Excuse me a second, I'm going to go sign up for the Battlefield Hardline Beta.
The Sega Saturn esque announcement that the Hardline Beta was available right now was probably the most exciting thing about EA's press conference. They spoke a big game at the beginning, proclaiming that iminent releases were going to be shown alongside far off games. They promised in depth looks at early titles, but reassured us they would keep things current with footage of what was around the corner. This was somewhat true, but it wasn't overtly impressive.
Let's start at the beginning.
Star Wars Battlefront
Things kicked off with an impromptu Star Wars Battlefront documentary. The game is still too early to show apparently, but what they showed instead was quite inspiring. Much like how Gearbox focused so much of their Aliens: Colonial Marines marketing on how much they loved Aliens, DICE wants you to know it loves Star Wars.
It loves Star Wars so much that it's got hands all over original props.
The developers talking showed a genuine appreciation and care for Star Wars, talking about being on location and taking things back to their sources. It was really inspiring stuff, it's nice to hear people care that much about the universe they are working in and it sounds like they are really thinking about stuff. Of course, it's all speculative at this point and Gearbox have proven that showing adoration for a franchise means nothing. However, DICE did a good job of linking their appreciation to potential gameplay, they weren't just saying "we love Star Wars", they were talking about how they could use that love to make a great game.
Dragon Age Inquisition
As predicted, EA brought some Dragon Age along with them. In fact, they even brought some gameplay... But more on that later.
Things kicked off with a live solo musical performance by a lady and an electric cello (I think it was an electric cello, but I could be wrong), she played beautiful music and an atmospheric Dragon Age trailer was shown behind her. It was pretty much what we saw at Microsoft, but with a cello. A cello makes a hell of a difference though, this was a nice piece of spectacle. Microsoft kicked it out of the park in regards to showing game after game, but a couple of random grandiose moments would have been nice.
After the music ended, and the lovely panning shots of environments stopped panning, a man took to the stage.
It was time to go for a deep dive on Dragon Age, it was time for some gameplay! What was exciting here is that the gameplay they wanted to show was a dragon fight. If you remember, Dragon Age Origins was shown at E3 with an impressive dragon fight (a crazy hard one from pretty late in the game), making this a nice touch. It's a way of reminding you of the right Dragon Age game, but the actual gameplay didn't do the same job. It looked like a lot of fun, but it looked very action focused. No pausing happened, no tactical play, it was just all out real time offence. Being able to damage different parts of the dragon looks great and the fight did look really enjoyable - it ultimately looks like a very good action RPG. However, it's not what I want from Dragon Age.
Luckily though, the developer on stage took time out to say that was just one approach. He talked about pausing and tactical play, he then showed a screenshot of this and all was good with the world.
Mass Effect and new Bioware IP
Recent stuff has been talked about for a while, now back to drawing board games.
These segments seem to serve as little reminders that certain games franchises still exist. It's nice to know a new Mass Effect is coming, but hearing what they aim to do is somewhat meaningless. Let's put that to the side for a moment though, let's take their bait and discuss their aims.
With the next Mass Effect they want to widen the scope, they want to open up more of the galaxy and let you explore. That's what came across anyway. This approach follows in the footsteps of the more expansive looking Dragon Age Inquisition and this sounds like a great move. I love Mass Effect, but those games can be quite limiting. The first was especially guilty of seemingly offering you the known universe, but actually giving you a tasty little appetiser.
Bioware are making a new IP though, we know nothing about it. But it's new. That's kind of all on that.
And we're back to the coming soon segment.
The Sims 4 made a good enough showing. It looks like the Sims again with a few tweaks, it's been a while since the Sims 3 (2009), so I'm ready for this.
The big focus this time was smart sims. They spoke about how you could sculpt their personalities with traits and how this meant more opportunities. This seemed oddly reminiscent of what was already in Sims 3, but the overall take away is that everything is a bit of a step up. They are working on making Sim behaviour smarter and more meaningful, for example.
