With Sony’s silence about their next-gen plans, it would seem that Xbox gets to control the conversation. Some of PlayStation’s most exciting first-party titles are still to release this generation, so obviously that’s where their attention lies. While Xbox may seem in charge, Sony is somehow still winning, with that gorgeous Unreal Engine 5 tech demo as well as serious excitement around The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima. The drip-feed of info about their next-gen offerings should be to their detriment, but it isn’t.
So far from Sony, we have heard practically nothing. Our first peak was in a Wired article back in April last year, but it wasn’t until October that we got any real information (again from Wired). It was here that we learned of Sony’s release plan and some other tidbits about the console’s capabilities. Then in January this year, we got the logo which took up more attention than I ever would have expected. We also got a surprise look at the DualSense controller in April, the first proper redesign of their controller in decades.
The biggest information was given by Mark Cerny in March, in his ‘The Road To PS5’ talk. This was a talk originally meant for the Game Developers Conference (GDC), so it was naturally very technical and therefore difficult for the majority of us to understand. While most of the information seemed very exciting, it did take a bit of translating.
The talk was promoted by Sony in a way to encourage anyone and everyone to watch but didn’t seem designed for the general public. It also had these strange silhouettes of fake-looking people, which was weird. As the first big break in Sony’s next-gen silence, it wasn’t exactly thrilling.
In general, everything between April last year and April this year has been a bit strange. The controller was revealed out of nowhere, just a blog post (presumably to avoid leaks as developers were just getting their hands on them). ‘The Road to PS5’ alienated a lot of the general audience, and mentioned something about ears. The Wired articles were also strange, a slightly old-fashioned way to roll out console information. Oh, and there was also the logo…
However, in the last few weeks, the whole conversation around Sony and the PS5 has changed quite dramatically, and for two key reasons. Firstly, we got our first look at next-gen gameplay in the form of a tech demo for the Unreal Engine 5. And secondly, we got an absolutely stellar State of Play, a deep-dive into the upcoming PS4 title Ghost of Tsushima.
With these two successes, the perspective on previous announcements seems to have tilted from confused to excited. This all came after recent Inside Xbox failing to show proper gameplay, even though it was promised. This left Sony as the only company showing long-form gameplay full of HUDs and button prompts, the type of stuff that we love.
If we look first at the Unreal tech demo, it was mainly a win for Epic and their game engine. But by simply partnering with them, Sony has gained a lot of good press, even though the tech demo will run just as well on the Xbox Series X. This gorgeous look at the possibilities of next-gen was genuinely jaw-dropping. It is the first time I think any of us have seen something and thought ‘now that looks like next-gen’.
The fact that PlayStation was able to present itself as the console manufacturer who brought us that feeling is invaluable, as was the praise towards the PS5 coming from Epic themselves. In an interview with IGN, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney gave some high-praise to the PS5 and its advancements:
“This is not just a whole lot of polygons and memory. It’s also a lot of polygons being loaded every frame as you walk around through the environment and this sort of detail you don’t see in the world would absolutely not be possible at any scale without these breakthroughs that Sony’s made.”
He also said that the solid-state drive in the PS5 was way beyond “the best SSD solution you can buy on PC today. And so it’s really exciting to be seeing the console market push forward the high-end PC market in this way.” Strong praise indeed, and vital to Sony marketing themselves as the next-generation console to buy.
We can also look at the latest State of Play, a deep-dive into the world of Ghost of Tsushima, the upcoming game from Sucker Punch, coming July 17. This isn’t a next-gen title. In fact, it’s probably one of the last Sony-published games coming to PS4. And for some reason, it’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in months. By showing us the beautiful scenery of Tsushima, coupled with a seamless and clear explanation of the gameplay, Sony has made a lot of us more excited for July rather than Holiday 2020.
I think the first takeaway from this showcase was the way it looked. This game is so beautiful, the type of game that makes you think ‘do we even need next-gen?’ The second takeaway is the value of gameplay. Showing us gameplay is so vital to getting a good response. Even just showing current-gen gameplay is genuinely exciting, because we now know what we will be playing. If the gameplay looks good, the game probably is good.
With these two big wins under their belt, Sony jumped a few rungs on the public opinion ladder. Before, as Xbox actually gave us clear and extensive information at a steady and consistent pace, they seemed to be missing the mark. Sony’s next-gen silence was only broken by putting information out seemingly at random, confusing and irritating the audience simultaneously.
Now, however, faith has been slightly restored. We’ve seen that the PS5 can run one of the most impressive things we’ve seen all year, which automatically makes it look like a better console (even if the Xbox Series X will also run it). We’ve also seen that Sony has two gorgeous titles for the PS4, The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima. Sony fans can be excited for the present and the future. Xbox fans kind of just have to look to the future. While next-gen is exciting across the board, Sony’s silence has helped to make them the focus of our excitement.
For more PS5 news, why not check out one of our quizzes. We have one dedicated to the PS4, and also one for The Last of Us. Or you can hear some thoughts about the Unreal tech demo on the KeenGamer podcast.