E3 EA Conference – round-up

Bethesda kicked it off, Microsoft then wowed us, but it’s now time for veterans EA to show us what they have in store for us this year and next.

First off is a new teaser for Mass Effect 4, showing off a new lead character suited up in N7 armour, all in-engine footage – representative of gameplay but not actually gameplay footage of course – and then the reveal of a title change to Mass Effect Andromeda. Indeed then this latest entry in the series is set in a new galaxy and fills us with excitement and intrigue as questions such as: how they got to the Andromeda galaxy, if the Mass Effect drives from the Milky Way were repaired, and whether the Reapers will show up in Andromeda? We can’t wait to carry on the story, but we’ll have to wait until Holiday season 2016 to get our hands on it.

Next up was Need for Speed. After a short introduction, visual performance and quality that would blend seamlessly with live action footage was proclaimed, then came the footage that proved their claims correct. Firstly live action actors in a garage set the scene for customising your car, then the camera moved to your car and broke down the areas you can modify, revealing that the garage and car were CG. Expansive customisation options were promised as well as five over lapping stories and a release date of November 3rd this year. Then gameplay footage was shown off, looking as realistic and awe-inspiring as they claimed, with spectacular detail and lighting, certainly approaching photo realistic. Additionally a wonderfully intense chase camera was shown off that tilts as you speed round corners. It was a highly impressive showcase.

Need for Speed

Next came an announcement of continued support and content creation for Bioware’s Star Wars free to play PC MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic, along with a full expansion, free to subscribers, called Knights of the Fallen Empire, which promises the kind of story experience Bioware prides themselves on. A lengthy, and stunningly beautiful, CG trailer showed off the new expansion’s story threads and indeed looked intriguing. It will be available 27th of October this year.

Something a little unexpected was revealed next, a charming and cute physics puzzle adventure called Unravel, where you control an adorable character made of yarn through the perilous world as he unravels and uses his yarn to manipulate the environment, swing around obstacles, and solve puzzles. No release date yet, unfortunately, but it sure does look good.

Unravel

Next was some more information about Plant vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, which was previously revealed in the Microsoft conference. Gameplay footage was shown this time, showing the same crisp, cartoon graphics as the original as well as the same wonderful sense of humour. The new zombie characters shown off were crazy and thrilling to witness, fighting equally crazy plant enemies. The new four player Grave Yard Ops was shown off as a squad of four zombies completed an objective whilst fighting off the plants before exfiltration. It was also revealed that there would be a singleplayer experience against the AI which can be played cooperatively split screen, and you can transfers unlocked characters from the first game. Finally a promise of support and free content updates was proposed.

PVZ Garden Warfare 2

The EA Sports titles were shown off next. Largely it’s the expected annual iterations, but tweaks and new features make them fresh each and every year and this year seems no exception.

NHL 16, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour 15, FIFA 16, Madden 16, and NBA Live 16 were all shown off, each featuring enhanced visuals and animations, women’s teams in FIFA, and precisely the kind of refinements you’d expect to improve each games realism and sense of control.

A new feature being rolled out to all titles is a new tutorial training system that hints which buttons to press and when during play to help you better understand the control system and the advanced moves and tactics available to you. Additionally a new Game Face app will be launched alongside NBA Live so you can create a character that looks just like you in-game. Its accuracy appears to be pretty good, but time will tell.

NBA Live will also feature a new physics based live motion system, which, through dynamic animation, achieves smoother, more responsive, and realistic movement and control of players. Ball handling has also been tweaked so you can release the ball when taking a shot when you want. Certainly these refinements and new features are the kind of things EA need to bring to the series to compete against NBA2K, and it’s looking like they have a winner on their hands.

NBA Live 16

Several CCGs (collectable card games) have appeared this E3, and EA has a new Star Wars one, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, hitting portable systems soon. Additionally Minions Paradise takes the adorable and hilarious Minions from the Despicable Me films and builds a management game around them getting stranded on an island. The humour appears spot on but it’s another from a long list of tapping management games on mobile.

Mirrors Edge Catalyst was shown off next, with a mix of pre-rendered and gameplay footage showing faith kicking butt and free running smoothly and impressively through the minimalistic, glass filled open city. There are no levels, no loading, it’s a free roaming experience, and it’s coming February 23rd 2016.

Battlefront

The final game in this conference is Star Wars Battlefront, and the highly anticipated gameplay reveal. The previous in-engine trailer whetted our appetite but we needed to see it in action to better judge the visuals and experience, and this gameplay footage did not disappoint. The visuals are absolutely stunning, achieving a close to photo realistic look, with all the authenticity of accurately modelled assets based from props, and all the superb sound effects from the films. The battle for Hoth was the setting for this gameplay reveal, showing off the ground combat between the rebels and the Empire, combat against AT-STs and AT-AT Walkers, as well as air combat with X-Wings and TIE fighters. It all looks superb, sounded astonishing, and seemingly played beautifully. We can’t wait to try it out for ourselves, and we won’t have to wait long: the release date is November the 17th this year.

EA pulled off a very impressive conference, showing us precisely what they needed to get us excited for releases later this year and in 2016. Ubisoft is next, let’s see what they can wow us with.