EA has taken major strides in mending its relationship with scorned gamers. EA Sports has been heavily criticized for releasing copy and paste titles (the Madden series), dropped its basketball series due to incompetence, and angered core gamers with its focus on casual and social titles. After today’s conference, however, I believe we can begin to look past the companies recent blunders. EA came out swinging and had one of the strongest showings in recent memory. There’s a lot that EA did right at its press conference.
EA opened with Dead Space 3, the popular survival horror title has gained a huge following with its sci-fi setting and nightmare-inducing frights. Before E3, there were rumors of a co-op mode, which was confirmed at the press conference. This is an interesting direction for a series that has earned most of its scares by making players feel isolated. The co-op gameplay creates an interesting scenario if EA is able to pull off the same level of fear and anguish.
EA announced Sim City Social for Facebook. This is a brilliant move, as EA will likely capture the Farmville crowd, as well as target core gamers on Facebook. PC gamers don’t fret, a more traditional version of Sim City will also be released and that includes multiplayer–a first for the series. It’s not your typical multiplayer; players create their own cities, and then connect their cities with other players to create their very own unique worlds.
The shooter crowd is also taken care of: Much like Call of Duty Elite, EA has announced their own premium service at $49.99. Premium members will receive each expansion two weeks before everyone else, and new weapons will also be introduced. One of the expansions will feature vehicle-only match types with huge maps, while another offers infantry-only combat in close quarter scenarios. The game was becoming stale so this should attract some attention.
Medal of Honor Warfighter was shown, and to my surprise it avoids the tired Call of Duty formula, as it seems more realistic. Call of Duty is always blaring down your throat, but Medal of Honor Warfighter seems to give you breathing space to actually digest the current situation. The multiplayer is also unique as players choose from 12 special ops groups that include Navy Seals, SASR, GROM, Spetsnaz, and others. Each faction plays differently; Navy Seals are elite snipers while Spetsnaz are a more agile and faster at moving through the environment. Crysis 3 looks beautiful (as expected), but it the footage looked too familiar. You can use a bow and arrow now.
Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t really wow anyone, however EA did announce that it will be free-to-play until level 15. It’s most likely an attempt to garner attention to the series. A new species and planet has also been revealed along with a long list of new quest and missions. Star Wars fans will probably eat this up; luckily the MMO isn’t bad. Need for Speed is returning to its Most Wanted roots. The greater the risk the better you’re essentially performing. You’ll be able to traverse an open world looking for other racers or just plain old trouble.
I’m finally excited to play Madden again. Madden 2013 is running on a new engine dubbed the Infinity Engine. Players move more realistically and collisions look like their on-field counterparts. EA briefly showed a receiver catching a pass up the middle only too be pummeled by a line backer and corner back–the way the receivers body moved helped sell the new physics engine. The career mode has been given a RPG twist; performing a task list earns you experience points that can be used to improve your player. Career mode has been vastly; your player will have his very own Twitter account, and actual ESPN analysts like Skip Bayless will criticize or praise your on field performance. Career mode isn’t limited to a created player as you can play as a current NFL player, a legend, or even begin your career as a NFL coach. Madden needed these changes fans were becoming impatient with the series. NBA Live was mentioned and briefly shown, the game looks vastly improved over the dreadful NBA Elite 11.
But FIFA 13 might be EA Sports’ crown jewel. It was introduced with the improved FIFA Football Social Network. Players can manage and track their teams and players using their smart phones or tablets while they are away from their consoles. This is an excellent way to keep gamers connected, and I can see the benefits immediately. Just imagine you want to trade a player for someone on your friend’s team; you no longer have to wait as your friends can manage their rosters and approve trades all while on the go.
EA Sports could have ended its presentation with this, but the company surprised gamers everywhere when Dana White walked on stage and announced UFC’s partnership with EA Sports. With THQ’s financial troubles someone else had to pick up the slack. I’m actually glad EA is taking charge of the license; if you recall the company did amazing things with Fight Night and created a realistic and enjoyable game.
EA held its own and showed that it knows what gamers wants, hopefully the company continues this trend and returns to the business of creating games that are creative and innovative.