While it seems these days that everyone and their dog puts on a showcase just because they can (cheers for trying, Gearbox, but maybe stay home next year), there used to be a time when publishers announcing their very own online events would be just about the most exciting thing happening that week. That was certainly the case when Sony announced the first State of Play, their alternative to E3 very obviously inspired by Nintendo’s Directs.
With March 25th, 2019 set as the date for State of Play’s debut, fan expectation was sky high. Would we see some surprise reveals? Maybe new updates on The Last of us Part II? Knack? No, here’s some VR games. Buy a PlayStation VR.
While the show wasn’t terrible in hindsight and definitely better than Gearbox’s (seriously, guys, don’t bring your presentation to class if you don’t have anything to show), it’s easy to see why fans were so massively disappointed by the inaugural State of Play. Directs have conditioned fans to expect reveal after reveal, hit after hit, but State of Play was just kind of okay by comparison. It was like The Order: 1886 – The Stream.
Subsequent State of Plays have been much better at setting expectations and it’s now become a hallmark of the PlayStation brand, with a new one seemingly not far away thanks to Geoff Keighley’s cheeky mouth. The man of a thousand shoes said that a full reveal for Death Stranding: Director’s Cut was “just weeks away” during his recent Summer Game Fest showcase. With Death Stranding: Director’s Cut looking like being a PS5 exclusive of some kind and Sony skipping E3, a new State of Play seems likely this June or July.
Before then, it’s worth looking back on the games revealed at the first ever State of Play to see how they ended up, or whether they actually came out — that’s not always the case with showcase games, of course. If nothing else, let this be a reminder to you that Blood and Truth absolutely whips.
The Games From The First Ever State of Play
Iron Man VR
Developer: Camouflaj Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: July 3rd, 2020
The only real major announcement of the whole State of Play, Iron Man VR was pure wish fulfillment when it was revealed, a VR game that allowed you to fly around and zap bad guys like the sunburnt tin can himself.
It would be over a year before the game would finally release, nabbing itself some pretty solid reviews in the process. Sitting at a 73 on Metacritic, critics praised Iron Man VR in the immersion stakes but did criticise its short length and repetitive waves of enemies.
Debuting at #2 in the UK physical games chart, Iron Man VR seems to have been a success, though exact figures are hard to come by. Maybe we’ll get a sequel on PS5?
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Developer: Beenox Publisher: Activision Release Date: June 21st, 2019
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled had another showing at State of Play, this time focusing on its PS4 exclusive content, including skins and tracks. The exclusive stuff made sense considering the original was one of the PS1 games you had to have, but sucks to be you if you played it elsewhere.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled would go on to be a massive success for Activision, the best-selling game in the UK in its August launch month. Reviews were also highly positive with critics praising the content on offer and updated yet still faithful driving — it sits at an 83 for its PS4 version.
Developer: Hello Games Publisher: 505 Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: August 14, 2019 (VR)
Hello Games debuted a trailer for a new VR-centric update, No Man’s Sky Beyond, which would finally bring virtual reality to the galaxy-hopping exploration sim on PS4 and PC.
No specific sales or reviews are all that available for the update, but it’s worth highlighting just how good a job Hello Games have done over the years in keeping No Man’s Sky updated. It’s like a brand new damn game in 2021.
Yes, it never should have been sold the way it was to begin with and the fact that it was should never really be forgotten, but that Hello Games have worked so hard over five years to properly bring their vision to life is worthy of some praise.
Developer: Robot Entertainment Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: October 1st, 2019
ReadySet Heroes is one of the most important games in recent PlayStation history. I’m not joking.
One of only a handful of games to simultaneously launch on PC as well as PS4, this Sony published game would also make its debut on the Epic Games Store over Steam as Epic and Sony seemed to strengthen their working relationship. Sony continue to invest heavily in Epic Games, and also to release their previously exclusively PS4 games on PC, though nowadays on both Steam and EGS.
Oh, you want to know about the game itself? It, erm, definitely came out.
A co-op dungeon crawler, ReadySet Heroes launched to tepid reviews and sits at a 57 on Metacritic for its PS4 version. It never seemed to garner much attention, with its developers Robot Entertainment now focused on launching Orcs Must Die! 3 this July.
Ready, set, forget.
Blood & Truth
Developer: London Studio Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: May 28th, 2019
A continuation from a section within VR Worlds, Blood & Truth had a new outing at the first State of Play, a gameplay-centric trailer that showed off the bladdy Britishness of it all, you slags. Phil Mitchell. West Ham. Apples and also the pears.
