The Playstation Experience is basically like a miniature E3 that also happens to be all about the obvious – Playstation. They go around the nation setting up these little conventions full of not-yet-released games with demos, new tech being showcased, panels with industry people, new game reveals or ports (Windjammers!), and some gaming tournaments and stuff like that. I heard it was happening real close by in Anaheim and while it was very difficult to go at all I managed to go along with my brother, so I figured it’d be worth writing something up about it and do a bit of a walkthrough of my time there. I will say right off the bat – not much in the way of Japanese video games, sadly.
Anyway, first is a complaint; the badge-pickup was fucking terrible. Worse than Anime Expo at it’s lowest – embarrassing and inexcusable, especially for something run by a multi-billion dollar corporation. While the 3 hours we waited pails in comparison to the full day some may wait to get their AX badge, the fact is the line actually MOVES and is just insanely long due to the ~100,000 people attending. In the case of PSE I’d say it didn’t even hit 20k total from the looks of it, and the line was only at most maybe a thousand people back when we got there, the problem wasn’t the amount of people but the incompetence in running it. They only let very few people in to pick up their PRE-ORDERED badges so the line rarely moved and when it did it was only by a handful of people meaning you’d move maybe a foot or two forward. It was pathetic and aside a giant TV blocked by a bunch of trees built in to the convention center’s walkways and only a handful of speakers near the front there was absolutely nothing to keep you interested or entertained. At first there was even ANOTHER line that you had to wait in AFTER getting your badge just to actually use the badge to get in, it was so fucking stupid and luckily didn’t exist by the time we got our badges.
Things went up from there though, the actual convention hall was very cool with loads of different kiosks set up to try all sorts of various games from AAA to indie – a lot of PSVR games though which I don’t recommend unless you want pinkeye and motion sickness. If my brother hadn’t owned a PSVR (prior to returning it shortly after getting it) I might have been tempted but no, I knew better. Some of the booths had seriously long lines, no surprise that included the Persona 5 one which luckily I don’t give much of a shit about, but it would have been cool to get some hands-on time with it to see if that’d make me hate everything about it less before buying it and HOPING it’s not as bad as I expect blindly. Other games were there that I was interested in like Ace Combat 7, but the demo was entirely with VR so I passed.
Mixed in with all this was a big booth for Call of Duty which was only big because it was hilariously just a CoD tournament even with fucking commentators doing their retarded shit live. It was embarrassing not only because “e-sports” in general, but because absolutely nobody gave a shit, and was very silly to see. They had a “pro” team doing signings and they were actually nice guys, I got a poster they all signed because, well, I’ll get to that now.
One thing Sony DID do that was incredibly smart was “gamifying” the entire event. Your badge had some technology I don’t really know anything about but basically the entire badge itself was a scannable thing and most booths would scan it after you tried their game. The point of the scans is that they track all the things you’ve done and if you get the app on your phone you can try earning various “achievements” and even earn free PSN downloads like free limited edition PS4 themes and DLC unlocks such as new weapon skins and such for game. Hell, some booths apparently were giving away free game codes entirely to prior releases if you were able to beat their sequel demo. Along with that some of the booths had really cool collectable high quality cards so you could have something more physical for your adventures, which is the thing I wanted more than the scans. But yes, this is why I now have a signed esports poster from some call of duty players – because I got a cool little shiny card out of it. 2 actually.
There were a lot of pretty cool booth setups too, especially the Uncharted 4 Survival one which was straight out of the line for a Disneyland ride. Great setpieces to fit the setting and theme like a bust of the pirate king from the game, skeletons hanging up in those prison cells pirates would hang on trees, fake palm trees, and even a wobbly wooden bridge you had to go over to get to the actual area with the game stations. Other setups weren’t as cool as that one but there were plenty of fairly neat ones like fake Mars for some VR game and a big Lego setup for the new upcoming Lego Worlds game. Resident Evil 7 also had a cool little house design but it purposefully blocked the view of anyone not in it. Another great one would be the MLB sports bar setup which was even actually a working sports bar.
As for what I did, not nearly as much as most people probably would, but it was definitely fun and enjoyable but you will want to bring a friend for sure or it would probably be boring unless you are VERY interested in standing in lines alone and having nobody to discuss what you’ve played or shit talk it with after you try something out.
