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Ups and downs from last night’s PlayStation State of Play

At midnight on Wednesday, South African gamers got to stay up and watch PlayStation showcase some of its upcoming new and hotly anticipated titles at the first State of Play live stream of 2024.

We got to see new footage for Stellar Blade and Rise of the Ronin, of course as they were the only games advertised, as well as expected titles like an update to Sonic Generations, some movements in the Silent Hill space, and a lot of time dedicated to Hideo Kojima and his bewildering universe in an extended look at Death Stranding 2.

You can watch the full show in the embedded video below:

We have some thoughts on all the games that were revealed:

Helldivers 2 – Up

The State of Play from PlayStation started with some more gameplay footage of Helldivers 2, the team shooter that pits you and some pals against hordes of giant alien bugs. It’s like EDF and Starship Troopers both in looks, gameplay and weirdly also in tone.

The game is coming out in February, and every little bit more we get our eyes on shows some bombastic over-the-top action and new locations, gear, weapons and enemies. Finally, this short trailer also revealed what looks like a walker that takes a page out of Starcraft’s Goliath unit which will be “coming soon just after launch.”

Helldivers is getting a mech. It’s got to be an up.

We’re not sure if this will be DLC or will feature in a free update, but we’d like it to be the latter. Helldivers 2 isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not, wearing its influences on its sleeve.

Stellar Blade – Down

We got a longer look at some of the storyline beats from South Korea’s Stellar Blade, an action game that features Souls-like giant boss battles and Devil May Cry over-the-top combat. The majority is focused on the protagonist – Eve, a soldier and member of the 7th Airborne squad – who must stop an alien race called the Naytiba from destroying what’s left of a post-apocalyptic earth.

Side characters are introduced, as well as the dropping of a bunch of in-universe terms that will probably have even the most fervent Final Fantasy 13 fan scratching their head. While the game is graphically gorgeous, the physics engine is jiggling things in a way we have not seen in a while, we’re a little disappointed by the stereotypical and tropey elements of the narrative.

You’re not slick, Stellar Blade, we know the Capra Demon when we see it.

Eve is a super soldier who is considered close to a deity by the survivors of Earth, both feared and hated. She seems like the most Mary Sue character in all the world. Stellar Blade looks great, but it also looks like the developers took their favourite parts from Neir Automata, Final Fantasy 15, and Bayonetta and fused them with a hearty, hearty helping of fan service. From the bosses to the storyline, on closer inspection, there may not be anything novel about Stellar Blade.

Sonic X Shadow Generations – Up

As per the State of Play, this is a 3D Sonic for the PlayStation 5. Sonic Generations is getting a remaster, and the developers are adding Shadow the Hedgehog as a new playable character. And it’s the Shadow, straight out of the 2005 classic. This would be a super up if there was some footage of Shadow wielding an AR 15 like he did back in the day.

Nothing personnel.

I’m sure the Shadow fans are up too. *Teleports behind you.*

Zenless Zone Zero (ZZZ) – Down

A new title is in the works from Genshin Impact makers Hoyoverse, and they may not have realised that in English-speaking countries “ZZZ” is usually shorthand for sleepytime noises. It looks like the same old, same old from the devs. Nothing much to say here. More waifus for the waifu throne.

Foamstars – Down

More Foamstars was shown off, not that anyone asked for it. We’re sure that the game will be fine. It’s a Splatoon. But don’t tell that to Square Enix. Release date dropped: 6th February 2024.

Dave the Diver – Up

The sleeper hit of 2023, Dave the Diver, is getting a PlayStation 5 port in April and a bunch of new content, including a weird cross-over with Godzilla. We’re not sure if this is Toho Godzilla or Legendary Godzilla, but we’re leaning towards the latter as Big G’s in his extra nuclear form from King of the Monsters.

Another short look, we’re here for it.

Rising – Down

We’re not quite sure what Rising is, but we think it could be the strange lovechild of Diablo, the Legacy of Kain and Minecraft. There’s some interesting boss fights on display, the kind you’ll find in Blizzard’s game, with the arena clearing mechanics. There was a small glimpse of what looks like the main character harvesting a tree, so we expected some base-building or crafting mechanics but we only got Diablo.

It’s Vampire Diablo. Heavy on the Diablo easy on the vampire, even if it looks like you’ll be able to terrify some peasants. It’s coming out this year, and with Microsoft scooping up Blizzard, it could benefit Sony to have their own Diablo on the PlayStation.

We’re back to Silent Hill – Up and Down

Despite plumbing the abyssal depths of psychological horror, where monster designs are based on mental illnesses, the scariest thing about Silent Hill is that it is owned by Konami Digital Entertainment.

Here we go with two new Silent Hill games, a new first-person survival horror and the return of a legend. Silent Hill: The Short Message is already out and free to play, and takes the player into the depths of Silent Hill with only a malfunctioning smartphone and the memories of all the people who you have wronged in your past.

The graphical fidelity is excellent, and the game could be tackling some darker themes on the influence that social media holds on depressed individuals, even driving them towards suicidal thoughts. It looks odd, and unusual and we hope there’s something new to tread here in a gameplay sense. We have seen similar footage to that of the trailer in the first half of Resident Evil 7 and even some Source-made indie horror games.

