The Remastered Collections I Most Want to See Next

It’s been a pretty typical sight so far in this console generation to see big hitters from the previous one upscaled to play on this one. Just this past month we got a new Xbox One/PS4 version of Saints Row IV. We’ve also gotten Tomb Raider and Resident Evil to go along with Halo: The Master Chief Collection among others on the Xbox One. And that got me thinking a little bit about what sort of collections I would really like to see put out on the One.

Mass Effect

MASS EFFECT
Partially because I’ve been back into BioWare games thanks to Dragon Age: Inquisition, but also because I’ve been finally going back and finishing up the DLC for Mass Effect 3. But that means loading up the 360 – which means dealing with a controller that has seen more than its fair share of use and is definitely showing its age. In general, I have come to the point where I definitely prefer playing my Xbox One. Which brings me to my main point – I can’t think of a better time for an upgraded collection of all three Mass Effect games. BioWare is riding on a high right now thanks to Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’m sure they have a team working on the DLC for DA:I, and they’ve already said that the next Mass Effect game is already in development. That might not leave a big team that could work on a Mass Effect collection – but there’s always a possibility. It would be probably one of the most jam-packed upgraded collections, thanks to the sheer amount of DLC across the three games. Put all onto one collection, the Mass Effect Sheppard Trilogy would rival The Master Chief Collection for sheer content, but would probably work right away.

Dragon Age Origins

DRAGON AGE
Which is a nice segue to talk about my next pick – the previous two Dragon Age titles. Staying with the BioWare theme –¬†albeit one that might have to wait a bit while they do the DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition. After the DLC season is done with, there’s a good chance that they might want to have all of the games available on one console. There’s also a bunch of DLC – mainly for Dragon Age: Origins – that would round out the collection. It could also open up the possibility of having save file transfers across all three games. While the Dragon Age Keep is a good option – especially for those that haven’t finished the previous two games. But having the three games all together would streamline the process and open up options for some certain achievements even – much like the Mass Effect games. It really is a no-brainer, but the real issue is time and man power – BioWare isn’t a massive studio, and has other projects already in the works, so who knows, there’s always a chance in the future.

Batman Arkham Asylum Cover

BATMAN: ARKHAM COLLECTION
One other really great possibility would be collecting together the three previous Batman: Arkham games. With Arkham Knight coming out this June, there’s certainly a bit of a wait for the possibility of the collected works. While there really isn’t much in the way of crossover – there’s no reason to have a save-file transfer between games – it still would be great to have all the games in one spot. Updating the graphics to be on par with what Arkham Knight is looking to be would certainly make running through the Asylum even more intense. Add in the fact that Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are two of the best games of the last few years and it again seems like a no-brainer.

I do think that if you’re going to spend the time and money to upgrade classics to the current-gen, it makes much more sense to bundle together multiple games. With the new consoles using Blu-Ray, there’s much more room for data, ignoring the fact that both Sony and Xbox are pushing digital distribution. It might result in some pretty big downloads, but I think the payoff would be worth it. There are plenty of other games that could stand a remake – Dishonored jumps to mind right away – and hopefully developers see the opportunity. I don’t want to suggest that they should focus on old games entirely, but those classics still have their place.

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Let’s Talk About Internet Pressure

Sony PSXThis week I’ve actually been paying a little attention to the Sony hack, since the group allegedly has threatened the opening day showing of the new Seth Rogen movie, The Interview. Today most major national theater chains pulled support for the movie, saying they won’t show the movie. Whether or not the threat was ever legitimate isn’t the point anymore – it worked. And while this isn’t directly related to gaming, it does get me thinking about similar situations in our world.

Mass Effect

The first example I always go to is the Mass Effect 3 ending situation. I never understood the complaints for the ending – it was open ended on purpose to make the player think about just what the ending entailed. But because it wasn’t a clearly defined ending, a large number of players took umbrage with it and pestered BioWare to the point where they had to address it. Which I thought set an incredibly dangerous precedent. Game developers lost a lot of control of their story direction, because if the internet fan uproar is enough, they’ll have to address it, potentially even changing it.

