The PlayStation turns twenty this year, and Sony’s ready to party. Not only has the Tokyo-based electronics giant unveiled a special anniversary website and a nostalgia-soaked commemorative video, but in December it’s hosting the first-ever PlayStation Experience. This community event takes place December 6 and 7, 2014 at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and celebrates two decades of gaming by giving the public its first look at 2015’s most anticipated titles.
Almost every major first- and third-party PlayStation developer will be represented, and Sony promises that over a hundred games will be playable at the event. Obviously, unreleased titles are the biggest draw, and attendees will be able to sample over twenty upcoming games, including Battlefield: Hardline, Telltale’s Game of Thrones, and Mortal Kombat X. So far, the list of featured games is notably PS4-heavy, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vita get some love, too.
While it probably won’t be playable, Naughty Dog’s upcoming Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will also have a major presence at the event. In a panel titled “Modeling Nathan Drake,” a team of artists, developers, and 3D modelers will walk attendees through the process of rebuilding Uncharted’s iconic main character for the PS4. Judging by the game’s E3 trailer, which teetered on the edge of photorealism and yet avoided the uncanny valley, it should be a fascinating talk.
It’s the independent titles, however, that seem most likely to steal the show. We’re excited to learn more about Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, the procedurally-generated sci-fi exploration game that rocked E3 and Gamescom this year. Giving players the ability to seamlessly generate and explore a near-infinite number of unique (and gorgeous) worlds, it’s poised to be one of the most exciting titles of the current console generation. The game will be featured in a special PlayStation Experience event dubbed “A Night Under No Man’s Sky.” Sean Murray, managing director at Hello Games, promises that the event will be something “completely different and a little bit crazy.”
Attendees will also get to play Thekla’s The Witness, the new game from Braid developer and Indie Game: The Movie star Jonathan Blow. Blow’s art-first, gameplay-second approach to game development makes him a controversial figure in the gaming community, but the new title looks promising nonetheless. Players are stranded on an abandoned island and presented with over a hundred mazelike puzzles. The island’s mysterious history will be revealed as each challenge is completed, although Blow has said that we shouldn’t expect any straightforward answers. Remember: this is art.
While The Witness’ pitch evokes Myst and Lost, the game boasts an aesthetic style all its own. In a talk at the March 2014 Game Developers Conference, artist Luis Antonio described how the game emphasizes color over texture, and uses simple silhouettes in place of complex geometry. Because it’s intended to be a primarily visual experience, there won’t be any music, and only minimal atmospheric sound will be included. That’s a bold decision on Blow’s part, and it’ll be interesting to see how players react when they finally get their hands on the game in December.
In addition to games, the PlayStation Experience features two full days’ worth of panels, autograph signings, and giveaways. The Last of Us actors Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker will host a panel about motion capture and voice acting, while a number of prominent composers will discuss what it takes to write music for video games.
The event will also host the public debut of Project Morpheus, Sony’s 1080p virtual reality headset. While a release date has not yet been slated, early reviews have been positive so far, with many speculating that Morpheus will be the device that finally brings VR to the general consumer.
A single-day pass to the PlayStation Experience costs $50; a two-day ticket will set you back $90. Bungie’s hosting a tie-in event that same weekend to promote Destiny’s first expansion pack. Winning Bungie’s contest will get you to Vegas that same weekend, although you’ll need to get Experience tickets separately.
And if you can’t make it, don’t worry. Sony promises that it will be updating PlayStation.blog with any breaking news, as well as streaming the whole event live on Twitch. It’s a party, after all; everyone’s invited.
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