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Here’s What A PlayStation-Themed ‘What If’ Might Look Like

Here’s What A PlayStation-Themed ‘What If’ Might Look Like

PlayStation exclusives... Assemble!

What if Kratos had been unable to save Atreus from his sickness? What if Aloy had failed The Proving and hadn’t become a Nora Brave? Within every game is a seminal moment that defines the trajectory of the narrative. In turn, these moments define an entire generation of gamers – affecting which characters we choose to love or hate, or whether a scene moves or infuriates us. All it takes is a split-second decision. With the swing of a golf club, Abby set Ellie on a path of irredeemable vengeance. If Yuna hadn’t happened upon Jin, he never would have become The Ghost, but perhaps there are universes where things don’t play out the way we expect – a world where Aloy remains an outsider and joins the Eclipse in search of a sense of belonging, or a world without Atreus in which a grief stricken Kratos seeks his own self destruction.

Adapted from a run of comics, Marvel populated the What If idea through the Disney+ anthological series which places the characters we know in circumstances that we’re unfamiliar with. T’Challa was able to shrug off his royal inhibitions as Star Lord and Peggy Carter finally got the hero spotlight she deserves after becoming Captain Britain, but Marvel is far from being the first to pose the all-important question. Forever curious about our favourite titles, gamers have been asking ‘What if?’ for years through fanfiction, fan art and modding – but what would a gaming-centric What If look like in reality?

Take the recently formed PlayStation Studios who are clearly keen to make their mark on the world of film and television. It’s near impossible to avoid production updates on HBO’s The Last of Us, and the Uncharted film is just a few months away from its release. There are also adaptations of both Ghosts of Tsushima and Twisted Metal in the pipeline but after that, the future remains unclear.

A PlayStation themed What If could allow the kind of experimentation that screen adaptations of video games are rarely permitted because their faithfulness and accuracy are under endless scrutiny. It’s understandable. We become overprotective of our favourite titles but in the process, we suppress the creativity of most screen adaptations and doom their box office fates. A What If style show would allow PlayStation to inject new life into its exclusives without these kinds of pressures – exclusives which are often known for their masterful storytelling.

When you open the latest entry from Insomniac Games or Naughty Dog, you might feel like you have power over the events that proceed (which is a trick every good game seeks to achieve), but the reality is you don’t. Death doesn’t result in death. If we fail in combat, the checkpoint resets until our actions match that of the intended narrative, yet our consoles are a multiverse, and we are The Watcher. There are endless possibilities of stories to be told outside of the linear and singular narrative that we’re experiencing.

Marvel's Spider-Man /
Insomniac Games

Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man is one of PlayStation’s most beloved exclusives. Peter Parker finds himself battling the iconic Sinister Six (headed up by Doc Ock) to prevent a deadly virus known as Devil’s Breath from being released upon the city. Heroes don’t come more wholesome than Peter Parker who is always on hand to save the day … in this universe. What if Peter had used the anti-serum to save Aunt May instead of developing a cure for the entire city? Villainising Peter is a bold move that we wouldn’t expect Marvel nor Insomniac to typically make. There’s nothing more frustrating than swinging through the city only to be shot out of the sky by a Demon or Sable agent but if Spider-Man became the public enemy that J. Jonah Jameson has always painted him to be, the entire city could be out to get him. Would there be bounty hunters on every street corner à la John Wick? Perhaps instead of the Miles Morales and Peter Parker team up that we’re due to see in Spider-Man 2, the duo could become rivals – the fallen and the rising hero.

Whilst Spider-Man is universally beloved, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us series is more polarising yet regardless, the studio are lauded as frontrunners in the craft of storytelling and rightfully so. Never has a gaming character been more controversial than Abby, but she’s the perfect example of why a What If style show could be interesting. It presents the opportunity to say, ‘Here’s the alternative story,’ without impacting the original. The climax of The Last of Us is a huge narrative launchpad – triggering Ellie’s resentment, Abby’s thirst for revenge, and sealing Joel’s fate. What if Joel had kept his end of the deal? What if Ellie had succeeded in sacrificing her life in the hopes of creating a vaccine?

If the vaccine was a success in this hypothetical timeline, it could trigger an all-out faction war. The landscape of The Last of Us is desolate so it can’t be easy to mass produce a vaccine. The various factions have always been a point of interest for fans, hence the constant hoping for a factions-themed multiplayer to be announced. There’s the Fireflies, Rattlers, Scars, WLF, those who still live under FEDRA rule in the quarantine zones and those who reside in havens like Jackson, but there’s likely to be plenty out there that we don’t yet know about. The Last of Us has always been a story about the survival of humanity. A What If style storyline could explore what happens when humanity is finally given the upper hand in the fight against the Cordyceps virus. Would selfishness and self-preservation doom humanity’s one chance?

As The Watcher said, each possibility is a “reflection of what could have been,” which really means from a creative standpoint, you can throw caution to the wind. Maybe there’s a world where Days Gone’s Freakers and The Last of Us’ Infected are one and the same. Spider-Man’s Wilson Fisk was shown to be a purveyor of fine goods. Could his path cross with that of Nathan Drake? Incredible narratives form the souls of the games we know and love, but there’s always another story to be told – and one that could be free from expectation, the pressure of fan service, and the confines of adaptation. So, go on. Dare to face the unknown and (cue Jeffrey Wright’s voice) ponder the question … What if?

Featured Image Credit: Marvel, Sony

Topics: PlayStation, Marvel