I tried I think four games, but can only remember 3, and also saw a very short portion of the Kojima and Doritos Pope panel as well as the Last of Us 2 reveal (well they revealed it earlier in the day) panel with Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. While I’m not a huge fan of any of them it was still cool to be able to say I’ve seen Kojima and Troy Baker and stuff in person and pretty close, others were there as well like Laura Bailey, Tim Turi and even Mark Cerny being sensual out and about in the convention hall. Apparently some actual pseudo celebrity from a popular current running sitcom was there as well, I didn’t recognize him because I don’t watch TV and apparently most other people didn’t either. Sadly – for him – the E-sports team had more security than he did.
The games I do remember playing don’t include Persona 5, Yakuza 0, or the new Miku game, they were there but the latter two had long lines and Miku having too many staffers to bother you at which I wanted to avoid. What we played first was a game I hadn’t heard of called Dreadnought, a space flight combat sim but with the twist of being in big as shit slow-moving battleships, destroyers, artillery cruisers, and of course dreadnoughts. It’s a pvp game with two teams of I think like 6 players each and because of the slow movement of the players due to their size there’s a definite feeling of needing to play smart from the very first time you sit down with it. It’s not a twitch shooter and it’s not a camping game either, it’s fast paced in that you never feel bored or feel that Battlefield slog of returning to where the fight’s actually at, but it’s slow in that you need to strategize or you’ll be fucked in terms of positioning yourself, in customization (not available here really), and even to where you’re putting your power at any given time as you can swap it between 3 focuses at any time (engines, shields, or weapons). It was actually very fun and just felt cool commanding such a big ship, the controls were smartly set up too and even made good use of the touch pad on the PS4 controller. I really recommend checking this one out if theres an open beta in the future or to sign up for the closed one if it sounds like something you might like. In my first try I went 9 kills and 1 death, maybe I can become an esports pro now too.
The second game was another good one (though honestly I liked Dreadnoughts the most of the show) – Uncharted 4 Survival. I’m not sure if this is DLC, an expansion, a free MP patch or whatever else but it’s a 3-player co-op game against waves of enemies. It’s reminiscent of Mass Effect 3’s MP or that new Gears of War horde mode. You play together to try and survive through lots of enemy attacks and can save up money throughout to buy better guns and more ammo until you eventually face the boss and beat the mission. The trailers said there are 50 waves in some missions but the one they gave us was obviously not that long or the line would never end, it was 10 waves but most people were dying at around 7 or to the final boss (a flaming pirate-ghost-skeleton-thing?). My brother, myself, and one random dude were able to beat it though, and it was definitely really fun. Having only played the older Uncharted games and not even to completion I was surprised by how much better it controlled and I just happen to like co-op stuff so this was a cool game. It’s also worth mentioning that the AI felt a lot smarter than I’ve come to expect from games which made it a genuine challenge. This whole game was made more fun by the fact my headphones had almost no volume so instead of gunshots and grunts I got to listen to the booth staff tell tales I won’t explain so nobody gets in trouble about a certain demographic of “gamers” who they’ve dealt with during that day having problems realizing even basics like using the right stick to move the camera which was hilarious.
The last game was Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. This one became an in-joke between my brother and I pretty early on during the event just seeing it at all. Turns out it totally deserved to be that because before we left we decided to try it out after making fun of it for hours already and figuring it deserved a chance. The line was short – it was always short the entire day – because the demo was fucking terrible. First off, it took – and I did time it – over 5 minutes to load the actual game, and for some reason they closed and restarted the game every single time (already shouldn’t have done that) and then didn’t even push X to start the long part of the load and instead waited for the new group of attendees to do it themselves and sit there for all that time just waiting as well as those in the line forced to stand and watch a loading screen on all the monitors. After that the actual game had no “end” point and you were simply cut off when the guys (supposedly devs based on their shirts saying they are the devs, but probably not) randomly chose to stop everyone and bring new people in. This was consistently with one exception within the 15 minute range which is ridiculous at an event like this and feels even worse when the game takes so fucking long to even start.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is something I struggle to explain, the amount of ineptitude in the presentation here at the event and just how bad the game is combined makes for something astounding and unbelievable. Who would ever decide to showcase their upcoming game this way? First you had the load times and the “however long we feel like it” play time, and you also have that brazen attempt to fucking trick consumers into thinking this is Ghost Recon 3 which worked on everyone I’ve talked to about it and my brother who was even there seeing it himself. Second, you have the fact this game was on display right in the middle of the convention hall almost – they spent so much money for this spot to show this pile of shit. Then you had the graphics, it looked like CoD Modern Warfare 2, no excuse especially for a game apparently coming out in April. But, worst of all would be something that was obvious while waiting in line and watching other people play it – the game is pure fucking boredom. It’s not busywork, it’s not sneaking stealthily, it’s not that type of “slow but fun for some” situation – but pure actual nothing but boring.
