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About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


Electronic Arts Pre-E3 2015 Media Briefing Summary

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 16, 2015 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

During Electronic Arts' Pre-E3 2015 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for FIFA 16, Madden 16, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Minions Paradise, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, NBA Live 16, Need for Speed, NHL 16, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen, and Unravel.

June 15, 2015, 1:00 PM
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles

You'd be hard-pressed to find a press conference at E3 2015 that didn't have a more varied set of titles than EA's.  The obvious reveal was Star Wars: Battlefront, but there was no shortage of other games.  From a gamut of sports franchises to well-loved existing properties, EA had a lot of ground to cover.

Fans of the Mass Effect franchise were simultaneously overjoyed and yet incredibly teased with only a snippet from the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda.  As a Johnny Cash tune played in the background, a figure clad in armor with the N7 logo on its chest interacted with a series of holographic maps before initiating a warp procedure.  The CG trailer showcased the same figure leaping around a dusty alien battlefield, some sort of Mako-like ground tank zipping down a rocky dune, and it ended with little more than a projected release date of Holiday 2016.

The new Need for Speed game was up next, which still seems to confusingly lack a subtitle of any sort.  The game is touted to revolve around a few core pillars of gameplay: build, crew, outlaw, speed and style.  The analogy used was that of driving fast and powersliding around turns in a custom ride alongside your buddies, while outrunning the cops.  Obvious wordplay aside the game seemed like some sort of the love child between Need for Speed: Rivals and Most Wanted in its approach.  The level of vehicle customization seemed extensive, with the demo showed the ability to trick out your ride in quite a few ways before taking it to the streets.

The resulting road race took place in a way that felt at home in a "Fast and the Furious" movie, which is likely the point.  As the player drifted around corners and around the other racers, the cops got on their collective tail.  Once the race was over, the player still had to escape the cops, racking up points in a few categories for doing actions such as ramming them or performing powerslides.  Finally, the car fishtailed into a parking lot and its lights turned off, as at this point the cops had clearly lost the trail of where it had gone.  The open-world game will come out Nov. 3 this year.

The next reveal was previously leaked, the Knights of the Fallen expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The free-to-subscribers expansion will come out Oct. 27 this year and promises to deliver new companions, new worlds, and a new Bioware-style story to the game.  The plot of the expansion focuses on two brothers who are the heirs to an empire, which is a new enemy faction in the game.  There wasn't a whole lot of detail, but I suspect that will be the case until the expansion nears its launch date.

My biggest surprise came in the form of Unravel, a charming physics-based platformer starring an adorable doll made of yarn.  As the nervous presenter spoke about the game, it was clear that the small Coldwood team was passionate about its new game.  As you navigate the world to solve its puzzles, your character unravels with an unlimited amount of red thread.  This thread is said to signify how our lives are tied together, and the tangled web that is life.  It sounds somewhat pretentious, but the game had heaps of charm, and it was easy to buy into that notion.  Sometimes you want to blast your enemies to bits, and apparently other times, you want to play as a delightful yarn doll that ties itself to kites or catapults via snow-covered branches.

The next game was Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, which was showcased earlier in the day at the Microsoft conference.  This time, it was more involved and contained actual gameplay and plot elements.  Dr. Zomboss is coming up with a new plan to take over Suburbia, and the plants go on the offensive by invading Zomburbia and taking the fight to the zombies.  One of the new multiplayer modes is Graveyard Ops, which has four players working cooperatively as the zombies.  The goal is to defend an objective, which can be assisted by setting up defensive turrets to fend off waves of incoming plants.

There were at least two new zombie classes announced.  Captain Deadbeard is a zombie pirate that acts as a sniper, while SuperBrainz is a zombie decked out in a superhero outfit, runs around acting gallantly and wipes out plants with super powers.  The other classes were also expanded upon, such as a smaller zombie that zips around the battlefield and is able to call in a totally-not Titan drop, then getting inside the mech to wreak havoc.  The game will also feature solo play against AI, local split-screen, free content updates, and will come out Spring 2016.

EA then partially launched into its battery of yearly sports games, starting with NHL 16, and started showing in-engine footage of players on the ice without going into any real detail about the new game.  NBA Live 16 was next, and there were some interesting details in this segment.  The animations have been reworked and look as smooth as ever, which has always been an area where basketball games have struggled due to the sheer variety of necessary animations.  EA also unveiled the Gameface HD app, which allow you to scan your face and make yourself a player in the game.  NBA Live 16 is set to come out Sept. 29 this year, with the Gameface HD app coming out sooner than that.

Splitting up the sports was Minions Paradise, a mobile game where you follow Pete, one of the adorable and ubiquitous Minions popularized by Despicable Me.  The Minions were on a vacation cruise when Pete caused the ship to wreck, and it is his job (and thus yours) to convert the tiny desert island into a five-star resort.  Send Minions to get coconuts for drinks at the tiki lounge, equip them with weapons (with which they'll likely harm themselves) and keep them all happy.  The game comes out later this year, with no particular platforms mentioned.  Also announced was Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, a collectible card game on mobile devices spanning the entirety of the Star Wars canon, but no release date was given.

Diving back into the sports, EA wowed the conference by bringing soccer icon Pelé on stage.  Pelé and the presenter spoke briefly about soccer, and Pelé retold the story about how his description of soccer as "the beautiful game" came about.  It was all leading up to EA talking about FIFA 16, which is a new game in the franchise that will include women's teams for the first time.  It was touted that the game will have innovation across the entire pitch, including defense, midfield, and offense, but it didn't go into great detail.  However, it was said that there will be more news over the summer, and there will undoubtedly be more from the E3 show floor this week.

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst promises to tell the origin story of Faith, the prior game's protagonist.  In this prequel, you once again play as Faith, who as a younger woman has just been released from one of the city's correctional facilities.  The city has a beautiful façade but a corrupt heart; democracy is a lie, and the conglomerates run everything.  Faith will prove to be the catalyst that wakes up the city from this slumber.  At this conference, there wasn't much detail given, with the exception that the next installment will be an open-world game with no load screens and that the launch will be Feb. 23, 2016.

Meanwhile, Madden 16 was also talked about, as well as a new mode, Draft Champions, which lets you draft players in a quick multiround draft, and call the plays for that team in the ensuing games.  It was also said that the title has had its passing game overhauled, and players can catch the battle in multiple ways depending on if you are more worried about possession or want to risk going for some extra yards.  The game will hit store shelves on Aug. 25 this year.

Finally, we arrived at the big unveil that everyone was awaiting.  Star Wars: Battlefront showcased a lot of new gameplay footage, with Rebel and Empire troops battling it out over the snowy fields of Hoth.  The Imperials have two AT-ATs that they need to protect to destroy the shield generator of the Rebel base.  To do so, they must take control of uplink stations from the Rebels because as long as they are in Rebel control, some Y-wings can shoot the AT-ATs and make them vulnerable to further attack. 

Everywhere you looked, it was full of the franchise's iconic imagery.  To drive the point home, a fantastically detailed model of Mark Hamill as Luke took out a pair of Snow Troopers before clashing sabers with Darth Vader.  Obvious canon issues aside, it looked fantastic.  The game is set to come out Nov. 17 this year.

EA showed a lot of stuff that everyone expected to see, but it didn't really have any massive bombshells.  However, a lot of the games looked quite impressive.  For many, we will have hands-on time later this week, and we will continue to learn more about them during E3.

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