The one and Sony

What’s on the hori­zon for PS4?

Games Master - - Upfront -

Sur­pris­ing us like a makeshift shiv slip­ping into your ear­hole, Naughty Dog has un­veiled The Last Of Us Part II. Set five years af­ter the end­ing of the first game, we re­join Joel and 19-year-old El­lie in a world filled with mush­room zom­bies, raiders, and prob­a­bly a healthy col­lec­tion of lad­ders and planks. We don’t know how much has changed, but we are sure that El­lie can sing and play an acous­tic gui­tar now, thanks to the goose­bump-in­duc­ing trailer. Per­haps she can swim, too. The se­quel won’t emerge un­til 2018 at the ear­li­est, as the re­veal was orig­i­nally meant for E3 2017 – but Naughty Dog’s ea­ger­ness to show it off trig­gered an early un­veil­ing. “It’s still early days for the project – the game’s re­lease is a ways off – but we couldn’t wait any longer to give you a glimpse of what’s to come,” says cre­ative di­rec­tor Neil Druck­mann. “We’re go­ing to let the trailer speak for it­self, but ex­pect more in­for­ma­tion in the com­ing months.”

The trailer opens with a shot of the woods – show­ing claw-marked trees, a felled swing, a burnt-out car and ram­shackle houses – be­fore cut­ting to the Naughty Dog logo. We then see a shak­ing hand, bruised and cov­ered in sores, be­fore the owner of said hand begins pluck­ing that afore­men­tioned gui­tar. It’s El­lie, and she’s sat alone in a house filled with bodies, singing an eerie ren­di­tion of Through The Val­ley by Shawn James. Joel walks in and asks if she in­tends to go ahead with her plan. With blood bead­ing down her face, El­lie coldly vows to “kill ev­ery last one of them” – who­ever they are.

“[In] the first game, the theme was about the love be­tween th­ese two char­ac­ters… This story’s the counter of that,” Druck­mann ex­plains. “This story is about hate.”

El­lie mould­ing

The lead playable char­ac­ter here will be El­lie, just as she was in The Last Of Us’ bril­liant DLC, Left Be­hind. No­body knows who she’s out for re­venge on, but one the­ory is that Joel is dead, he’s in El­lie’s head, and she wants pay­back over his mur­der. Don’t go hang­ing the wreaths just

“One the­ory is that joel is dead, he’s in el­lie’s head, and she wants pay­back for his mur­der”

yet, though – the of­fi­cial word­ing from Naughty Dog sug­gests Joel still has a huge role to play.

“I can’t tell you how sat­is­fy­ing it is to fi­nally be able to say that El­lie and Joel are back for an­other in­tense, har­row­ing, and emo­tional ad­ven­ture,” Druck­mann ex­plains. “Like many of you, we have a deep love for the world of The Last Of Us and its char­ac­ters, and while a se­quel may have seemed like a fore­gone con­clu­sion, that wasn’t the case. We knew that it needed to be a story worth telling – a story wor­thy of Joel

and El­lie. Af­ter spend­ing years on dif­fer­ent ideas (and al­most giv­ing up), we fi­nally un­cov­ered a story that felt spe­cial.”

Many felt like the end­ing of the first game was per­fect and would pre­fer to just leave it as a spe­cial, one-off thing. For those peo­ple, Naughty Dog has one thing to say: have faith. “So much thought went into this,” says Druck­mann. “I know there’s trep­i­da­tion about go­ing back to th­ese char­ac­ters. We feel that as well. No-one loves th­ese char­ac­ters more than we do, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have the right idea. I had ideas with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters and it didn’t feel right. The Last Of Us is about th­ese two char­ac­ters. All I ask is that fans of the first one put some faith in us – we’re go­ing to do right by you.”

Else­where in Naughty Dog land, the block­buster stu­dio has an­nounced a stand­alone ex­pan­sion for Un­charted 4, trum­pet­ing the re­turn of a much-loved char­ac­ter who didn’t fea­ture in the main game’s sto­ry­line. Set en­tirely in In­dia, Un­charted: The Lost Legacy places you in the shoes of Chloe Frazer – the sassy Aussie ass-kicker from the sec­ond and third games – as she’s ac­com­pa­nied by U4 vil­lain Na­dine Ross, who’s bril­liantly in­tro­duced in game­play footage kick­ing a man in the head and caus­ing him to fall to his death. Clas­sic Na­dine. Naughty Dog took to Twit­ter af­ter the trailer’s re­lease to say this would be treated as a “new Un­charted game” that takes the form of a “stand­alone story chap­ter”. Its at­mo­spheric streets look ex­actly as gor­geous as you’d ex­pect.