A PSVR exclusive, Blood & Truth released to strong reviews, it sitting at an 80 on Metacritic. Reviewers praised its cinematic and bombastic setpieces, though some criticism did come for the limitations of the headset itself. Players seemed to agree with its praise, as Blood & Truth hit #1 in sales charts in the UK — the first VR game to do so.
Again, play Blood & Truth. Let’s get another one. Don’t tell me what to want, you ain’t my mother (yes I am).
Developer: No Code Publisher: Devolver Digital Release Date: May 21, 2019
A slightly odd game to include in State of Play as it released just a couple of months later, Observation is a fascinating sci-fi game where you play as an AI on a space station in the midst of a crisis.
Observation released to strong reviews from critics, its PS4 version sitting at a more than respectable 75, though the scores range from as low as a 3 all the way up to a 9. It’s a similar story for its user reviews, with a 6.4 for its PS4 version.
However, Observation made headlines mostly for being an EGS timed exclusive on PC at a time when anti-Epic sentiment was arguably at its most fervent. Observation belatedly released last year for Steam and Xbox One, its Steam page overflowing with Very Positive reviews. Worth the wait, then.
Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted
Developer: Steel Wool Studios Publisher: ScottGames, Lionsgate Games Release Date: October 8th, 2019
A game that I’m almost scared of mentioning anything subjective about for fear of the FNAF army tying me to a chair and making me play the same game for five years over and over again, Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted was one of the only major reveals at the first State of Play.
Basically the jumpscare factory of FNAF but in the form of mini-games in virtual reality instead, Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted (or FNAFVRHW, to give it its snappy name) reached the highs of an 80 on Metacritic.
As for the FNAF series itself, a few more games have released in the time since, but it will continue without its head honcho, Scott Cawthon, at the helm as he stepped back from FNAF in the midst of political controversy.
Developer: Pixelopus Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: May 28th, 2019
Concrete Genie, the charming PS4 exclusive about a boy painting a seaside town back to life alongside his art monsters, enjoyed a new outing at State of Play as well, this one focused on its story. The whole game’s a real delight, but its story is the stuff to make your heart feel nice and warm.
Even though it was published by Sony themselves, there was never much of a sense that Concrete Genie really got pushed as hard as it could have with it barely scraping into sales charts. Critics largely enjoyed the game with Concrete Genie hitting a 75 on Metacritic, though it did have some criticism for its length.
Developer: Bend Studio Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: April 26th, 2019
The most Marmite PS4 exclusive ever had a new story trailer showcased at State of Play, this one focusing more on the impossibly named Deacon St. John and his turmoil. No matter your thoughts on the game itself, we can all agree that Deacon St. John is a daft, daft name.
Days Gone released to mostly positive reviews with opinions seemingly wildly differing wherever you looked, it snagging itself an underwhelming 71 on Metacritic. A lot of criticisms were aimed at the terrible technical state of the game at launch, which has since been patched, but the patchy storytelling also came under fire. Its fans love freaking around with those Freakers, though — it’s great fun, if nothing else.
As for the future of Days Gone, well, it looks like it’s even more closely tied to Syphon Filter than we thought as it might be laying dormant for a long time. Bend pitched a sequel that Sony rejected, with the studio now working on another, different open world game. Bit weird, especially with them already laying a lot of the groundwork for a sequel that they teed up perfectly, but it is what it is.
Mortal Kombat 11
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Release Date: April 23rd, 2019
Nothing says “we didn’t really think this one through” like closing on a trailer for an already announced multi-platform game when Days Gone was right there. It’s a choice that’s hard to understand on the face of it, though Mortal Kombat 11did go on to be the fourth best-selling PS4 game of 2019, so the choice makes a bit more sense. Still, though, it’s Mortal Kombat — it kind of sells itself. I can rip this person’s spine out through their nose and then play it like a woodwind instrument? My money, take it.
Mortal Kombat 11 was a massive success critically and commercially, with its PS4 version hitting an 82 on Metacritic. Its pretty viscera garnered plenty of praise, though there were some criticisms of its story mode and online play.
The game’s been re-released like ten times since its initial 2019 berth, with its Aftermath expansion adding to the story and Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate combining all its many fragments of DLC into one complete package. Well, until the next pack, probably. Fighting games never really seem to just cost the RRP, but hey, that guy’s got an arm off!
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