Hello you beautiful misfits. My name’s Matt and so far E3 2015 had been rather pleasant, dare I say even enjoyable! Bethesda’s E3 conference debut was a strong show and even Microsoft’s one managed to keep me engaged with it. So now we come to EA’s conference, which opened strongly with the trailer for Mass Effect 4. Showing our as-yet unnamed protagonist scrolling through what looked like a futuristic powerpoint presentation of animated concept art, to the tune of Ghost Riders in the Sky by the immortal Johnny Cash. Mr Protagonist picks a appropriately frontier-like desert planet to jump to and then struts towards the camera, showing of his N7 badge.
So far so very Mass Effect. Well, except for the Johnny Cash, but I ain’t complaining.
We were then given some brief shots of the new Mako driving across the dunes, Commander Not-Shepard jetpacking across the surface, weird transforming alien buildings emerging from the sand and our nameless, faceless hero storming a group of enemies with some squadmates. All before fading to the words “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and the non-specific release date of “Holiday 2016. That was it really, and as a Mass Effect fan there were enough unfamiliar bits among the all-too-familiar Mass Effect iconography to make me marginally interested in it. That and you can’t go wrong with a bit of Johnny Cash.
So of course it was going to be downhill from hereon out.
Peter Weyland of Weyland Industries then came on stage to give a TED Talk about building better worlds. Only joking, it was actually EA CEO Andrew Wilson. Looking so corporately slick that if you flattened him out into a big long sheet, you could probably use him to slide a beached whale back into the sea. Andrew was here to promise “an action packed show, chock full of new games” including “three original IPs”, one of which he promised was unlike anything we were expecting. There was also mention of the new Mirror’s Edge game everybody already knew about, but had seen bugger-all of anything about, and [“OF COURSE”] Star Wars Battlefront.
Alright, sounds good to me. Whatcha got lined up for us first?
[“As someone who loves cars…”]
It was the new Need for Speed which is all about car, cars, cars, cars, cars, cars, cars and cars. Oh, and full motion video cutscenes full of jobbing actors pretending to be racing-obsessed bellends, all spouting terms and phrases so alien to me they might as well be speaking fucking Martian. Some other Weyland Industries synthetic then appeared on stage to spout a loud of guff like [“the definitive need for speed experience”] and [“Become the ULTIMATE ICON”] as you race through [“police-infested urban districts.”]
During all this tedious street-racing nonsense this whopping great banner popped up. Just to remind you that if you wanted to see the Star Wars Battlefront presentation, you had to endure all this shit first. Including this arse-numbingly long car modification segment, put in there purely for car fanatics to molest themselves into a soggy delirium.
HOWEVER! Despite my immense indifference to car games even I have to admit that Need for Speed does look really rather pretty. So it’s got that going for it at least.
Jeff Hickman of Bioware then appeared to promote a new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, called Knights of the Fallen Empire. Yeah, thanks for that!
Because it wasn’t bloody difficult enough to avoid accidentally referring to Star Wars: The Old Republic as Star Wars: KNIGHTS of the Old Republic. One being a classic single-player BioWare RPG with memorable characters, a strong story arc and annoying turret sequence minigames, and the other a 3rd-person massively multiplayer online jobbie.
Anyway, Star Wars: Knight of the Old – fuck, I mean Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Fallen Empire, will be completely free to existing subscribers. Which is nice I suppose. It also has this spiffy trailer about a pair of twins training to be Jedi, one of whom eventually falls to the Dark Side. Can you guess which one? Ha! You’re wrong! It’s the one dressed in WHITE who becomes the bad guy! You see? Not everybody who dresses in black wants to swing a red lightsaber and destroy entire planets
Although I do.
After that came what was perhaps EA’s most surprising reveal thus far: an actual human being. Specifically Martin Sahlin of Coldwood studios, creator of the absolutely mind-bogglingly charming Unravel. A puzzle platformer about a cat made of Yarn who traverses a dangerous world and…
Actually, I’ll let Martin present it to you, along with my reactions as they happened.
[MARTIN SAHLIN PRESENTS UNRAVEL.]
And there you have it. The absolute highlight of the EA conference, if not all of E3 itself. A sincere, genuine human being showing what they created, with love and passion, and inviting us all to experience it. It was everything I’ve loved about videogames wrapped up in one beautiful and heartwarming moment of wonder.
