Microsoft started the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with a really strong press conference, which was then followed up by Electronic Arts (EA); who, in my opinion, had the weakest showing of the entire day. It is not that the games they were demonstrating were bad, but I am not the target audience for a large quantity of the products that they are trying to sell.
The press event began with a quick little teaser, reminding everybody that EA has acquired the exclusive rights to develop Star Wars games for the foreseeable future. No game play, no announcements or details of any significance, just the Star Wars music and some R2-D2 noises. EA must have felt the need to hype up these potential video games to fill a gap in their lacking press event, but the need to start the hype machine when these games are in such early stages of development (nothing to show, not even a logo) is pathetic, and it would have served EA better to not even include the segment in the opening.
Bioware hit the ground running with a very impressive display of Dragon Age: Inquisition. A Dragon Age teaser trailer was also run at the Microsoft event earlier in the day, but this time around they pulled out all the stops. A woman was playing a very impressive Cello solo over top of the new teaser that was run for this title, and then came the host who promptly beat an internet meme right into the ground before proceeding with a game play demonstration. The unfortunate part about role playing games is that they do not demo well. The slow pace is not exciting for a crowd, so the only part that was properly shown was a combat sequence. This involved multiple characters fighting a large dragon. Assuming the quality of storytelling and writing in this game is up to the same standard that has been a staple in previous Bioware titles, then this game looks like a must play for any RPG fan.
Before EA showed off the newest iteration in one of its most lucrative franchises, Bioware managed to tease the skeleton of another Mass Effect game. Unknown to me at this time, the very early footage shown would become a disappointing trend for the rest of the EA press conference.
The profit machine came next, and thus EA began promoting The Sims 4. They began by talking about the new systems and features that will be included in the game, by following a “Sim” around for a day. For some reason, a rendition President Barack Obama of kept showing up throughout the demonstration, and not always at the most appropriate times. This new title from Maxis looks very enjoyable and I am probably going to be checking it out as I have not played The Sims since the original version released in 2000.
Then Criterion Games had a segment to talk about their new game, which has no title as of yet. A significant quantity of their stage time was used to show footage of the new office space that Criterion now calls home. Criterion, which now (according to Wikipedia) consists of about 17 employees, was reassuring the viewers that this new game is the largest that they have ever worked on. The actual footage of this new unnamed project was very rough. The models that were used in the game were clearly place holder models and, I suspect, are included there only to test game play systems. No actual game play was shown and the language used to describe the game was very vague and broad. Criterion did state that they want the game to about more than cars, talking about how wing suits and helicopters will be in the game in some capacity.
The final game, in the trend of EA giving demonstrations to proof of concepts, was the new Mirror’s Edge title. The amount of information that was disclosed about the new Mirror’s Edge, like the unnamed Criterion project, was very minimal; live action shots of parkour was spliced into rough game play footage of Faith, the main character, running across rooftops and attacking armed police. What is important, is that the very distinct identity of Mirror’s Edge is going to, hopefully, remain intact.
EA showed off a game called Dawngate, unlike the previously mentioned games, this one was actually in a state where it should be promoted. EA has been getting behind the free to play genre for some time with the release of titles like Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, and Need for Speed: World. But somebody must have shown them how much money Riot is making with League of Legends because EA has now decided to publish a Massive Online Battle Arena.
Dawngate is being developed by Waystone Games, and during the press conference, they were talking about adding a large story with lots of lore to Dawngate. This is the part of the League of Legends that nobody pays any attention to. I wish them the best of luck with this title; however, I highly doubt that I will be playing it as League of Legends still has its claws deeply embedded in me.
EA closed out their press conference with the final game worth speaking about, Battlefield: Hardline. Hardline initially struck me, and apparently several others, as a piece of downloadable content (DLC) for Battlefield 4; however, I have since learned that this is not the case. Hardline will be a full $60 ($70 if you are in Canada like me) boxed retail game. This news is disappointing; mainly because of the train wreck that was the Battlefield 4 launch. I was not expecting another Battlefield title until the issues with the current one were completely eliminated. The idea that a company can release a completely broken, bordering on unplayable, product and then rapidly release a successor, using shared assets for the first title, and then charge full price for both is insulting to consumers.
That being said, I have not seriously played a Battlefield game since Bad Company 2. Looking at this game in isolation I felt that the police versus criminal battles taking place in the streets of L.A. seem to be quite interesting. I am hoping that Visceral Games will take their time with the release of Hardline so that they avoid the technical issues and public relations nightmare that resulted from Battlefield 4.