Electronic Arts E3 2014 Press Conference – Our Impressions

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Saturday, June 14, 2014

Electronic Arts, like Ubisoft, is one of the biggest game publishers in the business. While the average gamer probably knows them more for Madden, FIFA and other sports franchises, they’ve published fantastic series like Mass Effect, Titanfall and Battlefield.

Star Wars Battlefront – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC:

Naturally, Electronic Arts had to start their conference with Star Wars Battlefront. There just wasn’t any way around that. After the shocking reveal at last years E3, we’ve seen very little of the game. Sure, the game was in very early development at the time, but Star Wars fans have been salivating for a worthy game for years and DICE’s vision for Battlefront is the closest we’ve come (save for the canceled Star Wars 1313 that looked amazing too). While we still haven’t seen anything in terms of true gameplay, the developer diary EA used to open the show was fantastic and given DICE’s familiarity with in-game destruction, Battlefront should be fantastic. It’s also mentioned that original trilogy locations Hoth and Endor will be the source of some of the battles. Can’t wait. Here’s to hoping we see much more from the game in the coming months.

While the game is believed to be releasing sometime in 2015, we don’t have anything resembling a release date yet.

 

Dragon Age: Inquisition – PS4, PS3, 360, Xbox One, PC

Despite Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy being my favorite video game series of all time, I’ve had issues getting into the Dragon Age series. For me, they’re just not as captivating. With that said, with how good Inquisition looks, I may have to give the series another try (hell, it took playing Mass Effect 1 three different times to fall in love with it).

In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the player assumes the role of the sole survivor of a blast that took the lives of thousands. Not exactly unscathed, the protagonist (known as the Inquisitor) is left with a scar-like mark that allows him (or her, depending on how you customize your character) to seal various rifts from demons and other under-worldly foes. With the game featured on current and last gen consoles, everyone should be able to try out this game when it launches on October 7th, 2014.

Mass Effect (4) – Xbox One, PS4, PC:

As I stated before, the Mass Effect series quickly became my favorite video game franchise of all time. After putting in over 150+ hours into all three games, I still couldn’t get enough. Mass Effect has always been about player choice. Every scenario you’re put into, you can handle it your own way because every one of your choices has a direct effect on how the story unfolds. To my knowledge, no other franchise has ever had the scope that Mass Effect has had.

While the way the trilogy ended caused and undeniable rift amongst fans, causing Bioware to alter the ending, I was a bit worried of what would happen with the universe going forward. Mass Effect has one of, if not the best sci-fi universe since Star Wars, with so many planets to explore and alien beings to befriend. And at NYC Comic Con last year, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mass Effect lead writer Mac Walters to discuss the series and his thoughts on it going forward.

Not much has been said about what to expect from the 4th Mass Effect game (which is how Bioware refers to it, rather than Mass Effect 4), but the teaser images they’ve shown off look beautiful and knowing that it’s coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4, makes me even more excited.

Bioware also teased a brand new IP, stating they wanted to start from scratch, but aside from some conceptual images, nothing more is known at this time. The future looks beautiful for Bioware.

The Sims 4 – PC:

I’ve never been a big fan of The Sims. I can appreciate the franchise for what it is, but it’s never been for me. After seeing the trailer for The Sims 4, I can genuinely see the appeal for it. The level of customization that they’re bringing in is just insane.

With the level of customization and attention to detail, it’s hard to imagine long time fans and new fans alike won’t enjoy the newest iteration of the franchise launching on September 2nd.

 

EA Sports UFC – PlayStation 4, Xbox One:

I’ve never been a fan of boxing or martial arts, but I can appreciate a good looking sports game and EA Sports UFC looks fantastic. I wouldn’t want to fight Bruce Lee. The game will launch on June 17th, 2014.

 

NHL 15 – Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (360, PS3):

While Electronic Arts is great at releasing new iterations of all their key sports franchises every year, few of them truly feel worthy of the $60 upgrade. In fact, the NHL franchise is the only one that has truly seemed to innovate over the past few years. NHL 13 saw the addition of realistic skating that took momentum and direction into account. NHL 14 saw a dramatic retooling of the hitting system and NHL 15 plans to be one of the series’ biggest overhauls to date.

Due to the system upgrade, NHL 15 will see drastic overhauls to its core mechanics as well as its visual and audio presentation. NBC, which has been the host for the NHL over the last few seasons, sees a major win within the franchise as NBC announcers Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczky join the franchise for its color commentary. While Doc’s between play banter leaves a lot to be desired, his color commentary during play is some of the best in sports. As much as I love Gary Thorne, I don’t think I could sit through the re-tooled commentary another year. Unfortunately there was no sound for our demo, but the intro broadcast looked fantastic with live commentary from Emrick and Olczyk.

