E3 2016 – Electronic Arts Press Conference


Starting of E3 first – well, before E3 officially begins – EA is jump starting the festivities by hosting their own event: EA PLAY, at their own venue in Los Angeles, and also hosting an event simultaneously in London. Using this simul-event to announce their upcoming annual sports games like Madden and FIFA, discuss Star Wars, and Battlefield 1.


After kicking off the show, Vince Zampella from Respawn Entertainment is introduced and happily acknowledges the leak from earlier in the morning: Titanfall 2 Story Mode:

Telling the tale of the connection between Pilot and Titan. They also showed off a very exciting Multiplayer trailer highlighting some of the new Titans and their abilities, as well as the new Pilot abilities.

Next up, we move over to the London crown where Peter Moore discusses Madden 2017, and EA’s focus on competitive gaming, and ESports. They want all players to feel like pro players with multiple tiers of competitive gaming events as well as Premiere and Major competitive global events. They finish that segment off with a video package of the best Madden players and the Madden major event, and the top 8 players are brought to the stage to get their spotlight.


Like last year, not a lot of news, but they do show a behind the scenes look at the making of this next huge arc in the story. No new gameplay, but they’re promising bigger worlds and a bigger story. And the game is now on the Frostbite engine. Frostbite was the big story of the day as FIFA 17 is also now on the Frostbite engine.


The next version of the largest sports franchise in the world, FIFA, now on Frostbite also has a new mode called The Journey, which is a single player career mode where you play as a young up and coming star, Alex Hunter, and work your way up through the ranks to premiere, and deal with all the club, coaches, management, and fame along the way.

Peter Moore also announces that Premiere Managers will also play  part in the upcoming game.

EA Originals

Patrick Soderlund is back on stage in LA and reminds us about last year where we saw Unravel. Soderlund announces EA Originals, which is the studio’s focus on working with smaller innovative studios and helping them bringing their ideas to light. EA Originals first game is called FE, from a Swedish Studio call Zoink.

A very pretty, unique exploration title which boasts that no helpful hints will be given to the player. They are just asked to explore and interact with the forest and the creatures.


Next up, Jade Raymond hits the stage and talks about everything Star Wars, and a look ahead at what the many studios under EA are working on. No real gameplay, but a reminder that teams at DICE are working on Battlefront, and Visceral is working on a title coming out in 2018, and even Respawn Entertainment is working on a Star Wars title.


Last up in today’s press conference is Battlefield 1.

A very intense gameplay trailer is shown. They announce that it’ll be playable on the floor this week at their event, and remind us that it has horses, and trench wars, and airships, and tanks, and 64 player online combat.

Overall, EA‘s showing was just OK. No surprises. Nothing new was announced. The Titanfall 2 game has me the most excited, but that had already been announced, as well as Battlefield 1. The gameplay for Titanfall 2 has me excited, as well as the release expected later this year. Battlefield 1 was announced a few weeks ago as well, so all they showed was a more robust gameplay trailer which didn’t show and real gameplay. But they did have a 1 hour gameplay reveal following the show and available on the demo floor. Star Wars news left us actually wanting something tangible, as well as the nothing-to-show Mass Effect talk. The simultaneous broadcast in both LA and London was a unique idea.

Overall, it left me wanting more.

Hopefully Bethesda has something more in store. On at 7pm later tonight.


iReview – NEED FOR SPEED – What Once Was Bare is Now Complete


Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ghost Games
Platform: Xbox One
Availability: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Calling Electronic Arts‘ Need For Speed 2015 edition a “reboot” is kind of a misnomer. The annual series is not a continuity, in name or form. Each iteration stands alone, and doesn’t share anything that the previous release showcased. Each game is different, with different play styles being highlighted each year.


The Underground pair (’03 and ’04) showcased an open city focused on street racing and car modifications. Most Wanted (’05), open country, was about out-running cops. Carbon (’06), urban setting, was about crew and drifting. ProStreet (’07) went away from the street racing and focused on closed courses – to mixed reviews. NFS Undercover (’08) brought back the story lines and open city, where we play an undercover cop chasing down street racers, trying to recapture the Underground glory days. This is also where the series would shift between different developers each year.

