EA Access and the News!

I have EA Access. I’ve had it since it’s inception. Personally, I think its a good deal. $30/ year gets you access to the EA games vault, which currently has 9 games, 10% off games and DLC, and some new releases you’ll get early access, or free game trials.

The vault currently includes: Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, MADDEN NFL 25, Peggle 2, NFS Rivals, Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare, EA UFC, and the 2 recent additions being NBA Live 15 and Madden NFL 15, which surprisingly added, only a few weeks apart. Typically a new game is added every 1-2 months. Sometimes they release little gifts too, like free DLC packs.

I guess it’s suitable for those who like sports games, or the First-Person Shooters by Dice. For me, its provided the ability to play games I wouldn’t typically pick up, unless they were cheap. Games like UFC, or Basketball or Football. I play Shooters, and NFS games generally already, and I pick up NHL annually.

I’ve pre-ordered Battlefield Hardline, which will grant me 1 week early access, so keep an eye out for first impressions of that, starting March 12th, 2015.

The Game Developer Conference is currently underway in San Fransisco, March 2-6, so on that note, lets move on to some news:

GDC

Phil Spencer and Halo Master Chief Collection:

Game Informer had the chance to speak to Xbox Head Phil Spencer at the GDC conference about the Halo Master Chief Collection launch, and continuing troubles, and what the teams have learned going forward with the Halo 5 release.

Spencer discussed, at length, the steps they’re taking to ensure that the Collection package is becoming more and more stable, and ensured that the teams are still hard at work to ensure that it happens as quickly as possible.

He also discussed how the Halo 5 team is handling the launch, with earlier, dedicated beta testing, not for promotion, but for stress and bugs.

I’m not a big online gamer, as I typically play games for the single player and co-op aspects. But in the case of Halo, even the co-op functionality was affected. Game crashes, controller latency on the client side. And it continued to plague the game for months.

I have yet to complete Halo 1 or 2 with my friend, and haven’t even started on 3 or 4. Now that the recent “big content patch” is out I will try again and give it a shot.

343 have apologized and gifted 1 month free Xbox Live Gold, and the Halo Reach campaign to those who suffered at launch. It’s a nice thought, and appreciated. I’m just hoping that Halo 5 works, as this collection’s launch was not a stumble, but more like accidentally walking off the cliff backwards.

Phil Harrison Leaving Microsoft?

At GDC, rumours have started to circulate that Corporate VP Phil Harrison is expected to leave Microsoft after only a few years. Microsoft and Xbox Head Phil Spencer have declined to comment at this time.

SimCity Developer, Maxis Emeryville, Closed By EA

Maxis’ headquarters in Emeryville, CA are closing up, as announced by a former employee on Twitter, and since confirmed by EA. Current development is being consolidated to the other Maxis offices.

Maxis was the creator and developer of the SimCity titles and The Sims. The original SimCity being 26 years old now, and 2013’s reboot of the series was poorly received and also suffered from a lot of launch issues.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the simulation type games, and had no qualms with the SimCity 2013 reboot. I would agree that some parts of the design were poorly conceived, as it required an online connection to play, for the “online market and resource module” to function. Also the area of creation and lack of land modification tools made it less fun.

I did appreciate the level of detail for the traffic and simulation aspects, but there were a lot of complaints that it wasn’t actually as deep or accurate as we were lead to believe.

Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year

This year at the Game Developer Conference Choice Awards, Monolith’s action title Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor picked up the Game of the Year award. Earlier in the year, at the DICE awards, Shadow of Mordor picked up eight awards, but not the coveted GOTY. Unfortunately this game is still on my shelf, waiting to be played :'(.

The full winners list is as follows:

Best Debut – Stoic Studio (The Banner Saga)
Innovation Award – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Best Technology – Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Best Audio – Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)
Ambassador Award – Brenda Romero
Best Visual Art – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Best Narrative – Kentucky Route Zero: Act III (Cardboard Computer)
Pioneer Award – David Braben
Best Design – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)
Best Handheld/Mobile Game – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Audience Award – Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments)
Lifetime Achievement Award – Hironobu Sakaguchi
Game of the Year – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

Wireless Adapter for Xbox One Controller on the PC

Exciting news for me, as this is really the only way I can play PC titles that require any sort of moving and looking at the same time.

I was trained on the d-pad with the Nintendo and S-NES, and then single thumb-stick on the N64. Since then, the dual thumb-stick has been permanently engrained. I can’t WASD and mouse with the same accuracy I can with the controller.

