EA kicked off its press conference with a trailer seemingly for another warfare game…until it was revealed that the game was none other than Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, a third-person action game featuring everyone’s favorite PopCap property. Frankly, the game looks like a lot of fun, with all the hilarity of the PvZ franchise on a larger scale. An awkward, but mercifully brief, announcement of Peggle 2 later, and it was off to Titanfall, which we saw at Microsoft’s conference.
A surprise announcement of a new Star Wars: Battlefront game got everyone excited, and the following demo of Need for Speed:Rivals and a trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition kept up the momentum from the beginning of the conference.
And then the usual EA Sports brick wall happened – but even moreso this year since it was time to show off the new Ignite engine. Madden 25 (what happens when the inevitable 2025 entry happens?), FIFA 14, UFC, and NBA Live 14 footage coupled with awkward cameos, unfortunate dialogue about dribbling and ball handling, and Dana White trying to convince us that people are born to knock each other in the head, all together served to waste almost a full 20 minutes of the conference and killed the pace of the whole thing.
Thankfully, the conference got back on track after the EA Sports snoozefest, with a live 64-player on-stage multiplayer session of Battlefield 4. It looks, well, like Battlefield, but we have to admit bringing down that building looked pretty cool. All of this led up to the big surprise of the conference (okay, not really, since it was leaked beforehand): Mirror’s Edge 2. The trailer implies that the game will be a prequel and will be done “when it’s done.”
EA’s show featured a lot more variety than last year’s shooter-fest, and the announcements of PvZ: Garden Warfare, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Mirror’s Edge 2 were definite E3 highlights. The absolutely mind-numbing sports section in the middle of the conference dragged it down a lot though, and we wish they’d had more to show from the latter two of those three highlight games before unveiling them.
Ubisoft started last year off with a musical performance, and since that worked so well last year (really, it did – we proclaimed their conference the best of 2012) they decided to try it again, this time with Alice in Chain’s Jerry Cantrell. It was for Rocksmith: 2014 Edition, in case you were wondering – and we thought games with fake instruments were a thing of the past.
They brought back last year’s host too: Aisha Tyler, complete with a girlwood t-shirt. Really, guys? She was a good host last year but she tried too hard to be funny, and this year was more of the same, even down to the awkward inappropriate jokes and talk about girl boners. Yeah, really.
Continuing on, we saw more of Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Rayman Legends – even though we would be playing the latter right now if the Wii U weren’t in its death throes. The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot followed, and while we’re still not quite sure what the game is all about, the monologue in the trailer was fairly humorous and there’s a beta out now. Less humorous was the South Park: The Stick of Truth trailer, which was heavy on toilet humor – really, guys? You couldn’t sell the game on anything but fart jokes?
Then, not to be one-upped by EA, Ubi decided to bring their conference to a screeching halt for a staggering fifteen minutes with a demo of The Crew. It’s…a racing game with customizable cars, and that’s pretty much all we walked away with. It went on far too long and most of us had tuned out within the first five minutes.
Thankfully, we woke up for Watch Dogs, but all we got was a quick trailer (though our need for gameplay footage would be satisfied later that night). Then there was…another Just Dance game, surprise. And one of the oddest parts of all E3 with the Rabbids Invasion TV show…game…thing.
Trailers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and the announcement of two new Trials games followed, and then we got the strangest case of déjà vu. A long list of big-brother-is-watching type conspiracy theories later (did anyone get a flashback to the end of last year’s conference?), we get the announcement of Tom Clancy’s: The Division. A short gameplay demo showed some co-op action – it’s part-MMO and part-shooter, and it actually looks pretty intriguing. Not as great of a show-stopper as Watch Dogs last year, but it was a solid end to the conference.
But when all was said and done, Ubi disappointed us this year. The rote sequels to Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, and Rabbids are getting really predictable, and the soul-crushingly long and boring demo of The Crew lost everyone’s attention. Overall, EA had a stronger showing, but hopefully Ubisoft can turn things around and wow us again next year.