NFS Shift (’09) and Shift 2 (2011) brought back the closed course circuit races, highlighting pure racing and drifting, and focused on authenticity, with the returning dash-cam. Hot Pursuit (2010) brought back the open city and cop-centered chases. At this point Criterion, known for their Burnout series, took the helm as developer, and takedowns and crashes became a key point in the series for alternating years.


NFS The Run (2011) switched to the Frostbite Engine and focused on a break-neck story as the player sped across the United States in a cannon-ball run. Featuring a mix of highway and city races, and big action pieces, with a story, and cut-scenes. Then the series switched back to their roots with another Most Wanted (2012) and Rivals (2013). Again, focusing on chasing or being chased, and taking down opponents.

EA then took a year off in 2014, after Rivals was released, to ‘refocus’ their brand, to figure out what Need For Speed really meant. To ‘reboot’. But calling it a reboot seems odd. Anyways, as it turns out, what Need For Speed really means is: Speed, Style, Crew, Build, and Outlaw; the pillars of the series. Mash them all together and you have Need For Speed (2015). And then just add a gorgeous new engine, and tack on Live-Action cutscenes, composited over real-time CG backgrounds. Now you’re set.


As its first “true” next-gen NFS game, EA‘s Need For Speed 2015 was slightly limited at its outset, its catalogue of cars left a lot to be desired when you compare it to Forza Horizons 2, and it hosted an online city with not a lot of online options. AND its actual races were not that diverse. You have your time trials where you drift around corners. You have your points-focused drift races, where you drift around corners to earn points. There’s the group races, checkpoint or free roam, where you face off against anywhere from one to four opponents, and drift around corners. And then you have group drift races, where, as a pack, you tackle the hills, and drift around corners to earn points. The closer you remain as a group, the higher the point multiplier.

Then the cops show up, sometimes even during the races, where you’re asked to escape. Each race, as you progress through the story becomes a little bit more difficult. But as long as you have the right car for the race (checkpoint or drift) then you actually remain fairly competitive throughout. Minor upgrades to your engine parts is all it takes.


So, repeat that a hundred times, and that’s the scope of the game. There are collectibles thrown around the map as well, vistas, doughnut spots to ruin your expensive tires, and car parts.

The map is fairly large, comparable to other NFS open-city games. There’s not a lot of traffic, and you may come across a handful of other online racers competing in a race of their own, or running away from cops. Similar to NFS Rivals, NFS 2015 hosts an online-only world, filled with leaderboard tracking and friend suggested races. Having only a small grouping of other online players in your world is a nice feature, but I’m glad its limited as the online world is persistent. So when you’re competing in a race, you’ll likely see another player drive by, or through your race. The game takes place primarily at night, on rain-slick roads, so corners or other traffic isn’t always easy to see. Some parts of the city, oddly, as you drive through may suddenly be lit by the dawning sun, and these instances are sudden and jarring, like opening the door of a dark lit, blinds-closed room, into the morning sun. Like we’ve been racing all night, and suddenly realize that it’s morning, and should probably get some sleep. Not like we have a job or anything.


Aside from the jarring sunrise, visually the game is absolutely stunning. A lot of love has gone into the cars and designs, and effects. The rain slick roads, reflections, and lighting at night are all life-like. The city has a lot of destructible elements, and some that are frustratingly not, which as a result will have you looking at the slow-motion spectacle that is you crashing your car. The city streets and buildings are nicely textured, but the buildings especially are somewhat plain to look at. But the developers at Ghost Games probably aren’t expecting you to be looking at the low-poly box buildings for long.

Need for Speed™ (6)

As mentioned, the game’s story focuses on the 5 pillars that define Need For Speed, and you play a part in a small group of racers waiting to be noticed by the 5 real-world motorsport and street racing icons, who each represent one pillar. As you race through the story, and earn reputation in each focus, you then get to face off against each icon. The final races have you facing off against all the story characters and each Icon to become the Ultimate Icon. Happy ending. Fin.


There’s been a lot of bemoaning about the story in Need For Speed, and how it’s told through terribly acted Live-Action cutscenes. Everyone is super hyped, or super jealous, and they live out of trailers, or auto work-shops, listening to Dead Mou5, and drinking Monster. It’s terribly cliché, but it doesn’t actually detract or distract from the game.