On top of the commentary, graphics have been entirely re-mastered and the level of detail, especially in the crowd, is astounding. As I played through a game of it in the EA booth, I noticed that even the tiniest subtleties, that may not be noticeable to those unfamiliar with the series, had a huge impact on the gameplay. As I skated into the zone with a full head of steam as Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, I did a quick slap pass around the boards. As the puck hit the stanchion on the other side, I skated over to try and grasp the puck as it fell off the boards, only to have it bounce over my stick. In any other iteration of the series, the puck would be in my grasp and I’d be letting go of a slap shot, but instead, that small change made a drastic impact on the game and for the better. That’s not the only thing I noticed. As players were flying around trying to gain momentum, two of my teammates crossed too close to one another and with the small bump, they both lost their balance and fell over. Amusing, but knowing those small changes to physics that would normally allow both of them to stay upright with no effect, makes the game seem that much more realistic. Between plays, as the camera pans around the stadium, each fan seems to have an insane amount of detail. Fans had their faces painted and no two fans that I saw looked alike. You could also see jersey’s flapping with the wind as the players skated around the ice. The attention to detail was insane.

Has the Red Wings historic Joe Louis Arena ever looked better?

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Despite my obvious love of the sport of hockey, it’s great to see a development team that isn’t content just re-releasing a glorified roster update and charging you $60 for it. While we haven’t seen how much the game modes have changed, the physics and commentary updates alone seem well worth the price of the game so far.

The game releases on September 9th, 2014. For those looking for all these cool features, you’ll have to buy for current gen. Xbox 360 and PS3 apparently won’t be able to handle these upgrades unfortunately.

 

EA Sports PGA Tour (assuming Xbox One, PS4):

While I’ve never been a fan of golf, the teaser trailer for EA Sports PGA Tour looks ridiculous. The game will launch in the spring of 2015.

 

Madden 15 – Xbox One, 360, PS3, PS4:

Madden hasn’t been exciting for me for about five years. Unlike some of the other sports games, nothing about the game has truly felt innovative. The trailer showcases some more depth to the defensive side of play, but I’ll leave the opinions on it up to you guys. Madden 15 launches on August 26th.

 

Dawngate – PC:

With the success of games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends, it was only a matter of time before EA decided to stick their head into the ring to get a slice of the pie. Their answer? Dawngate. Developed by Waystone Games, Dawngate is EA’s attempt to branch into the highly-competitive MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) market. This is by no means my area of expertise, but this certainly looks cool.

Mirror’s Edge – Xbox One, PS4, PC (Expected):

Mirror’s Edge was without a doubt one of the most underrated games of the previous console cycles. When it launched in 2009 there was nothing like it. While it has certainly inspired some newer aged games (2011’s decent shooter Brink comes to mind as well as, more recently, Titanfall), and other games have added elements of parkour to help you traverse, no game has set motion above combat in the way that Mirror’s Edge did.

For the past 5 years we’ve wanted a sequel to see what would happen with Faith, but nothing ever came. Finally, at last years E3, EA threw us a curveball and dropped our jaws with an out-of-the-blue teaser for a new Mirror’s Edge. Unfortunately, a year later, we don’t have much more in the details department, but I’m no less optimistic. Much like Battlefront, we’ve only really seen conceptual footage with very few details about the game itself. This basically assures that both games are still early on development (probably both for about a year). We can’t wait for more details.

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FIFA 15 – Xbox One, 360, PS3, PS4, PC:

Like every other EA Sports game, we get a new installment of FIFA every year. I decided to buy a copy of FIFA 14 to go along with my Xbox One, but after a few matches I stopped playing. Fun game and certainly more of a difference than Madden makes year to year, but it still runs stale for me after a bit.

Much like NHL 15, the impact that their new sports engine – Ignite – can’t be understated. The engine makes drastic improvement to the games core mechanics. FIFA 15 looks fantastic.

 

Battlefield Hardline – Xbox One, PS4, PS3, 360, PC:

It’s hard to get completely on board with a new Battlefield game so soon given how badly DICE botched the multiplayer in Battlefield 4 (post launch), but with how good Battlefield 3 was (at least the multiplayer) I’m trying to stay optimistic. We had the opportunity to play a few hands on matches of Hardline at E3 and so far it’s looking very impressive so far.

Graphics are great and the destructibility of the environment would give Michael Bay a hard on. A beta is open now for PlayStation 4 and PC owners, with further plans for the Xbox One coming at a later time.

At first, the idea of cops versus criminals seemed awkward for the Battlefield franchise, but after seeing it in action, the epic multiplayer battles that ensue fit the series perfectly. I’d love to see more information on how the campaign will work, but I’m very optimistic for this game. Battlefield Hardline launches on October 21st, 2014.

 

Final Impressions:

Much like Ubisoft, EA’s press conference felt a bit too safe. While it was nice to see more information on Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge, the lack of unexpected reveals felt very disappointing. I assume Battlefield Hardline was meant to be one had it not been leaked a week or two before E3, but still. It’s great to see EA Sports division making such a concerted effort improving their annual releases and it’s certainly good to see more from Battlefield and Bioware, but I can’t help feeling disappointed by EA’s conference.

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