Playstation Experience Brings the Future (and Past) of Gaming to Anaheim

For the fourth year in a row, Sony’s Playstation Experience carefully walked the line between video game tradeshow and immersive megafan convention, and although not everyone loved the weekend’s new discussion-based intro on Friday evening, no one left the Anaheim Convention Center disappointed by the time Sunday rolled around. From panels and arena-filling chats about upcoming blockbuster games (yes, The Last of Us Part II is still coming eventually) to the chance to demo and meet the developers of smaller indie titles, Playstation Experience provided a little something for every type of gamer.

But while some of the bigger upcoming games might be the ones stealing headlines (even if no one has any idea what Death Stranding is actually about), the weekend was largely dominated by two more niche categories.

PlayStation VR headsets could be found at booths for a variety of games ranging from the already popular titles like Skyrim and Gran Turismo Sport to more obscure options like the futuristic parkour-based Sprint Vector. From completely immersive experiences like The Inpatient’s asylum setting (an appropriate tone for the horrifying follow-up to 2015’s masterful Until Dawn) to the endless shooting thrills of Doom and the newly announced Firewall Zero Hour, it was impossible to ignore the prominence of VR in the gaming world.

While virtual reality may be the future of video games, Playstation Experience also showed that the nostalgia and everlasting love for vintage art-driven games is still at an all-time high. Among the lesser-known titles, the hand-painted EarthNight (which is finally ready for release in 2018 after several years in development) put a complex and thrilling dragon-killing spin on the classic side-scrolling runner while Chasm (a vintage Metroidvania-style adventure game sharing behind-the-scenes ties with the acclaimed Axiom Verge) promises that people will still gladly be slaying the monsters of yesteryear with pixelated swords at least through 2018.

Even genres that have seemingly become more modern and overly complicated with every passing generation got serious makeovers from their upcoming entries featured at this year’s Playstation Experience. Horizon Chase: Turbo brought new life to the ‘90s arcade racers of our collective childhood rather than focusing on the hyper-realistic racing games so many publishers love to push, and Fantasy Strike (a brand new title from Street Fighter veteran David Sirlin) managed to remove the high execution barrier that inhibit most serious modern fighting games while still keeping the strategy, core components, and overall fun that drew so many people to the genre in the first place.

Overall, Sony’s annual extravaganza managed to balance the high-tech and futuristic with the fun and nostalgic as well as any gaming convention in recent memory. No one will ever forget getting their head shaved for God of War or hanging out for a photo op with Spider-Man, even if there weren’t a ton of major announcements this time around — and creating those timeless memories is ultimately what brings gamers together around the world.

Oh, and MediEvil is being remastered for PS4 20 years after the original released, which may end up being the best thing to happen in 2018.

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