Conferences at E3 can be pretty out-there experiences. Sometimes there are bad hosts, weird drum interludes, or just plain old awkward moments. But there hasn’t been a conference as straight-up scary as the Sony one.
After getting seated in a gorgeous and old theater in Los Angeles, the audience was first treated to a musical quintet complete with falling sand art to help promote Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This was not so much scary as it was titillating.
Sony would continue on to show off some games we already knew about — and Spider-Man certainly showed best — as well as announce a few things for us to get excited about — like a Shadow of the Colossus remake — but nothing captured the live audience’s attention quite like the frightful moments we all had to endure. Dangling corpses, explosions, and other events generally reserved for the protagonists of action films had the audience literally gasping.
The on-stage presentation for Days Gone secured one of the more harrowing of the bunch. As the presentation started, the sound reverberating throughout the theatre already had people on edge. And then there were writhing corpses hanging upside down.
In-game, this was a freaky enough moment, to be sure. But at the theatre, the sudden appearance of actual people playing as corpses — combined with the deafening noise of the theatre’s speaker systems — literally moved the audience. “I thought they were props at first,” Kellen Beck, Mashable esports reporter said.
A few people turned to each other and whispered incredulities about what they saw. A few people were curled up in their seats, holding their shirts up towards their faces. It was a super-bizarre, solitary moment in the presentation that ultimately distracted from the rest of the trailer.
The writhing men were terrifying, but they didn’t affect everyone — the guy next to me was smiling the whole time. I will never forget that look on his face. And, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure if he had a wristband to get in.
I’m exaggerating, partially, but the sight of real-life, fleshy people hanging by their feet with blood dripping across them was actually really shocking. Although, this out-there presentation did, at the very least, help separate Days Gone from other zombie games, if only for a moment.
With the corpses promptly roped up and away, Shawn Layden — Sony’s president — came out to finally introduce us to the showcase.
“We’re glad to be here, we’re excited to be here, and we have a full show ahead of us,” Layden said. “You will see tonight that worldwide studios are bringing you the exclusives that you want…Playstation is home to all the biggest and best franchises in the world. It has never been a better time to be a gamer.” Given the particular setting us gamers found ourselves in, he might have been wrong about that.
The Call of Duty: WWII trailer was the most batsh*t presentation of the night, and it didn’t even have hanging corpses. The Nov. 3 release date definitely had the audience excited, but the pyrotechnics — complete with short flame columns — and gunpowder explosions were a bit much. Members of the audience were jumping out of their seats during the ordeal. The final explosion at the end left my ears, and had people batting away the fog and smoke seeping into the first few rows.
It was nonstop noise, too. Each in-game shot of gun fire and each in-game explosion was matched with a real-life, gun powder-packed explosion. “It was like a KISS concert,” Beck said.
While the pair in front of our team seemed unfazed, there were a several pockets of the audience that were more… animated throughout. A couple people next to me literally jumped out of their seats at the final explosive sound. A few “Oh shits” sailed across the auditorium. One guy a few rows behind our team made an animated “whoa!” at each explosion, adding to the already maddening texture of the evening.
As the smoke poured into the crowd, we all took a brief moment before applauding the show.
“Okay that was…crazy,” I heard a few seats next to me, after the trailer ended. It sure was, random guy, it sure was.
There’s a lot to be excited about after the Playstation Showcase — even if the showcase itself scared the pants off some of us. Look forward to more coverage from us in the coming, remaining days of E3.