Halo Master Chief Collection

The other major example that I’ve been keeping my eyes on lately has been the fan reactions to Destiny and Master Chief Collection. In particular, I’ve seen a pretty common thread with Halo players wherein they say that the best course of action moving forward is to boycott 343’s Halo 5 when it comes out next year. While boycotting might actually serve a purpose detailing unhappy fans, the likelihood of it actually happening on that scale is slim. The same sort of sentiment is pretty prevalent within Destiny discussions – complaining that Activision made Bungie pull major sections of the game to sell later as DLC; which, while there’s absolutely no evidence to support that, isn’t outside the realm of possibility. A good chunk of the DLC lives on the disc right now, so I don’t see it being crazy to think a lot of that was originally set to appear at launch. Whether any sort of boycott response to DLC or future Destiny games would change anything is ultimately a moot point. Activision and EA, both seen as the evil corporations in gaming, have a pretty decent track record of not bowing to fan pressure, generally. Activision in particular is used to hearing this thanks to Call of Duty.

Ultimately, I know that this sort of reaction is not going anywhere – it’s a part of the anonymous web culture. For better or worse, the power of the web allows this – the strength in the communities, the websites that let us share our thoughts about the games are also places for dissent. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it either – I’m not saying that. I’m saying that we need to be more responsible with it. I don’t think at all that the Sony hackers are in the right here – exposing controversial private emails is one thing – threatening public terror attacks is on a whole different level. I just wish that people would use a little more common sense with these sorts of things.

Other Series That Deserve an Anthology like Halo

Fallout 3 CoverWhen I was thinking about the potential ideas for a Call of Duty collection done in the same style as the recent Master Chief Collection, one of the things that I was mulling over was what other series I would like to see get that same treatment. So with that in mind, I thought I would hit a couple of the major ones I would like to see.

FALLOUT
This one is a little tricky, just because of the license issues within the franchise, but I think there’s got to be some way to make it happen. I would love to see something that puts the main entries in the series in one product. My thoughts were shaped a bit from the old Warcraft War Chest collection, but going a bit further. I think it would be awesome to put Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, plus their expansion content all in one package. It would also be totally possible to update the older two games graphics engine to run smoother. It would open up the older games to totally new audience as well, fans that came into the franchise with Fallout 3, which I include myself in. I would really be interested in playing the older games – especially in one place with achievements for all the games. Plus all of the games are really awesome too.

BioShock Cover

BIOSHOCK
Another great single-player experience that I would love to see all in one spot – the three BioShock games. The first game was just recently re-released on the iPad of all consoles, and I think within the next year or so there will be enough demand to see the games put out on current-gen consoles. In particular it would be awesome to go through the two Rapture games – especially with upgrades to the visuals to run at 60FPS and1080p.

Rock Band Blitz

ROCK BAND
This one is a little different – the games aren’t really a coherent story across the games or anything. Instead, I want to see all of the setlists put onto one disc – and also on current-gen consoles. This would definitely not be a quick turn around, since they would need to get the songs all relicensed. But I think it would be lots of fun to be able to play through the whole catalog on one disc – and play some of the older songs with the full Rock Band 3 treatment.

Mass Effect

MASS EFFECT
This one is the one that has the best chance of actually happening. I’ve seen a few articles that say that a trilogy is in the works for the current-gen consoles. To what extent that’s true, I don’t know exactly; but I think there’s definitely an audience for it. The games wouldn’t really need too much in the way of updates either – get it to run smooth at the current-gen level, and I think you’d have a winner on your hands.

The Problem With Story DLC

As I get ready for the Borderlands launch next week, I thought I would put down some thoughts about downloadable content as it’s been on my mind lately as I continue to plug through the late-game content in Destiny – I’ve been trying to figure out where they will be heading next. On that front, BioWare announced new content for Star Wars: The Old Republic, featuring the return of Darth Revan, from Knights of the Old Republic. My issue with the new content is that Revan is going to be the villain, coming back to try to destroy the Republic and Empire. I’ll get into why I’m rather upset with it as we go here, but it got me thinking about the dangers of releasing story based DLC that takes place after the main story ends. With that in mind, let’s get started.

Knights of the Old Republic

People who have played Knights of the Old Republic might have a good idea as to why I think bringing Revan back as a villain is a bad idea. The best part of KOTOR was the strength of the story – learning that you were in fact the amnesiac Darth Revan midway through was one of those defining moments in gaming in the first part of the 2000’s. It totally changed the context of the story – Light side characters went from merely being the nameless hero trying to stop Darth Malak, to being the former dark lord on a path of redemption. It added an extra element of humanity to the already strong story. BioWare went on after to say that the Light side ending was indeed the “canon” ending, meaning Revan did end up redeeming himself. Now they bring him back as a villain, totally undermining one of the best gameplay moments in the last 11 years. I’ll admit that it’s not impossible to write it so his return to villainy is plausible and compelling, but to me it just reeks of marketing – bring back a major character that is still held in high regard to breathe life into a stagnant MMO during a huge fall season.

