Nobody goes into third-party publisher press conferences expecting huge things. Hell, there barely even are any third-party publisher conferences anymore. Now we're pretty much down to EA and Ubisoft, with Konami bringing up the rear with their pre-recorded silliness each year. These are typically pretty simple listings of what games will be ahead for the year, light on competitive jockeying and more just a way to add a little pizzazz to the usual E3 proceedings.
So with that said, going into EA's press conference this morning, I don't expect many were holding out for anything terribly drastic or surprising. We knew more Battlefield 4 would be shown, that there would be ample footage of Need for Speed Rivals, and that there would be sports, because there are always sports. Heck, even the bona fide surprise of the day--the brief, show-closing tease for Mirror's Edge 2--turned out to be something generally expected by most, due largely to persistent rumors and a leaked help page on EA's support site last week.
Still, even if expectations were minimal, it's safe to say that they were met accordingly. More Battlefield 4 was indeed shown, in the form of a lengthy multiplayer demo which showcased both its new commander mode and some of the more destructible environments you'll see. Need for Speed Rivals got a lengthy demo showing off the game's integration of single-player and multiplayer content, while also playing as an opening act to a lengthy, generally dull promotion for the forthcoming Need for Speed movie, starring Aaron Paul. Paul was on hand to remind us that he is a gamer (just like us!) and shill a bit for the movie. That he did not punctuate any sentences with the word "bitch" was perhaps the most disappointing element of the entire presentation.
EA Sports delivered its expected lineup, including next-gen Madden, NBA, FIFA, and UFC offerings. Numerous sports celebrities were trotted out to talk about things like dribbling mechanics and "full body deformation," including a typically mouthy and stand-offish Dana White, who proceeded to tout the merits of men beating other men senseless while goading people to buy the upcoming UFC game.
Fortunately, the rest of the event was a bit more fun. The opening salvo from PopCap, a bizarre parody shooter called Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, had the distinction of looking like a lot of silly fun, despite the idea of a Plants vs. Zombies shooter sounding maybe a tad crass in concept--like, who asked for this? PopCap's John Vechey also managed to yelp out the existence of Peggle 2, before running off the stage in what looked like a bit of a daze. No word on when that one might be coming out, sadly.
Dragon Age 3, now renamed Dragon Age: Inquisition, also got a bit of stage time. It's been quite a while since we've heard anything about the game, which makes it not terribly surprising that the game has slid into a 2014 release window. Still, it's just good to hear anything at all about it, really, and the trailer was pretty good.
One thing we'd perhaps expected to hear more about was EA's upcoming slate of Star Wars games. Nobody was expecting much video content, of course, since that licensing deal is still extremely recent. However, the only mention of the Star Wars license came in a very simple teaser for a new Star Wars: Battlefront, coming from DICE's LA division (formerly known as Danger Close).
Finally, the show closed out with a post-Battlefield 4 teaser for Mirror's Edge 2. Again, we had an inkling that this was coming, but it was still good to see it make an appearance in brief teaser trailer form. DICE isn't projecting a release date for it yet, but hey, it's in development at least!
We'll bring you more on EA's E3 2013 lineup later this week as we peruse the show floor.