EA’s pre-E3 conference has the latest on FIFA 15, Battlefield Hardline and brand new games from Criterion and BioWare.
Before you get too excited clicking on the trailers below we should warn you that they show almost nothing new of Star Wars: Battlefront and only the barest glimpse of the new Mass Effect. There’s more to see of the new Mirror’s Edge, but in terms of raw footage EA concentrated on the games due out this year – such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline.
But we wouldn’t class EA’s pre-E3 showcase as a disappointment, far from it in fact as it’s probably the most positive they’ve had for several years. Even if it does just make you wish you could fast forward to the point where you can actually play the games, or at least see more of them.
Star Wars: Battlefront
As suspected this was the only Star Wars game that EA showed, with no mention of the Visceral title or the rumoured BioWare game. That’s very likely because they’d give away secrets about the new movie, with all the Battlefront info focusing on elements from the original trilogy. You’d assume the new and prequel movies would also be included, but the way video above talks you’d be forgiven for assuming it was original trilogy only.
Considering Battlefront was originally conceived as a Battlefield clone and now the actual creators of Battlefield are working on it, it should be pretty easy to guess how the game plays. But guesswork is really all we have to go on at the moment, beyond the brief (but hugely encouraging) glimpses of Hoth and Endor above. We’re not sure if any more information will be available on EA’s E3 stand or not, but the trailer promises more information next spring.
Although there had been some hope of a trailer for the new Mass Effect game (which may or may not be called Mass Effect 4) all we got in the end was some fairly vague talk about trying to meet fan demands of new people, new places, and new romance options. It sounds like the game will take place in a new corner of the galaxy and that the planetary exploration from the first game is definitely back. Beyond that though there was no word on formats or a release date.
New BioWare IP
Things got even vaguer when BioWare revealed they were working on a new IP as well, with BioWare Montreal doing the new Mass Effect game and the original studio in Edmonton working on a brand new franchise. There were several references to the new title being ‘contemporary’ and yet it was still described as a fictional world. The concept footage suggested perhaps a post-apocalyptic setting or some other relatively minor variation of the real world.
The news of the new game also makes us doubt previous rumours about BioWare working on a Star Wars game as well, because that seems like far too many projects for even the biggest studio to be taking on at the same time (although by now BioWare definitely are one of the biggest).
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The one game BioWare were happy to talk about in detail is this year’s new Dragon Age game, although they seemed to realise that a complex action role-player was not the easiest thing to show off at an E3 briefing. As such much of the time was spent on the combat system, which includes the normal third person action view of battle and the top-down tactical view from the first Dragon Age game. It looked good, but we’d have to say not nearly as good as The Witcher did at Microsoft’s event.
The Sims 4
Another game that’s not necessarily the most obvious thing to show a crowd of braying Americans, but we’re not ashamed to say we’ve always enjoyed The Sims games and this one looks as entertaining as ever. The major selling point was the more obvious (and more exaggerated) personalities of the sims, with EA claiming that where previously they had simulated minds and bodies they now also have hearts. After the calamitous launch of SimCity it was also interesting that any online interactions were very much played down, with just a quick example of choosing someone else’s sim from a list and adding it to your game. The Sims 4 also got a US release date announced, of September 2.
EA Sports UFC
Considering it’s out next week EA didn’t spend too much time on this, but they did show off the undeniably excellent visuals – perhaps the most realistic representation of the human form in a video game – and the inclusion of Bruce Lee in the game. That still seems a slightly odd gimmick to us, but we guess it won’t take long to find out whether EA has a hit on their hands or not.
New Criterion IP
What’s even more difficult to determine is how the new game from Burnout creator Criterion Games will turn out. It doesn’t even have a name yet, but it is a first person driving game that features every vehicle imaginable except ordinary cars. There’s helicopters, ATVs speedboats, wing suits, aeroplanes, snowmobiles, parachutes… if you can crash it then it’s in the game. The footage was from an extremely early prototype (which interestingly is not the sort of thing you’d normally expect to see from EA) but given the background of the developer you’d don’t have to be too optimistic to consider it something worth getting excited about.
Another new IP, but this one does have a name. It’s a MOBA which EA seemed very insistent was nothing like any other, despite looking exactly like Dota, League Of Legends, et al. But the talk of a complex meta game revolving around how your team customise the rules, and the obvious enthusiasm of the developers, did help to legitimise their claims that it wasn’t just a cash grab clone.
Whether this is actually going to be called Mirror’s Edge or not we’re not sure, but it seems obvious that DICE are treating it as at least a semi-reboot. After all, despite its cult status the original had several obvious flaws, and we’d hate to think DICE is just going to ignore them. Thankfully they seem well aware of what the original got right and what it got wrong, with a lot of talk about the game’s minimalist art style and the fact that combat revolves around speed and disarming enemies – not prolonged shoot-outs. There was also the promise of more varied gameplay, but no word on a release date.
All of EA Sports’ usual suspects were mentioned to some degree, included NHL 15, the Tiger Wood-less PGA Tour (now using the Frostbite 3 engine and featuring a Battlefield-inspired ‘extreme fantasy’ course), Madden NFL 15, and FIFA 15. It was odd seeing EA refer to both games as ‘football’, but every year FIFA gets more and more stage time at E3 and this time there was a lot emphasis on simulating the emotions of the players and the detail of the graphics – including everything from the crowds in the stadium to tearing up the turf with your boot.
EA’s final reveal of the day was originally intended to be a surprise, before news of the game leaked a couple of weeks ago. As such most of the basic details of this police-themed spin-off from the makers of Dead Space are already known, and so EA chose to lead with a 32-player live demo. This involved the most convoluted heist known to fiction and more explosions, gun battles, and vehicular destruction than most war movies – let alone a simple crime drama. To be honest the mix of cops ‘n’ robbers and Battlefield still seems slightly odd to us, and we could probably think of half a dozen other scenarios that would’ve made more sense in context, but that doesn’t stop the game from looking like a lot of fun.
Using atypical Battlefield equipment like grapple guns, tasers, and baseball bats does is a novel change and there’s still plenty of destruction effects on show (a crane falls down and smashes through a skyscraper at one point). But not only can you watch the video for yourself you can also play the beta too if you bought Battlefield 4 and sign-up at Battlefield.com. Although that’s only for the PlayStation 4 and PC and only while stocks last.
As a whole this was an impressive showing by EA and although it might be disappointing that so little was seen of some of the more anticipated games it was reassuring to see EA’s enthusiasm for its own games, no matter what stage they’re at at the moment.
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