Sony’s September State of Play showcase aired only a few hours after Nintendo’s much-anticipated Direct event. While Nintendo showed off new games like Pikmin 4, Octopath Traveller II, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Sony’s event was a bit more low-key.
Sony doesn’t have as much to show off this year as Nintendo, but 2023 will still be a much busier year for the PlayStation 5 than 2022. Sony’s slate hinges entirely on Horizon: Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok this year–but those are two pretty great games to hang a fiscal year on. Ragnarok, for instance, is one of the most hyped-up games of the year, and gaming journalists expect it to be a serious Game of the Year contender.
So, let’s break down the biggest reveals and headlines from the State of Play showcase. From new Tekken titles to shiny merch tie-ins for Ragnarok, here are the coolest stories from Sony’s latest live-streamed event.
When you want to talk about 3D fighting games, the word Tekken is sure to come up. Along with its sibling franchise, Soul Calibur, Tekken helped to define the 3D fighting genre. Its buttery-smooth animations, eye-catching characters, and addictive gameplay all helped to make the earliest Tekken entries among the most popular cabinets in any arcade.
The series is back once more in Tekken 8, a new installment that promises to up the ante and intensifies the action once more. The trailer features an extremely smooth-looking fight between Jin and Kazuya, complete with some of the mind-blowing graphics the Tekken series is known for.
During the battle, Jin seems to tap into the Devil Gene and use it to power up his moves. He does so without converting into his uncontrollable evil form, Devil Jin, which indicates the storyline might center around his struggles to control his inner demons. The trailer doesn’t include any indication of a release date or even a release window like “2023,” so the game’s eventual release timing is anyone’s guess.
Like a Dragon: Ishin!
Ishin is a spin-off of the Yakuza sub-series Like a Dragon, and, if that’s not enough layers of removal for you, it’s also a remake of an older PS3 and PS4 title that never got localized in the West. The Yakuza franchise has received a huge boost in popularity in the West in the past decade, with Sega pouring a lot of resources into localizing and updating older games in the series.
For those who don’t know, the Yakuza series started as a straightforward action franchise about criminals in the Japanese underworld–think Grand Theft Auto meets Shenmue. However, as the franchise continued to gain popularity, it became more outlandish and idiosyncratic with each subsequent entry, introducing more of that trademark Sega wackiness.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! falls more into that “wacky” side of the spectrum, as it’s a period piece set in 1867 and features over-the-top action like samurai tossing swords at people, characters summoning tigers to attack their foes, and extreme soap opera-style melodrama. You know, normal Yakuza stuff! The game will hit the PS5 in February 2023.
The highly-anticipated but extremely controversial Hogwarts Legacy got a new trailer during the State of Play event. Nothing about the game itself is that controversial, notably–it’s the series’ creator, JK Rowling, who has recently drawn criticism for her online statements regarding transgender people, that has given some players pause when discussing the new game set in her fictional universe.
Irrespective of Rowling’s involvement (or lack thereof) in the game’s creation, Legacy looks like an impressive RPG that takes full advantage of its fantastical setting. The gameplay looks reminiscent of other action-based western RPGs like Fable, albeit with the look and feel of the Harry Potter movies.
The State of Play event revealed a PlayStation-exclusive quest for the upcoming multiplatform title, the Haunted Hogsmead Shop quest. This horror-tinged quest will involve the player character meeting with a shopkeeper looking to sell an apparentl -haunted shop in the famous Hogsmead district, complete with creepy mannequins and spooky ghosts. Sadly, the game won’t release anytime near Halloween; instead, it’s slated to hit stores on February 23, 2023.
Part of the live-streamed event was set aside for an in-depth description of a bizarre new loyalty program PlayStation is rolling out, called PlayStation Stars. The system will reward players with digital “collectibles” that sound suspiciously like NFTs, the much-maligned crypto-adjacent technology that revolutionized owning JPEGs. Thankfully, the showcase made no note of the words “blockchain” or “NFT,” but the program seems to have been inspired by the nascent NFT marketplace.
The program will allow players to earn points by completing specific tasks in their games, and will reward them with digital collectibles that represent “things PlayStation players love”. These include things like 3D models of fan-favorite characters or renders of past Sony devices. In this regard, it’s a bit like the collection room in the PS5 tech demo Astro’s Playroom, which also allowed players to collect and nerd out over past PlayStation consoles.
The service will roll out in Asia near the end of September, while it’ll hit the Americas throughout the following weeks.
Synduality is an upcoming mech action game set in a futuristic world inhabited by dueling factions and defined by poisonous rain, dangerous creatures, and a brutal struggle for survival. Armed with a giant robot and an AI companion, players will fight to secure resources and fight to reclaim lost territory for humankind.
The game looks gorgeous and appears to borrow mechanics from some classic mech-based action games, like Armored Core and Zone of the Enders. In the game’s alternate fictional history, a mysterious poisonous rain falls in the year 2222 and wipes out most of humanity. The survivors retreat into an underground haven named Amasia and create technology to help them survive in the harsh underground world.
Players will take the role of Drifters, pilots who use mechs to harvest AO crystals and recapture areas once lost to humanity. Players will be able to customize their mechs and craft their robots according to their favorite playstyle. The game will release exclusively on PS5 in 2023.
Another upcoming PS5-exclusive title, Stellar Blade, looks like one of the most interesting new games coming to the system in 2023. Once titled Project Eve, the game is now sporting a new title and a release window a bit further back than initially anticipated. The flashy-looking action game looks like a spiritual successor to similar stylish third-person hack-and-slash titles like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.
The protagonist, Eve, is tasked with defending the last city on Earth from dangerous monsters. The dystopian setting is rendered with gorgeous detail on the PS5 system, with the trailers showing off how eye-popping the graphics are.
Fans of fast-paced action and aesthetically-pleasing combat are sure to love Stellar Blade. Now, if only there was a game in this same genre coming out soon to help tide us over while we wait for it to release…
Rise of the Ronin
Rise of the Ronin looks a bit like if Sekiro and Ghost of Tsushima had a crossover with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The gameplay looks like a combination of stealth action and hack-and-slash, with the main character employing a variety of interesting gadgets and tricks to outsmart his opponents.
Set in Japan in the late 1800s, Rise of the Ronin will feature RPG elements and a “sprawling” open world. The development studio, Team Ninja, is well-known for its work on Ninja Gaiden and the Dead or Alive series.
Rise of the Ronin won’t be out for a while, though. It’s a PS5 exclusive, but it’ll hit the system in over a year–it’s currently slated for a 2024 release, making it the furthest-out exclusive title that has a set release window for the PS5.
God of War: Ragnarok
The biggest headline from the show was a new story trailer for the blockbuster sequel to 2018’s God of War. The upcoming Ragnarok is one of the PS5’s biggest games–and it’s also coming to the PS4. During the State of Play event, Sony announced a gorgeous-looking new PlayStation 5 controller as a tie-in with the game’s release. The beautiful blue-and-white gamepad has an etching of a wolf and a cub on the touchpad, a clear nod to protagonists Kratos and Atreus.
The game will follow the ongoing adventures of Kratos, the God of War who defeated every major deity in the Greek pantheon before settling in Northern Europe. Now, forces beyond his control have brought him into conflict with the Norse Gods, and he’s already tangled with Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi, and his brother, Baldur. The upcoming game will likely feature Thor as a main antagonist after the first game teased his appearance in future titles.
The game will hit the PlayStation systems soon–it’s due out on November 9, 2022. From its pre-release trailers, it looks like it’s already shaping up to be an excellent follow-up to one of the best games of the last console generation.