The game is still fun. Sure it feels like all the races are exactly the same. And there are some gripes about the loose handling, or that in designing the game in Frostbite, the developers have turned the vehicles into four million pound bricks that can hardly take a jump. The lack of interesting things in the city did make the trips between each race kind of tedious, and instead, I found myself just transporting to the start line, as the loading times were minimal.


Since its release last November, the game has seen some free love from EA and Ghost Games. They’ve made some of the Icon cars playable, added a race tournament, they’ve bolstered the player’s vehicle garage from 5 to 10 store-able vehicles, added Drag style races, and some Roadster vehicles, as well as improved some of the online functionality, adding the ability to challenge other racers on the fly, or invite them to take part in the campaign races. They’ve also added a photographer mode to capture your vehicle, and your beautifully hand-crafted artistic wraps, in-game. Almost like they knew they were releasing the game less than full. Extra effort has been put into the online functionality and competitive racing scene.

Now, after release, the game feels complete, and a better positioned contender for your harddrive’s storage or internet’s bandwidth than in November. Not to mention, at a lower price point.


In the Achievement department, the game is very generous. Most are story related, and will be unlocked by just completing all the races. Every new DLC addition adds new achievements as well, to encourage people to come back, as these are overly generous in Gamerscore numbers.

Notable Achievements
Choo Choo! (Complete the drift train mission with the Risky Devil crew) – 30G

Wrap It Up (Download a Shared Wrap) – 80G
Filter Addict (Take a snapshot with a filter in the Snapshot Pro Mode) – 80G

See? Super generous.



Gamescom 2015: Cologne, Germany – EA Press Conference

ELECTRONIC ARTS Gamescom 2015 Media Briefing:

Wednesday, Aug 5th – 1am.

-EA’s press conference starts with a quick sizzle reel showcasing The Sims 4, Need For Speed, FIFA 16, Star Wars Battlefront, and Mirrors Edge Catalyst, along with their tag line “Live to Play”.

-ANDREW WILSON – EA CEO, takes the stage. Thanks German for hosting one of the largest game conventions, and points out that the games discussed today will feature on the game room floor. Introduced Need for Speed first.

Need For Speed

-MARCUS NEILSSON – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, takes the stage and shows a quick trailer highlighting the 5 pivotal styles found in Need For Speed: Speed Icon, Style Icon, Build Icon, Crew Icon, Outlaw Icon.

-This years’ Need for Speed is 20 years of history to make the definitive NFS experience. 5 ways to play, and each way is based of a real world icon.

Need For Speed this year will showcase real-time compositing into the Frostbite engine, merging real world actors with in-game footage. NEILSSON leaves the stage with the new trailer showing.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst


-SARA JANSSON – SENIOR PRODUCER, takes the stage to discuss Mirror’s Edge and her love of the character, Faith. Mirror’s Edge has the freedom to explore combined with an immersive experience. With a hero at the center of everything: Faith.

-JANSSON states that Faith doesn’t need guns. Faith is the star of the game and its an origin story. Faith is a carefree runner, but a little bit reckless. The story will see Faith grow into the person we know.

-The world of Mirror’s Edge includes free-roaming, collectibles, and the companies that spark’s Faith’s journey.

-Trailer: Pre-alpha footage shows free-running and traversal similar to the first game. Wall running, and sliding, big jumps and rolling. Levels look less linear and more open, although less colour, and colourful flares highlight the objectives. More destructive elements: glass walls, lighting fixtures. Fast melee combat.

Star Wars The Old Republic

Star_Wars-_The_Old_Republic_cover-JAMES OHLEN takes the stage, and discusses the new expansion to The Old Republic called Knights of the Fallen Empire. “Become The Outlander” is the tagline. The ability to recruit companions and change destinies is mentioned. Choose the Light Side or the Dark Side is an option. The expansion includes the first 9 chapters and then the rest of the story will be released episodical.

-Game will carry over your existing character, or you can choose to create a brand new one. Release date is Oct 27, and is free for all current subscribers. OHLEN states that this expansion is a return to Bioware’s storytelling roots. A quick trailer wraps the segment.

