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KitGuru Games: PlayStation Showcase Hopes and Fears

Following a long string of leaks and rumours Sony finally made its much-anticipated PlayStation Showcase official. Set to go live this Wednesday the 24th of May, the console manufacturer has promised over an hour of announcements “focusing on PS5 and PS VR2 games in development from top studios from around the world”. Vague descriptors aside, we know next to nothing about this upcoming showcase – making for an exciting event indeed. With that, here’s my hopes and fears for the 2023 PlayStation Showcase.

Before diving deep into what I hope to see at the Showcase (and my fears surrounding what may or may not be shown), it’s worth taking another look at exactly what Sony had to say on the matter. In going to their announcement blogpost and excluding the details for streaming and whatnot, here’s what Sony teased for the event:

“A wealth of new games and new IP are headed to PS5 and PS VR2. It’s almost time to see what’s next — PlayStation Showcase broadcasts live next Wednesday, May 24 at 1pm Pacific Time / 9pm British Time.”

It continued, “The show will run a bit over an hour, focusing on PS5 and PS VR2 games in development from top studios from around the world. Expect a glimpse at several new creations from PlayStation Studios, as well as spellbinding games from our third-party partners and indie creators.”

Immediately, perhaps the most important detail of this announcement is the fact that the Showcase will run for ‘a bit over an hour’. An hour-long showcase does sound rather lengthy in its own right, however when taking the context into account this could in fact be one of the most jam packed PlayStation events yet.

Ever since Sony stopped participating in E3, instead opting to stream their own pre-recorded videos, we have seen the console manufacturer focus on cutting as much filler as possible to maximise the length and number of games shown. In looking at the past two PlayStation showcases (which took place in September 2021 and 2020 respectively), both streams lasted roughly 40 minutes and included a boatload of new games, trailers and more. With Wednesday’s showcase set to be over an hour long, who knows what’s on the table?

While it would be fun to speculate on the entire showcase, today I will be sharing just 6 of my hopes and fears. With that, let’s see what might be in store for the 2023 PlayStation Showcase.

The Last of Us is my favourite franchise of all time, not only thanks to both Part I and II’s excellent stories, but also because of the highly-underappreciated multiplayer Factions mode. Released during a time of tacked-on multiplayer additions in single player games, TLOU’s Factions mode did not see the love that I believe it deserved. That’s why when it was first announced that Part II would not be including a Factions mode I was disheartened. This was immediately lifted however following the confirmation that Naughty Dog were working on a standalone Factions game which would allow the teams to put their all into both the single and multiplayer aspects of TLOU. 

Years on from then and all we have seen so far are two pieces of concept art. This is why Factions needs to be the headliner for this showcase. Not only have fans been waiting for ages, but if done well (and I have complete faith in Naughty Dog to do just that), the Factions game could set the standard for PlayStation’s new push towards live services.

Furthemore, while we’ve seen next to nothing from the game, the few pieces of art released does suggest an impressively large world to explore, scavenge and fight in. With each new Naughty Dog title we have seen the studio push themselves further and further in all aspects: graphics, scope, gameplay and story – to name just a few. Show me these improvements; show me how I will be spending the next 250 hours in Factions; and please give us a release date. If Naughty Dog manages to continue the trajectory which they have successfully navigated for decades then The Last of Us Factions could be PlayStation’s next big thing.

As we just touched on, Sony has a lot of live service games cooking in the PlayStation oven. With this being somewhat of an unfamiliar endeavour for Sony, as well as the fact that live-service titles are no longer the new hotness, the company really needs to put its best foot forward – the foot in this case being The Last of Us Factions.

The console manufacturer has claimed in the past that they have 10 separate live service titles all in the works. I don’t want to see any of them. One of the reasons publishers like the idea of live service games so much is that they are typically designed to keep players coming back again and again, dedicating as much of their free time as possible to one single experience. Diluting this message with the announcement of half a dozen or so new live service games will not only split the playerbase, but could leave a sour taste in the mouth of fans who come to PlayStation for their epic single player titles. That is why for this showcase specifically, I hope the console manufacturer keeps its live service talk isolated to The Last of Us Factions.

That’s not to say I have no interest in any of the other live service games – quite the contrary in fact. I am so curious to see what the likes of Haven Studios; Firewalk and Deviation Games are working on (to name just some of the smaller/newer PlayStation partners), but perhaps they could be saved for another time? 

Following its exciting launch back in February of this year, many are already marking Sony’s next-generation PlayStation VR2 headset as dead-on-arrival. This hardly seems fair, and while Sony certainly did not help themselves by soft-launching the product exclusively through its own online storefront and nowhere else, the recent retail launch of PlayStation VR2 is in my opinion the headset’s real official launch. That is why I am excited for the confirmation that we will be getting PSVR2 content at the show. Now, Sony did not specifiy how much VR we would get at the showcase, but if they want to prove to fans that PSVR2 will not be another VITA then they need to really push the platform hard.

