You knew most of what was coming and Electronic Arts didn’t let anyone down, showing off their big games for 2014 but surprisingly not detailing much of their future, either. There was little talk of their collaboration with Microsoft on the Xbox One with EA Access and only notary mentions were made of their FIFA 15 Legends deal. Instead, EA did something that I didn’t expect, ever – showed off almost all of their games for 2014 on the PC. I can hear the members of the Master Race already chuckling to themselves. Let’s dive into the summary.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (or the time sink you WILL buy)
EA launched off their press event with what the world has been waiting for – Dragon Age: Inquisition gameplay. Bioware has made a big jump in gameplay for the series and it looks like they’ve taken most of what they’ve learned from Dragon Age 2 and applied it to Inquisition. The gameplay videos are running on a Xbox One, so it’s good to know that the console version was a big focus right from the start. It doesn’t look slow at all either.
Dragon Age: Inquisition launches on 18 November 2014 for the US and Canada, with the UK, Europe and some EMEA regions following on 21 November, on all major platforms. Although not announced, it’s expected that Inquisition will follow in the footsteps of the earlier entrants in the series, finding its way later on to the Mac OS X platform through the Origin client.
EA was particularly happy that the game has approximately 150 hour’s worth of stuff to do in the game, along with over a million words of recorded dialogue.
Titanfall and IMC Rising Map Pack
Bungie’s Abbie Heppe, Titanfall’s community manager, stepped up afterwards to talk about Titanfall and how it’s doing. Titanfall players will be treated to a new multiplayer mode called Marked for Death, which is a bit like a game of “You’re It,” just with more guns and more murder. As part of the store beta inside the game, players will have access to card packs that they can purchase to give themselves abilities or in-game currency. The black market allows you to re-sell cards you’ve earned in packs for a select fee. It’s like Diablo III’s auction house, but a little different.
Also announced was the IMC Rising map pack, which brings three new maps to Titanfall as well as a few tidbits here and there to flesh out the game’s universe. Abbie then leaves, much to the audience’s disappointment. Abbie had more energy and enthusiasm about her part of the event than all of the other presenters combined.
Also shown was a trailer of Titanfall: Free the Frontier, a live-action series directed by William Chang.
NHL Gameplay galore
I don’t play any hockey games so I wasn’t particularly enthused about NHL 15 gameplay. It looks pretty well done though. EA Sports’ yearly release formula is working very well for their sports titles. NHL 15 launches on 9 September 2014.
The Sims 4 makes virtual Peter Moore
Sims 4 is coming out in a few short weeks and a good deal of EA’s event was spent demoing the game (on PC, of course). They went through the game’s revamped creator, showed off some of the custom neighbuorhoods that could be created, character interactions, the new build mode as well as the community integration, where designs of rooms made by EA/Maxis or the community are available to download from within the game. They turned Alan Moore’s virtual house into a live-in soccer stadium.
The Create a Sim demo is available online at EA’s website and Sims 4 is set for a 2 September 2014 launch.
FIFA 15 and FIFA World
EA Sport’s Mike McCabe got up to the stage to remind people of how the free-to-play FIFA World beta has been doing. During the beta players from over 180 countries participated and McCabe said that EA considered it a rousing success. I don’t play much FIFA and can’t really comment on how World is doing or what it’s like, but it seems that it’ll hit its stride once it gets out of the beta phase. With over half a million daily matches being played during the beta, it’s going to be a very busy project for EA to take on.
EA is also very enthused about how FIFA 15 is shaping up. They reminded everyone that the FIFA Legends content is only available on Xbox One and went into a bit more detail about how the Ignite engine has allowed them to enhance the abilities of the players and the goal keeper in particular. FIFA 15 drops on shelves and online for South African players on 25 September.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
EA’s free-to-play Star Wars online epic seems to still find a home with players around the world, attracting “over a million players a month to the service”. To be clear that’s more than a million players returning a month, not new signups. SWTOR doesn’t have a large install base that it can lean on for milking money out of. Still, free new content for the game was announced that adds in starships for guilds to help conquer new planets, four home bases including one on what appears to be Tatooine and more locations to explore and new missions to complete.
Not another MOBA 2014
EA them swung into Dawngate, a free-to-play MOBA by Waystone Games. Wait, another MOBA? Eish. I know I sound negative, but I do often wonder how many MOBAs the game industry can support before the genre becomes over-filled. Dawngate is currently in Alpha testing for the US and EA announced that a closed, invite-only alpha was in the works for European players. A beta of the game will follow in 2015.
Bioware introduces their new IP
Bioware’s secretive IP that they’ve been working on is called Shadow Realms. The game is, basically, a mixture of Evolve and Dragon Age‘s play style, where a group of four players take on one player in the form of the Shadow Lord. Just like Evolve, you have to beat down the bad guy to win the match.
Bioware says the game will have regularly released content in the form of episodes for the game and these will also replace the need for map packs for the multiplayer. Their inspiration for the game, they said, harkens back to Dungeons and Dragons, where the players were up against the Dungeon Master. No release date was announced.
Cut the Hardline, now!
Battlefield Hardline is another big change coming to the first-person shooter genre, where EA hands a spinoff series to Visceral Games to develop. Hardline is a cops-and-robbers first-person shooter with the single player campaign taking place over a long, multi-chaptered playthrough that Visceral hopes will be as gripping as a good TV drama series like The Killing. It’ll be a big change from the way the story is normally told in a Battlefield game, with complex characters, sub and over-arching plots and deep twists.
The single player gameplay takes a lot of its cues from Battlefield 4, but adds in tricks of its own, like the ability to tag enemies on the field (Far Cry 3, Crysis 2/3), use distractions to attract enemies and a lot of actual stealth gameplay. The multiplayer is a mixture of Battlefield 3‘s look and feel with Pay Day’s heists and the recent beta seems to have given fans hope that the series won’t be left to stagnate. One nice touch is the open-ended way in which missions in the single player campaign can be approached, just like Crysis and Far Cry.
All it needs now is to have the sequel be a sandbox game.
Rescue, a new multiplayer mode, was also introduced. In a stab at Rainbow Six: Siege, five cops will go up against a group of five terrorists with a few hostages and the goal is to rescue the hostages at any cost before the timer runs out or something catastrophic happens.
Battlefield Hardline is due for a launch in March 2015. Before the game’s launch, a second open beta will be held to further test the game’s capabilities and EA’s servers’ ability to have a stable day one launch.
That’s all from the EA summary! At some point there might be one for Konami, but I’ll be too busy salivating over the though of playing The Phantom Pain to be capable of typing sentences.