E3 Conference: EA receives lukewarm response, teases next Mass Effect

Industry behemoth Electronic Arts reveals more of the same with little depth, draws some excitement with new Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge and Star Wars Battlefront titles.

 

Speak with any gamer and you’ll find that EA Games garners a mixed reaction among the community. The biggest company in the industry, EA has many IPs under its belt and several deserving accolades for outstanding titles. However, the company also possesses a fair share of disappointments and flops, with accusations of EA “butchering” or “milking” franchises not unheard of.

Such mixed sentiment was evident in the audience’s reception to yesterday’s conference, where more CGI trailers were shown than actual gameplay footage. Aside from the usual slew of sports games, a few titles did garner interest from conference-goers. Among them, Mass Effect: Andromeda. 

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One of the accolade-winning cornerstones of EA and also one of the best universes I’ve ever experienced, BioWare’s story-rich science fiction franchise was teased at the start of the show.

While Andromeda’s development is in its early-mid stages, the CGI-trailer frames the main character as a maverick lawbringer with the accompanying country song: “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash. As being a lone maverick is a tough business in a harsh and dangerous galaxy, BioWare hints at the return of a multi-racial team of aliens and humans with an extremely brief cameo of a Krogan trailing the hero as he rushes down the hill against unknown adversaries. (refer to the image above)

Like Commander Shepard before, the protagonist sports N7 armor and will probably be an elite human soldier working for Earth’s Systems Alliance Navy. As a captain of his/her own ship, players would be able to visit a diverse range of environments and solar systems, as exemplified by the faceless protagonist’s browsing through the ship’s navigational interface during the opening moments of the video.

Unfortunately, EA did not have any BioWare representatives on-stage to elaborate more on their latest project despite having stirred anticipation among the masses.

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The return of a “Mako”-like ground transport hints at a stronger exploration focus reminiscent of the very first Mass Effect title, which remains my favorite.

With a no-show from the BioWare developers – who are probably busy working on this title – at EA’s conference this year, it is likely that more information will be revealed in next year’s conference. As BioWare is known for creating extremely-polished RPG experiences, patience will thus be key as its studios need time to work their magic.

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While a detailed demonstration was also lacking with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, the second story in the innovative, parkour-esque franchise seems darker and grittier, looking more mature compared to the dreamy appearance of the first.

The protagonist, Faith, is also sporting a more mature (and pretty attractive) look with smoky eye make-up and a stylish bob haircut, perhaps a cue towards her growth as a character in accordance to Catalyst’s more serious circumstance.

The trailer reveals that Faith’s personal history will be a significant part of the plot, alongside a major uprising against the totalitarian regime that governs The City – with Faith probably being the central “catalyst” of the movement. While the first game focused mainly on the parkour/free-running aspect, the trailer of the second installment looks more confrontational in that combat is frequently displayed – probably a nod to an improved combat system and a more action-oriented game direction.

A series known for having a distinctively slick visual style and good storytelling, I look forward to what Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has to offer when it releases on 23 February 2016.

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The only blockbuster title with gameplay footage demonstrated to the audience, Star Wars: Battlefront received cheers upon the conclusion of its gameplay trailer.

Building on the successful Battlefield formula, Battlefront appears pretty impressive with the epic sense of scale presented in-game, with infantry skirmishes in the trenches happening as towering walkers piloted by enemy players approach. All this, while the iconic TIE-fighter and X-Wing aircraft engage in dogfights in the chilly skies of planet Hoth.

Interesting combat equipment is prevalent in the game, as we witness rebel soldiers deploy a shielding device that renders them invulnerable from an Empire orbital strike. Furthermore, players will get the opportunity to enter the fray as major characters from the films, such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, with overpowered force abilities and lightsaber combat to boot.

For those who have been observing this multiplayer title closely, Star Wars: Battlefront arrives 17th November this year.

Having talked about these hard-hitting projects by EA, one non-blockbuster game that caught my attention during the conference was the puzzle-platformer Unravel.  From the outset, it has a beautiful design and is likely to be driven by a meaningful story.

Although the developer seemed quite nervous on stage and the audience’s reaction not as lively as that of Battlefront, Unravel is looking to be quite a piece of interactive art worth following in the meantime.

In case you missed it, catch the EA conference below:

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