Sims will remember things now, if they have a bad morning it will effect the rest of their day. This seems like a nice expansion on what was there before and after a lot of PR talk they actually showed this in action. There was a nice story time section which ended with a person dying of laughter. It's the over exaggerated stuff you want from the Sims, it doesn't look revolutionary but it looks promising.
Then Bruce Lee showed up. A clip of his famous water speech came on and EA continued to take advantage of having his license by parading him around for all to see. People talked about how great he was, a developer said their game means you can be as great as him and then they showed a fight. At one point they made the weird boast that the game has been in development for two years. That's right... Two whole years! I guess that's a big deal in the mostly annualised sports market.
The match looked technically great. Animations were brilliant and it looked like UFC. Sadly, I don't like UFC at all, so I'm not going to give much insight here. There was a 'mounted triangle submission' and the developer said it's a lot of fun. I just found the whole making a dead guy fight people in your game bit kind of creepy, might just be me though.
Hockey joined the party. It's what you expect from next gen sports: Prettier and complete with nice little touches.
They went on to say that every player has physics now, as well as the puck. This just begged the question of what was going on before? Were the hockey players living in some crazy physics-less universe, doesn't that sound way more exciting?!
They went on to show a non gameplay trailer, which just felt like watching the sport. I don't mean this as a compliment, as it in no way indicated that gameplay would be like this. After all, a lot of the effect came from camera angles and the lack of HUD. When these are in play it will be a different story.
It's time for an early one again, back to the drawing board folks.
Criterion took the stage to talk about their new vehicle based IP, in which you drive everything. I mean it... Everything. In this documentary segment - featuring talking, early footage and extreme sports clips - we saw helicopters, boats, cars, ATVs, wingsuits, planes and jet skis. They are really going all out on this! It's all first person and it's inspired by GO Pro footage. I love Criterion, this looks great! They are also super British, they were even in the pub at one point. As a Brit, I can respect this sensible approach to game development.
PGA Tour is now on Frostbite (like everything) and looks very pretty. You can also play golf while battleships crash into islands. Yes, that happened in this segment. This game looks quite odd.
Being a Brit, this segment made no sense to me. Apparently defence is better now. The camera is behind defenders, there are lots of on player HUD elements and it is starting to look like a dancing game (seriously, the pop ups around players looked like they came from an obscure Japanese rhythm game).
Also there are real time emotions in players now, which is good? I think it's good, it looks pretty at least.
EA are making a MOBA. It doesn't look that great and they said some weird thing. They are focusing on story, which could be nice, but they also say the game is 'designed to entertain you'. I thought that went without saying.
They apparently purposely built this team for the game (you'd hope so though really) and it's made up of MOBA enthusiasts. Could be good, too early to say.
The trend of talking lots and saying nothing continues. Mirror's Edge must be a way off, because all of this footage is conceptual. People talk about what they want Faith to be, how her move set should be and pontificate on game basics. It sounds like they are heading down the right track, but once again we need to wait to get the whole picture on it.
There's combat again in this, but I didn't see shooting (a huge plus). However, the combat looks more natural, it fits into the momentum of the game and they made a point of saying it was designed with her move set in mind.
Not much to say here, apparently it's emotional. The players have emotions and the grass looks nice. My favourite part was the genuine quote: "Corner flags will move".
The leaked cops and robbers Battlefield game by Visceral is... Exactly that.
It's a bit weird that it's called Battlefield, not being on a battlefield and all, but when they started to show gameplay it all made sense. It's not in war, but it sure looks and plays like Battlefield. With a twist mind! A really cool cops and robbers twist.
After a nice little lie about how visceral are known for storytelling, they proceeded to show multiplayer (admitting that's all anybody cares about). The multiplayer looked great though. The new slant has added some personality and it's added more frenetic fun. It seems to factor in the madness you want from Battlefield, with 32 players in a match, but also seems a bit more high octane. The little tweaks to the formula made it look like a tonne of fun and the Beta starts now only on PC and PS4.
And that was EA... For more from E3, stick with Techraptor.net.