The long-awaited remake of acclaimed zombie adventure Resident Evil 4 was the highlight of Sony’s State of Play online showcase on Thursday evening.
The 2005 original marked a radical change in direction for the Resident Evil series, with a new focus on action and a refreshed ‘behind-the-shoulder’ camera view to replace the creaking third-person visuals. A story posted on Sony’s blog following the half-hour long event, promised that the remake would preserve the essence of the game while “re-imagining” the story, modernizing the visuals and updating the controls. The teaser for the game also promised virtual reality content for the PlayStation VR headset. A release date of 24 March 2023, was given.
New trailers were also shown for Final Fantasy 16, the latest title in the role-playing series from Square Enix and Street Fighter 6, which features several of the classic fighters and an extraordinary new visual style matching realistic animation with spectacularly explosive paint splatter effects. Both are due next year.
There were some intriguing new titles too. Space horror adventure The Callisto Protocol resembled Dead Space with its emphasis on panicking space travelers being ripped apart by gloopy aliens. It’s the first title from Striking Distance Studios, formed by Glen Schofield, co-creator of the Dead Space series. It’s out on 2 December. We also glimpsed the beautiful cell-shaded third-person action shooter Rollerdrome from Roll7 creator of the OlliOlli series of stylized skating sims, and Eternights, an anime-influenced adventure dating sim.
Perhaps the most catching aesthetic of the night belonged to Season A Letter to the Future, a cycling road trip game in which players photograph and document a doomed world before a coming apocalypse. There was also a new trailer for the cyberpunk kitten adventure Stray, which also has a release date – 19 July.
We’d expected to hear more on PlayStation VR 2, a thoroughly updated successor to Sony’s original VR headset, which was launched for the PS4 in 2016. Featuring 4K high dynamic range visuals and two 2000 x 2040 OLED displays, it’s set to deliver four times the resolution of its predecessor, while the new controllers bring haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, similar to the PS5’s Dual Sense pads.
The biggest reveal was a VR version of Resident Evil Village, with a new trailer perhaps predictably centering on the cult enemy, Lady Dimitrescu. There were also snippets of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution, No Man’s Sky running on PlayStation VR 2 and Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain, which featured lots of climbing and ranged combat.
From the outset, Sony made it clear that there would be no announcements of major new first-party titles; those surely will come later in the summer. But confirmation of a Resident Evil 4 return and some tantalising details of Final Fantasy XVI, with new protagonist Clive Rosfield showing off an array of fiery attacks, at least set the stage for a couple of months of gaming announcements. E3 isn’t on this year, but there’s a major Microsoft Bethesda showcase on June 12, and a return for GamesCom in August. As far as 2022’s games industry hype is concerned, we’re just getting started.