To be honest the Electronic Arts conference was the one I feel the most comfortable talking about so far. I may not be well versed in all their properties, but better than half. EA had two of my favorite trailers from the entirety of E3, and introduced their new slogan, “Live to Play.” They were capturing the essence of video games and that is to play, compete and have fun. Many times they thanked the fans for being part of their strategy by consistently asking for feedback, and taking it to make EA’s properties better. Four new games and 10 sequel/expansions were announced and they showed very well in the conference. EA is more than just sports games, and with Star Wars in the fold it is a whole new ball game. Let’s look at what we can live to play in the future.
Mass Effect Andromeda (4Q 2016)
I love myself some Johnny Cash and “Riders in the Sky” is an awesome song as well as a great way to open the conference for EA. To combine that with a space game makes me feel good all over. Taking place post-Mass Effect 3 in the Andromeda galaxy we take on the story of a new protagonist (female or male) as we guide through the galaxy to discover what is out there, where can we rebuild the human race and what do we need to defend ourselves from this time. After the debacle of the ending of Mass Effect 3, and the subsequent patching to fix the ending EA is looking to rectify this by starting over. Will this strategy work out? Only time will tell.
Need For Speed (11/3/15)
The Need For Speed series turns 21 year olds this year, and is looking to combine the best aspects of all previous games into one. The world appears to be more open, and is rumored to be twice as large as the NFS: Rivals map. This time out there are five different game modes to focus on: Speed, Style, Build, Crew and Outlaw. Will you build the fastest car? Will your car wow the spectators? Is balance more your forte? Who will you hang out with? Will you be a rebel with a cause? But above all those questions looms one brighter, will you be the ultimate icon?
Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire (10/27/15)
The next expansion to SW:TOR is Knights of the Fallen Empire looks to take a page from BioWare in how the story is presented. Twin brothers do everything they can to earn the favor of their father as they grow together to lead his army. One clothed in white and the other in black, yet the implied correlation is flipped. The one in white has some much hatred and envy. Whereas the one in black has compassion for his brother and helps him all along the way. Ending in a blinding rage White lashes out at his brother unknowingly and in the end kills him, which finally pleases his father. Will you chose to follow the light or the dark side? You will have starting access to an Outlander level 60. Alliance can be formed to build up teams. They have also promised more chapters to continue this new story in the future. But the bigger announcement this section was that this expansion would be given free to all subscribers. Once I am able to upgrade my computer to play this game I look forward to jumping into this world.
Graphically this was my favorite trailer from E3. Unravel looks amazing and the story of the developers is very inspiring. The yarn that Yarny is made of symbolizes the bonds of love we have with people, places, things and memories. As the yarn unravels throughout a level it is to show the distance we have from the things we love. The yarn ties the pieces of life together, and ties this game to my heartstrings as well. This physics based puzzle platformer looks to be a lot of fun, and I wish this team the best.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (Spring 2016)
Once again EA hits another homerun for me using “DangerZone” to promote the next installment in the Plants Vs. Zombies series. This outing the plants are on the attack and invading Zomburbia. Four player matches now have three new classes introduced during the conference: Imp, Superbrains and Captain Deadbeard. The Imp is the smallest and fastest of the classes, and can also call upon a big mechanical suit to add to his firepower. Superbrains is the melee fighter. Captain Deadbeard is the new sniper. Also new to the franchise is a solo play mode, and local split screen. As a bonus for current players all characters previous purchased will transfer to GW2. Also they will be providing all new content updates for free. PvZ:GW2 provides lots of bonuses for current players and will encourage new players to join, which should be a big boost to sales.
NHL16, PGA Tour 16 and the Ultimate Team (CCG)
Not much was actually said about the updates to these three games, but that they were making use of the new Frostbite engine. Load times will be so reduced that they seem to not exist in between holes on the course. They are also overhauling the card collecting game as well.
NBA Live 16 (9/26/15)
This perennial game’s change was to give players more control over passing, dribbling and shooting. The crispness of the game play should improve as well with the Live Motion using the Frostbite engine as well. You can also add yourself to the game a little more seamlessly with phone face map technology which takes only seconds. They also teased a new game mode that was forth coming. Not a huge fan of the yawNBA myself, so enjoy to those who do.
Later this year EA is releasing two new mobile games Minions Paradise and Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. Minions Paradise is a time management game using the Minions craze to generate new interest, so I’ll pass. Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes taps into that fan base as well with this new collectible card game. Not much has been released as of yet on this title, but I will be downloading this mobile game.
Unfortunately this is where the conference for EA slowed down. It was great to see Pele and to hear from him, but it dragged down this section. Slamming the National Football League also wasn’t very amusing. Yes it does well in futbol circles, but outside of that it’s just a little annoying. There are two new features for this year’s edition. First off they have improved defensive control and ball handling controls. Both helped by the new training mode to help make you a better player. The second new feature is the big one with the addition of women to the game. Especially after the USWNT winning the World Cup this game will have a big pull.
Mirrors Edge Catalyst (2/23/16)
In continuation of the Mirrors Edge story we get some background to Faith in this updated game that features no guns, no levels, no loading screen and time trails. This parkour ziplining espionage game is the sequel to the 2008 hit game Mirrors Edge. The game looks alright but in the end I wasn’t very interested, and will probably pass.
Madden 16 (8/25/15)
Ahh the annual Madden football update. Guilty pleasure here but I am a sucker for Madden. This year they focused on the passing aspect of the game primarily on Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs. Each position gets two options of how to perform their respective actions. Quarterbacks can throw high or throw low, Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs can go all out for a ball, or they can catch conservatively. A new mode called Draft Champions has been added to attract the Fantasy Football crowd as well. You draft three players to create a basis for your fantasy team similar to the Madden mobile format. You play a few games and repeat which can be completed in one sitting. Like I said I am sucker for Madden so I am all in.
Star Wars Battlefront (11/17/15)
Does this game really need any introduction. Star Wars fans like myself are foaming at the mouth to get a hold of this game in anticipation of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This trailer of in game footage in alpha test mode screams play me. There are so many cool things going on my brain still can’t process all of it. I can fly a Tie-Fighter or a X-wing. I will get to relive iconic battles and see new ones. I can play as one of the heroes of the Rebel Alliance or the Empire. They even mentioned VR could be possible in the future. Heaven help me if they allow me to actually feel like I’ve entered this world. Two different battle matches have been confirmed in 4v4 and 20v20. This is a game I really really can’t wait to come out, and one day play myself.
EA had a wonderful conference that felt like it was hitting on all cylinders (with the exception of the Pele interview). For the most part you know what to expect from EA Sports, but the other half of the company really came out to play. I am ready to live to play myself. My Two winners from this conference were Star Wars Battlefront and Unravel.