E3: EA Showcase Impressions

EAE3This day already feels really long, but we only just finished our second of four press conferences today. EA, the mega publisher, known for its annualized sports franchises, as well as some key franchises like mass effect and Dragon Age, are often in the unfortunate position where they have to highlight so many sports games to a very non-sports oriented crowd. That is not to pigeon-hole all gamers as non-sports fans, but a simple look at Twitter was all you needed to see in terms of where the crowd was going. That said, there was a bunch of footage shown from tons of games so lets recap what we saw.

MassEffectAndromeda (1)Mass Effect Andromeda

Okay, this one was rather disappointing. After the little behind the scenes mini doc last year, I was really hoping for some true gameplay or at least a good chunk of time dedicated the latest in the Mass Effect franchise. Instead we received a CG trailer that gave hints at what we could expect, but it was over far too quickly. But what did we learn from the little amount that we received? Well N7 armour confirmed! Oh and we briefly saw the Maco. So yeah, that is all I got, and I wanted so much more!

NeedforSpeedNeed for Speed

EA teased their new direction for Need for Speed a few weeks back with what looked to be a love letter to urban car culture. Getting in touch with Need for Speed’s roots if you will. The game will take place in an open world twice the size of Need for Speed Rivals, a new city called Ventura Bay. Within the cities borders are several top driving icons acted out in full motion glory, of whom you must impress. Between this game and Guitar Hero, I am wondering if FMV is seriously making a comeback.

Car customization is key to the game. It looks incredible when you are customizing a vehicle. I actually had to blink a few times just to make sure I wasn’t looking at a real image. When driving, the game seems very busy. It is definitely going for more of an “extreme” look. The way the cam swings when you drift is straight out of Fast and the Furious. Sadly, that ‘extreme’ nature is also reflected in the dialogue. The game uses terms like “Off the Hook” and it just feels like it is trying really hard to be cool. Try being the key word. I was kind of waiting for the guy to call the car a whip.

I don’t know, the culture of this game just doesn’t speak to me, but maybe it will work with others. So for them, it comes out November 3.

swtor-knights-of-the-fallen-empire-expansion-teaserStar Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire

As the first of many Star Wars announcements, Bioware announced an expansion to The Old Republic MMO. This expansion promises to be more story focused than previous iterations of the game, getting to the core of “what people expect from a Bioware game”.

I have never played the original MMO, and am not aware of whether people are still playing it, but to those who are still subscribed, Fallen Empire will be free.

As with all TOR trailers, the CG here is absolutely stunning. I believe that is Blur studios.

UnravelUnravel

If we weren’t warned about it ahead of time, Unravel would have been a complete out of nowhere surprise. EA is trying to pull a Ubisoft it seems, almost saying “We can have artsy games too!” The main character is Yarny, and he/she is absolutely adorable. The game is developed by a small studio in Sweden called Coldwood Studios. It is a 2D platformer with some incredibly realistic looking backdrops. Oh and an evil hamster! It is endearingly cute and the perfect cure to Need for Speed’s in-your-face coolness.

Plants-Vs-Zombies-Garden-Warfare-2-Microsoft-E3-2015-Stream-04-1280x720Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

This game, already announced at Microsoft looks to continue the quirky tradition started in the first. The game demo showed a 4 person coop mode akin to Gears of Wars’ Horde mode. As can be expected, the game is very cute looking with great animations (where popcap often shines). The characters are very quirky as always.

The game will also have a solo player mode and will have free content updates, something that feels very un-EA. (Perhaps following The Witcher and Halo?)

Madden 16EA Sports

I am not going to linger too long on these titles as I have to admit I wasn’t paying great attention, but here are a few thoughts:

  • NHL 16 looks like it is trying to make up for last year’s disastrous launch.Oh, and mascots are confirmed.
  • PGA will have no load times, which is pretty awesome!
  • NBA Live will have facial scanning technology – hopefully with the same hilarious results we saw in 2K.
  • Fifa 16 will finally include teams from the international women’s leagues (finally) – hopefully other sports like Hockey will follow suit.
  • Madden will have a focus on drafting – which I am indifferent about as I haven’t played fantasy sports in almost a decade.

Mobile stuff

 

I am just going to skip right over this. Sorry mobile fans.

 

mirrors edge catalystMirror’s Edge Catalyst

Okay, so this, above all, is the game I have wanted from EA for years. The first Mirror’s Edge game was criminally under-appreciated. Sure it’s finale was a little too trial and error, and yes the shooting mechanics were completely horrid, but what it did that was different completely made up for those issues in my book.

I am so happy to see the vibrant white and primary colour pallet returning. It was an artistic direction that once again felt so different from the drab browns of other games.

New to the series is the game’s approach to the game world. According to EA there will be no loading screens and no levels (?). It will simply be fluid first person navigation and combat. I am curious as to how it will work structurally, but it sounds very intriguing.

star wars battlefront e3Star Wars Battlefront

Finally, the big reveal was actual gameplay from the hotly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront, from Dice. From the moment EA got exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise, everyone universally cried out of a Dice Battlefront game and today we got our first look. It looks so much like Star Wars its incredible, including the cool use of the original props from the Lucas Film archives. And then the gameplay. All I needed to see was that look up at the ATAT and, Jesus, I was sold. The sound, the spark effects, this game looks gorgeous. The game’s environmental effects are simply the best I have seen in a game. I wonder whether this technology will be applied more often in games following Battlefront. I honestly hope so.

So that was EA! Some announcements were awesome, some not so much. I seriously wanted more from Mass Effect, but hot damn, that Star Wars Battlefront. I am afraid for every multiplayer game coming out this fall including my beloved Halo.

Next up: Ubisoft!

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

 

 

 

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