I haven’t been to a Fan Expo in a few years, so when I got the tap on the shoulder from our fearless leader Andy Burns to head to Fan Expo 2015 to get the scoop on the new Playstation offerings, I was stoked. I love the atmosphere at these events – Fan Expo in particular. The cosplay, the games, the freebies…it always adds up to a great overall experience.
In a turn of luck, I arrived a bit late to my Playstation tour – after a bit of a mix-up – to find out that I was gonna go through with none other than ex-EP Daily host Shaun Hatton, who I watched all the time on TV (and who also throws an awesome party called Nerd Noise Night every year in TO coinciding with the expo). We met up with Robert and Maria from Media Profile and Richard from Playstation and the tour was on!
First up was Star Wars Battlefront.
When I first watched the E3 footage of Battlefront, I was skeptical. “How could it look that good?”, I told myself – I’d have to see it to believe it. Well, I’ve seen it. And I believe. It looks incredible. We played through one if the co-op missions that had us fighting waves of incoming storm troopers, and eventually an AT-ST. If you die, your partner has to fell the opposition in order to bring you back for the next round, or you can lose a life and continue. But you only get two lives between both teammates, which makes the decision a tough one. It looks great, plays really well, and for what we got to try of it, feels fun and exciting. Running around a map being ambushed and fighting off waves of enemies never looked so good! I’m really excited to play more of this, and I’d love to see how it will contend with the FPS juggernaut Call Of Duty series when it’s released. I think it’s time for a little competition there.
I played most of the Exclusives that were available. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection looks great, the demo started in Chapter 6, and had us, as Drake, out-driving a massive tank before being thrown into a gun battle and eventually an Assassin’s Creed style parkour up through rooftops. It really showed every aspect of the controls, and felt really good. Can’t wait for this one, being a huge fan of that series.
I’m not much of a Street Fighter fan, but I played SF:V and it felt good. It looks great and the others playing it – who were a LOT better than me at it – seemed to really dig it. I’ve heard a lot of hype about it, so I’m guessing it’s living up to it!
Next up was Project Morpheus. I didn’t know what to expect with it, really. I’ve tried virtual reality in the past, and haven’t loved it (and we all know how Virtual Boy turned out, right?).
I tried out Kitchen, a tech demo for the Morpheus. The premise is simple, you’re in a kitchen, you don’t do much except let the scene unfold around you. What I didn’t expect – which is really my own fault, given the ominous font in the title and single weathered white chair to sit on at the experience – was that Kitchen was a horror experience. Here’s the thing, I’m a horror fan, I love the genre. I love watching it on my couch though, and not actively partaking in it. Once I put on the Morpheus headset, “Press Any Button” appeared, and I obliged. Then something awesome happened. The world of Kitchen became my world. The screen came to life in front of my eyes and all around me. I could look everywhere, see everything. I looked down to see my own abdomen, legs and hands. I could move them! I could also see a body laying in the corner. Here we go.
You can really feel the atmosphere. Everything is dirty and rusted. No one has been here in a long time. With the provided noise-cancelling headphones, you’re completely immersed in the experience. You hear every little creak and groan, and you can look everywhere to see what is causing it; It’s actually pretty scary! The guy wakes up, tries to free you from the chair and is then attacked by a monster akin to the ghost girl from The Ring movies. She is terrifying, and she is very much right in front of you, looking at you, sniffing you, groaning at you. After a violent scene unfolds, you’re left to listen as some bad things are happening in the room next to you, and when she returns for you, the ending made me nearly jump out of my seat.
The cool thing about Morpheus is that it’s VR but with PS4-level graphics. The surrounding elements look good, the characters are eerily lifelike, enough that it’s extremely unnerving to watch one get stabbed and killed in front of you, even though you know you’re in a game. Having a world completely surround you is something that I’ve never seen done quite right. Morpheus’s graphics aren’t perfect – you can obviously still tell it’s a game, but they nailed the atmosphere and sound. You’re completely immersed. So as the graphics approach that photo-realistic plateau, what we may see in the future could be something that truly blows everything out of the water. Imagine playing sports games as the actual player you’re controlling. Seeing the ice through their eyes and making plays as you would on a real rink. Imagine playing more ominous horror games through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s a really exciting time to be a gamer!
Thanks to Fan Expo 2015, Robert Ayre and Maria Cortellucci from Media Profile and Richard Guntner from Playstation for setting up this great experience, and to Fan Expo 2015 for the hospitality! I had a blast!