We’re not sure why it’s already out and free to play. But we don’t trust that it’s for any good reason.

Konami saved the best for last, as the highly anticipated remaster of Silent Hill 2 received a lengthy gameplay trailer. Fans of the original will see glimpses of all the best parts of the 2001 classic, including some iconic Silent Hill enemies. We knew that this was coming, and now that it’s here all we have to say is that we’re happy for you if you were excited about this.

We hate to say that we’re a little bit underwhelmed with the reveal as the developers’ remastering is falling in the slavish category. We’re hoping when we get hands-on that there will be something new and interesting to be had and it’s not just a fancy rehashing.

Judas – Up

If you ever said what 2024 needs is a new BioShock game, you’d probably be the only person who said that particular phrase. But lo and behold, the patron saint of pretentious first-person shooters – Kevin Levine – has returned with a new studio and new title.

Judas sees you take the helm of a new feminine protagonist who has to fight their way through a space station infested with mutants, all the while social commentary happens to you as you steampunk pistol and plasmid your way to your objective.

Move over Atomic Heart, we actually do have BioShock at home.

The original BioShock is one of the best games ever made, and if Levine can capture even a bit of that magic, then this is definitely an up.

New PSVR 2 titles – Up

PlayStation VR 2, while more powerful than its predecessor in a way that patches over some of the original’s limitations, it lacked titles for most of its launch year. 2024 holds promise for the system, however, as Sony has announced two new PSVR titles coming out this year.

The first is Metro: Awakening, set in the Metro 2033 universe based on the books from Dmitry Glukhovsky. The series has been quietly plodding along, in its lane and keeping to itself. We weren’t given much here with Awakening, only the gist. It’s Metro, but in VR. If you like the sound of that, you’ll probably like this one.

A stranger title followed it with Legendary Tales – touting itself as an Action Role Playing Game (ARPG) – which means there’s more to this than the mindless slaughtering of undead. It looks like the most fun game in the world. The developers have sacrificed graphical fidelity for insane amounts of control and reactivity. You can pick up skeletons and punch them.

We’re just going to leave this here.

You can parry slashes and stabs in real time. We cannot stress enough how badly we need this game. Especially if all the different playstyles shown in the trailer turn out to be truly in-depth.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Up

This is such an up. Polished to a near sheen. Capcom is pulling out all the stops on this one and we cannot wait. The State of Play showcased even more fantastic gameplay footage for the cult classic’s sequel, soon to be for the PlayStation 5.

Rise of the Ronin – Up

This was the second game that PlayStation announced would feature in the State of Play, and dedicated a good seven minutes to the latest RPG from Team Ninja. This time we’re going less Nioh and more The Witcher 3 set in Japan at the onset of opening up to Western influence. Though the Nioh DNA is still plain to see, especially with the UI which is almost a copy of the one in Nioh 2.

Also unlike Nioh 2, Rise of the Ronin is an open-world game. There are boss fights, travelling mechanics, vehicles, different types of weapons and armours, new characters and heavy story beats. We’re hoping Team Ninja can pull it off because what we saw in the PlayStation State of Play footage is ambitious, to say the least.

Until Dawn Remaster – Down

A short teaser is all we received of Until Dawn, now “rebuilt and enhanced for PS5 and PC.” While this one was anticipated, we would have liked some actual gameplay and not brief, pre-rendered glimpses of environments and characters bearing their most pretend-to-be-scared faces.

The Hideo Kojima Hour (featuring Death Stranding 2) – Up and Down

The final nearly 10 minutes of the State of Play stream was dedicated to Hideo Kojima, thanks PlayStation. We received an extended look at Death Stranding 2 and some of the footage defies explanation. Director George Miller (Mad Max) gets a cameo right at the beginning, and then it’s Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux and they’re grey for some reason.

And there’s a puppet that talks? And Reedus has the puppet serving as a kind of Mimir to Kratos role. But besides the insane visuals to be had, including some honestly breathtaking environments, it looks like the gameplay is more of the same. You are a postman and must deliver. New vehicles are to be controlled, and new enemies are revealed. There’s also, maybe, a bit more focus on combat gameplay in this one.

The end of the trailer has Troy Baker acting as the Joker and then he has a fight scene with a lightning-spewing guitar gun and you can see his intestines from behind a translucent armour piece. For most of the footage we were watching passively, but the lengthy guitar fight had us sit right up. Now this is podracing.

The man himself appears after the gameplay has concluded, alongside Herman Hulst, the head of PlayStation, to announce that he is making a movie (and interactive espionage game at the same time?) with Sony Pictures. At long last all those celeb cameos have paid off. Dreams do come true. How can a game be a movie at the same time? Well, let’s wait and see.

Your Final Fantasy is in another State of Play – Down

Everyone waiting to see something from Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth will have to wait for 6th February 2024. Sorry for you.

No Bloodborne Remaster (still) – Down

If enough people hope for it really, really hard, it has to happen right? Right…?

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