EA had a chance to really right some wrongs. They pitched their tent at E3 around Battlefield Hardline and its immediate beta release. It was a bit busted, but they admitted that and still had Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mirror’s Edge to show off, plus Criterion’s unknown all-terrain racer. At Gamescom, they were kind of stuck timing-wise. They had a presentation timed for 4 AM EST, and that means a lot of people covering it have either had erratic sleep patterns or have stayed up a long time. They started things off with an extensive video on Dragon Age: Inquisition that showed a ton of gameplay footage. If you were wondering how it would fare visually and gameplay-wise in its current-gen debut, this presentation will put your mind at ease. It’s got nearly one million lines of dialogue and a lot of combat options.
EA followed that up with a really exciting presentation on NHL ’15. I’m not a hockey fan at all, but I sure loved the NHL ’94 game, and I’ve followed the genre’s progression as a window shopper since then. Here, they showed off new crowd technology with over 9,000 unique models and the traditional mix of regular people and costumed superfans. That’s all well and good, and makes for amusing GIFs, but the biggest innovation here was green screen commentary. By having a live commentary team, you get another layer of true-to-TV presentation in a game, and it looked impressive. It’s about as seamless as one can expect for a first effort, and definitely makes me want to try out the demo when it launches.
This exciting stuff was followed up with a Sims 4 presentation. Simulation games can be exciting as a player, but they generally don’t work out as well when you’re not watching them. The big draw is crafting a world to your liking regardless of subject matter. If you want a theme park-based game, it’s all about making your park — not watching someone else make their own. The audience was subjected to watching characters being made along with jokes between the presenters. God bless ‘em, I’m sure they have their talents, but reciting dialogue off of a teleprompter isn’t one of them. They made a character in meticulous, excruciating detail. In theory, this should make you ponder what you’ll do with the same tools, but in practice all it did was bore me to tears. Things got slightly more exciting with the ability to make and move buildings — including wacky things like stadiums. So if you’ve ever wanted to live in a stadium, now you can. Perhaps we’ll get race cars too — then you can make a Kirk Van Houten Sim and not just sleep in a racing car, but also borrow a feeling.
This was followed up with more character creation, and a lot of by-the-numbers FIFA World and FIFA ’15 stuff. Far and away the most exciting reveal of the night was Shadow Realms. While there wasn’t much shown beyond some alpha screens, the idea of a four-on-oe online game is appealing, and something that Evolve is seemingly going to make more prevalent. The playable alpha launching next month is exciting — especially since the full game’s launch is at least a year away. That gives Bioware Texas plenty of time to fix issues found by players in addition to those found by the actual beta testers. Signups for the alpha are available now at the official Shadow Realms website, and we encourage anyone with an interest to get on board.
EA closed the show with some Battlefield Hardline coverage. They stated that the beta was a valuable way for them to gain knowledge about what to fix, which gave me hope about Shadow Realms doing the same thing, and showcased some of the single-player campaign. An attempt was made to build hype for the game’s “different” pace, which was downright glacial. While there were some good ideas displayed here, like non-lethal combat, this just isn’t what anyone wants to see. Gameplay footage is what you want in theory, but whole chunks of it like this can give away too much and that’s what happened here. Battlefield is more of a spectacle shooter, and using that name for a game with this kind of pacing just doesn’t seem to fit.