Mass Effect

But it also gets me thinking about the potential problems with releasing DLC after the conclusion of the main story. In this case it’s bringing back a major character years later – sometimes it’s totally changing the outcome of a story. Bethesda was guilty of it with the DLC for Fallout 3 – the game’s original ending has your player character sacrificing himself to activate the purifier, giving the Capitol Wasteland potable water again. This of course frustrated fans since it meant you couldn’t continue wandering around the world. So with the DLC the ending is changed, with the Lone Wanderer waking up weeks later with the Brotherhood of Steel. This is one case where I’m okay with the changes. It undermines the impact of the sacrifice a little bit, but opens up more potential story options, without really taking away from everything that’s already happened. I think it’s a big part of why a lot of DLC is either side-content or story content that takes place within the main story – doing that doesn’t risk destroying a potentially 30 hour storyline. Mass Effect has done that well, putting the story content within the context of the main storyline. Shooters get around it by just adding in content for the multiplayer.

Destiny

Which gets me to the game that is fresh on everyones’ mind – Destiny. Much has been made of the story – or lack thereof – online over the last month. What I think that people are missing is that this is a game that is set up perfectly for broadening that story with post-game content. Since the story “ends” without a really concrete ending, instead it’s more like the end of Star Wars: Episode IV – it’s a major victory, but there’s still a lot to deal with; that means that Bungie has a bit of a blank slate for DLC. Unlike KOTOR there’s no real character development to undo, no major story events that can be undone. That means that Bungie really can’t do any worse – instead they have the opportunity to finally flesh out a rich universe and give it some life. Based around some of the leaked content, it looks like they might be adding some depth to other characters and enemies – more stuff on the Moon might help detail the Hive a bit more; the mission being added in the Reef should hopefully flesh out the Queen and her Brother a bit more. What they actually add in remains to be seen, but I think there’s a feeling that the bar is low, but the expectations are high. I think Bungie knows that delivering a really strong first DLC might make or break the long term success of Destiny for a good number of players.

Wrapping Up the Xbox 360: The Best Games on the Console

Xbox 360 LogoOver the last couple weeks, I saw Game Informer put out a series of columns talking about the editors picks for the best ____ game of the last generation. They hit topics like best racing game, action game, PS3 game, overall game and 360 game. As the transition to the Xbox One and PS4 continues and the 360 and PS3 begin to truly become “last-gen,” I thought I would also look back at the console that I probably spent more time playing than any other before it. While I could narrow it down to just ten, I feel like that discounts a lot of very good games that I am a big fan of, so instead of just doing the same thing everyone else does, I’m just going to toss a whole bunch of games out there in no real order (save for the last two.)

ASSASSIN’S CREED II, BROTHERHOOD, and REVELATION
While there are three more Assassin’s Creed games that appeared on the 360, the Ezio trilogy is really where I think the series shines. The gameplay is much more refined and streamlined, the story is a very compelling one, told over the course of three different games, and this was really the point where the Desmond sections also started to actually mean something, and not just feel like they were arbitrarily breaking up the action. Plus Assassin’s Creed II was the first full game I every got every achievement in once I decided to start actively hunting them.

BioShock Cover

BIOSHOCK (SERIES)
A series that is both highly critically successful as well as commercially, and for good reason, the BioShock games were really important games that showed that shooters could still tell incredible stories, while still having solid action. The original BioShock still stands as one of my all time favorite games – the Plasmids adding in strategy and RPG elements to a shooter that already worked well, the enemies were unique, Big Daddies were terrifying and it still has one of the coolest settings in games in Rapture. The second game gets a bum rap as being a step backward, but I think that’s unfair – it’s more that it wasn’t as big a step forward as people expected. The single player is still really solid, but the multiplayer I think detracts from it a little. BioShock: Infinite on the other hand was a true return to form – incredibly heady story, engaging characters, action that played out perfectly and a new setting that still captured the same feeling as Rapture in Columbia.

BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM and ARKHAM CITY
Despite being an incredibly successful franchise in film and tv, Batman hadn’t ever translated well to games for whatever reason. Older gamers will remember an NES sidescroller that for whatever reason had the Batman wearing a bright purple suit. Rocksteady Games changed all that with Arkham Asylum though, hitting all of the important parts of the Batman mythos. The cast of characters all had the same feel that they did in the Emmy award winning cartoon series, there was a real sense of darkness about the Asylum, and Batman felt truly like a superhero. The corridors of the Asylum are tight, creating a really tense experience, requiring Batman to use his most important weapon – stealth. Arkham City took that same idea and bumped everything up to ten and beyond in some cases. Rocksteady has some guts to kill off the most important comic villain around – we’ll have to see how the Arkham arc will end next year in Arkham Knight.

Borderlands

BORDERLANDS SERIES
Mixing humor, action, RPG, co-op and random loot grabbing, the Borderlands games are a hard bunch to pin down. At their core they’re shooters – but then they really are also RPGs, doing both well. The series is built around four-player co-op, with random loot drops ensuring that players are always finding new weapons, grenades, shields and other goodies to use as they tackle all sorts of enemies. All of that would be well and good, but on top of all that, Gearbox and 2K have always made sure that the games are also really funny, never taking themselves too seriously at all. Both games in the series so far have been supported with awesome DLC and remain standouts on the console – with a third game on the way, during a time when most developers are pushing forward to the Xbox One, Borderlands; The Pre-Sequel should do really well on the 360.

CASTLE CRASHERS
The Xbox Live Arcade had been around really since the Original Xbox as a way for developers to put smaller games out to fans as direct downloads, at a lower price point. Until 2008, there really weren’t any major standouts, aside from Uno and Geometry Wars; but in the summer of 2008 (the first Summer of Arcade) the XBLA got a real shot in the arm. Spearheaded by Braid (a game that I actually never played for whatever reason) and Castle Crashers, the XBLA became a place for not only smaller developers to push games, but for really good games to live. Castle Crashers is still one of the better co-op games on the system – a terrific old-school beat em up with a unique art style, good music, and solid leveling process – but most importantly, it’s just a plain fun game.

Modern Warfare 2

CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE, BLACK OPS SERIES
Activision really hit the lotto with the Call of Duty franchise this generation. I’ve talked a lot in the past about this franchise, both because it’s so popular and because I’m a big fan of the games, generally; so I won’t belabor the point too much here. Modern Warfare changed the shooter landscape, end of story. That group of three game blew sales records away, and changed the way that people played a multiplayer shooter. Black Ops took that new formula and applied a little different spin on it thanks to a different developer. Across the five games in the two series, I had more fun playing Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops 2, than any of the other entries.

DEAD SPACE
Survival Horror games were in a tricky spot going into this generation. At the end of the previous generation, Resident Evil 4 changed the game by giving the player way more control than ever before with the over-the-shoulder camera, but still had the horror present. After that, with the added control to increase the action, how could games truly be scary? Or at least that was the question before Dead Space came out. Even with a solid action system that made it easy to aim and attack the enemies, there was still plenty of terror to be found on the USG Ishimura. Instead of relying on tired and true zombies in space, Visceral came up with something much more horrifying – the necromorphs, and more to the point – the humans bent on turning everyone into them. It was a tense, dark, claustrophobic game that really helped invigorate the genre, and stands out as the best in the series.

Dishonored

DISHONORED
Every once in a while a game should shock you. Dishonored did that for me. I went in with muted expectations, but was totally blown away by the experience. A stealth game that did both stealth and action well? And didn’t punish you for choosing to play loud? Crazy talk, I thought. Of course, playing the game loudly may not have punished you explicitly, but through the “chaos” system in the game, you would make later levels harder or easier depending on how you played through. It’s a game that showed that stealth totally still works in games, and adding in the supernatural just made the game that much more engaging, helping you get to even more different routes to sneak around. Criminally we haven’t gotten a sequel yet, but I’m excited to see what one would entail on the Xbox One.

