E3 2014 - EA Media Briefing

A dev diary and early in-game footage of Star Wars Battlefront were our introduction to EA's games showcase at E3 this year, with a fairly interesting speeder bike sequence. The DICE team is trying very hard (and from what we see, succeeding) to capture the look and feel of the movies, going out of their way to visit the LucasArts archives for ideas.

A CG trailer took us into the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition, as beautiful cello music was played live on stage. The next generation of Bioware games focuses on narrative and expansive world gameplay. New and unique characters, massive dragons., a choice in how you lead the team into battle were the introductory words to the very cool gameplay footage.

A conceptual prototype of Mass Effect 4 showed glimpses of what to expect of the next episode in this franchise: new places to visit, new characters, new people to fall in love with, new choices. With Shepard's story concluded, a new hero must step forward to save the universe. A new IP is also in the works, but not much is said aside from the vague description of a "fictional world that feels real and it's constantly changing".

Overly enthusiastic female fans in the audience screamed like fangirls at a Beatles concert at the reveal of The Sims 4. I wish I could share the enthusiasm, but my interest in the Sims has considerably gone down since The Sims 3. As of this presentation, The Sims 4 got a "meh" out of me. We were shown how pre-built and pre-furnished rooms make for quicker house building options (where is the fun in that?) and how important personality traits are in forming a Sim's character. Sims are supposed to be smarter now, have new emotions and have deeper relationships, but all I really want is my options to create my own skins and textures back.

I really coldn't care less about the fitness buff Sim working out like a maniac at a gym and reading a poem to an old Sim-lady, who ends up smacking him in the face. The next day, our bodybuilder Sim is in a bad mood. Again, meh. I never played the Sims for the similarities with real life or relationships, but for the customization and ability to create my own things, not to mention to kill them in the most varied ways. One thing made me go “oh, that's neat”: Sims created can be uploaded to a page (probably the next version of the Sims Exchange) and you can browse the page like a catalog and bring in visitor Sims to your game to liven things up when you need.

We moved on to the sports portion, which is usually quite tedious. EA Sports UFC ic being released next week and the half-naked cast of muscular characters kicking the crap out of each other now includes Bruce Lee as a playable character. Seems highly out of place to me but whatever. Can I say "meh" again?

The word "emotion" is also used for describing NHL 15, which gives you more control to embarrass your friends (I'm sorry, what? Is this actually what passes as a game feature?). The franchise is said to have changed almost everything... but all I see is more NHL. A bit of footage at the end gave me the impression that either a fighting mini-game is being added, or they're just trying to go for more realism by adding realistic brawls.

To break up the boredom, we were shown prototype gameplay of an upcoming Criterion title that moves on from car racing to piloting helicopters, and apparently also jet skis, wingsuits, planes and ATVs. No title announced.

The next PGA Tour goes in a different direction with the option to play fantasy stages where all kinds of weird and crazy things happen. "Golf Without Limits" is their tagline, and we are shown a small teaser where a battleship crashes into an island. And, yes, you can still play all the famous real world golf courses.

Madden NFL 15 followed, treating us to... football. I don't know what else to tell you, it's more football. But defense improvements were particularly emphasized. And again, emotions. I'm starting to think everyone must be on estrogen at this point, and imagining crying fits with every single game for no apparent reason.

EA jumps into the multiplayer online battle arena scene with Dawngate. This MOBA tries to set apart from others by adding rich lore, a massive epic story arc, and a progressive flexible “meta” game that is based on your team's composition.

From there we moved on to footage of Mirror's Edge 2, which looks like more running and jumping over things, but Faith has an expanded move set, as we see by the option to disarm and attack as well. Very bare and bland, but it was still conceptual footage.

FIFA 15: more soccer, new ball physics. But with more emotion. You can feel the emotion and athleticism! You'll probably be able to feel the injuries or something, the way it's emphasized. In fact, maybe someone will come over and kick you in the shin while you play it, for added realism. Because THIS IS FOOTBALL! Not quite Sparta, but they still used that exact sentence...

Battlefield: Hardline could be summed up as cops versus criminals gameplay with heists. A good portion of gameplay showed how action-packed the game is, explosions Michael Bay style, helicopters, tons of shooting, a crane that comes crashing down and becomes a convenient bridge, ziplines. It was quite the attention grabber especially after everything else! Beta sign-ups are open for Battlefield 4 owners on PC and PS4, so get on that.

Overall, EA's presentation was fairly short and not all that interesting. Battlefield and Dragon Age aside, I had a tough time staying focused here... It ended somewhat abruptly too. And honestly, the overuse of the word "emotion" was emotionally draining. Pun intended!