EA showed off new footage for Dead Space 3, Crysis 3 and SimCity at its press conference at the Orpheum Theatre this afternoon – although there were few surprises to be had. Hopes were raised for a surprise once Jason West and Vince Zampella were pointed out as “special guests”, but they were just enjoying the show.
There was a bigger announcement next, with EA confirming the beginning of a multi-year franchise for Ultimate Fighting Championship, and a confirmation of the new Need For Speed: Most Wanted title.
John Riccitiello took the stage first, setting up the event. “Ours is a little different,” he said. “Less like the Oscars, more like Sundance”, saying 10 developers would show off their old games.
First up is Dead Space 3, a new cinematic with Isaac crashing into yet another planet. The rumours were right, he’s covered in snow. Visceral confirms the addition of co-op, and bursts straight into a demo. We’re in act two of the game.
The players appear side by side, moving into some sort of facility. Both characters are fully voice acted, and appear to be working in tandem to take down enemies and manoeuvre a giant drill around a steel pit of some kind.
It definitely looks a lot like the previous Dead Space games, but fans of the series will notice some core differences. The addition of a partner makes the experience less scary, and the daylight definitely makes things a little less foreboding – even as Isaac and his new partner, John Carver, fight a giant slug, spider-looking insect thing draped in sunset.
Despite the dreaded rumour of a cover system, there doesn’t appear to be any hint of that in here, although I’m sure we’ll see more gameplay over the next few days to confirm or deny that.
The developers mentioned new areas, and they’re right –Isaac and his partner are swallowed whole by a huge monster and the last few frames show them swirling around in his belly. “They’re not getting out the way they came in,” says producer Steve Papoutsis. DS3 is out February 2013, but we’ll be seeing more on the show floor to get more gameplay action, and hopefully information about the PC port.
Sports and Sims
Next up is Madden, and NFL star Michael Irvin has taken the stage to show off the game and its new “Infinity Engine”, along with a more advanced career mode. Hardcore fans of the series will be wanting to see more of this, but there’s not much for the casual fan.
A huge one next – SimCity. Lisa Bradshow, general manager, shows off the Facebook element of the game first. Everything points to the casual gamer. The cartoon art style, and the simple interface. The social features appear clever. “This is the best city buiilding experience you’ll find on Facebook,” she says. It’s out in a few weeks.
Next up is the core product – the PC element of SimCity, which Bradshaw says is the “deepest, richest experience ever”. Not a tonne of new information here yet – just a reminder of how the multiplayer system affects everyone playing, not just your own city. Much of the footage is new, however, showing a more micro view of the world, with citizens running around on the streets, avoiding traffic and disasters, including a pretty vicious looking dinosaur. But all in all, not much of a reveal here. We’ll be able to see more on the show floor.
Battlefield to Cost More, SW:TOR to Cost Less
Battlefield 3 is up next. Dice COO Peter Moore and executive producer Patrick Bach are on the stage, saying the launch was their biggest ever, with 50 million players worldwide. Battlefield Premium is announced, confirming everything in the leaked press release a few days ago – early access to DLC, including Close Quarters, tank-focused Armoured Kill, then Aftermath and End Game – which will see the debut of motorcycles in the game. These will launch over the next nine months.
Premium also gets you a bunch of new weapons, 10 new vehicles, more customisation options and new assignments. You can sign up today for $US49. If you pay, you get early access to Close Quarters as soon as today. This is a big gamble for EA. ACOD-style premium service may not be received as well as they’d think, and the price is a little prohibitive.
BioWare is up next, talking The Old Republic and adding new PVP zones and new species, character transfers and a new planet, which allows the players to continue through their story. New content is coming, designed to draw some users back in. As of this July, everyone will be able to play the game for free up to level 15, which may bring them in some more regular players.
Medal of Honor takes the stage, with executive producer Greg Goodrich. They’re really pushing the global nature of this game, with Goodrich saying every level is associated with some sort of real-life event or location.
The demo takes us to Somalia, with US forces storming a beachhead and looking very much like BF3 with its Frostbite 2 engine. That’s not a slight – this game looks really gorgeous. There are some nice gameplay options shown off here, including a controllable ground-level drone that allows the player to shoot through enemies and complete some objections remotely, coming behind enemy lines.
“Global Warfighters” is what they’re calling the multiplayer, with 12 different global teams – including Australians! Finally. There’s more on the show floor so we’ll be able to bring some hands on time later this week, though the gameplay footage looks fast-paced and enjoyable so far. They’re marketing this with a type of nationalistic vibe, asking players “who will you fight for?”
Overall, however, this looks like a prettier version of the poorly-receieved first title. Whether they’ll be able to capture some of the bright spots of the 2010 game and bring those into the sequel remains to be seen.
More sports are next. EA is showing off some more social elements including the ability for FIFA players to transfer the XP into the new game. The Football Club is also coming to both iOS and Android this year.
Criterion took to the stage, showing off Most Wanted. Matt Webster, executive producer, debuted the new open world driving game where players will compete against each other. Social is a big theme at EA this year, and this is no different. Users will be able to compare race times against each other, along with other data like who’s jumped the farthest and who’s shaken off the cops the most.
Creative director Ray Sullivan showed off some gameplay footage of a chase in progress. The open-world here looks very detailed, very fleshed out, almost something Rockstar would put their name on with a beautiful cityscape. The game’s out October 30th.
Finish on a crisis
Cevat Yerli from Crytek is up, talking Crysis 3, saying he wants to create the best open-world shooter experience of 2013. He’s promising seven areas in the game’s “urban rainforest” – they’re bringing back more of the open-world gameplay from the first title but lost in the second.
A demo shows the player attempting to cross a bridge and fighting enemy forces. Switching between skills in the nanosuit still appears fluid, and the areas are much more fleshed out with the player switching from more structured areas into open-world terrain. But these types of previews can be deceptive, so we’ll have to wait to see the show floor footage to see if there’s any scope to move around more. Crysis 3 will be out February next year.
There weren’t a lot of new announcements here, as most of everything had been leaked. But we’ll be sure to see more of these titles during the week to bring some hands-on experiences.