Sims 4

-“You Create. You Control. You Rule” Live action trailer is shown to start the Sims 4 segment.

-RACHEL FRANKLIN takes the stage to discuss the new expansion.”Everything is up to you, you rule.” Sims 4 gets bigger and better every month. New expansion this November: Get Together. New world. Quick in-game trailer is shown.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

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-JEREMY VANHOOZER – SR. CREATIVE, takes the stage and states the in Garden Warfare 2, the script has been flipped and the Zombies have taken over, and plants are now on the attack.

-Recalls the previously noted 3 Zombies introduced at E3: Captain Deadbeard, Superbrains, and the Imp. Now introducing the 3 new plants: Rose, a sorceress, Kernal Korn and his dual machine guns, and Bouncing Orange, a citrus tank.

-Game now has solo-play and couch co-op across all modes. and introducing the new Playground Battleground. An open-world in-game hub. You can introduce friends into your game and then go to a warp game to start a new game.

-Pre-order’s get a Grass Effects spoofed Z7 mech custom armour for the Imp. Game is available Spring 2016. Gameplay trailer is shown, showcasing the space map on the moon.



-PATRICK SODERLUND – EA EXECUTIVE VP, comes to the stage and is thankful for video games as they allow creativity, innovation, and passion. Making the next truly awesome game also involves risk. Screenshots are shown of some of the early concepts in development that could lead to the next awesome game.

-To show an example of creativity, innovation,passion and risk, Unraveled is up next.

-MARTIN SAHLIN comes to the stage and says he is just overwhelmed and stunned by the response to his game and Yarny. Slide show of the art, drawings, and Yarny dolls is shown. He encourages people to keep sending in their submissions.

-SAHLIN discusses games and how they can do proper good, and that they’re not just escapism. He says he is glad to be a part of this trend, and he wants to show us more Unraveled footage, promising this is still very early pre-alpha gameplay.

-Level: Sea. All the levels take place in Norther Sweden. The purpose is to make it to the end of each level without running out of yarn, but you can find more yarn throughout the level, The gameplay is all physics-based.

-The game looks gorgeous so far, and is all about overcoming obstacles and is really all about the wonder of discovery and beauty. Will be available on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Star Wars Battlefront

star-wars-battlefront-offers-first-look-at-fighter-squadron-mode-488398-2-SIGURLINA INGVARSDOTTIR – DICE, takes the stage to discuss Star Wars.The weapons and vehicles, the characters. Star Wars Battlefront is all about the thrill of living out our Star Wars fantasies. The game is all about fun, and the thrill of fighting for survival.

-Introducing new game mode: Fighter Squadron.

-Fighter Squadron is a 20 player dog fight mode. Game mode includes Tie Fighters, X-Wings, A-Wings, and Millenium Falcon. The game mode also supports an additional 20 AI fighter so that the action is always intense. This game mode has the most intense dog fights in video game history.

-Promises that Dice and EA still have a lot left to show before the November release. Trailer is shown for the full game including Walker Attack and Jedi fights.



-DAVID RUTTER – EA, takes the stage to discuss FUT Draft 16, the Fantasy Ultimate Team Draft. A quick trailer is shown with two legends picking a team and arguing and then playing the game. “What is the best choice: Best Players or Best Chemistry.” And you can bring your fantasy team online.

-New introductions to the game include: Pre-season tournament in career mode, and Player Training in career mode including up to 30 drills.

-Also new to ’16 includes 12 of the National Women’s teams, and promises more innovations across the entire pitch. ’16 promises to be the most balanced and most beautiful FIFA football game.

-9 iconic stadiums, new weather conditions including rain and fog. And 900 new crowd chants. A quick trailer is shown.

And that’s all for Gamescom 2015 press conferences. I’ll be attending PAX Prime 2015 so I’ll have lots of news and insights when I return. Aug 28-31.


IDL FEATURE – Day 6: Dead Space

For this category I had the hardest choices and sacrifices to make, but I chose: Spec Ops: The Line, Dead Space, and Gears of War.

Honourable Mention: Mass Effect 2 (An RPG, I know, but I don’t really like RPGs. And the only reason I played this trilogy was because it was a shooter, so deal with it.)

