Due to this year’s mostly quiet E3 and a bizarre “leak” of Xbox 720 documents supposedly coming from Microsoft, the gaming world has been abuzz with discussion about the mystical next generation. While today’s content still seems to push the technological envelope each year in terms of presentation, fidelity and scope, it’s difficult to not get excited about a new round of hardware supposedly releasing in 2013. The expected date and price have soundly covered, as well as the dynamic between Microsoft and Sony, but I’d like to take a moment to discuss why we even care about hot boxes of chips and wires to begin with: the games.
Microsoft’s future console has captured quite enough of the spotlight for now, so it’s time to look at Sony’s recipe for success. What games does the struggling company need to release early on to move units? Which studios must step up to and deliver a hit that grabs millions? Should there be a greater focus on established franchises, or fresh ideas in the form of new properties? Sony has plenty of work to do, but with the below list of launch games, PlayStation will hold all the right tools to once again reign supreme.
It was Killzone 2’s stunning presentation that grabbed the attention of millions of skeptical gamers seven years ago, and while Guerilla’s flagship shooter has performed respectably in both 2008 and 2010, it hasn’t quite been Sony’s promised “Halo Killer.” The weighty feel to the characters and murky, shadowy tone have helped make the war against the Helghast feel unique, but releasing alongside a new console with an improved online infrastructure and graphics sharp enough to cut steel should push this franchise to new levels. Resistance and SOCOM have both attempted to be the staple online shooter for the PlayStation, but it’s finally time for Killzone to take that title by force. The team was just inches from greatness with Killzone 3, and while I think it would be best to drop the numbers entirely and slap a subtitle on the eventual next iteration, there’s nothing major that needs altered in the basic formula. A bigger campaign, tighter online experience and continued technical achievement can make this Sony’s premier launch title.
Though Naughty Dog discussed rebooting the Jak and Daxter franchise in a grittier, more realistic manner before beginning development on The Last of Us, it’d be a real treat to just see the duo’s continued adventures running on today’s technology. The recent HD collection served as a perfect reminder of how special the PS2 trilogy truly is, and while you don’t see very many 3D platformers lighting up the marketplace that aren’t developed by Nintendo these days, the guns and vehicles introduced in Jak 2 make this franchise a great deal deeper than it appears on the surface. Naughty Dog has done wonders with Uncharted and seems to be hitting all the right notes in The Last of Us, so when the PS4 eventually launches, it’d be fantastic to see all that experience go into another Eco-induced escapade.
Sucker Punch nailed its first true, open-world foray in 2008 when it released Infamous on the PlayStation 3. Essentially a third-person shooter with the guns replace by hot bolts of lightning, the story of Cole’s growth as an unlikely super hero was a joy to experience both in the original release and the much-improved sequel. There was a certain degree of finality to the ending sequence of Infamous 2, but that shouldn’t stop the PlayStation 4 from seeing a new experience tied to this particular universe. The cast of characters were never quite unique enough to grow overly attached to, so even if a third title was spun as a separate story following another Conduit either wrecking havoc or saving the lives of those out of Cole’s reach, the established fanbase would still be there on day one. This is a franchise too mechanically strong to let go of and with a new coat of paint, there’d be no reason for those waiting in line to purchase a PlayStation 4 to not pick it up.
Dark Cloud 3
Anyone who enjoys their RPGs with a heaping helping of city building and a steamy side of action knows the name Level-5 due to its successful stint on the PlayStation 2. As the creative force behind both Dark Cloud titles, the developer understands a thing or two about crafting unique fantasy experiences with deep RPG trappings. Though White Knight Chronicles and Ni No Kuni have been occupying the talented studio’s time as of late, a return to what put the Japanese crew on the map would be a grand way to start off a new cycle. The artists at Level-5 have a style all their own, and with more horsepower comes an even greater opportunity to create something truly beautiful.
A new Arc the Lad game
On the topic of classic Japanese RPGs closely tied to Sony, the Arc the Lad franchise has been quiet for too long. After a series of successful titles overseas on the original PlayStation and the release of the divisive yet memorable Twilight of the Spirits on PS2, gamers around the world truly began to take notice of this high-quality, narrative-driven franchise. Recent releases of the Japanese titles on the North American PlayStation Store have continued to increase its stock, and while it may not have the wide appeal that most modern shooters hold, there’s still a significant amount of people out there who want a solid, eastern RPG wrapped around an interesting narrative core. If you haven’t had a chance to play any of these games quite yet, I implore you to either download the PSN versions or get a copy of Twilight of the Spirits cheaply sent to your door. It’s a string of superior titles that deserves more attention, and if Sony hears an even louder demand from its fans, a next-generation Arc the Lad title may be in our future.
Gran Turismo 6
Beefier hardware won’t exactly revolutionize simulation racing, but it’s difficult to deny the technical brilliance that Polyphony achieves every time it releases a new Gran Turismo game. It was ages before the PlayStation 3 saw Gran Turismo 5 and by the time it did make its way to store shelves, a slew of more modern contenders had almost made what should have been a massive hit seem dated. This same mistake can’t be made twice, and that’s why Gran Turismo 6 must release with the PlayStation 4. Game mechanics don’t need to be revolutionized and those opposed to playing racing games shouldn’t need to be swayed; all that Sony needs to do is showcase the pure, unadulterated power of its new console in the form of the shiniest car you’ve ever laid eyes on.
The Last Guardian
Maybe it’s time to reassess Team Ico’s current project. The Last Guardian has been years in development, barely has any footage to show for all the work being put in, and is currently in an awkward state of limbo due to the studio’s tumultuous 2011. We know it still has a group of talented veterans at the helm, but will it make it in time to still be relevant? While there’s no real way to tell what stage of development the game’s in, it would be a shame to see a title that so many are foaming at the mouth for release in late 2013 on hardware that the masses have already moved on from. Even if The Last Guardian only received minor graphical improvements and was pushed back a little while longer, it would be worth playing this emotional experience on a console everyone’s talking about. Once again, the mystery surrounding the entire project prevents us from knowing if this is even feasible at this point, but if we don’t hear anything about it at TGS or Gamescom, it may be best for this beast to look toward the future.
What games would you like to see launch with the PlayStation 4? Would you rather see more sequels or original ideas? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or or discuss the PlayStation 4 in our forums.