The PS5 and PSVR 2 hype is mounting. Tonight's PlayStation Showcase 2023 livestream was the year's biggest gaming event so far and gave us a clear idea of where Sony sees video games, game design and gaming tech in the years to come.
The PS5 has seen a sales boom this year, and you can read my PlayStation 5 review to see why this console matters and how Sony is affecting how games are designed. You can rewatch the event here (above) or tune in to Sony's PlayStation YouTube channel and Twitch from 1pm Pacific Time / 9pm British Time.
I've been reporting on video games for more than 20 years and am the ex-Editor of Official PlayStation Magazine, so you can trust me when I say tonight's event was a big one. We had the first tease of the MGS 3: Snake Eater remake, a first look at Bungie's Marathon, an extended look at Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and a number of impressive indies and third-parties, including Phantom Blade, Sword of the Sea and Neva.
What can we expect later tonight from Sony? We're almost certain to get new gameplay from Marvel's Spider-Man 2. This is the PS5-only sequel to the massively successful Spidey game that released on PS4. With Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse releasing next month Sony could even tease a tie-in, but that's a stretch. What's perhaps more likely is a tease of how Insomniac's other Marvel game, Wolverine, fits into its Spider-Man universe.
What else? I'd bank on gameplay from Naughty Dog's The Last Of Us multiplayer offshoot, as well as possibly news on the Uncharted spin-off that leaked, kind of, in the PS5 sizzle reel ad from January.
There are strong rumours of DLC for God Of War Ragnarök and a multiplayer add-on for Horizon Forbidden West, and given PlayStation president Jim Ryan could be talking about Sony's live service games, perhaps this will happen.
Ryan has also recently been excited for PSVR 2 with sales that are improving and with around 100 games in development for Sony's new virtual reality headset. This month he said in Japan's Famitsu magazine, as reported by UploadVR:
"It may be a bit premature to judge the adoption of PS VR2 as it has only recently launched, but I am pleased to have received a large amount of positive feedback from our users and the media.
"I mentioned a few of the supported titles earlier, but we have released over 40 titles across the launch window, with many more titles upcoming for 2023 and beyond. We will continue our push, both for the purchasers of PS VR2 to be able to enjoy it in the long term, and for us to be able to ensure our profits."
There are many outlying rumours that include news on the long-running saga around the Metal Gear Solid remake, now perhaps exclusively for PS5, as well as speculation of Bloodborne 2, the new game from Days Gone developer Bend Studios and even a new Astro Bot adventure.
If you're expecting news on the highly-anticipated Ghost Of Tsushima 2 tonight then you may be disappointed as it seems this won't make an appearance. There may be news on a new game from Media Molecule though, so fans of this inventive studio could be in luck. This comes on the heels of Media Molecule saying its winding down support for the excellent Dreams creator tool.
PlayStation Showcases are often a time when third-party developers get to put their games in front of millions of people, so I would expect some updates and even gameplay from previously announced games.
Final Fantasy 16 will likely make an appearance. This game has been everywhere at the moment as its release date looms, so expect a little extra depth on this PS5 console exclusive release. This may mean we also get a glimpse of the Final Fantasy VII Remake sequel. Either way, Final Fantasy games feature some of the best art in video games so I'm excited - read my exclusive interview with Yusuke Mogi covering the art of FF XIV.
An outsider would be Pragmata from Capcom, again this is a unique and imaginative looking game that had everyone guessing involvement from Hideo Kojima because of its mix of science fiction and fantasy visual styles.
Who wants a new Twisted Metal game? Last year Eurogamer reported a new Twisted Metal game is in development at Sony's newly acquired Firesprite Games and that the former MotorStorm game director Matt Southern had joined the team (via VGC).
Firesprite Games is a studio that specialises in VR, having developed the fantastic Horizon Call of the Mountain for PSVR 2 (read our Call of the Mountain review) but it's also a team made up of legacy developers from the PS1 and PS2 era who have worked on the acclaimed WipEout series. I'm eager to see if this comes to light later tonight at the PlayStation Showcase 2023 livestream.
Who remembers that Sony actually bought developer Bungie? The original Halo developer and Destiny creator was acquired by Sony for $3.6 billion last summer. Given the developer's expertise in live games and shooters, and with rumours of a large chunk of tonight's PlayStation Showcase 2023 will be devoted to Games as a Service, we could be seeing a new game from this talented team.
There has been speculation of new gaming hardware from Sony for months, with rumours of a new PS5 Pro as well as a PS5 slim and even a subtle PS5 redesign to make the console smaller and lighter. Will we see hardware news later tonight? Possibly.
Sony has already revealed new images of its PS5 accessibility controller called Project Leonardo but now officially called the Access controller. This may get mentioned tonight, and it's a great piece of product design so deserves closer attention.
As for that new PS5 hardware, this could be a miss. These showcases are usually held for game reveals, demos and trailers. If and when Sony reveals its PS5 Pro or PS5 redesign I would expect a dedicated showcase for something this big, perhaps later in the year.
Speculation is getting a little wild now, as Forbes is starting the noise around Valve's impressive and beautifully designed VR game Half-Life Alyx coming to PSVR 2. This virtual reality game is a tour de force on expensive high end PC VR headsets for gaming and art, and it makes it onto our list of the best VR apps. If you need an example of what can be done in VR with expert design and flair, Alyx is the game. If this comes to PSVR 2 it'll be a huge win for Sony.
November of last year saw the release of God of War Ragnarök, the long awaited sequel to the original 2018 hit. However, fans were surprised to learn that original director Cory Barlog had taken a step back from the franchise to focus on a new IP for Santa Monica Studio. Among speculations about tonight's line up, many fans are hoping we get a glimpse at his latest project. And honestly? So am I.
