Electronic Arts announced Eleven new titles for the 2013 – 2014 lineup at it’s E3, (Electronic Entertainment Expo), press conference today. While there was the usual EA Sports line-up to contend with, a few bright gems stuck out among the titles. Even those inevitable sports titles seemed to have a few tricks up their sleeves. Let’s take a good in-depth look at what gaming publisher Electronic Arts has in store for us… after the jump.
Kicking off the show with what I’m sure most would call an odd note, EA and Pop-Cap Games unveiled a new Third-Person Action/Shooter with casual gaming roots. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, was the opening act that left most of us scratching our heads. While it looks more grown up than its iPad predecessor, the title still sets itself squarely in the “casual” gamer market and mindset. The game itself seems to lend from the squad based mechanics of games like Team Fortress 2, where every plant type has something its good at. Pop-Cap left us with a second casual bombshell as they left the stage, Peggle 2. While it didn’t hit me with the wow factor I think they wanted, Peggle was and is a great time waster, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done with it.
Ramping up off the Pop-Cap announcement, Respawn Entertainment landed hard with their announcement of a cross-platform, (available for XBox1, 360, and PC), title. “Titanfall.” This epic title captured my imagination from the first moments and left me looking through Google for more. A First-Person-Shooter with a twist, Titanfall allows players to shoot up each other as the usual ground squad warriors, or as giant exoskeleton mechs. It seems long gone are the days of even footing, as this title ushers in the age of getting crushed underfoot. Respawn Entertainment hopefully delivers on what looks to be a spectacular shooter.
Ghost Games is taking the helm of the Need for Speed series with the next installment, Need for Speed: Rivals. Many believed NFS: Most Wanted developer Criterion would be taking the lead on the next gen launch of the series, but it seems that the series is in good hands. From what was shown it looks to be a great advancement for the consoles lending from newer NFS games such as the popular casual Massively Multiplayer Online Racer (MMORacer), Need for Speed: World, and the Most Wanted series. Racing with or against other players will become a fluid experience through the environment, as you dodge cops and pass from one event to the next. With fewer good fantastical racing games out there, and more simulation games on the market, I was pleasantly surprised by Rivals and will be watching for this to make the jump to PC.
BioWare threw in a brief appearance with some cut scene footage from Dragon Age: Inquisition. While I am sure the story will be more than enough to carry this game, as a PC gamer and long time RPG lover, this game fell short on me. I felt it will be a great visual leap for console RPG gamers stuck with last gen’s hardware, but coming from the PC I expect more from my RPGs. Again, I will reiterate, I believe BioWare has the storytelling chops to pull beyond this initial perception of a jaded gamer. Only time will tell.
Rounding out the EA development houses showcase was DiCE, with an amazing showing of Battlefield 4, and a hidden surprise early in the show that was very easy to miss. Let’s start with BF4… DiCE was able to demo a live Sixty-Four player multiplayer match, all be it seemingly scripted, but impressive non-the-less. Environments looked highly destructible and opened new routes of attack, as shown when a tank was brought into an underground parking structure and blown up with C4. The players also looked to be playing across the gambit of PC, Xbox1, and Windows 8 Tablet. I want to hit that last point hard, Windows 8 Tablet! BF4 looks to integrate a “Commander’s Mode” that allows a player to help direct troops and hit targets with air/missile strikes as their squads paint them. If what I saw was correct, it would mean a giant leap forward for the Battlefield series and big things for this entire generation of games going cross-platform. Oh, that little, “blink and you missed it,” moment.. Just a little game titled Star Wars: Battlefront. Yeah, I was that shocked as well. I suppose the fans asked for it hard enough and EA needs the good press, so its win-win all around. Unfortunately not much was shown of the new Battlefront as it was a tech demo for DiCE’s new Frostbite 3 engine.
Also on the New engine bandwagon, EA Sports division unveiled the new “Ignite Engine.” This new sports engine had its hooks in every Sports title improving AI in every game from Madden 25 to the new EA Sports UFC. In fact, it seems that a lot of AI changes were needed for UFC that they carried it over to other games. Other changes include highly technical things like not having the ball anchored to the player’s hands/feet in NBA and FIFA allowing the ball to have its own physics properties, and more realistic crowd AI in FIFA that gives teams a more realistic home-pitch advantage. The Ignite Engine looks to make sports games better across the board and allow for animations to look and feel more realistic, as well as giving the player unprecedented control over the man on the field/court/pitch/octagon. NBA Live seemed to be the only sports title that mentioned live updating rosters. It seems that roster and player stat info is updated within an hour of a live game and should help support Xbox1’s earlier claims to integrate with fantasy leagues.
When all was said and done, EA didn’t come out looking too bad this year. A healthy lineup of games for the 2013-2014 calendar, and the next gen of consoles. Oh, and DiCE once again left us with a jaw dropper in the form of a scintillating Mirror’s Edge 2 trailer. A game that has been begged for since the release of the first title.