EA’s conference at E3 2013 was a jovial affair, with Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore appearing on stage shortly before kick off to tease members of the audience. What followed was an hour of celebrity spotlights and showcases of numerous games under the corporation’s umbrella.
As the event began properly, a bombastic war-themed trailer proved to be a genius parody of the Call of Duty games, one designed to introduce the new Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. A third-person spin-off of the addictive tower defence game for smartphones and tablets, it places you in direct control of the seed-shooting plants to more directly fight off waves of the undead. The quirky humour remains apparent, with bosses such as Disco Zombie, though it will be interesting to see how this shift towards more ‘core gamer’ gameplay affects the series. An exuberant John Vechey, co-founder of PvZ developer PopCap, appeared on stage to hype up the game – wearing a zombie head, naturally – before literally leaping off as he announced Peggle 2, a long-awaited follow-up to the addictive puzzle game.
Moore returned to provide greater detail on Xbox One’s TitanFall, including some behind the scenes info from the development team. The more seen of the game, the more its influences become clear – elements of Zone of Enders, Steel Batallion, Halo and others can be spotted – but it looks hugely fun. Switching between on-foot FPS gameplay to towering mech command seems to really mix things up. Hands-on impressions will follow later this week.
The first of several big announcements was the tease of EA’s DICE studio developing a new Star Wars Battlefront game. There was little to go on – long shots of the frigid tundra of Hoth culminated in the crushing step of an AT-AT foot and the reveal of the logo – but crowd reaction was hugely positive at even this.
Need for Speed: Rivals got the next focus, with the hi-octane street racer maintaining elements of the open-world Most Wanted and adding in a bit of a darker edge. The tone seemed to imply race gangs – hence the Rivals subtitle – and the merest whispers of a plot, so expect something similar in style to the Fast and Furious movies. The announcement was also paired with the first celebrity appearance, with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul appearing to introduce some footage from the upcoming Need for Speed movie. The Fast and the Furious comparison applies pretty well here too, for some strange reason.
Dragon Age Inquisition wowed the crowd next, with a suitably apocalyptic trailer enticing players back to the fantasy role-playing world. It’ll be a long wait though, with the game slated for release on PS4 and Xbox One in Autumn 2014, but it looks exceptionally good already. You will believe and orc can die, judging from some of the gory action in the trailer.
Battlefield 4 also enjoyed more focus than at the earlier Microsoft event, with a 64-player match played live on stage, in part spotlighting the Commander mode. As the name implies, it allows one player on each team to issue commands to his team, using a tablet and headset. It was an impressive sight, as far as the technology goes, and the ‘Siege of Shanghai’ mission shown for it looked phenomenal. However, we doubt many people will really want to direct other players’ actions as Commander rather than enter the fray themselves, leaving us unconvinced of the concept. It also remains unclear whether the Commander needs to be using a dedicated SmartGlass tablet/app, or whether it will be compatible with Android and Apple tabs.
Andrew Wilson, head of EA Sports, rolled out a raft of upgrades and improvements for this year’s slate of titles from the sporting arm of the company, including a 25th Anniversary celebration for the Madden series and the reveal of Adrian Petterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, as this year’s cover star. Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving came out to discuss – in a stilted, scripted conversation – the new ‘bounceTek’ system for NBA 2014, delivering considerably more control of the ball while in play, before a trio of fighty punchy men came out to big up an extended partnership with the UFC. The next entry in that series will be out in spring 2014, and apparently fighting is the root cause of human civilisation. The attempts to philosophise the mixed martial arts games proved inadvertently hilarious, incidentally.
At the heart of all EA’s announcements were two new development engines. Ignite, used for the sports titles, is intended to better capture human intelligence and true player motion, while the third iteration of the Frostbite engine for the action games appears to deliver even greater detail and scope than its predecessors. It’s safe to say everything looked visually beyond reproach at EA.
Although big on glamour and spectacle, and clearly trying to wow audiences with movie stars and sportsmen turning up – not an uncommon occurrence at E3 in recent years – one final announcement showed that EA will (eventually) listen to fans. Ending on a teaser trailer for the endlessly requested Mirror’s Edge 2 proved so popular that the WiFi networks for the hall simultaneously died under the strain of a thousand jubilant tweets. The critically acclaimed first game struggled to find an audience on release but has become a sleeper hit. Playing as the illegal courier Faith, its first-person parkour though a clinically white urban landscape remains a relatively unique gameplay experience. Excitement should be tempered though, as the release date was pegged as “when it’s ready”. Little was shown of gameplay either but if it can refine the collision detection and combat of its predecessor, Mirror’s Edge 2 should be sublime.
The audience was played out to George Michael’s ‘Faith’ – a genius musical choice given the surprise announcement. It would seem, after years of waiting, you really do gotta have Faith.
Film2012 Posted on Thursday June 13, 2013, 18:59
"As the event began properly, a bombastic war-themed trailer proved to be a genius parody of the Call of Duty games, one designed to introduce the new Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare."
It parodies the Battlefield 3 teaser trailer, not the Call of Duty games.