Re­turn of the Knack

In a big month for news on up­com­ing PS4 games, the world has also been in­tro­duced to the one ev­ery­one’s been wait­ing for – a se­quel to PS4 launch ti­tle Knack. Oh yes. Knack is back, baby. Sony’s Ja­pan Stu­dio is hav­ing an­other crack at cre­at­ing playable Pixar, then. There’s def­i­nitely prom­ise there, es­pe­cially since Knack 2 lets you and mates team up for some co-op scrap­ping, plat­form­ing and puz­zle solv­ing, with one player con­trol­ling Knack and the other player con­trol­ling, erm, blue Knack? De­tails are thin on the ground, but co-op seems like a good fit, and we’ll at least get to see all that lovely scat­tered de­bris run­ning on PS4 Pro.

An­other PS4 launch ti­tle that loved show­ing off its swanky par­ti­cle ef­fects was Re­so­gun, House­mar­que’s hy­per­ac­tive, side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. The Fin­nish de­vel­oper has a new game, too: a top-down, old-school, cy­ber­punk shooter called Nex Machina. As in Dead and Alien Na­tion, you’ll be us­ing both sticks to move and shoot, but in­stead of cut­ting down zom­bies and E.T. in­vaders you’ll be putting an end to a ma­chine up­ris­ing. By shoot­ing them all di­rectly in the face, nat­u­rally. Robots have faces, al­right? You’ll be fir­ing, slic­ing and dodge-dash­ing your way through the clank­ing hordes, all while bop­ping along to some funky syn­th­wave. It looks fran­tic, colour­ful, and ex­plo­sive.

And if you’re a fan of pretty py­rotech­nics, Cap­com also has an an­nounce­ment to get your blood pump­ing. Marvel vs. Cap­com: In­fi­nite is com­ing to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017, bring­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of the fa­mous fighter into the Un­real En­gine 4 where it’ll look bet­ter than ever. The ac­tion-packed trailer shows Cap­tain Marvel and Iron Man fac­ing off against Mega Man and Street Fighter’s Ryu. While tra­di­tion­ally the se­ries has been a 3v3 scrap­per, this se­quel will fo­cus on 2v2 bat­tles in­stead, with play­ers also jostling over In­fin­ity Stones – game-chang­ing power-ups that can turn the tide of an en­counter. As for other changes, cur­rent ru­mours sug­gest that Marvel’s ros­ter will be fo­cused around the cin­e­matic uni­verse, with the 20th Cen­tury Fox-owned X-Men sit­ting this one out. Ad­di­tion­ally, as part of the an­nounce­ment, Ul­ti­mate Marvel vs. Cap­com 3 has been made avail­able to down­load and play on PlayS­ta­tion 4 im­me­di­ately, with the fighter fol­low­ing on Xbox One and PC in March 2017.

That’s still not it for big game un­veil­ings, with old-school gamers soon to be served a heav­ing buf­fet of spruced-up retro de­lights. 90s faves Parappa The Rap­per, Wipe­out, and Crash Bandi­coot are all get­ting re­mas­tered, in a wel­come if long-over­due move. Parappa bumps the rhythm ac­tion game up to 4K on PS4 Pro, and there’s a demo avail­able right now. Wipe­out Omega Col­lec­tion is a re­mas­tered bun­dle of PS3 ti­tle Wipe­out HD and its ex­pan­sion Fury, plus PS Vita game Wipe­out 2048. Fury is one of the best games in the fu­tur­is­tic rac­ing se­ries, and you’ll be able to tear down its ster­ile high­ways ren­dered at a dy­namic 4K res­o­lu­tion. Lastly, Crash Bandi­coot N Sane Tril­ogy brings all of Crash’s PS1 ad­ven­tures to PS4 with a re­mas­ter born from a sim­i­lar ethos to Od­dworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – it’s the games you re­mem­ber, but shinier and more ac­ces­si­ble, with all-new as­sets and a check­point­ing sys­tem that won’t make you want to do a mur­der. Sony is also plan­ning re­mas­ters of beloved PSP games Pat­apon and Lo­coRoco – they’ll be com­ing to PS4 too. Now that’s what we call an up­com­ing line-up.

“Chloe frazer – the Aussie ass-kicker from Un­chart­eds 2 and 3 – re­turns in stand­alone ex­pan­sion The Lo st Legacy”

El­lie is bruised and bat­tered, but at least we know she is alive and real. Joel’s cur­rent sta­tus seems less con­crete.

Re­turn­ing pro­tag­o­nist El­lie has ev­i­dently made new friends in the half-decade since The Last Of Us’ open-ended fi­nale. Just a hand­ful of them might not be all that, uh, alive.

U2/3’s Chloe and U4’s Na­dine look to be a rather dead­lier pair­ing than Nate and Sully.

Crash will be ex­actly how you re­mem­ber him – an­noy­ing cam­era an­gles and all, just much pret­tier.

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