The biggest fighting game tournament of the year takes place this weekend and Sony has announced that it will be the competition’s main sponsor. Even more interesting is that in the official announcement of the partnership, the gaming company told gamers to stay tuned “for more news from PlayStation” at Evo 2019. There are a lot of interesting ways Sony can go, and it could be something far smaller than a brand new game announcement, but PlayStation All-Stars 2 would also make a lot of sense and be the best thing the company could announce.
One of the perks of the sponsorship is that eight of the nine games being played at Evo 2019 will be done so on a Sony platform (everything aside from Smash Bros.). It’s also the first time that Sony has had such a deal with the line-up and shows that the company is taking esports and fighting games seriously once again. This should not come as a complete shock as earlier this console generation Sony helped fund the development of Street Fighter 5 with Capcom and ensured that the fighting game wouldn’t be released on Xbox One.
Due to the existing relationship between Sony and Capcom, a lot of speculation was circulating that a new entry in the latter’s long-running fighting game series would be announced. There was so much buzz that it even managed to reach the ears of Street Fighter head Yoshinori Ono, who denied that the game would be announced and said that they are still working on Street Fighter 5 Arcade Edition at the moment. It’s likely that we will see some sort of Street Fighter announcement as they tend to show off DLC characters at the event (and they already revealed a free trial), but don’t expect it to be Sony’s big announcement. So with that possibility dismissed, there has to be a greater reason for Sony to sponsor Evo 2019 as it doesn’t make a ton of sense for the company to throw a bunch of money at an event that is headlined by a competitor’s exclusive. After all, Smash Bros Ultimate is closing the event instead of Street Fighter, the usual closer.
PlayStation All-Stars 2 makes more sense now than ever before
This sponsorship gives Sony a great platform to reach the most die-hard fighting game fans with an announcement of a new game. However, Sony doesn’t have any signature first-party fighting games in its library of properties, which is why it did a deal with Capcom in the first place earlier in the generation. That being said, Sony did attempt to join the platform brawler genre with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale in late 2012. Despite being clearly an attempt to emulate the Super Smash Bros. formula that Nintendo has found so much success with, developer SuperBot Entertainment tried to differentiate the two games.
The biggest differences were in how there were three different attack buttons and that opponents could only be eliminated by using special moves rather than knocking them off the stage. As such, there was no real penalty to taking a ton of damage and it was purely about offensive maneuvers. These changes definitely made PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale feel like its own game rather than a shameless rip-off, but they also made it a bit less enjoyable. Critical reception was tepid for both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game and it didn’t ignite a fervor that Nintendo’s fighter did.
Fans simply wanted a PlayStation version of Super Smash Bros. and Sony’s game was both too different and not different enough for some people. One answer for a sequel is to — and this can’t be fun for the original development team to hear — be more of a rip-off. The biggest thing that Sony can offer is a wider range of non-kiddy characters and third-party characters that can’t be found in Smash. Nobody was coming to the original looking forward to seeing how they’d change the formula. If they keep the core components of Smash Bros. in the sequel, Sony can make this the successful crossover party game that they wanted it to be the first time around.
The alternate direction would be to double down on what the first game did. While a novel idea, the scoring system needed work as it too heavily rewarded players who would just churn out the Level 3 supers moves that would earn exponentially more points than the other two levels of supers. If the proposed developer can find a way to reward skilled Level 1 super usage against mindlessly abusing Level 3 supers, it might be balanced enough to hook both casual and competitive players. There could even be a mode for each system: one for damage numbers and one for super kills.
PlayStation All-Stars 2 would celebrate the PS4
But no matter what route it takes, the game would be a worthy way to respect the PS4’s life. The console has been a huge success for Sony as it rebounded after the shaky PlayStation 3 console cycle. As such, a new crossover title allows for the company to properly celebrate this generation of games. Characters from PlayStation 4 hits like Infamous: Second Son, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, and Marvel’s Spider-Man all deserve to join in the fray and would make for some fantastic new stage designs before the company and fans move onto the next console generation next year. Plus, who doesn’t want to see redesigned versions of Kratos, Nathan Drake, and Dante from their PlayStation 4 adventures?
There are also a number of great third-party characters that could be added into the game. Sony has strengthened their relationship with a lot of other developers this generation and with Activision releasing new Spyro and Crash Bandicoot games recently, there is the opportunity to get characters into the sequel that fans were begging for the first time around. One of the original’s biggest strengths was getting characters from Tekken and Metal Gear Solid into the game and Sony could bring out even bigger hitters for the sequel to ensure renewed interest in it.
While the original game was not the Smash Bros. “killer” some may have been looking for, there is still so much untapped potential in a sequel to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. The stage design and character choices were always great, but its core gameplay let some people down and made it easy for them to dismiss it as a second-rate Smash Bros. clone. PlayStation All-Stars 2 would be a chance at redemption for Sony and could cater towards a wide audience as Smash is one of Nintendo’s best-selling series. Considering we are at the tail end of a console generation, it makes more sense than ever before to bring the platform brawler back for one more attempt at greatness.
[Image Credit: Evo/Twitter]