Day 6 – Dead Space

Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Dead Space was a real breath of fresh air (HAH. Get it? Cuz we’re in space?) out of a company that, for years, had been regarded as a soulless machine, pumping out only annual titles, not taking any risks. The company I’m referring to is Electronic Arts: king of the sports titles.

Dead Space was a risk, but it was a step in the right direction for EA. For a notable period of time EA was only pumping out Need for Speed titles, The Sims, and annual sports titles, or buying up other studios, and shutting them down and NOT gambling on any new IPs. Year after year they were winning the distinguished “Worst Video Game Company”. Not something to be proud of. But EA claimed that they heard our pleas, and in return, in 2008, published Dead Space, from Visceral Games – originally EA Redwood Studios.


Dead Space is a science fiction survival horror game. We play as Isaac Clark, an engineer, and while responding to a distress call, land on a  mining ship looking for our girlfriend, and end up finding only necromorphs – or reanimated human corpses.

The game is slowly paced, with creepy dark corridors, heavy breathing, screeching music, and plenty of jump scares. The two notable parts of the game is its unique HUD design, and tactical shooting mechanic.

HUD first: The game has no HUD. We see Isaac from a 3rd person perspective, and can be either angled over the left or right shoulder. The weapons have their own ammunition read out, and the “HUD” is made up on a projected holographic display. This is broadcasted in front of the player’s suit upon command, and this is how we view the map, inventory, and any video messages.

Second is the shooting mechanic. The game, as mentioned, is slow placed. We’re wearing a heavy mining suit on a space ship with artificial gravity, so it makes sense. But the shooting mechanic is tactical in nature. The game calls it “Strategic Dismemberment”. Body shots, or head shots will not stop an enemy. The goal is to focus on the limbs. The plasma cutter is the primary weapon, and is used to slice off the legs and arms of the approaching enemies to stop them, and then you can stomp them to death when you’re done. The game showcases many enemy types, and many weapon types, inventory management, suit upgrades and crafting.

The game’s last notable mention is the Zero Gravity zones, where we get to float around a large environment, while being propelled around with our space boots. Sometimes even in space! SPAAACE!

Dead Space was a slow, creepy horror game that spawned two sequels. That said, the sequels sadly drifted away from the original creepy horror mechanics that made the game awesome. The third one did offer co-op though, which was an acceptable inclusion.

<– Last Week – Spec Ops: The Line
Tomorrow – Gears of War –>


Day 3: iReview: TITANFALL

The Titanfall we received in March, 2014 is not the same Titanfall we play today. Today’s Titanfall is what we should have received many months ago.

Taking a few steps back in time here, Titanfall is Jason West and Vince Zampella’s new baby, developed by their newly formed company Respawn Entertainment after a fall-out with Activision over Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. They had a nasty, public break-up. Look it up.

West and Zampella left / got fired, along with most of the key Infinity Ward staff, and created Respawn Entertainment, decided to make a game in the genre they helped mold, and signed a deal with EA and Microsoft to publish Titanfall, an online only FPS, with humans and mechs.

I am Titan's favourite sidearm.

I am Titan’s favourite sidearm.

Titanfall is, at its most basic, a 6 vs. 6 team based first person shooter.

We play as a Pilot, a free-running foot soldier. We’re equipped with a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and an anti-Titan weapon, along with some other offensive and defensive tools, and perks. We’re also equipped with a jet-pack that allows us to double-jump, wall run and scale walls, all very fluid-like.

As a Pilot, we also have a handy companion in the Titan, an agile mech-style exoskeleton. The Titans are deployed into the battlefield from the sky at the request of their Pilot. The deployment is timer based, and the timer can be reduced through the in-game actions of the Pilot through kills. As the Pilot, we also have the ability to ride on friendly Titans, or jump on the backs of enemy Titans and shoot away at their core components. The Pilot’s class and load-out is fully customizable before the match starts.

