Sony’s E3 2018 conference couldn’t have been more different from Microsoft’s this year. In a complete departure from its usually explosive trailer montage, the pace was slower and more deliberate this time around – “a deeper dive,” as it was touted. There was an odd intermission between the awesome gameplay reveal of The Last of Us II, and even once the show-proper got going it didn’t last long enough to reach the climax of previous years.
Microsoft’s own conference, on the other hand, was a vintage year for the publisher – not difficult, of course, given how lackluster the past few have been, but it was absolutely a big statement of intent. The slew of game announcements included the return of the Holy Trinity – Halo, Gears, and Forza – and new studio acquisitions laid down a marker for the future. It was exactly the sort of meaty E3 showing that the Xbox brand needed to put itself right back in the spotlight.
Yet still, even in the face of such a substantial and aggressive conference from Microsoft, Sony’s still reached loftier heights. Sure, we knew of their existence prior to the showcase, but the reveal of gameplay for The Last of Us Part II, Ghosts of Tsushima, and Death Stranding was more compelling than anything we saw from Microsoft’s exclusives. And if we’re comparing punchy moments, the Resident Evil 2 Remake reveal was arguably the most dramatic of E3 so far.
Ultimately, Sony’s showing of quality exclusive games still makes it the more appealing platform in the long run.
Only days ago, one of my colleagues wrote of Sony’s ability to win E3 on cruise control, and that’s exactly what’s happened. As impressive a showing as Microsoft’s was, you’d have to say that an average consumer weighing up the decision of which console to buy still chooses the PS4 every time – particularly when Gears of War 5 has no release date, Halo Infinity is supposedly a long way off, and there’s still no new AAA exclusive IP in the works. Don’t get me wrong, the Xbox brand has a bright future, but when it comes to quality games, Sony’s reputation has been hard earned and absolutely looks set to continue. Seriously, have we ever seen three prettier games in one conference? And all three with scintillating gameplay and fascinating narrative premises, nonetheless. I might have already known all about them, but I just feel like I’ve seen something so unique and special that they’ve hit harder than any CGI trailer or logo reveal for a new IP.
There will be plenty out there who disagree, of course; those who will say that the conference was too brief, poorly paced, and void of enough new game announcements to make a fuss over. But I’d remind them that Sony arrives at this year’s E3 in this position after having dominated a string of conferences prior. They find themselves in a position of luxury, able to nurture quality games with a library so deep and critically acclaimed that peppering in new announcements isn’t necessary right now.
In the end, Microsoft and Sony’s E3 conferences were polar opposites, and they were symbolic of each company’s differing fortunes during the eighth console generation. Microsoft’s weakened position required them to wow us with a show of force this time around, and while they certainly achieved volume, there were still questions left answered. Sony, on the other hand, came with the intention of impressing by delivering on the promise of past CGI trailers, and in that, they absolutely delivered in every respect.
If this console generation truly does only has a year or two left in the tank as we suspect it might, after E3 2018, the PS4 still looks set to remain dominant where the Xbox might sadly be a case of too little too late.