EA Games descended on New York City Tuesday Feb 7, 2012 for a spotlight event, showing press their spring line-up. While Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, released the same day, was on hand, the rest of the lineup looked to the near future, with Mass Effect 3, Syndicate, and SSX on display alongside a bevy of mobile games.
But before the gaming press got their hands on the featured games, EA COO Peter Moore took the stage for a presentation, and he brought a couple of announcements, including Mass Effect: Infiltrator a new mobile game that interacts with ME3.
A sizzle reel showing off EA games from the last year and going into 2012 was shown, heavily featuring EA Sports and BioWare titles. Moore took the stage, introducing himself and the presentation, urging the journalists in attendance to play the games that they had set up around the New York ballroom location.
“We’re delighted to end 2011 as the #1 publisher on High Definition platforms, as well as iOS for the fourth year in a row,” announced Moore. Three “key titles” that drove growth for the company included Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, and FIFA Soccer 12. Talking about SWTOR first, Moore focused on the 1.7 million subscribers only six weeks into the MMORPG’s release. With Battlefield 3 he called EA a “strong competitor in the FPS field,” despite Activision’s Call of Duty behemoth still reigning supreme.
Moore focused next on EA’s in-house digital download service Origin, their chief delivery system for PC titles. Origin has over $100 million in sales, and they feel it’s because they’re giving players a better digital experience than competitors. He also mentioned EA Sports’ FIFA Ultimate Team and EA’s acquisition of Pop Cap, the leading casual game developer as helping their digital options.
Curt Schilling, the Founder and Chairman of 38 Studios, took the stage next to talk about his company’s first game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. “Those of you who know me know that speechless isn’t something I often am, but it sucks following Peter!” Schilling opened up to a laugh. “This is opening day on Career 2.0,” he said, before mentioning his creative team of R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane, and Ken Rolston, an all-star team of fantasy and game development.
He said 38 Studios’ goal was to take “the best” of classic fantasy games in creating the world of Amalur. Schilling said that this was a more nerve-wracking career moment for him than any in his life. “I slept like a baby the night before Game 7 of the World Series. I didn’t sleep a wink last night!”
There is new content coming to Amalur, which press gets their hands on at the event and will be talking about next week.
The next title was Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 from EA Sports. Executive Producer Brent Nielsen, who has worked on basically every other EA Sports title, took the stage to talk about the golf sim. The game will hold a newly-retooled swing system, and will also support Kinext on Xbox 360. The game will also have a new “Tiger Woods Legacy” mode, starting with Tiger as a 2 year-old, shooting golf balls into a kiddie pool in his back yard. There are 7 “eras” of Tiger, and as you complete the challenges you unlock that version of him for use throughout the game.
For SSX’s return, Creative Director Todd Batty went to Peter Moore and told him how it needed to be redone while honoring the legacy of the series. He stressed the size of the levels, variety, the modern look, modern feel, the fact that everything about the game is bigger and better than previous entries in the series. Using NASA satellite data, the game allows you to go down all of the biggest and most famous mountains in the world. There are three different types of gameplay in SSX, Race It, Trick It, and Survive It. Race it had the goal for the developers of being “Burnout on a snowboard.” Trick It is the classic trick mode from the series, and Survive It pits you against the mountain itself.
Online modes will actually allow you to play against your friends whether they’re online or not, thanks to “Explore” where you’ll race or trick against a ghost recording of their best run on that track. Global Events will have up to 100,000 people competing in an active tournament on each drop at all times. RiderNet will be the hub for this online and social network in the game.
Wrapping up the guests on stage, Mac Walters, Lead Writer of the much-anticipated Mass Effect 3 came to hype the game that comes out in just under one month. While introducing Walters, Moore said this is the “tour de force” of BioWare’s series. “It is going to be the best game of the series, bar none,” said Walters. He used the buzzword of “galactic war” they’ve been touting for awhile now, before mentioning that everything from combat, movement, and customization are all deeper and more refined.
The “Mass Effect Datapad” is an app coming for the iPad that allows you to view the “codex” glossary of information about the mythos, check the status of your war, get personal messages from your party members, and even deploy troops across the galaxy. The “Datapad” codex will even include descriptions of how other Mass Effect Infiltrator for iOS (and Android “eventually”) is a unique 3rd person shooter that also interfaces with your Mass Effect 3 campaign. By logging into both with your EA Origin account, enemy intel that you pick up in Infiltrator will help Shepard’s final battle in the galactic war in ME3. You’ll also be able to unlock exclusive weapons in Infiltrator that will transfer into your full game. Infiltrator features the story of Randall Ezno, a veteran Cerberus agent who collects alien species for study for the human supremacist terrorist organization. As Ezno’s story progresses, however, players will see him begin to question Cerberus’s actions and motivations. While the game is combat-centric, there will be some of the trademark Paragon/Renegade choices, which will affect Ezno’s arc. It’s due to launch “around the same time as Mass Effect 3” though no specific date has yet been announced. Mass Effect 3 ships March 6, 2012 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Before that, though, the ME3 demo hits February 14, 2012 featuring both single and multiplayer modes, and will include a new trailer called “Take Earth Back.” Without spoiling anything, the trailer takes a very different approach to establishing the plight of the planet. Walters told Newsarama after the conference that the trailer’s goal was to show BioWare’s style of storytelling, giving “an epic story, but a personal one at the same time,” and that it was “the first time” a trailer of that sort has really been pulled off.
Stay tuned for more from EA’s Spring Spotlight 2012, including hands-on with SSX and a full campaign mission from Mass Effect 3!