E3 2014Features

E3 2014 – EA Conference Review

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Following the excellent press conference by Microsoft, it was EA’s turn to step up to the plate. With a lot of leaks prior to the conference, EA had a lot to deliver to make up for it but just how did they perform?

EA started off the press conference incredibly strong. By showing off a behind-the-scenes video of Star Wars Battlefront, DICE were generating goosebumps for gamers everywhere with their focus on capturing the feel of  the original Star Wars trilogy. While it was all early footage and concept art, it was incredibly exciting to see just how DICE were tackling this monumental project ahead of them.

Moving on, Dragon Age Inquisition was up next and delivered another excellent trailer, some exciting gameplay and some gorgeous music that captured, as Aaryn Flynn put it, “All the feels”. All the feel indeed. This was a great look at how the game worked and how it looked. Every gameplay type was catered for as we saw RPG elements, combat and management. Concluding with a showcase of the heroes you will fight alongside in the game was really epic, giving you the idea that we’re going to have some fantastic characters in this game.

Next up was Mass Effect, but it wasn’t just one Mass Effect game but two. BioWare revealed that they will have a new game for Mass Effect and a new unnamed IP, which is presumably set in the universe. BioWare’s Montreal Studios is working on the next Mass Effect and will focus on new worlds, new places and “new characters to fall in love with.” It’s all incredibly exciting. BioWare claims that you’ve never seen “characters this real before.” It was a bit of a let down to not see anything past concept footage or live gameplay but it was exciting none the less.

The Sims 4 was showcased next. While I’m not a big Sims 4 fan, the length and breadth of the customisation was amazing. However, the presentation did feel a bit weak. It felt rather too long and it did feel like the attention was slipping at times for gamers. The Sims 4 is probably a big market for EA but this part ran on far too long in comparison to other parts. Maybe it was the presentation but this part really dragged on.

After a brief look at the sports games that EA usually cater for (UFC, FIFA, NFL, PGA, NHL), Criterion Games came on stage to announce their new unnamed game which was heavily inspired by extreme sports videos. We got another behind the scenes look at the studio at work on this new game. Using everything from an ATV to jet skis to planes to snowboarding, their new project is influenced by all those crazy Go Pro videos you see online. It’s interesting, for sure, but it’s still early days for this game yet. The concept art and low-res gameplay was in full force for this one. It’s refreshing to see extreme sports catered for this year but compared to the footage of NFL, NHL and UFC, Criterion Games were seriously lacking.

Mirror’s Edge was given a brief look and surprise surprise, we were given ANOTHER behind the scenes look for the project. No real gameplay, just “conceptual prototypes” and first person views of parkour artists. All in all, a very underwhelming look at Mirror’s Edge. Recycled footage from last year, concept art and just prototype gameplay, we were expecting a lot more for Mirror’s Edge but we just were given a “behind the scenes” look that lacked the real meat-and-potatoes of last year’s reveal trailer.

Finally, Battlefield: Hardline closed the show. With a huge multiplayer focus, we got a massive look at the new “war between cops and criminals”. It’s interesting for sure but we only really got a glimpse at the multiplayer aspects, which is expected of a Battlefield game. However, I can’t help but feel that the leak before-hand took away from the initial reveal. EA were hoping this reveal would be an absolute knock-out for the conference but it ended up just being more of punch to the gut than anything. All in all, the game looked interesting. The single player component is focusing on deliver a high level TV cop drama but given Battlefield’s track record for mediocre stories, it’ll be fun to see if this one can deliver something different.


So, EA’s press conference in a word? Underwhelming. There was a lot of games being shown that lacked decent gameplay trailers, opting for a “The Making Of” documentary style that was 90% talk to 10% gameplay. While it’s interesting for a game developer to talk about their plans and how they go about it, talk is cheap and gameplay will always make the bigger impression. BioWare, DICE and Criterion Games all have huge plans for the future but to cobble together concept footage and nothing concrete for fans to fawn over is extremely underwhelming and the conference suffered for it.

I would argue that working with the new consoles is extremely hard work and there are time limits the companies have to acknowledge, so I can understand why many games are still in concept but to showcase not one, not two, but three huge games with just concept art and footage on the E3 was just a tad disappointing.

No jaw-dropping reveals, no hidden surprise trailers. We were given the usual yearly releases of sports games and a new iteration of a Battlefield game. Apart from Dragon Age Inquisition, the games we were incredibly excited for had yet to showcase anything monumental, just concept footage.

For this year’s E3, EA didn’t manage to knock it out of the park, but I’m certain that they had the “conceptual prototype” for how they planned to do it stashed somewhere at EA HQ.

 

Nathan Hughes
Follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/OnlySP_Nathan) for more nonsense.

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