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Sony Goes Games Crazy at Impressive E3 Press Conference

With his PlayStation 4 riding high in the sales charts, you could forgive Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO, a little swagger as he took the stage in Los Angeles Tuesday night for the company’s annual E3 press briefing.

That swagger was well deserved. Sony’s console future looks bright.

House came out swinging and delivered a rare press conference trifecta: a visually stunning game, an accompanying hardware announcement, and one that we can all get our hands on in a matter of a few weeks. 

Shared-world online shooter Destiny comes from the creators of Halo and isn’t a PS4 exclusive, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the fuss Sony made of it. It’ll launch first on the PS4 on September 9, both as a standalone game and in a bundle with a new, glacier-white console and other extras. Best of all, current PS4 owners will be able to join the game’s beta-test beginning July 17.

Gamers also got their first look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, showing an older but probably not wiser incarnation of series lead Nathan Drake picking himself up out of a swamp. No gameplay footage, but given the solid gold reputation of both the franchise and its studio (Naughty Dog, fresh off last year’s top game, The Last of Us), it’ll inevitably be one of 2015’s biggest releases.

Also thrilling hardcore gamers was Sony’s unveiling of Bloodborne, a 2015 PS4 release from the developers of the notoriously difficult (and critically-acclaimed) Dark Souls series. Characteristically dark, gritty, and full of skeletons, the new game appears to step a few hundred years forward in time from the medieval themes of its predecessors, but we’re betting it doesn’t step too far away from its teeth-clenchingly tough gameplay.

Perhaps the most impressive game shown at Sony’s event came from a much smaller source. No Man’s Sky, which debuted as a trailer during last year’s Spike TV Video Game Awards show, was the talk of the town after another stunning showing. Built by a 4-person team at tiny British outfit Hello Games, it’s a wildly ambitious game that turns gamers loose on a massive, procedurally generated universe. 

Other software unveilings included the first gameplay footage of Dead Island 2, an upcoming remastered version of The Last Of Us, a fall release window for the PS4 version of Grand Theft Auto V, and the debut of a remake of Grim Fandango, a darkly comic graphic adventure that’s considered by aficionados to be a genre classic.

On the hardware front, Sony announced that its Playstation Vita TV microconsole will make its Western debut this year, albeit rebranded “PlayStation TV.” This affordable, diminutive console, which costs just $99 on its own or $139 with a controller bundle, allows owners to play games from the Playstation Now service or stream games from a PS4. It’ll also play a variety of music and video content from the PlayStation Store — not as well as similar offerings from Apple or Amazon, we’ll wager, but it looks to be worth considering for the game-focused when it launches in the fall. 

Meantime, owners of another diminutive piece of Sony hardware, the company’s down-trending PS Vita handheld, were left largely unfulfilled. Though Shawn Layden, CEO of Sony America, described the platform as a key pillar for the company’s strategy, major announcements were not forthcoming. The portable system will get a fully-featured port of massive-seller Minecraft, and versions of Entwined and Disney Infinity 2, among others, but an anticipated price cut failed to materialize.

As did a much-rumored showing of The Last Guardian, spiritual sequel to PlayStation 2 classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. In development since at least 2007, the game’s complex flirtation with media and fans has lead many to wonder if it’ll ever see the light of day. While recent reports indicate the game is indeed still an ongoing project, Sony’s press conference wrapped up with not even a word to raise — or damn — the hopes of the game’s many devotees.

While much of Sony’s demo reel concentrated on the company’s more adult-oriented offerings, younger gamers weren’t ignored. LittleBigPlanet 3, a more character-driven take on Sony’s kid-friendly action-platformer series, will release on PS4 this fall. Entwined, the fruit of a cooperative venture between Sony and students at Carnegie Mellon University, launched on the PlayStation Network today.