June 10, 2013, 1:00 PM
To start off EA's E3 2013 press briefing, Peter Moore took the stage to start the company's showcase of its upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 titles. First up was Garden Warfare, a new game in the Plants vs Zombies franchise. This new third-person action title will come first to the Xbox One, and then later to the Xbox 360. The intent behind the game is to capture the action of third-person games with the fun of PvZ, and during the actual gameplay presentation, it certainly showed. The presenter first played as a peashooter, popping off shots at a group of zombies that were scrambling down the path. Different plants have different abilities, such as being able to burrow and travel along underground, and the sunflower plant can heal friendly teammates. Meanwhile, the cactus plant class can snipe distant zombies using its long-range thorns.
Boss fights come up during gameplay and are kicked off with nutty cinematics, such as with the dancing zombie and his backup dancer minions from the original game. In the resulting fight, he used attacks like swinging a disco ball around like a mace. After taking enough damage to bring him down, a Gargantuar broke from the earth and began to swing his power pole at the group of plants. He was finished off by a artillery-like spore strike, and immediately thereafter, an absolutely massive mechazombie burst forth and stomped the plants into the dirt. The resulting gameplay was essentially a horde mode for Plants vs. Zombies, and it all seemed to adapt well into the new third-person gameplay.
Next, Popcap announced Peggle 2 in the form of little more than a logo, and then the briefing immediately delved into Titanfall. The game will be available on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. A behind-the-scenes video dug into the game's development process, with the developers remarking on how they wanted to make something new to bring to the genre. The idea is not to feel just like you are in a group of friends, but in a believable world. The mechs are meant to be the ultimate evolution of a battle tank, and are significantly agile. The levels are designed to make each mode of play, in a mech or on foot, compelling and competitive. Interestingly, the EA briefing didn't really showcase any gameplay, though the Microsoft briefing showcased a bunch.
The briefing then switched gears and began talking about EA Sports Ignite and Frostbite 3, their two new engines. DICE is obviously using Frostbite 3 to make the new Battlefield 4, but it was the announcement that they were also working on a game simply titled Star Wars Battlefront that whipped the crowd into a bit of a frenzy.
After that teaser, Need for Speed Rivals was shown with its new AllDrive feature, which is meant to connect online and offline play. In the presented example, one player was playing single-player as a cop, while another was playing single-player as a racer. The racer player ended up getting into a race during his session as you would expect, but the cop player ended up getting into his session as well, starting a pursuit. The line of cops began pursing the racers, and sure enough, the two single-player sessions suddenly became a game of high-speed cat-and-mouse between the two players in an impromptu multiplayer match. A third player joined the fray via a tablet, which he used to control the police helicopter to assist the cop player, though how that worked wasn't readily apparent, and we didn't really dig into it before the presentation moved on. A brief look at the new Need for Speed movie was subsequently shown, which is in production now and will come out in the spring of 2014.
Dragon Age: Inquisition's introduction once again made the crowd go nuts, with the new game to focus on a more open-world experience. In it, you play as the Inquisition, though the only other detail given was that the game launches in Fall 2014. Claudia Black seemed to reprise her role as Morrigan for the voice-over during the trailer, but not a whole lot more was shown.
The EA Sports section of the press briefing started with Andrew Wilson, who is the head of EA Sports. Digging deeper into the games that will use the new Ignite engine, the first game shown was NBA Live 14. Dribbling immediately took the focus, and it's to be the game's number one priority. The game is to release the ball to actual physics, and it's separate from the hand in every dribbling animation. This is to allow for more creativity and expression with the ball handling. The trailer was a lot of seemingly pre-rendered animation, though, so it is hard to say what that will actually entail.
Madden NFL 25 will be on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, and unlike the previous game, this part of the presentation was touted as actual gameplay footage. The animations are based on the new True Step locomotion system, and it looked pretty nice, with players able to cut over and plant their feet. The new Player Sense feature makes player animations look even more realistic, allowing them to animate organically based on the situation, such as leaping over fallen defenders or shifting around a block. The visuals looked absolutely incredible, and close-ups of the players showed high amounts of detail on the faces and the uniforms.
FIFA 14 took the stage next, but despite a significant amount of time spent on it, not many details were released. AI players make four times more calculations per second than before to better decide what they need to do. No actual gameplay was shown, only what looked to be a more trailer-based cinematic, so it's tough to know what this actually means. The game will be releasing on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Then Dana White and a pair of UFC fighters took the stage to announce a new UFC title, simply titled UFC, in continuation of the partnership between UFC and EA. The game is reportedly going to have full body deformation, which sounds fantastically brutal. The game launches worldwide next spring on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Its trailer, once again, showed a lot of seemingly pre-rendered footage but no actual gameplay.
Obviously, everyone was ready to see Battlefield 4. The Commander mode is making its return to the series after its hiatus since Battlefield 2142, and the Battlelog functionality continues to be in the game. As if to shut up my lamenting of a lack of real gameplay during the previous parts of the briefing, the curtain behind the stage rose to show 64 players in front of monitors starting up an actual match. The main screen showed one of them flying into the spawn area via a helicopter and then jumping off after landing to descend into the subway system of Shanghai. The game looks to play similarly to Battlefield 3 in many ways, from the interface and GUI prompts down to the gunplay, but the granularity and extent of the level destruction was insane. The new deformation system, called Levolution, allows for many more things to break apart and shatter before their pieces are taken over by the physics engine. At one point, an under-barrel grenade launcher round caused an entire section of the subway system roof to collapse, letting daylight beam down onto the new pile of rubble from above.
A squad later mounted an attack boat to engage another boat in a bay off the coast of Shanghai — before getting shot up by a helicopter and forcing the squad to bail out. The escaping squad used jet skis from the back of the boat to return to shore and escaped the helicopter by storming into a skyscraper. The bouncing between environment to environment made the game look like a single-player set piece, yet clearly it was all in the same multiplayer match. The skyscraper took critical damage from a platoon of tanks, causing it to tilt and buckle to the side. As the stricken skyscraper began to topple, the squad traded fire with some rooftop enemies and leapt off the roof to parachute away. As the skyscraper fell, it collapsed into pieces, engulfing a large area in a smokey dust cloud. The sheer size and verticality of that map was absolutely insane, and it would seem to make even the most epic Battlefield 3 maps look simple in comparison.
The briefing concluded with a cinematic that showed Mirrors Edge 2 is indeed in development. The only other details given was that Faith, the protagonist from the first game, will be returning and that the game will be coming out "when it's ready."
Overall, EA's press briefing didn't have a ton of details on most games, but the deeper dives into titles like Need for Speed Rivals and Battlefield 4 were nice forays, and everyone was happy to hear formal announcements about fan favorites such as Dragon Age Inquisition, Star Wars Battlefront, and Mirror's Edge 2. With our appointments with EA looming during the E3 convention, expect more information on many of EA's upcoming titles later this week.