GRAND THEFT AUTO IV and V
Rockstar has always brought the very best with the series, and that was no different with the latest two offerings. It took me a while to really get into GTAIV, just because of how different it felt from GTAIII and Vice City, my favorites from the previous generation. Once I “got it’ though, IV became much more engaging than before, relying on using Niko as the main storytelling device – his backstory and conflicted morals really set the stage for a wonderfully designed final set of missions. Emotional, but still possessing the GTA trademark humor and freedom, it was a great step forward. With GTAV though, the real strengths come from a more refined control scheme, and the addition of a truly online world with GTA Online. You can play it online or off, either way there’s more to see than ever, but it doesn’t feel that overwhelming. That said, I think it’ll really shine when it launches on the Xbox One and PS4 this fall.

Halo 3

HALO SERIES
Not counting Halo 3: ODST or the Halo: CE Anniversary, Microsoft’s go-to franchise had three winners this generation. Going in, Halo 3 was set up to be a huge game, telling what we thought was the end of Master Chief’s story – we found out it was really just the end of the war with the Covenant. Giving players the ability to play four-player co-op, adding in the scoring meta-game, Forge maps – Halo 3 really was the game that players had been waiting for. Bungie had one hell of a farewell in store for us too with Halo: Reach which might be my pick for the best of the series on the 360. Forgoing relying on Master Chief to tell the story, Reach put the player into a Spartan that was their own – then we were forced to play through his last days thanks to a story that was intense, and really had some weight behind it.

Mass Effect

MASS EFFECT SERIES
BioWare was already a well-respected developer thanks to the Knights of the Old Republic and the Baldur’s Gate games going into the 360’s lifespan. In 2007 they took their already solid RPG elements and mixed them with a solid real-time third person shooter combat system, and together with a really solid story created Mass Effect. Over the course of the three games, we faced down the threat of the Reapers, and depending on who you talk to, tied up the story completely. While Mass Effect 3‘s ending got a lot of ire from the internet, I don’t think that is on BioWare at all – I actually thought the ending was totally fine. The idea that there would be hundreds of endings depending on your choices is just silly. The series still remains a favorite, each game feels different enough to distinguish themselves, and to me the best parts of the games remain the awesome characters that make up Shepards team.

Rock Band Blitz

ROCK BAND SERIES
The rhythm game genre came to a head pretty quickly during the 360’s lifespan, thanks mainly to Activision pushing their Guitar Hero games out far too fast and flooding the market. On the other side was Rock Band a series that Harmonix took a different approach with. Featuring full band gameplay and strong on-disc setlists for each game, Rock Band really brought the genre back to the beginning – party games. Getting people together and playing songs that everyone knows and loves. Instead of releasing new games every year (or in some cases, quicker) Harmonix went with a smarter route – release a few new songs every week. There was weekly DLC for the series from November 20, 2007 straight through to April 2, 2013. That’s over 5 years of uninterrupted DLC – and a whole mess of songs, 1,689 to be exact. The variety in the songs ensure that everyone can find some that they love, and that’s why I still play the games to this day. Plus there’s nothing quite like nailing a tough solo in a great song and getting that 100% completion.

SAINTS ROW SERIES
When the Xbox 360 launched, there really wasn’t anything along the lines of a Grand Theft Auto style sandbox game. Rockstar’s series was seen as almost untouchable at that point, thanks to the success of the PS2 era games. But in 2006 along came Volition with a little game called Saints Row. It wasn’t trying to be GTA – instead it took the basic formula, added in a pretty robust customization system, a story based around rebuilding the Saints respect, and it took off. The first game wasn’t quite as insanely over the top as the later games got, but still featured a strong sense of humor that didn’t take itself too serious. As the series progressed, the gameplay was refined, expanded and the story pushed over-the-top. As much fun as the series is, I worry about the future, just based around my thoughts with Saints Row IV – which I felt wasn’t nearly the game it could have been. I hope that was just because of the mess that the THQ bankruptcy was.

Now for the games that I think are the absolute best on the console:

Oblivion

ELDER SCROLLS and FALLOUT SERIES
Bethesda has really gotten it right this past generation. They were there way back at the start with Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which might just be my favorite game on the 360, and they were there for what a lot of people say is the best with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In between they put out two more absolutely amazing games with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. At their core, the four games are very similar – First Person RPGs with a strong emphasis on freedom, it’s in the details that differentiate them (obvious setting differences aside). All the games feature huge game worlds to explore that truly feel lived in – NPC’s follow set routines depending on the day of the week, different factions behave differently when they interact with each other, the world itself is alive (or as alive as the Fallout world allows for). And once you get past the initial starter dungeons, you have 100% free reign on what to do.

