What a bizarre time it’s been for EA recently. Being named the Worst Company in America two years running, getting torn apart for the SimCity debacle, and with negative opinions of Origin still flying around the internet, the gaming giant still manages to make jaws drop when they need to. Well, sometimes at least.
This year’s E3 conference should have been huge for them. With talk of work with Guillermo Del Toro, a possible Dead Space movie, plus Battlefield still going strong and hype for Titanfall hitting critical levels, providing an hour of quality content should have been a cakewalk. Or perhaps I should have set my expectations a little lower. Nevertheless, here is the most important news from the Electronic Arts conference, and a rundown of the other 59 and a half minutes as well.
- The conference opens with something quite unexpected, and PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies is coming to consoles again. It’s a little different now though, and the franchise has been reimagined with this third person action game. The multiplayer seems like typical but fun class-based combat, and hopefully the game will come with split-screen play, as if there’s any next-gen game that seems to warrant it so far. Peggle 2 is almost announced, with the most awkwardly received jumping fist pump in history. Still, it’s a strong start for Electronic Arts.
- From there, we get another look at Respawn’s Microsoft exclusive title Titanfall, after its initial showing during Microsoft’s conference. EA choose to follow this up with a dev diary-style video, with it being made clear that while putting together what seems like a magnificent game, Respawn’s focus is on fun. And if only EA had the same focus for the remaining forty minutes of their conference, everything could have been so much easier.
- The big news of the conference is tucked away in the middle, and after a brief nod to EA’s Ignite and Frostbite 3 engines, we get a twenty-second teaser announcing the return of one of gaming’s most prominent prodigal sons. Star Wars Battlefront is back. DICE are the studio tasked with reviving the franchise, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more about it soon, because twenty seconds is nowhere near enough for something this huge.
- All mention of Star Wars Battlefront is quickly hushed for Need for Speed news, because apparently that’s what EA’s audience needs to hear about more. The series famous for not being Burnout will return with Need for Speed: Rivals, as well as a NFS movie in the works (featuring Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul). Another EA franchise gets a fresh lick of paint, meanwhile, with Dragon Age: Inquisitions looking like a totally different adventure to the preceding titles in the series. It looks pretty damn good at this stage, however, which is a fantastic sign.
- It’s around this point that EA decide to stop all momentum, and the wheels fall off the wagon. Obviously the annual sports games are a major part of EA’s profits and business strategy, but dedicating 20+ minutes of their one hour conference to them is a bit much when there is clearly much more important news to share. Nonetheless we hear the latest info on the upcoming NBA Live, Madden NFL, FIFA and UFC titles, each one looking well polished but being given a lot more time than necessary. By the time the sportsfest ends, the atmosphere in the room has plummeted, and even the new look at Battlefield 4 struggles to perk things back up. DICE’s latest entry into the FPS franchise is looking strong, however, and the next stage of the Battlefield/Call of Duty sales battle is looking like the most unpredictable one yet.
- Despite the faltering, however, EA were always planning to end on a high. And with one surprise announcement earlier in the briefing, Electronic Arts dropped a bombshell that many had predicted, but few were truly expecting. A new Mirror’s Edge is coming, and the prequel to everyone’s favourite runny jumpy runny jump game is looking as beautiful as expected so far. The announcement is hurriedly thrown in to end the conference, however, and with the game being promised “when it’s ready” DICE clearly aren’t too far into development yet. They have Battlefield 4 and Star Wars Battlefront on the way too, though, so maybe they should be cut a little bit of slack.
EA had a lot of big things to reveal today, and reveal them they did, ensuring that the conference was by no means lacking in newsworthy scoops. But with a lot of the conference faltering and too much time being spent on the wrong games, the two biggest parts of the conference took up less than a minute between them. Think about that.