Welcome once again to VR vs. The weekly opinion piece written by ‘the one who isn’t a writer’ on VRFocus, because… well, I can’t even remember why any more. But I’ve been doing this for long enough to be able to welcome you, for the third year running, to my In Absentia Alternative Awards.
That’s ‘In Absentia’, i.e. ‘was not there’. Yes, as usual there was no plane ticket out to Los Angeles for me to enjoy things. Instead I got to watch everything from home, keeping things going for the UK team. Ah, the joys of handling an event while not actually being there. It’s an absolute barrel of laughs, I can assure you. But despite virtual reality’s (VR’s) rather all over the place presence at this year’s event there was still plenty that caught my eye.
As usual things are somewhat satirical, so if you’re going to get overtly upset just because I didn’t like X – well the door’s over there. For the rest of us however let’s get on with a biggie.
THE KRUSTY THE CLOWN ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?’ AWARD
Sony did very well, (not exactly a good thing) last year in the awards, in part because of their continued ability to mess up everyone’s fun with their stance on cross-play. Still thankfully they didn’t mess up this year on anything too big to do with that, eh? Certainly not one involving one of the biggest and most popular games currently in the world. Haha… ha…
Luckily Sony get away with that this year, owing to the fact that award isn’t up for grabs. However, what they don’t get away with was that mess of a presentation we had. I mean, what was that? Pretty much every website out there has written their thoughts on the matter I know. But for the life of me I can’t understand what they were thinking. Shoving journos into a ‘church’ which looked more like a barn, in a way most would have difficulty actually working before moving on to another venue.
— gmw3.eth (@gmw3eth) June 12, 2018
I get they were going for atmosphere and concentrating on the ‘big hitters’ but it really didn’t work. It felt like it was over before it had even begun and for some reason why Microsoft were firing off game after game Sony decided that the best thing to do was to hold some sort of music recital. “Kids, remember to pick up your parent from the stage when they’ve finished performing.”
It felt a mess, it confused everyone, and despite some very good-looking titles indeed on display it made Sony look really out of touch.
THE KAWAII DESU NE AWARD
Winner: Ghost Giant
For the first time on one of these I’m actually bringing an award back. Last year it was won hands (and paws) down by Quill from Moss. A title which is quite possibly VRFocus‘ favourite VR videogame. We crush on it pretty hard, and not without good reason. As I put it last year “Could Moss be the first VR-only game that standard gamers are jealous of? Time will tell.”
Luckily PlayStation VR is set to bring us even more adorable visuals in the form of Ghost Giant, a title which stood out immediately – not just for its aesthetics – and, I’m pleased to say appears to be something of a winner. At least based upon the hands-on that the site had at E3 and our early impressions. Personally, I’m very interested to hear more about how your roles as the ghost affects the story of your young foxy friend.
And if it’s also revealed that Zoink Games’ big rival are Jinkies Entertainment, like, my day will be complete, Scoob’.
THE ‘CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR’ AWARD
Winner: Concrete Genie
Oh, Sony Interactive Entertainment you little scamps. You do like to get my hopes up don’t you? While there’s obviously been some titles that were announced at the event as well as in the run up to it, for five glorious minutes Sony made me think that one of the titles from last year’s Paris Games Show was going to make the jump to VR – and boy was I all for it.
Concrete Genie was announced last year, as I say, and it is absolutely gorgeous. The PlayStation 4 exclusive follows Ash, a bullied teen who escapes from his troubles by painting creatures and landscapes all of which come to life. It’s kind of like ‘Penny Crayon: The Game’. With his magical paint he brings life to his dead home town. The initial trailer looked amazing and you can kind of see the possibilities for PlayStation VR to be integrated.
So, when I went on the PlayStation press vault to begin working through all the media that gets uploaded there whenever we have any of these sorts of events my heart leapt when Concrete Genie’s format was listed as PlayStation VR. But… alas. It was just an error on the site.
THE ‘THANK GOD FOR BE’ AWARD
Winner: Bethesda Softworks
While I know that a lot of people aren’t particularly happy at what they consider to be half measures with what we got in the Prey DLC and Wolfenstein Cyberpilot (The Elder Scrolls Blades doesn’t seem to be counted in the same way by people) let’s all be thankful that of all developers Bethesda Softworks came to E3 to be enthused about VR. Because goodness knows it needed someone on the PC developing side to do so.
Their continued push for supporting VR with their franchises is most definitely welcomed. I’ve nothing more really to say than that.
THE KNOWN UNKNOWNS AWARD
Winner: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Before E3 we were informed via a contact at Bandai Namco that no, we could not Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown at the Expo because it wasn’t going to be there. The Editor was a bit surprised at this. I was a bit surprised at this. The rest of us were a bit surprised at this. Weren’t we closing on what was expected to be a release? Anyway, we reported on the fact it wasn’t going to be there and oh boy were people upset.
We were asked to show the email to prove that this was what we were told. We declined, since obviously its full of private and personal information besides that. Which meant that as we won’t show our contact (who does, that’s not how these things work) we’d in fact, obviously, made the whole thing up. FYI: We’re far too busy to make stuff like that up. Besides the next pointing of fingers on that conversation would’ve been that we’d’ve just faked the email. What’d be the point?
Following on from that one of the members of the Ace Combat community on Twitter contacted Bandai Namco and were told it would be there. They posted the email, it suggested only the VR version would not be there which wasn’t exactly what we were told. Again, this meant we made it all up. We stuck to our guns that this was what we were told. We went to E3 hoping that our contact was indeed mistaken because, hello, this looks awesome and it’s something we really, really want to play!
And… No Ace Combat 7.
On the plus side vindication for us, on the negative side no Ace Combat 7 FFS! This award is not about going “we told you so”. Far from it. It’s because I’m pretty steamed it wasn’t there. Oh, it was there “highlighted on the show floor at E3 with an exclusive trailer” as Bandai Namco put it on Twitter recently – said trailer will by, the time you read this, have been out several days* but it isn’t out at the time of writing – but that is most definitely not the same thing. Why wasn’t it there? I haven’t a clue. It just wasn’t. And gamers, VR fans and the PlayStation VR itself lost out. For a title in a long-standing series to skip E3 after a long period of radio silence does not help matters. Screens in Famitsu and a trailer are one thing, and we’ll hear more at Gamescom apparently – but if we don’t get to play it how do we know how things have improved? Ace Combat 7 should have been there and Ace Combat 7 had no business not being there.
*Also, a trailer coming out on the Friday of E3? That’s pretty eyebrow-raising in itself. Skilful avoidance of the media rush, or “oh shit we’d better put something together”? Your call on that one.
THE CONFUSED TRAVOLTA AWARD FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT REFUSES TO COME
Winner: Resident Evil VII biohazard
It’s been a while. A long while, Capcom. Fans have been patient. Most, most patient. Loud, granted – but patient. Resident Evil VII biohazard has been a success for the company on the PlayStation VR and has reworked how people think about the Resident Evil series. (We’ve talked about this on a number of occasions.) Yet the title stays on PlayStation VR alone, and does not come to PC.
I honestly thought this’d be really good timing for Capcom, a one-two Resident Evil punch to round off what was, in all honesty a pretty commanding E3 for them. But no, still silence. Will PC VR owners ever get the chance to be scared out of their wits by the Baker Family?