Of course, many excited gamers are predicting that we may finally get a glimpse at Grand Theft Auto 6. GTA is one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, so it seems fitting that we could get an announcement or trailer during one of the bigger showcases. After that unfortunate GTA 6 leak that happened last year, Rockstar have (understandably) kept any information under pretty tight wraps.
Another possible trailer we could see is Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding 2. The first game was originally released back in 2019, and a sequel was revealed to be in the works during the 2022 Summer Games Fest. Director Kojima has been pretty active on Twitter recently sharing Death Stranding fan art, so maybe he's hyping us all up?
Top studios from around the world take center stage in today's PlayStation Showcase. Tune in live at 1pm Pacific / 9pm BST on YouTube or Twitch: https://t.co/5fI2VnsL17 pic.twitter.com/L2YxjeBGdvMay 24, 2023
In the words of Kratos, the time draws near. Hype is ramping up as the official pages repost the stream links as a reminder and if the comments are anything to go by – everyone is pretty excited. Especially with the words "top studios from around the world take centre stage". Is it time yet?
We briefly mentioned Bend Studio earlier, but what can we actually expect from them (if anything)? It, sadly, seems unlikely we're going to ever see a Days Gone sequel – but having recently celebrated their 30th anniversary, Bend revealed that a new project is indeed in the works and they "can’t wait to show (us) what’s next!"
Here's a long shot, who thinks we'll see something on the new Tomb Raider game tonight? The previous three games Crystal Dynamics developed - Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider – have been added to PS Plus this month, so is the hype starting?
Amazon Games will be publishing the new game, a press release stated the next Tomb Raider game will be a "single-player, narrative-driven adventure that continues Lara Croft’s story". And according to a report on VGC Amazon wants to make Tomb Raider as big as Marvel, with connected game, TV and film releases.
The next Tomb Raider game is being developed using Unreal Engine 5, ensuring it will be a state-of-the-art release. Read our report on how Unreal Engine 5 puts actual real people into Lords of the Fallen to see how impressive this game engine has become.
Is this what Bluepoint is working on?May 7, 2023
In the days of the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 it was usual to consider Konami as something of a connected partner to Sony, with exclusive releases common. A report on GamerRant suggests Sony and Konami have signed a new deal to bring three of the Japanese developer's biggest series to PS5 exclusively.
These games are the new Silent Hill 2 remake, the rumoured Metal Gear Solid Remake and a new game in the Castlevania franchise. We could hear more of this deal tonight, especially if Konami chooses the event to showcase an update on Bloober Team's new Silent Hill 2 remake. If you're interested in just how good a dev Bloober Team is, read up on its remake of Layers of Fear using Unreal Engine 5.
Haven Studios may not be at the top of your hype list but let's not forget Sony acquired this talented new studio back in March 2022. The developer is best known for the talent behind it, which includes devs who have worked on The Sims, Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront and Rainbow 6: Siege. Haven Studios was founded by industry legend Jade Raymond.
What could Haven Studios show? Well, the team is rumoured to be working on one of Sony's big new multiplayer IP, and since to its purchase by Sony has been developing key cloud gaming technology. I would expect a reveal that not only showcases this new game, but Sony's push for cloud gaming in general, perhaps linking to the speculated Horizon multiplayer game and Bungie's new project.
Cloud gaming could be a big deal tonight. Sony is playing catch-up to Microsoft and its Xbox Cloud Gaming service in this regard, so it needs to show there's a future for this tech on PlayStation. Of course, you've always been able to remote play PlayStation games from your console, but this is nowhere near the offer Microsoft or in fact Nvidia's GeForce Now have right now.
It's no surprise Sony has promoted the PlayStation branded Backbone One mobile controller for iOS and this month released an Android version of this handheld device that enables you to play PS5 games on your mobile with similar controls.
We could see more on Sony's cloud app and services tonight, likely with details from Bungie and Have Studios who appear to be leading the way internally at PlayStation on developing this new technology.
Below are some of the third-party PS5 exclusives coming your way, likely this year. Which will make an appearance in under three hours from now?
Stellar Blade, Knights of the Old Republic, Lost Soul Aside, Final Fantasy XVI, Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, Death Stranding 2, Rise of the Rōnin and Silent Hill 2 (remake) are all coming first or only on PS5.
It's an interesting mix of AAA releases and indies, particularly in the case of Lost Soul Aside that began as a one-person passion project before gaining backing from Sony. Inspired by Devil May Cry and Final Fantasy it's an interesting release.
Stella Blade also has an interesting background to its development. This Korean-developed game is the brainchild of Blade & Soul illustrator Kim Hyung-tae and began under the title Project Eve before the name change and PS5 exclusivity.
So, here are some games that could make an appearance that you may not expect; the kind of interesting game design ideas and production styles that creep under the radar but have dedicated fans.
Given Sony has had a close relationship with some key auteur studios such as FromSoftware, Sega's Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and Remedy Entertainment, I would expect new reveals on Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, Alan Wake 2 and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
Particularly, Alan Wake 2 is looking odds on for a release later this year (it's been four years since the fantastically stylish and inventive Control released) and PlayStation Showcase 2023 would be the ideal space to give fans a glimpse of this new horror title.
I would also love to see a new release from Ember Lab, the developer behind the Pixar-like Kena: Bridge of Spirits. The studio was founded by brothers Mike and Josh Grier who have a background in short film and CG, and transferred their skills from animation and VFX to video games. (Read our feature on how video game graphics and movie VFX are converging,)
That's not to say I know anything about a Kena sequel (the team always stated a follow-up is not planned), but I would love Ember Lab to make an impact tonight with a new IP or game announcement.