10 Jun 2014

EA E3 Conference Round-Up

Live Conference Notes

- Starting with DICE development video for Star Wars Battlefront, very in-depth, this better pay off with good trailer, early in-engine footage for a few seconds looks amazing, ends with "see more Spring 2015" which doesn't sound like a release date
- Live music performance accompanying new Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer with lots of similar beats to the trailer shown at Microsoft demo, various locales include cities/daemonic hellscapes/snowy tundra/lush forests/etc, the game is beautiful, lots of dragons, very impressive gameplay fighting a dragon with incredible flame effects, showing off the classic "tactical" camera.
- Another Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer showing off the characters; a Grey Warden (presumably the Dragon Age Origins player), a female Elf Serah, a male Qunari the Iron Bull, a female mage Vivienne.
- MASS EFFECT! More behind the scenes development footage (aww), conceptual prototypes shown of star systems and planets, sounds like exploration is a big part ala Mass Effect 1, confirmed races are humans/krogans, looks like day-night cycles for each planet. DAMN YOU EA! No trailer = incredibly disappointed.

- A new Sims game.....it's a Sims game, there's nothing to talk about really except for an expanded persoanlity system apparently. The Sims 4. The visuals are predictably poor. Showing a clip reel of a particular Sim. There's a GMOD-esque content area where you click on a menu and add other player-created stuff to your game. There's a humorous Barrack Obama Sim, but otherwise a very poor showing.
- Now we have a trailer for the Sims 4 after already talking about it monotonously for about 5 minutes. Why, EA?
- EA Sports UFC trailer with celebrity interviews, some prerendered gameplay footage, they got the idea and cut it out. Gameplay footage now (but knowing EA it is probably prerendered again), looks very good with a few odd animation glitches. Featuring Bruce Lee who just knocks out his opponent with one kick. EA Sports UFC releases June 17th (next week).
- NHL game on-stage now, more prerendered gameplay (seriously EA, we all know the final product will look nothing like this), refined rather than expanded features, now a CG trailer. FYI to anyone reading, EA pulled this with FIFA 14 and the NFL game last year where both had great looking trailers but the actual final product looked terrible. No gameplay footage shown yet again.

- Criteron on the stage now with more interviews talking about a "new era", new game will feature planes/jet-skis/cars/boats/bikes/etc, first person game with some very early prototype gameplay footage shown. Game looks interesting but visually it lacks snuff, not much in the way of details.
- New PGA Tour game (Golf), visuals look great (prerendered again of course), footage spliced into Battlefield 4 gameplay was humorous - theme is "golf without limits".
- Madden NFL 15, actual gameplay footage that looks a lot better than the previous Madden, hugely expanded defence mechanics and camera angles, hundreds of new player animations, new "dramatic camera angles" ala FIFA 14 presentation levels, August 26th release date. Now a cool trailer to follow with real-life footage first, prerendered last, focusing on the defence improvements.

- New MOBA game called "Dawngate", "flexible meta game", "play different every single time", i.e. sounds like your classic "spin on the moba formula" game. Interesting visuals, story-based gameplay, very cool character concepts, "designed to entertain you" joins a line of stock quotes.
- MIRRORS EDGE 2! Prototype footage visuals look stunning, art/style looks very much like classic Mirrors Edge, parkour artists hired to help animation development for main character Faith, very-early gameplay footage, combat shown off and is based around fluidity and fight to flight.
- FIFA 15 now, talking about "emotion" showing off more prerendered footage, simulates player behaviour based on prior events in a game, more animations based on skill moves, adjusted physics, apparently better player visuals, more energy in stadiums and crowds, field degradation, launching Fall 2014.
- Another trailer starting with real-life footage and finishing with prerendered footage based on the "emotions on the pitch" focus of FIFA 15.

- Battlefield: Hardline trailer with prerendered footage and gameplay footage (note, embarrassing paid-for-cheerers in crowd), more of a cops and criminals game than a war game, live demo with co-op gameplay footage now, looks very much like a typical Battlefield game but without the tanks/battleships/jets. Themed mission types based on criminal/police dynamic that are basically variants of generic types like Capture the Flag. Vehicles do still make an appearance with cars, helicopters, bikes and so on. Gameplay footage is predictably massive and epic. Interesting, tazer guns for the police. Criminals can drive massive oil tanks into an area for destructive effect. Return of the intense battlefield destruction, but appears to be the same preset massive destruction set-pieces from Battlefield 4. Interesting equipment like grapple hooks and a wide variety of less advanced weaponry, rappelling between sky-rise buildings. Game looks amazing, also humorous jibe at the end with a police officer yelling at a pack of doughnuts.
- Battlefield: Hardline Beta launching TODAY for PC and PS4! ADAM BOYES FROM SONY is out there! Battlefield: Hardline Beta is available to all PS4 owners (for a limited time) who own Battlefield 4. Release date of full game is October 21st. 1080p 60fps on PS4! EA just uncovered lots of PS4s for the crowd to play the beta on.
- That's all folks!

Overall Thoughts - The show was a pretty colossal disappointment with one big "but" right at the end. The two big EA titles everyone is hyped for - Star Wars: Battlefront and Mass Effect 4 - were barely shown, while much of the show was spent on mediocre looking Sims/Sports games. Really down-beat and honestly pathetic after Microsoft's showing, but then the show was redeemed somewhat by Battlefield: Hardline which looks absolutely amazing. Adam Boyes appearing on the stage hints that EA have thrown their lot in with Sony this year (Ubisoft meanwhile appeared at Microsoft's conference) but the big news is that the cops versus criminals game still looks amazing even without all the tanks and jets. Dragon Age: Inquisition looks great but the stuff we saw we have mostly already seen and as such I didn't get anymore hyped for it than I was. The show would have been pretty bad without Battlefield, but its extended demo at the end really redeemed the conference.

I'll be doing a full review of the Microsoft/EA/Ubisoft/Sony press conferences later today.

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