A moment I wanted to savour. To bask in that innocent feeling of being a child again, letting all my adult weariness and cynicism just melt away in a period of quiet joy and contempl-
[HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TOOOO THE DAAAAAANGER ZOOOOOONE!]
And after that whiplash-inducing tonal shift, it was onto the sports games. Aka that part of the conference where almost everybody watching it, including me, lets out a huge collective “UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURGH!”
Which then brings out all the smug self-righteous smartarses who like to say “Well! This bit’s not FOR youuuuuuuu!” No, it’s for those invisible fucking ghost people who buy sports games by the millions every year, yet never so much glance at a gaming news site, let alone actually watch an E3 conference stream. The sort of people you’ll likely never, ever actually knowingly meet during your entire lifetime. Not unless some weird cat gives you a magic key or something.
I’m not going to waste much time on this bit because it’s bloody sports games, and most people who buy them don’t watch videos like these. Although there was one comedy gem I couldn’t allow to pass without comment.
[“Up your swag.”]
Yes, that actually happened. A middle aged white guy in a suit actually said, with a straight fucking face no less, “Up your swag.” Up. Your. Swag.
The swag-upping sportathon was briefly interrupted by this segment in which Samantha Ryan, or “Denim Lady” as I call her, said: “Let’s talk about mobile.”
Do we have to?
Then there were these hateful little fuckers. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them, as though your facebook feed suddenly exploded and filled your eyeballs with shrapnel, yet not one of them possessing even an infinitesimal fraction of Yarny’s charm.
[“Who has not dreamed of having an army of these little guys?”]
Only if I can march them all into an airtight warehouse, seal the doors and then pump it full of carbon monoxide.
With that brief interlude done it was back to the sports. Or sports legend rather in the form of Pele, hosting a special part of the conference I like to call “Pele’s Story Corner.” In which he went on…
about “The beautiful game.”
[MIRRORS EDGE: CATALYST]
Then it was back onto games that most people watching actually gave a fuck about, in this case Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. Presented by a lady in a yellow vest who posed such amazing, earth-shaking philosophical questions as:
[“What would life be like if we willingly gave away our privacy?”]
WOW! I HAVE NO IDEA! Please, tell me more about this completely unimaginable far-flung future.
So yeah, it’s a Mirror’s Edge origin story. It does look rather pretty though, and the main villain is the spitting fucking image of EA’s CEO.
After that, and another mercifully brief sports interlude we came at last to…that thing EA kept mentioning at the bottom of the screen during the whole conference. Shit, my mind’s gone blank. What was it again? Ah yes, Star Wars Battlefront. The grand finale. The piece de la resistance! The capstone of the EA conference…turned out to be a totally scripted gameplay sequence. Albeit a totally scripted gameplay sequence with awesome sound and music, which slapped my nostalgia buttons harder than a sadistic billionaire who doesn’t understand consent. Yep, that John Williams score still hits me right in the chest. And despite having lost much of the love I used to have for Star Wars – for obvious reasons – there’s still something oh so very satisfying about seeing Rebel Scum gunned down en-masse.
Not to mention these bits which brought back so many fond memories of playing TIE Fighter. Although I have since heard the ship combat segments play like inserting an icicle of frozen piss into your eyeball, so I’d be better-off just reinstalling TIE Fighter. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker then appear right at the end to duke it out on Hoth, just like they didn’t do in The Empire Strikes Back. With Luke wearing his return of the jedi ensemble which is NOT CANON.
And then the conference was over! Thank god.
So to summarise…well it wasn’t completely insufferable? And it did bring us the most heartwarming, human moment of E3 in the form of Martin and Yarny here. Unravel is a game I’ll definitely be following and very much look forward to playing, even though I just know it’ll leave me a complete weeping wreck by the end of it. Like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons did. And I suppose all the other non-sports stuff was okay. Apart from that however this presentation was an absolute chore to get through. On the bright side I’m almost halfway through my promise to cover all of this year’s E3 conferences.
Which in hindsight is starting to feel like a huge mistake, but one I’m going to see through to the bitter fucking end. So I’ll see all you beautiful misfits next time for my coverage of the Sony conference. Assuming this British summer heatwave doesn’t kill me.