The 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles is now over for another year. I take a look back back at an epic show packed with video gaming reveals and revelations. First stop EA Games and their upcoming slate as revealed during their E3 2015 Press Conference.
Gaming’s heavy hitter’s EA bought out the big guns for the show this year. Their E3 press event was packed with first looks at some superb new titles, the publisher eager to not be overshadowed by Bethesda’s event the day before.
And whilst Bethesda was all about Fallout 4, EA was all about Star Wars.
Now, we probably should all be excited about EA’s FIFA 16, Mirrors Edge and Need for Speed, but it was Star Wars Battlefront stole the show at the press event, as it should have.
But before all that, the sneaky bastards teased us all with a fleeting glimpse of the shocking, but not entirely surprising continuation of Bioware’s Mass Effect franchise- Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The trailer showed a helmeted character, with the familiar N7 logo, travelling to a new galaxy and then started leaping about all over the place. Exciting stuff.
Bioware have since released more information stating that the new game is set many years after the first trilogy and that the character in the trailer isn’t actually the game’s protagonist; with players taking the role of either a male or female human character. There will be a new team of adventures to fight alongside and explore the game’s new galaxy, Andromeda.
EA’s Aussie CEO, Andrew Wilson, then stepped up to intro the show and provide a link to Need for Speed.
With the departure of Burnout studio, Criterion, the series’ last iteration, Need for Speed: Rivals, wobbled a bit. Still a great game, by all accounts, but it did get quite the reception that EA was after.
With a mixture of live action and, ahem, “in game graphics”, we were reintroduced to the franchise with the simply titled Need for Speed. Rivals’ developer Ghost Games are still at the helm for a Need for Speed game that will supposably draw from all the past titles’ good bits. Full of customisation, loud music and the generic OTT awesome you expect from a racing launch presentation. Need for Speed is one to watch…very carefully.
Bioware was up next to promote an expansion to a game that I didn’t know anyone was still playing. In October Star Wars: The Old Republic is getting a story-driven expansion called Knights of the Fallen Empire. From the presentation, it would seem that EA are seeking to capitalise on Bioware’s reputation for epic story-telling (the most recent example being the amazing Dragon Age Inquisition), bringing some of their hallmark game and narrative structure into the four-year-old Star War online game. With Star Wars Battlefront and the new movie coming out, this is the year of Star Wars and it may be a good time take another look at The Old Republic.
Following Ubisoft’s lead, EA are dipping their toes into the quirky indie scene with Unravel. A very nervous Martin Salin, the game’s creative director, from Coldwood Interactive introduced his yarn-based puzzle-platforming game featuring a cute character called, Yarny- a doll made from red, you guessed it, yarn. With visuals very reminiscent of Little Big Planet, it’s great to see EA giving a small Swedish studio like Coldwood a leg up.
Next up was Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2. Love it or loath it, it’s coming. Switching things around a bit, this time players control the zombies attacking the plants in multiplayer action that seems to very much be inspired by, and a parody of the Call of Duty franchise. This time out we have single-player bot-matches and split screen local multiplayer. Something for everyone…or maybe not.
NHL 15 was a big disappointment for fans when it released last year. Missing a lot of beloved features at launch, EA first new-gen hockey game managed to alienate its fan-base. Whilst post-launch patches attended to most of the game’s shortcomings, it was still a bold move for EA to start the EA Sports segment of their show with NHL 16.
Promising that they’ve listen to fans this time, EA Sports honcho Matt Bilbey went on to introduce next month’s Frostbite Engine enabled Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. The first new-gen PGA (and the first without Tiger Woods) looked beautiful in the promo. And, apparently without having to wait for holes to load you save fifteen minutes of staring at a loading screen per round, which is nice. With real-world and fantasy courses Rory McIlroy PGA Tour looks worth checking out.
Across all EA Sports titles Ultimate Team is the dominant game mode. It’s also a massive earner for EA. Part collectable card game, part fantasy league, it’s so easy to spend fortune in micro-transactions buying booster pack to make your personal ultimate team. Ultimate Team is so important to EA that they gave it its own segment on the show.
Also, in case you are not playing EA Sports games, they are adding new training features in their titles this year to remove some of the mystic from the sports, allowing players from Auckland to play Madden NFL 16 as if they grew up in Arkansas.
Next it was NBA Live 16’s turn in the spotlight. A franchise that last year was very much in the shadow of the more superior NBA2K14. NBA Live is back this year utilising new GameFace HD face mapping technology to drop gamers right into the court in minutes. Hopefully the gameplay has been improved this year as, visually, NBA Live 16 looks very nice, indeed.
After a brief segment on EA’s mobile slate, particularly their freshly minted Minions tie-in it was back to EA Sports for The Beautiful Game.
The world’s greatest footballer, Pele, was introduced onto the stage by a star struck David Rutter. Pele explained at great length how he first coined the phrase “The beautiful game”. That’s right folks, last year it was all about emotion, this year, FIFA 16 promises to be all about beauty. That and women’s football, for the very first time in FIFA. A big tick for diversity there and should be an interesting addition to the game.
Onto another EA franchise getting its first new-gen installment, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. This origin tale shows us how Faith became the anti-establishment figure we met in the last game.
The presentation showed of some spectacular-looking gameplay, very similar to parkour-inspired locomotion in 2008’s Mirror’s Edge. This is a game to watch for.
Like FIFA 16, the Madden NFL 16 was full of hyperbole, trying to justify the reasons why fan should pick up this year’s instalment. To be fair, and the same goes for FIFA, Madden NFL 16 looks superb. The animation, the lighting all look that much better and more immersive. American football is an acquired taste and every year there’s no better way to give it a go than EA’s Madden NFL.
As the show started to wind down EA’s COO, Peter Moore, stepped on stage to deliver the show’s jaw-dropping finale- Star Wars Battlefront.
Following its tantalising reveal at E3 2014, Star Wars Battlefront is one of the year’s most anticipated games. Developed by DICE in Stockholm, the Battlefield veterans are absolutely the best guys for the job.
Introduced by DICE’s Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, the Star Wars Battlefront gameplay video looked fantastic. Of course, it was an E3 trailer and not necessarily the experience that everyone will be getting come November. The game utilises EA’s Frostbite engine, the engine first developed for the Battlefield games. More recently, Bioware have managed to achieve some astounding results with Frostbite 3 in Dragon Age Inquisition.
The visuals in the video, of the Hoth inspired game mode, Walker Assault, looked almost photoreal, something that would have ordinarily have raised my eyebrows. But I’ve seen this sort of lighting accuracy on the PC version of Dragon Age Inquisition, so I know it is possible.
With huge AT-ATs, snow speeders, x-wings and tie fighters, as well as appearances from Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the game footage pulled no punches, successfully delivering a feel-good wave of nostalgic need to be one with the Star Wars universe, once more.
And with that EA’s E3 2015 press conference was done. All in all a pretty fantastic slate from EA this year. Sure, we have the meat and potatoes annual iteration of their sport titles (which still look good), but also something a little different in Unravel. The rest are updates and sequels to established franchises, all of which will no doubt be excellent and very polished affairs, but it would have been nice to see EA step and little further outside of their comfort zone.
Check out the full EA E3 2015 press conference, below.