We already have a few good first-party VR titles available for the next-gen headset in the form of Horizon: Call of the Mountain and Gran Turismo 7, but we need more bespoke, lengthy and complete VR games. Across the many studios which Sony now owns or who has partnered with, there exists a strong number of teams who have great familiarity with VR development – Firesprite; London Studio; Insomniac Games and Team Asobi. While Insomniac Games are likely busy with Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine, fans have been waiting for a new VR Astro Bot game ever since the last one released on the 1st-gen PSVR all the way back in 2018. Since then, the team did work on the incredibly charming Astro’s Playroom for PS5, but we have yet to see a full and proper Astro Bot: Rescue Mission sequel for the PSVR2. If Team Asobi were somehow able to make a must-play VR title on hardware which was outdated years before it came out, then who knows what magic they could come up with using the power of the PS5 and PSVR2 headset. Hopefully we will find out next week.

I spoke briefly in the previous section about Insomniac Games and the projects they are currently working on – namely Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine. While there is no doubt in my mind that a good portion of Wednesday’s showcase will focus on the upcoming Spidey sequel, I am worried that Sony will be too bullish in showing more from the team’s in-development Wolverine title.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is set to release some time this year (probably September) and yet all we have seen of the game so far was a short cinematic teaser – shown off all the way back in September 2021. What else did we get at that same showcase? A wolverine announcement. Somehow even more of a teaser when compared to the Spider-Man announcement, it was made quite clear that Spider-Man 2 would be first to come out, and with it now mere months away, all eyes should be on this year’s title and not some other future project from the same team.

Would I be hyped to see more from Wolverine? 100%, but for the sake of Spider-Man and Insomniac Games, the waters should not be muddied by another Marvel title which likely won’t come out until 2024 or beyond. If you are curious however to see what I would want from an Insomniac Wolverine title, I wrote a KitGuru Games piece on just that right HERE.

For many, Bend Studio was an unknown name up until the release of 2019’s Days gone. The open-world zombie game may not have reached the highs of many of Sony’s other first-party titles in the eyes of critics, but fan reception in particular was much more positive, with the game’s driving and horde mechanics offering more than enough to separate it from the rest of the zombie crowd.

We already know that unfortunately Days Gone 2 is not in the works, but that’s not to say that whatever Bend is currently working on is not exciting. In fact, with Days Gone being Bend Studio’s first big home console release in quite some time, I thought it was rather good. This is what makes the team’s next title extra exciting.

Over the years and generations we have seen many of Sony’s first party studios time and time again elevate themselves to new heights thanks to continued experimentation, refinement, and the freedom given to take as much time as they need in order to get it right. Sony Bend have not yet had the time/opportunity to lift themselves up in this way – until now. Days Gone was already a big step up for Sony Bend, but with this next title I believe we will see the studio’s identity within PlayStation finally come into focus. This is why I hope to see Bend Studio’s next game at the 2023 PlayStation Showcase.

In the past few weeks we have begun to hear rumblings of Sony finally re-entering the handheld gaming market with the system known internally as ‘PlayStation Q-Lite’. While this initially sounds rather exciting (and I was too when I first learned of it), the details surrounding this mysterious new device claims it will be used exclusively for Remote Play, with no dedicated hardware in the handheld itself to run games. In essence, it sounds like what would happen if you took a PSVITA and gutted all of its internals aside from the screen, controls and WIFI chip. If this is indeed what the PlayStation Q-Lite ends up being then I want nothing to do with it.

With the PS4 generation, we saw somewhat of a shift in Sony, opting to focus on what works by doubling down on the home console hardware. This singular focus is what got us the PlayStation 5 – an incredibly well-engineered and thought out system which is helping to evolve gaming in more ways than one. The PS5 is not a simple teraflop boosted PS4, everything from the internal hardware to the controller in your hand was finely crafted with great effort and synergy. This same focus is what has helped Sony release as many first-party PS5 titles as they have,

This is why I fear that the announcement of the Q=Lite would not only confuse fans, but take away from the messaging of PlayStation. That said, there is a very real possibility that the handheld could be announced at the event. Going back to the previous showcases, just one went on for more than an hour, and it was the official PS5 reveal – with the other two 40-minute events solely focused on software. This Wednesday’s showcase being an hour long makes me worried that Sony might be ready to announce this Q-Lite. Hopefully this isn’t the case.

All hopes and fears aside, I am both excited and curious to see what Sony has planned for the 2023 PlayStation Showcase. The company has been on a roll these past few years, and with the PS5 breaking records left, right and centre so far in 2023 this showcase could very well cement the PS5 as a leading platform for the generation.

Previous showcases have proven that Sony’s got the juice when it comes to making gaming showcases, and so I have little doubt that this Wednesday’s event will be just as quality. All that said, if we don’t get a look at The Last of Us Factions then I will riot.

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KitGuru says: What are your hopes and fears for the PlayStation Showcase? If you could magic one game to appear at the showcase, what would it be? What has been your favourite PlayStation exclusive so far this generation? Let us know down below.

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