EA E3 Conference 2014 Summary
BY CODY SEYMOUR→ I’m not going to sugarcoat it: the folks at EA are hated by a lot of gamers. They have locked us online with Sim City (they later reneged on that), shipped a broken Battlefield 4, and all around been pretty awful when it comes to listening to gamers. However, it’s a new year and a new E3. EA has a chance to bring out the big guns and make fans forget about some of their darker moments.
EA jumped right to perhaps one of their biggest guns with Star Wars: Battlefront. DICE’s name may not carry quite as much clout after the Battlefield 4 fiasco, but we know they are capable of making a good game. It certainly seems that they are doing their homework, doing some pretty intense research of the Star Wars mythos and even examining the models from the movies. At this point the game is still fairly early in development but small amounts of in-engine footage were shown and I’ll admit it, I’m excited. Too bad we’ll have to wait until Spring 2015 to see more.
After the excitement from the Battlefront reveal wore off, EA quickly moved to another one of their major studios in BioWare. It turns out, not only is BioWare working on Dragon Age: Inquisition and a sequel to Mass Effect, there is also a brand new IP in development. Mass Effect is in early production and the new IP is in even earlier production, but we did get yet another extensive trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition. I won’t say that I dislike the Dragon Age series, but I’ve never been much of a fan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Inquisition is going to do much to change the minds of people like me. The characters that make up your team look cool and the environment is beautiful, but combat looks a little clunky and the game lacks in the graphical department in some areas. It remains to be seen if the game will receive a nice polish before it’s October 7 release.
From more dark and serious fare, EA moved onto The Sims. The long-lived and ever-fun series looks to have improved greatly on its predecessor. There is so much more depth when it comes to the creation, personality, emotions and control of your sims. The sims themselves just seem to be more like real people who speak an absolutely ridiculous language. As the studio head talked us through the demo, we saw multiple sims going through their lives (and deaths). The game looks just as silly and addictive as ever. I do hope that they choose to include more in the basic version of the game. Forcing us to pay for ten DLC packs to get some basic features is pretty annoying. I can almost certainly guarantee the game will be a hit when it drops on September 2.
After highlighting these varied games, EA moved into a stretch of some of their most popular series: sports games. First up is the newest member of the EA Sports family, UFC. And wow, the graphics are gorgeous. The detail on the fighters is insane, down to each rippling muscle and drop of sweat. EA stated that they have been working on UFC for two years now, so I’ll be very interested to see if they will fit it into the normal yearly model for EA sports games. The game looks great, but the fighting is just as underwhelming as it was in THQ’s UFC games. The animations are little jerky; not nearly as smooth as the Fight Night series from EA. Also, the hits just don’t really seem to have any real power or damage. The game isn’t out yet though, so I’ll reserve my judgement. We can at the very least enjoy the very nicely recreated Bruce Lee that is available in the game.
EA spread their more established franchises throughout the remainder of the conference, but for simplicity I’ll gather them all here. I’ll immediately say that Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, and FIFA 15 all look gorgeous. Player models are better, the fields, ice and pitches are better, the lighting is better. EA has finally stepped their sports franchises into the current gen. NHL 15 showed off some of the best collision detection and physics I have seen in a sports game. Players really move fluidly across the ice and really look they are bumping, sliding and falling. It was gorgeous. Madden has seen some similar graphical improvements, but the focus here was on the defense. They have completely revamped the defensive side of the game with new camera angles, a new tackle system and some cool pass rushing techniques. It looks better, but I fear they may have actually made defense even harder even though they are attempting the opposite. FIFA on the other hand looks flawless. We got a fantastic gameplay trailer and an even better trailer narrated by Idris Elba. It seems they have focused on recreating the drama, the energy and the emotion of the game. Get pumped up!
Criterion Games ( Burnout) are another studio with a new IP. The game is in production and it’s still early on so footage isn’t really worth showing. However, if the game is as awesome as the developers said it will be, well… It will be awesome. Cars, ATV’s, helicopters, wingsuits… Looks like there will be a lot to do. Soon after Criterion finished up, DICE took over the big screen again, this time to show off Mirror’s Edge 2. It’s an interesting choice as the first Mirror’s Edge wasn’t a great seller. But the game looks beautiful, especially with the stark white environments splashed with the occasional orange or red. If DICE can nail the parkour and ship a game that actually works, Mirror’s Edge may be able to become a serious franchise. This game is also in early production, but what they showed looked beautiful and exciting. I’m really pulling for DICE to turn things around. They have a lot of games that could be great!
So EA saved the biggest gun for last: Battlefield: Hardline. It’s exciting to see the franchise go in a new direction and avoid the trap of becoming stale like some feel the Call of Duty series has. The cops and robbers scenario is really intriguing and the gameplay still appears to be true to the Battlefield name. However, I’m most excited for the campaign, which is something I never thought I would say about a Battlefield game. Visceral Studios have come on to handle the story and it appears to be very cinematic. I’m sure it will be great fun, but we all know where we will spend most of our time: multiplayer. EA showed off a pretty length round of the new Heist mode. One team are the criminals, attempting to escape with the loot from a heist. The other team are the police attempting to stop them at all costs. This high stakes scenario seems to be really exciting and the game looks great. Can’t wait to tase some bros online later this year!