E3 2014: EA Press Conference

Posted by Euan 09 June 2014

EA at E3 can be really hit or miss. In the past they have shown a lot of strong new IP, or shown some great new iterations on their existing titles. This year however, it really felt like EA turned up in Los Angeles after forgetting to do their homework.

It started out super promising, with Star Wars music opening up their presentation. Expecting news on Battlefront we got a reel of developers talking about how they visited the original movie locations and showed some conceptual in-engine footage. This was a pattern that would repeat for most of the rest of their time stage.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition was pushed to the forefront again, and Calum was excited. I will have to take his expert opinion that what they showed was what fans are looking for. After starting with a live musician playing some Dragon Age sounding music leading into some pretty nice looking trailer footage, they showed some in game footage. The combat looks a lot more dynamic than even the second game, with the tactical view making a return. As I said, Calum approves, so I will take him on his word

The followed that with some very Mass Effect sounding music, making special places in me start to tingle. Instead what we saw was a developer reel of how excited Bioware are to continue to work on the Mass Effect universe. Cue more conceptual prototypes and developers talking to camera, with the only interesting news being that Bioware Edmoton is for sure working on some new IP with a similarly large scope.

I actually quite enjoyed seeing The Sims on stage again, as they always seem to inject some light-heartedness and humour into a conference that is primarily dudes shooting each other. No surprise, it looks like a refined Sims game, but I’m fine with that. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of new features mentioned, except for a Steam Workshop style “gallery” that let’s you pull other peoples characters and buildings into your world. If more Sims sounds good to you, it looks liek you will be well served.

We don’t cover a lot of sports games here on GameEngineStart, cause neither of us really play them on our own time, so apologies in advance for our lack of excitement. They started with UFC, leading with the previously announced ability to play as Bruce Lee. Despite some stiff looking animations, it looks like the much touted EA Sports Ignition engine is serving the next gen titles well. NFL 15 followed, with PGA Tour, Madden 15 and FIFA 15 soon after. There is not much that can be said about these titles that you wont expect. Bigger, better, tweaked mechanics and some great looking details that you will never see from the angle you normally play these games at.MirrowsEdge_THUMB

Criterion taking the stage and not showing a Need for Speed game was exciting, as Burnout is a game I have a real fondness for. What followed in a developer reel (everyone drink) was people describing a new title in the “very early” stages that allows the studio to break away from purely cars, and into everything from ATVs to wing-suits to speedboats. While I love the idea, they didn’t actually have anything to show, except for some obviously super early prototypes.

More developers on film talked about my personally much anticipated favourite from last gen, Mirrors Edge 2. Disappointingly, that was followed by more “conceptual footage” that looked like it could have been up scaled from the last game. No new details or anything.

EA are getting into the MOBA game with Dawngate, and after consulting with resident MOBA editor, the buzz on the digital streets is that it’s not great. Ok, sure. I believe you. Moving on.

The presentation¬†closed with Battlefield: Hardline, the next in the series with a “cops vs. criminals” approach. It looks a lot like a super high budget version of Payday, which is actually pretty high praise from me, being a big fan of Overkill’s co-op multiplayer heist game. Mixing that with the Battlefield gloss, and and extra shot of mini-guns, tazers and grapple guns, is a good thing in my eyes.

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This might have been the worst presentation they have done in a long time. By the end I felt genuinely bad that Hardline had leaked ahead of the show, as that might have at least ended them on a high note, but alas no. They had no new titles to announce, and no new footage that was not heavily marked as “conceptual”. It really felt like a few months ago they realised they had nothing to show, and just pulled together the scraps from their studios that they could show without giving the game away. If they had maybe been a little bit more forthcoming about the nature of the Mass Effect news, or Mirror’s Edge was a little further along they might have been able to save themselves, but instead what I am left with is a feeling that EA are placing some pretty heavy bets on next year, and if they don’t pay off then one of the biggest publishers in the industry might be in trouble.