Fallout 3 Cover

Want to tackle the main storyline right away? Go for it. Feel like wandering aimlessly around the world, fighting and looting? No problem. One area that that freedom is more standout in the Elder Scrolls games is the amount of sidequest options. In Fallout the sidequests are more limited to single quests scattered about the Wasteland. In Oblivion though for example, you can work your way up through the ranks of the Imperial Arena, or become the Arch Mage of the Mages’ Guild. The sheer volume of different things you can tackle in the Elder Scrolls games really makes them almost unending. I’ve been playing Oblivion – through two characters – since I got in 2006 and am just now going through and finishing the main storylines, after sinking well over 200 hours across them, and that’s on the low end for players. I cannot wait to see what Bethsda has in store for us – Fallout 4 is supposedly in development right now, and I would expect to hear more about it in the next year. As for Elder Scrolls VI – well we just have to keep waiting, it will most likely be after Fallout 4 has it’s run, but knowing Bethsda it will be a huge undertaking.

E3 Looking Ahead to Next Year

As is always the case, E3 brought with it this year a few cases of games that are well away from their release dates, lots that might not even be ready until late next year. So with that in mind, I thought it might be fun to spin all this E3 talk ahead and start thinking a little bit about next year’s show. What games will we definitely see, what games will surprise us, what other news might we expect to see – questions like that I think are not totally out of line to think about already.

In terms of games we saw this year that I think we know we will see next year, I think one of the biggest games of next year’s show will be DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront. The very little we saw at the EA press show looked unbelievable, but was easily picked out as being super early in development. I think by next year though we’ll see a real fleshed out build, probably even playable on the show floor. It really wouldn’t surprise me to maybe see something along the lines of Battlefield: Hardline with a beta announced at the show.

I also really think that Rainbow Six: Siege will have a great showing, probably the last tune up before it’s release. It already emerged this year as a show stealer, so by next year’s show I really expect it to be one of the bigger games of the show.

Also I would bet that Rise of the Tomb Raider will have a real strong show next year, probably a great trailer and playable demo on the show floor. It’s another game that I think had a great announcement trailer, but is so far away from release it’s hard to really get a feel on the game.

The Division

Tom Clancy’s The Division is another game that depending on it’s release date, could end up being another show stealer next year – probably with a demo on the floor, plus something for non-attendees.

Finally, there are two more that we saw this year that I think will be the big two next year – Mass Effect and Uncharted 4. Both are still super early in development, so we really didn’t see anything to really judge them on, but both will definitely have great builds to show next year.

In terms of surprise games, or games that we didn’t see this year, I really expect that we’ll see Kingdom Hearts 3 next year in a real meaningful capacity. Same deal with Final Fantasy XV, seeing as Square-Enix really didn’t have a strong show this year. I expect Nintendo to bring the thunder too next year – definitely Zelda, but probably a new Mario and Metroid as well. I also wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Fallout 4 finally get shown, with an aggressive release date.

This is always a fun time of the year for gaming, even though there aren’t a ton of new games coming out, but the news just keeps flowing, keeping the hype high for us players.

E3 2014 – EA Press Conference Impressions

E3 LogoElectronic Arts held their E3 2014 press conference on Monday this week, before the actual event opened, just like Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft all did. EA had the job of following the Xbox show, which as I’ve mentioned, I think was a really strong showing this year, so the bar was pretty high. As I’ve done with the Big Three’s shows, I’ll break down the EA conference.

Star Wars
EA certainly knew how to start the show off on a high note – kicking off with a phenomenal teaser trailer for DICE’s upcoming Star Wars Battlefront. Curiously, they didn’t put a Three after the title, which has me thinking it might be a “reboot” or that they are kicking around ideas for a sub-title. While what they showed was clearly in the very earliest stages of development, what we did see looked absolutely insane. The detail and love that DICE is putting into this game is really evident – but we have a while to wait to see it, as they are going with Spring 2015 as a release.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition
EA followed up Star Wars with a really nice segment featuring one of my favorite developers around – BioWare. BioWare started off by showing a pretty in-depth look at the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition – the third in their fantasy RPG series. The fact that this game will have a more open world, with more control on the tactics of party members (similar to the first game) as well having a “Tactical Camera” option which pauses the time flow for commands, really has me more interested in this game than before. Beyond that, the game itself just looks really good. The other major section of this game was dedicated to showing off four characters – Black Wall (a Grey Warden), Sera (An Elven Archer), Iron Bull (A Qunari Warrior) and Vivenne (A Mage with some curious history and motives). As we get closer to the October 7 release, more and more will be coming out, but it looks like a strong contender for RPG of the year I think.

