To sugarcoat EA’s E3 2014 performance, they put on one doldrum of a press event, promising games but showing nil in exchange. How does that happen when Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of your premier titles? That said, jetpacks, a different galaxy to explore, and the Mako’s return were enough to revive my curiosity when EA confirmed Mass Effect: Andromeda. Who will fans take charge of now? Can the new protagonist’s heroics surpass Shepard’s sacrifice? Is Andromeda the beginning of a fresh trilogy? I guess we wait for a later date.
In the present, the Need for Speed reboot, despite a longer segment, did not garner identical praise. Throwing out buzzwords like “style,” “crew,” and “outlaw,” the demo dwelled on elaborate customization and a thrilling narrative. Yet I could only concentrate on the return of FMV and the impressively detailed cars. I expect the live-action scenes to be terrible in the best possible way. Need for Speed always nails the cheesy performances that stick with you. Live actors aside, the gameplay transitioned smoothly from FMV to vehicle tuning, and I noticed no dips in graphics quality while watching in 1080p. Outside, the player entered a drift attack without pausing for a loading screen, then into a police chase, advertising the arcade experience inherent to Need for Speed.
Up next on the list of games I had completely forgotten about, Star Wars: The Old Republic is shipping another expansion (its fifth) in October. Called Knights of the Fallen Empire, the overarching story revolves around two twin brothers, one of light, the second of the dark side persuasion. More than just a mouthful to pronounce, Fallen Empire will launch free to all subscribers. Of course, the stellar CG trailer is a reminder that The Old Republic could never compare visually.
Unravel, however, sells itself on charm alone. A – stop me if you've heard this – physics-based puzzle platformer, players control an inanimate cat woven from twine, whose strings come undone while swinging and leaping around the larger-than-life locales. Lose too much yarn and poor Yarny comes undone, but the trailer and presentation, no matter how awkward, at least seemed heartfelt.
Enlightening us on details withheld from Microsoft’s conference, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 offered substantial gameplay. The plants have taken the war to Zomburbia, where new undead recruits like the hyperactive Imp wield dual laser pistols and where Super Brains harvests enemy flora in mighty melee whirlwinds.
Garden Warfare 2 resembles an expansion pack at first glance, though I would call Garden Warfare the Splatoon of 2014. It oozed personality in a genre dominated by bloody shootouts and antagonistic players. Nevertheless, competitors may play every Garden Warden 2 mode alone or through splitscreen co-op, and seasoned fans can transfer unlocks over from the original Garden Warfare.
EA’s sports talk proceeded to lose me, since I cannot keep up with each annual iteration. With what little I picked up, NHL 16 gives fans extra control over their skaters. Now athletes accept passes when accelerating or turning, and four local players can take to the ice simultaneously to destroy teams from the living room.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour earns notoriety as the first sports game developed with the Frostbite engine. Players will also control the swing of the club via the analog stick, a pro version that accounts for fade or draw, or via the typical three-button system.
EA teased NBA Live 16’s face scan app, too, the results of which had obviously been recorded ahead of schedule. Even so, I like the idea of letting players release the ball anytime during their jump shots to fool opponents, and additional types of pick and rolls should strengthen unique styles of play.
That news led into the mention of ultimate teams and the flexibility to edit them on devices such as the Apple Watch. I cannot comprehend superfluous apps for customizing loadouts in Call of Duty or Battlefield, but I know people who get scary into Madden or FIFA every year just for the ultimate team features. As a former card collector, I realize those addictions run deep.
On the topic of card games, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes spans characters and starfighters from the entire Star Wars universe, though that is literally all prospective players know at this point.
I know I have zero interest in Minions Paradise, however, a building sim that follows an unlucky minion named Phil. Is it safe to say microtransactions and countdown timers shall appear in one form or another?
Resuming its sports showcase, EA brought out soccer legend Pele to reminisce on his stardom before cluing us in to FIFA 16’s game-changing features. No-touch dribbling and coaching tutorials expand scoring opportunities, and women's teams finally, finally get a chance to prove their mettle on the field.
Up next, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst emphasized the pristine, dystopian narrative that supplies Faith’s origin story. Players will reclaim their stolen freedom in open environments unhindered by loading screens. Races, time trials, and puzzles should convince parkour enthusiasts to conquer the metropolitan terrain in its entirety, and the developers later confirmed they cut guns out of Catalyst for the better.
To prolong our wait for Star Wars: Battlefront, Madden NFL 16 broke news on community drafts – akin to ultimate team but probably less focused on sucking wallets dry. New catch types and throws provide risk-reward highlights, too. Players might chance a ground pass for short completions or leap for the ball in mid-air while at its peak, for example. Personally, nothing can hold a candle to a Hail Mary.
Without further ado, Star Wars: Battlefront captured everyone’s attention. 40 soldiers vied for control of Hoth, because nowhere has that battle been seen in games (at least not on such a gorgeous, climactic scale). AT-ATs besieged the rebel base before meeting their demise against snowspeeders. Soldiers deployed a bubble shield to ward off orbital bombardments. A flight of X-Wings and Tie Fighters engaged in dogfights that weaved through a canyon. Darth Vader himself even made for an imposing tease just as he and Luke crossed lightsabers.
Was the whole encounter scripted? Yes. Did that make it harder to determine how matches might flow once objectives change hands? Definitely. Did those factors in any way affect my pre-order? Hell no. I subscribed to the Battlefront franchise the year it came out. Pandemic may have nothing to do with development now, and 40-player skirmishes stand as a downgrade even from DICE’s Battlefield series, but those are small concessions to live out the Star Wars battles I dreamed of as a kid.
Star Wars: Battlefront brought EA’s press conference to an end, thankfully. Beyond teases of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, the show dragged on, showing little consistency. First we got racing, then Star Wars, then not-Star Wars, followed by cartoon zombies and Twitter personalities, right back to Star Wars, mobile announcements, and more sports. Microsoft’s press conference contained games fit for all ages, Bethesda knew its audience wanted Fallout and Doom. Excluding Star Wars: Battlefront, EA’s presentation mainly brought disappointment.