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PS5 exclusive Stellar Blade looks unbelievable, and that worries me

Stellar Blade blew me away during the State of Play with its visuals, but really dropped the ball when it came to showcasing its combat.

Stellar Blade combat: Eve from stellar blade wearing a brown, futuristic-looking top. A red PlayStation logo is next to her

During Sony’s State of Play Showcase, we were treated to a six-minute deep dive into Stellar Blade. The PS5-exclusive action game looks visually stunning, with a huge amount of attention to detail. However, what I saw didn’t convince me that there’s any substance to go along with its superb style.

I’ve seen a few takes online that the Stellar Blade segment of the show was a bit… odd. And I have to agree. Considering it’s not really a game I was that hyped for before the showcase, it did a lot to impress me. But at the same time, it also didn’t do much to convince that this would be one of the best PS5 games of the year.

On the one hand, I was blown away by how good the game looks. Character models, landscapes, outfits, and weapon effects all look amazing. But it was the attention to detail that impressed me more – the world building looked very impressive, main protagonist Eve appeared to cycle through at least six or seven different outfits, and the designs of every character, robot, and monster made me want to know more about them. It felt to me like every shot during those six minutes felt totally unique.

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We also learned a fair bit about the systems in the game – side quests, skills, weapon upgrades, resting spots, and more. That was all useful information for building up a picture of what Stellar Blade we be like as a game, rather than a visual spectacle. However, the deep dive failed to properly show off what is surely the most important aspect of any third-person, hack-and-slash action game – the combat.

I’d say we probably got a total of one minute of actual combat footage, but all of this was delivered in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snippets that would last maybe three or four seconds, at most. Of course, you’ll only ever truly know if a game’s combat is good when you get your hands on it. But this trailer could have at least tried to convince me that hacking down enemies and taking on enormous bosses will be a core, enjoyable experience.

Ironically, it reminded me of a similar issue with a big upcoming Xbox exclusive – Avowed. I remember feeling incredibly underwhelmed by what I’d seen in its brief, heavily-edited trailers since it was first announced – and that includes what was shown to fans during the recent Developer Direct. However, it was only when Obsidian finally showed extended, unedited gameplay footage after the Direct where I felt like I truly understood (and appreciated) what Avowed was going for with its combat.

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This is exactly what Stellar Blade’s six-minute showcase was desperate for. Even just 15 or 20 seconds of uninterrupted gameplay in a combat section would have gone a long way. Hopefully we’ll see more before it releases in April, because right now, I feel like the style is heavily outweighing the substance.

For more coverage on the games shown off during the State of Play, check out our thoughts on a Death Stranding 2 feature you probably didn’t spot, and read our thoughts on why Kojima’s brand-new project Physint feels like it’s destined for the PS6, rather than the PS5.