Mass Effect and New IP
The other great bit of info we got from BioWare was some new information about the next Mass Effect game in development. As a huge fan of the series, it was really refreshing to know that they are creating a brand new story, with new characters and worlds to explore. As much as I love Sheppard – I think it’s clear his story is over. It’s time to move on and find new characters to love. The last little bit of BioWare’s segment was devoted to briefly talking about a brand-new IP that they are developing. This particular game is still super early in development, so we really didn’t get much. I think ultimately, we will probably know more at next year’s show on both Mass Effect and whatever this new IP is.

The Sims 4
EA’s hugely popular world building series got a nice little segment, showing off the personality customization options that they have added into The Sims 4. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the series, but I know that on September 2, a lot of people will be rushing to grab this one.

EA Sports UFC
EA Sports had a new trailer ready to go showing off Bruce Lee in the new UFC game, showing off exactly how he plays in game. Honestly, it’s a little weird to see him bouncing around and kicking modern UFC fighters, but maybe it works. We’ll know for sure how it plays since the game is out next week.

NHL ’15
This year’s entry into the NHL series got a trailer demonstrating the new physics that are being applied to all 12 players, as well as the puck in real time. The nice thing is that this year’s games will be the first ones truly developed for the New-Gen consoles.

New Criterion Game
Another personal favorite developer of mine is returning to their roots with a new IP featuring the high octane action that they were known for with the Burnout series of games. While it won’t be a pure car racer like those games were, this first-person action racing game will have all kinds of crazy vehicles play around with. I doubt we’ll see anything much more from this one until next year though.

EA Sports PGA Tour ’15
The first game to not feature Tiger Woods on the cover nor title, as well as being the first true New-gen console golf sim got a new trailer as well, showing off the new usage of the Frostbite 3 engine. Because Frostbite is a DICE/Battlefield engine, they of course used it to demonstrate the fantasy courses, showing one that was set on Battlefield 4′s Paracel Storm map. One thing that I thought was very cool is that there won’t be any loading between holes. We do have a bit to wait, as it won’t be out until Spring 2015.

Madden ’15
What will surely be another big seller, as it is every year, this year’s Madden NFL game got a trailer detailing the defensive overhaul that EA Sports did. Personally, I really only use the Madden games to determine when the summer low season is done, as it releases August 26.

Dawngate
One game that I think might end up being buried under the DOTA 2 hype is the upcoming MOBA Dawngate, which got a developer trailer.

Mirror’s Edge 2
Another cult favorite getting some sequel love, we got the first trailer and look at Mirror’s Edge 2. It’s still early in the development, but we got a good look at Faith’s design and the changes to the combat system. Overall, at this stage, the game looks really strong.

FIFA ’15
As we get to the World Cup, FIFA ’15 got a new trailer – this one detailing the little tweaks to the system. The primary change that they wanted to promote is that the A.I. will have a sort of memory, which will impact performance and the “emotion” during the matches. I’ve learned very well that I am just terrible at the FIFA games, but the good players will find out if the memory will worth the change this fall.

Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield Hardline
EA closed with the official unveiling of the new Battlefield game coming October 21, even though it had leaked a few weeks ago. The nice thing about Hardline is that it’s co-developed by DICE and Visceral games (the studio behind Dead Space), which I think will result in both a strong multiplayer experience, while allowing Visceral to develop a great single player game, which has always been lacking in the Battlefield series. One neat thing that I picked up on while they showed some screens was a nice little Easter Egg – there is a poster promoting the “Ishimura” – which of course was the space ship from the first Dead Space. All things considered, the reveal I think looked pretty standard for Battlefield, although the tone seemed a little different than Battlefield 4. The other really cool thing EA did was announce a PS4/PC exclusive beta that started during the conference. While that’s really cool, it had me wondering if maybe the reason it’s not on the Xbox One has something to do with the the leak, and this is EA’s way of punishing them. Total speculation there, but still – the game looks solid, I just wonder how it will separate from what is shaping up to be a really busy October this year.

In the end, I think EA had a pretty strong show – they’re high points were really high (Battlefront, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge and Battlefield) and the pace of the show was just right. Good showing this year.