You start the game and the first thing you do, and all you really do for the whole fucking thing, is slowly walk behind an NPC partner while the two characters spew horribly written dialogue with their horrible acting abilities to one another. Then you crouch and move even slower past some wolves. Then you FINALLY after several minutes (again, this is not a full game but A WAY TO SHOW THE GAME TO CONSUMERS) get to SHOOT something in a game called fucking SNIPER GHOST WARRIOR 3…and it’s a half-dead tree. Yup. Not only that, but if you’re a sniper (let alone a ghost warrior, whatever that means) why are you blowing the fuck out of giant trees next to the place you’re about to try and assault? Well you get past that and you finally kill someone…with melee in a game called SNIPER GHOST WARRIOR 3. Then you learn that there are a bunch of enemies out in this weird area with ruins or some shit so you’re ready to kill some dudes. Nope. Use the drone and scout them! NOW you can kill them, but actually you can’t until he tells you which ones to kill and ends up not killing the other one half the time and making you automatically game-over from being caught even though you’re miles away on a mountain. Absolutely nobody but ONE PERSON I saw the entire day (and I saw a lot of people playing this for whatever fucking reason) ever got to SHOOT SOMEONE IN A GAME CALLED SNIPER GHOST WARRIOR 3 as this part was near impossible to get to in time and would straight up crash half the time too. Beyond any of that the gameplay also just sucked and felt bland, though it was hilarious when I got too far into the game by essentially speedrunning through it so they cut our group off from playing earlier than every other one as they didn’t want people to get to the actual gameplay for whatever (the game is shit and filled with bugs) reason.
Bad games aren’t news – but this was the part of the game THEY CHOSE to show off at the Playstation Experience that they paid for center showroom space at. Who would think this is the fucking way you should present the game? You do absolutely NOTHING yet you’re sitting there for upwards of 15 fucking minutes and you’re drawing people in with middle aged booth babes and a trailer showing nonstop action and actual sniping. Why did this happen? Hell, all they had to do was cut this playable scenario to start right at the drone part and have the players scout the area, kill the guys, and be done there. Instead you spend 14 minutes getting there, 1 minute trying to fly this shitty drone, and then told time is up before finding out the booth DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A FUCKING COLLECTOR CARD! Ironically this is the only fucking badge scan that I won anything from – a fucking Playstation themed skin for a gun in this pile of shit game. I just don’t understand why THIS is what they chose to show off, a section of the game where you do nothing but shoot a goddamn tree with magical sniper vision showing you the weak point.
With that out of the way we checked some other lines but they were all really pretty long and not worth waiting for as I wasn’t feeling great and also hadn’t eaten in about 20 hours on top of everything else. Plus Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 made me sick, surely. Overall though I have to say this was really an enjoyable time and it’s cool trying out games early on even before closed “betas” and just being in a mini-E3 style atmosphere. I definitely recommend going if this is ever near your area but it’s not something worth getting a hotel room or going more than one day for as there’s not AS much as you’d expect unless you want to do 100% of everything because of lines then maybe a 2-day, still not worth flying to or booking a room for. BUT, again, if it’s near enough to drive to for the day absolutely check it out – and it’s different every time due to the nature of the industry so there might be a lot more games you’re interested in, but even if not it’s just a cool thing to do for a day. Even Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is going to be a hilarious and completely confusing memory for me for years to come rather than a negative at all.
Oh, and you got cool shit for just going at all – when you get your badge you got a bag of goodies that weren’t just trash including a nice water bottle, hand sanitizer, sunglasses(????), a very cute little PS4 shaped box to hold your cards, a bronze trophy card, a nice cloth-poster, and even a free t-shirt in your size.
There were also a lot of manlets. I mean nearly Danny Devito size but college age and not fat, little miniature dudebros. Sad!