake poked his head up out of the swamp, I have to admit, I gasped.
King of the pack, however, had to be Final Fantasy XVI. I can’t even think how long this game has been coming, but the showcase trailer really ramped up the desire and excitement. It looks beautiful, it is plainly laced with all the franchise-rich emotional touches that FF fans adore, and it’s every bit as modern and powerful as the rest of the games on offer. Not long to wait now.
4 – Everything Rests on Spiderman
They left it to the end of the PlayStation Showcase and for good reason. The massively long Spiderman II gameplay trailer was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Everything from the graphics, the fluidity of movement, the roster of characters, the potentially engaging storyline, right up to a combat set piece that was blockbuster film worthy… Spiderman II is going to sell by the bucketload. Sadly, however, it does feel as if Sony is leaning just a little too hard on its headline act.
5 – Back from the Dead
Bringing Snake back from the dead in the beautiful Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater remake is pretty special, for sure, but comes to a truly masterful resurrection of ageing gaming properties can we please turn our attention to Marathon? For the many people who have never heard of Bungie’s very first successful game, this PvP-only reinvention of a thirty-year-old franchise that was originally designed for the Mac stunned me. Can’t wait.
6 – VR is Just About Shooting People
One of the big expectations of this PlayStation Showcase was the VR titles. Still, very much a niche market, Sony’s VR2 has the potential to really bring this side of gaming to the general populous, but it felt flat here. Every game bar one felt like a standard FPS with (other than the virtual reality aspect) nothing to give that any fifteen-year-old PS3-era title couldn’t deliver. There’s still nothing to see here – move along.
7 – They Had a Movie Trailer?!
If it had been a new Gran Turismo game then it would have been brilliant and also a contender for best graphics of the night. Alas, it was a rather mundane-looking film based on the franchise. In a showcase this long, Sony didn’t do themselves any favours by stretching the runtime by inserting a yawn-inducing trailer for this upcoming film.
Given the way Gran Turismo games do seem to manage to break the graphics standards with their every iteration though, it did take a few double-takes to realise this wasn’t a new version of the game, though!
8 – New Streaming Tech is Cool But Late
Regular Showcase host, Jim Ryan, popped his head in towards the end to announce a nifty-looking PS5 handheld game streaming add-on doobie as well as some PS5-branded Bluetooth earbuds. Nice additions to their hardware line-up, for sure, but it feels a little late to the game. Other platforms have had this sort of technology for a while – maybe that’s why Jim didn’t dwell too long on it.
As for the earbuds, unless they’ve done something magical with the Bluetooth technology (they haven’t, I’m sure), the natural latency inherent with wireless audio means they are never going to entice a pro gamer. Great for the hardcore Sony fans, but pretty much irrelevant for the rest of us.
9 – Foam is the New Paint
While it feels a little rude to mention Nintendo in an article about the PlayStation Showcase, the trailer for the new game Foamstars is just begging to be compared to Splatoon. While I can’t comment on the actual play style of this multiplayer bubble-fest, there is little doubt in my mind that Square Enix has taken a few pointers from Nintendo’s impressively successful paint-war franchise.
It led to a disappointing PlayStation Showcase trailer, to be honest, with some incredible cut-scene visuals that promised something really special, only for the actual gameplay to look substandard in comparison. Still, there is little doubt in my mind that Foamstars is going to do really, really well. It’ll be fun to play, with memorable character designs, and, well, bubbles, right? Who doesn’t like bubbles?
10 – Despite Some Negativity, There’s Plenty to be Excited About
It’s easy to be the grumpy gaming veteran when looking at the new slew of games, complaining about derivative game design and lack of technical progress, but in truth, there’s a lot here to thrill. For a rundown on the games to look out for, why not head over to read our top picks from the showcase 2023 PlayStation Showcase?