I currently use the Xbox One Controller on the PC within Steam, but wired, so this announcement, and guaranteed future purchase, will allow me to play PC games in bed. Good, or Bad? … Who knows?


That’ll be the news of today/ last night.
-iRogan

E3 2014 – Electronic Arts Press Conference

Next up is EA’s Press Conference. Expecting a lot of sports titles here, but hopefully we’ll get an update on Star Wars Battlefront.

EAPress

So, immediately starting things off we hear the famous Star Wars music and we get a developer documentary from DICE showcasing the research that has gone into making Star Wars Battlefront, and we get some footage of the in-engine visuals, but no gameplay. So just a small glimpse of what’s to come, wetting the appetite further.

We get a bigger insight into Dragon Age Inquisition. Switching between our parties characters. The art and design looks amazing, such detail in the environments. The opening trailer bat this conference is actually presented with a live chelloist up front. A nice touch.

Next up we get a brief blurb about Mass Effect 4 stating that EA’s Montreal studio is working on it, new setting is confirmed but we get some brief glimpses of some familiar races. Original ME team is working on a new IP. Also announced is that the original ME trilogy is coming to the PS4 as a complete package.

Sims 4 is up next. Its a thing, it’s getting released to the world.

EA Canada’s UFC game is on the docket, showcasing their audacity of putting Bruce Lee in a UFC game. We get to see Bruce Lee vs. BJ Penn in the octagon. Standing, striking and some ground submissions are shown. Very different style ground gameplay than previously seen with THQ’s fighting/wrestling games. Fighters show real damage as the fight progresses through the rounds. Get some glimpse of the how the fighters can utilize the cage for leverage.

NHL 15 is the 2nd of what I’m assuming is many sports franchises to be discussed. Finally a next-gen hockey game utilizing EA’s new shared code base structure. All 12 players have their own physics, as well as the puck. Player’s uniforms have mesh physics. Cool stuff. More detailed arenas, players and game presentation. Only a quick montage video. #wantmoar!

Criterion is up next. First words out their British mouths is “we’re moving beyond cars”. WHAT! Don’t do that. Their next game focuses on more than cars: Helicopters, Boats, ATVs, Jet Skis, Parachuting. Only conceptual footage shown, inspired by Youtube’s extreme sport’s nuts. Not really a lot shown, but essentially saying “hey, we’re working on stuff”. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game got called: Redbull Presents: GoPro – The Game. GUH!

Next sports title: PGA Tour 2015. It’s utilizing the Frostbite 3 engine, their tag: Golf Without Limits. Real courses and Fantasy Courses. No loading. Sending things off with a clip of a guy golfing off a tall cliff while a huge military battleship crashes into the islands. Pretty nuts.

More Sports – Madden 15. Making football defense fun again. They focused specifically on the defense half of the game. New context tackles, new camera angles to make it more exciting. Finishes off with a quick montage trailer. Only NBA (maybe) and def FIFA for the remaining sports titles. Whats next though?

Dawngate. Another MOBA game. With the popularity of League, this makes sense, from a financial perspective. Next.

DICE studio is up next with Mirror’s Edge! Is this a reboot or a sequel though? Focuses on Faith. Focused on fluidity of movement, seamless, and stylized. They want to focus on the story of the messengers. We get to see some conceptual footage, not true gameplay, but they reiterate with a quick developer diary of how focused and stylized the game will be, and how it’ll be a little more open for navigation, for different player skill sets. Loved the first title, excited for this new model. #dont_mess_with_faith

Nearing the end here…Quick montage of FIFA 15. Highlighting agility and control of the player, new player physics, and ball physics. The stadium is more alive, the pitch takes damage from wear and tear. New push and agility mechanics for the players. Football fans rejoice!

Last but not least: Battlefield: Hardline. EA and Visceral (DeadSpace) are out to showcase Hardline multiplayer. Its Battlefield Cops and Robbers, might as well be directed by Michael Bay. Added destruction, but its scripted. Level-ution is what COD called it in Ghosts. In this showcase the robbers take out an armored van, and need to escape from the cops. Tons of collateral damage. Looks very pretty, very much Battlefield’s engine. Highlight was the end of the fight where they blow up a crane which takes out the sides of two skyscrapers and acts as a bridge between the two. Definitely seems like a large map.

Hardline small beta announced today for PC and PS4. Available to play.

EA’s conference is done. 14 games mentioned. No mention of NBA. No Battlefront Footage, but they’re working on it. Nothing from Crytek.

Ubisoft is up next.