EA decided to change the conference hall set up by having what could only be described as a wedding reception. I’m not sure how to feel about this set up but then again that’s not what we came for, we want games and EA is a publisher so will provide. I say provide, but in all fairness EA opened with a documentary which I’ll get on to in a moment. The man EA sent out on stage to quote Jim Sterling, looked like an evil wax figure brought to life. What made this even more surreal is that it said EA was putting the gamers first, which as well as being another check on the E3 bingo card is laughable.
Now back to the documentary stuff, because Star Wars Battlefront is still in early development and in that regard doesn’t have much to show, EA decided it would put a human face on its developers, a theme that will reoccur throughout the conference, and show just how devoted the folks at D.I.C.E are to this much anticipated game. They even got to go on a trip to the Lucas museum to look at all the old models and props from the films to get that authentic feel for the game. I must admit I am eagerly awaiting this game but their lack of progress is disturbing.
One highly anticipated game after another, this one a lot closer to completion, Dragon Age: Inquisition showed us that everyone expected the Inquisition and so the humour was lost. Whilst in another office documentary it was revealed that Bioware are working on another Mass Effect themed game, the main focus was on Inquisition which has a hard time going up against the Witcher 3. The trailer we were presented with during the presentation seemed a bit clichéd, introducing us to the characters that form your Inquisition, one of which is strong enough to overcome anything except the life he left behind, seriously. Gameplay sees you fighting dragons in the Dragons Dogma style with team members focusing on one area. Other things to note was the overhead tactical cam that allows you to plan an assault before hand, PC port anyone?
The Sims 4 announcement was received by an audience of screaming girls, that were obviously paid off. Yes another instalment in the sadist management simulator, this time with 75% more David Cage emotion, and more than certainly more DLC than actual content. The Sims demonstration was perhaps the darkest point of E3 with EA clearly misunderstanding their audience. What we were presented with was the story of a Sim who is in all fairness a bit of a douche. He gets his ass handed to him by his elderly next door neighbour and eventually dies of laughter. What made this more surreal is that Death now has an iPad. Information of actual worth on this game, for those who care, it that you can now bring in other peoples Sims complete with personality. David Cage can’t handle all this emotion.
Now the section everyone was waiting for, sports. Birds fly , fish swim and EA makes all the sports games and it would appear have recently hired a necromancer as the first game rolled out was UFC featuring Bruce Lee. The sports section didn’t appear as obnoxious as last year, no professional athletes, that we were left guessing who they were, appeared on stage. It was the same tune regardless of the presentation, new FIFA, new Madden, even a new NHL game which is nice. But by far the most interesting sports game of the show was PGA, yes a golf game. Stay with me, I have not gone insane, it’s just that EA have finally added something new to what is arguably a very boring game, Levolution. Yes Battlefields trademarked destruction physics now feature in a golf game demonstrated here by a destroyer crashing into the green.
Next in the sudo documentary style we got a look at Criterion games, makers of Burnout and Need for Speed. Again like Battlefront, the game they were working on is pre Alpha, so pre alpha in fact it doesn’t even have a name, in fact no one could really work out its purpose. They weren’t very forth coming with that bit of information. All we can say is that it is a game that involves prating about with a range of ATVs, dirt bikes, helicopters, planes and wing-suits, it is a hoodlums dream.
To close the Discovery channel conference we got a look at the previously leaked Battlefield: Hardline. I take it EA was impressed by the success of Payday and thought it could go one better to the point where we end up with a glorified CTF mode. Despite the gameplay being showed looking very staged, it had that usual level of believability about it, you can sometimes get your own ‘Battlefield moments’ as they call them and it feels great. If you were worried Levolution wasn’t happening in Hardline, don’t worry. Levolution is back in its usual destructive manner with highways and buildings succumbing to explosions and bullets, leading to a collateral damage bill equivalent to that in Man of Steel. There was a point in the demo where I fell for the ‘ha you missed me joke’ after which part of the highway fell on the guys head and car. First impressions made me think this was DLC and give EA’s schemes I was justified in thinking so, but as it turns out Hardline is a full priced release to which I began to wonder how they could justify it. Then I remembered, EA.
EA’s conference this year felt a lot more understated then last. the got rid of the large stage the celebrity figures and Peggle and instead tried to focus on the people behind the games and excluding the misstep that was the Sims 4 presentation I preferred it. There wasn’t anything that particularly raised my interest, nothing in EA’s current catalogue ever does but it’s nice to see them being a bit more humble, at least on the outside.