The Titans can be AI controlled, either through a “guard” or “follow” command, or they can be player controlled once the Pilot steps inside. Pilots can get out whenever they see fit. It’s all very quick and seamless. When piloting the Titan, however, if the Titan is doomed, the Pilot can eject 100’s of feet in the air to escape the blast, and live to continue the fight. The Titan’s are equipped with an anti-personnel weapon, and anti-Titan weapon, as well as some defensive tools and core power-ups. The Titans are not as fast as their Pilot counterpart, but they’re not sluggish either. There are 3 classes of Titan ranging in size, speed and armour, and their load-out is also fully customizable before the match starts.

The battlefield is also scattered with AI soldiers running around, designed as human player competition and support. En masse, they’re a distraction.

Striving to push the genre forward, Titanfall has a nifty feature in Burn Cards. As a Pilot, we earn these disposable game-changers through unlocked challenged and purchases through the in-game store, which, thankfully, does not support real currency. These Burn Cards can be equipped in 3’s and are used once per life, then they’re gone, hence the name. Some allow for added agility to the Pilot, offensive possibilities for the Titan and Pilot alike, such as modified or boosted weapons, unlimited grenades, and some allow for more defensive perks, like upgraded mini-map, unlimited invisibility, or x-ray vision.

The gameplay itself is very fast paced, and a blast to take part in. With the Pilot’s ability to combine wall-running, gliding along ziplines, scaling walls, and vaulting over obstacles, it’s easy to lose track of the team you were following. Add in the distraction of the AI soldiers with you, or against, and Titans strolling through, it can be a lot to take in. I repeat, it’s very fun.

That being said, going back to my introductory statement – only with the addition of the 3 DLC packs (9 maps) and the newly added Frontier Defence (Co-op Horde mode), is Titanfall feeling like a complete title.

Out of the box we got 15 maps, and 5 game modes. In Attrition, teams compete for the greatest kill count, bots included. Pilot Hunter is similar to Attrition, but only Pilot kills count. Hardpoint Domination is a Capture and Defend objective-based mode. Last Titan Standing has everyone begin the match in a Titan; the team with the last Titan standing wins the round. And Capture the Flag – self explanatory.

The game also has a “campaign”, if you can call it that. There are two factions, Militia and IMC, obviously at odds with each other. In the campaign, we choose a faction and play through a series of maps and gameplay modes. Still online, still 6 vs. 6. The only difference is that each match has a few single-player story elements, such as cinematic sequences, and some narrator dialogue. Some key characters carry over from mission to mission to supplement the story.

Mind, THAT campaign is as it was in March. Now with the DLC out, the campaign is an afterthought. Factions and maps are randomly chosen when you enter the mode.

Just Call of Duty with Mechs

Just Call of Duty with Mechs

Graphically the game holds its own as a first generation Xbox One title. It should be considered as launch title quality, albeit 5 months late. The game is a minor step up on the previous generation’s hardware; however, as it runs at a very quick pace, some forgiveness can be given. Standard game textures, and static lighting are its biggest detractors, along with static maps with no level of destruction. Like the team’s previous Call of Duty games, there’s a lot of artifacts and debris that flies around, but that’s only for aesthetics.

Following the release of the game, I had a lot more complaints that I do not still share today. To be honest, I don’t gravitate towards online multiplayer shooters. I prefer to stay content in the single-player package. This game strove to change me, to drive me out of the comfort zone. And for the most part it succeeded. I very much enjoy the Titanfall package available today with its DLC maps and additional game modes, and co-op element. Today the game feels like a complete package.

I would not consider Titanfall to be the “next big thing” that EA and Microsoft were selling, but it does invigorate the genre. Watching the Titan’s blast from space into the atmosphere and come crashing down to the Earth is, and will remain a thrill every time. The game is fresh and innovative in its parkour elements that recent shooters are only now mimicking.

The game is also exciting and very chaotic at times, especially when multiple Titans converge on one crossroad. The AI soldiers populating the map definitely give the game the feeling that a larger battle is happening, even though the AI themselves will slow you down no more than a bug does a bug-zapper.

Worthy of the praise, but it’s more a step forward, than a leap.

For those who like FPS’s, parkour, jet-packs, and getting stepped on by very large robots.
Also available on the XBox 360 (Ported by different Dev) and the PC.

Notable Achievements:

Death From above (Killed 5 enemies by dropping a Titan on them) – 15G
Look Around (Snapped the necks of 10 Pilots) 10G