COLOGNE, Germany—EA’s Gamescom 2015 press conference held few surprises, but it did give us a fresh look at one of the company’s most anticipated titles: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
Little was said about the gritty first-person parkour platformer beyond the usual PR guff, with EA instead (thankfully) letting the game do the talking. The short but impressive gameplay demo, which you can watch below, showed Faith infiltrating a skyscraper using her usual acrobatics before being stopped by a mysterious assailant. There were brutal free running fights (complete with thumping sound effects), lots of wall climbing and lots and lots of broken glass. Suffice to say, it looks very good indeed.
The other star of the show was another DICE special in the form of Star Wars Battlefront. The big news was the unveiling of Fighter Squadron, a new aircraft-only multiplayer mode for the game that lets you jump into the cockpit of X-Wings and TIE Fighters and engage in high-speed dogfights. For fans of the original Lucasarts TIE fighter and X wing games, this should be a fantastic shot, even if combat seems to be confined to the surface of the planet rather than taking place in the vast emptiness of space. A-Wings, TIE Interceptors, the Millennium Falcon, and Boba Fett’s iconic Slave I ship would also be playable.
Fighter Squadron revolves around the Rebel Alliance hunting down an escaping Imperial transport shuttle, which the Empire team must protect. Each ship has its own unique abilities, meaning the A-Wing and its homing missiles will play a very different role than an X-Wing. Best of all, it looks absolutely stunning in the (now-ubiquitous-at-EA) Frostbite engine, and there was even a brutal glimpse of the most evil villain, Darth Vader, who was a badass and knocked off blaster shots with his lightsaber. . Roll on November 17.
Untangle remains the most un-EA-ish game in EA’s lineup – and that’s no bad thing. The running ball of yarn that is Yarny is unbearably cute, and his constant unraveling leads to some interesting physics-based puzzles and platforming. He can use his own yarn to make bridges to cross water features, or pull that thread tighter to make a trampoline that jumps onto higher platforms. Plus, it looks gorgeous, with creamy, bokeh-filled images that blend real-world aesthetics with artistic style.
The rest of the EA press conference was, uh, a little less exciting. Again, EA decided it had to make The Sims making part of the event as awkward as possible by having a group of dancers spontaneously appear on stage and rock for 30 seconds before disappearing into the airwaves. Still, Sims 4 fans will at least get some new content in November in the form of yet another expansion pack, called “Get Together”. The pack introduces a new European-style town called Windenburg, allowing Sims to hang out with their friends and indulge in the kinds of things friends do. You know, swimming, dancing, putting on make-up, juggling fire (!), things like that.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 saw the introduction of a space-based map and three new plant classes: Rose, Kernel Corn, and Citrod. Rose is a magic-based character with the ability to turn enemies into goats; Kernel Corn can launch airstrikes, and Citrod is a sort of knocked-out space fruit with a laser cannon and EM-Peach ranged attack. Continuing its love of puns, EA also unveiled the “Grass Effect” Z7 mecha suit, which resembles the classic Mass effect armor and adds a toaster (yes, that kind of toaster). The Grass Effect mecha will be a free download at launch for anyone who pre-orders the game.
In a strange throwback to the cheesy FMV-filled games of the ’90s, EA introduced Need for speed‘s story mode, with real actors and big riding stars introducing missions and generally guiding you through the game. The likes of Magnus Walker, Ken Block, Nakai San, Risky Devil, and Morohoshi San make up the all-star cast, lending their skills to various parts of the game, including customizing rides, driver skills, and pit crews. Fortunately, the live-action scenes don’t seem too clunky, and the acting is thankfully much better than that of Wing Commander and Command and Conquer: Red Alert.
Finally the MMO from Bioware Star Wars The Old Republic appeared – the introduction of a new “Outlander” trailer for the upcoming expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire—while EA Sports debuted FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) draft for FIFA 16, which challenges players to pick the best footballers for each position from a five-player draw. Fans must then build a team and challenge opponents in a series of up to four matches to win big rewards for their club.
This is a great feature for those who want to try their hand at building the ultimate fantasy squad, but it comes at a cost: the FUT draft series has an entry fee of 15,000 coins, 300 FIFA Points or 1 Draft Token. A surprisingly non-clunky video, featuring football legends Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, shows the feature in action (embedded above).