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EA’s E3 2015 Keynote

After the jaw-dropping bombs in the Bethesda and Microsoft conferences, EA has some big shoes to fill. Let’s get to it!

MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA ANNOUNCED

BioWare kicked us off by announcing the fourth Mass Effect game, the trailer of which is below:

… featuring… Johnny Cash? Love me some Man in Black, but it seems like a weird choice.

(More like Mass Effect: I Walk The (Morality) Line, amirite?)

We didn’t learn too much more about the title, other than that it looks like we’ll be focusing on planet exploration with the Mako and kicking ass.

Hopefully the series’ remaining fans won’t be Mass Effect: Hurt after they’ve finished playing through this one, because the third game in the series certainly set off enough rage to trigger a Mass Effect: Ring of Fire, after they got done Mass Effect: Cry Cry Cry-ing over the ending…

… ahhh, I’m an awful human being. Moving on.

NEED FOR SPEED GOES OPEN-WORLD

Open-world Need for Speed! Is a thing! That people I don’t know might have been asking for! Maybe! Trailer!

Okay, getting something off of my chest right now: “Captured In-Engine” doesn’t mean much, in my opinion. It is the “Based On A True Story” of video game trailers. If you’re not going to tell me what you did to it before or after capturing it, it means nothing. Publishers, please please please, either tell me it’s gameplay footage or don’t bother. (You know, like DICE did. More on that later.)

(phew)

Now. Need for Speed. They’re dropping the subtitles, so it’s pretty clear they’re making a play for this to be a platform instead of just another NFS title. The World of Warcraft of open-world racing, if you will. Executive producer Marcus Nilsson made several references to elements from previous NFS games and called this one “the definitive Need For Speed experience”, so I think we’re gonna be in this one for the long haul, boys and girls.

The racing-game community is largely adjacent to most of the gamers I know (Kevin Carbotte, wanna weigh in?), so it’s tough for me to gauge demand for it, but racing more buddies on more tracks in a world “twice the size of Need For Speed: Rivals” has got to be good, right?

Oh, and also, the graphics look so gorgeous I’d trip over my words if I offered to buy them a drink.

Onward.

STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC EXPANSION, KNIGHTS OF THE FALLEN EMPIRE, ANNOUNCED

Trailer:

I have to say, I’m thoroughly disappointed. My many questions about the weaponry of the Star Wars franchise remain unanswered (why did his lightsaber not keep going through the ground when he kneeled, there?), and it looks like it’s just going to be the same ol’, same ol’, heavy-handed Joseph Campbell hero-myth naaaaaaaahh j/k, this seems pretty sweet if you’re into TOR.

Word is, this expansion will up the level cap to 65 and offer you a brand-new level 60 character, so you can jump in right away. Smart decision. The most precious resource gamers have these days is time, and they will look for ways to save it.

Onward.

NEW I.P.: UNRAVEL

Man, first Yoshi’s Woolly World, now we’ve got another yarn-based platformer. If I’d known this was gonna be the hot new thing, I would’ve looked up crochet in the Leisure Guide and started some lessons!

From Swedish developers Coldwood Interactive — best known for PS3 titles Move Fitness and The Fight: Lights Out — new 2D platformer Unravel will take players on an adorable adventure as a yarn-covered version of Arnold from hit ’90s cartoon Hey Arnold! who must Spider-Man his way across tiny, tiny landscapes in order to escape hamsters and find the meaning of true love.

No, but seriously, though, the game looks great (and has nothing to do with hit ’90s cartoon Hey Arnold!). There’s a melancholy, precious feel to the physics-based gameplay as the protagonist nimbly swings and leaps around. They’ve clearly nailed what they’re going for.

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: GARDEN WARFARE 2 IS A THING THAT EXISTS

Trailer:

“The plants are on the attack this time,” according to EA. PvZ:GW2 features new zombie classes, including melee-based superhero Superbrainz, the dreaded pirate captain Deadbeard, dual-wielding Minion-analogue The Imp, and The Zoologist, who wasn’t shown.

PvZ:GW2 will be launching in Spring 2016, will have split-screen, and will have free content updates “long after launch”, according to EA.

EA SPORTS: IT’S IN THE GAME: IT’S IN THE KEYNOTE

THERE IS A TIM HORTONS AD IN THE SIDEBOARDS IN THE NHL 16 TRAILER:

TIM HORTONS

THE IMMERSION IS REAL

THAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT IS IMPORTANT

For real, though. EA put a lot of focus on their sports games in this year’s presentation. Highlights include:

  • PGA Tour 16 is now built on the Frostbite engine, will feature no load times between holes
  • NBA 16 has a new “Game Face” app that allows you to scan your face and put it on your Create-A-Player
  • NBA 16 has also completely rebuilt their passing and catching mechanics, now giving you more control over releasing the basketball
  • FIFA 16 has a new “defensive agility” feature that lets you track down players much more effectively
  • FIFA 16 now also has women’s teams
  • Madden NFL 16 taps into the fantasy football phenomenon with new “Draft Champions” game mode, allowing you to draft your team Hearthstone-style and immediately take it to the field
  • Madden NFL 16, like its NBA cousin, has rebuilt passing and catching, allowing your receivers to go for possession or YAC catches, and allowing defenders to play the receiver instead of the ball

We shall not examine the travesty that is the “up your swag and improve your skill set” quote.

Onward.

MOBILE GAMES — MINIONS PARADISE, STAR WARS: GALAXY OF HEROES

I’ll let fellow AYBer Kelvin Marn give you his take on these after they launch. I really have no useful commentary because I’m so goddamn stoked for this next one…

MIRROR’S EDGE: CATALYST TRAILERED, LAUNCH-DATED

Launching February 23rd, 2016, and described as a prequel to the original Mirror’s Edge, this game will tell the “origin story” of runner Faith as she battles the guards of Kruger Inc. in prisons, across rooftops, and over neon cityscapes.

Trailer:

You know what’s really nice? What’s got me super-excited here?

She’s not holding a gun.

She’s never holding a gun.

One of my proudest achievements in gaming is completing a playthrough of Mirror’s Edge without firing a single shot. It was long, and it was hard, but it was so worth it, as it was such a beautiful and perfect game without the gunplay that had been awkwardly shoehorned in.

And now, I can have a Mirror’s Edge that doesn’t try to focus on guns whatsoever. It’s… it’s beautiful.

Onward.

STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT SHOWS US HOW GAMEPLAY TRAILERS SHOULD BE DONE

Tattooed wunderkind Peter Moore came out to show us what is perhaps one of the finest gameplay trailers with actual gameplay not just captured, highly-edited stuff, this is real footage that demonstrates gameplay:

Now that is how you sell a video game. Doing your trailers movie-style is counterproductive — I don’t play a movie. You have two to five minutes to show me what it feels like to play a game, and DICE does that there. Props to them.

Star Wars: Battlefront runs on the Frostbite engine and looks to deliver an amazingly comprehensive experience. First-person infantry battles, third-person Jedi combat, huge tanky AT-AT piloting, A-Wings and TIE fighters out the wazoo, everything your midichlorianed little heart could ever dream of is here.

Moore announced a release date of November 17th, 2015, which is about the only grain of salt I have with the whole thing. If they manage to go from pre-alpha (albeit a pretty polished-looking pre-alpha) to launch in about five months, I will be impressed, but part of me is definitely anticipating that they may delay it, too.

*     *     *     *     *

Overall, EA showed us a lot of flash, but not a lot of substance. Make sure you stay tuned for the Ubisoft and Sony keynotes later today to see if they can pick up the pace!

With notes from Jake Carewick.

Jesse Mackenzie is the Managing Editor for aybonline.com. He often listens to the sound of Star Trek engine cores as he writes. He can be reached at jessem@aybonline.com, and his opinions are his own.

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