Buzz aplenty was generated yesterday, a day before the weeklong Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in L.A, when Microsoft, EA, Sony and others hosted massive conferences.
What we now know: EA Sports' upcoming games, including NBA Live 14 and Madden NFL 25, look incredible.
What we don't yet know: Which console people will play those games on. Last night at its press conference, Sony effectively drop-kicked Microsoft in the face. Just hours after the Redmond gang announced that Xbox One will be released in November and priced at $499, Sony revealed PS4's competitive hardware, price ($399, also on shelves for the holiday season) and features (it will play used games and won't require online access). It was a solid clobbering, and one that could change the next-gen war between Microsoft and Sony. We'll have more details on it all later this week.
In the meantime, let's leave the worrying for Microsoft. What matters to the rest of us is that some great games are on the horizon. Here are the highlights from the round of announcements.
5. NBA Live Series Resurrected with NBA Live 14
The NBA Live franchise will be reborn this fall on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Let's pause and simply appreciate that news, because it's of the good variety. The last iteration of NBA Live was NBA Live 10, featuring Dwight Howard on the cover; NBA Live 13 got unceremoniously cancelled. Meanwhile, the NBA 2K games have been going strong since 1999. The NBA 2K series needed a challenger; now it has one. NBA Live 14 will raise the stakes for both EA Sports and 2K.
It should also be a pretty good game. It’s powered by EA’s new “Ignite” engine, which means better physics on the court. The game’s “BounceTek” technology will make dribbling more realistic than ever before (and possibly harder to control). To amp up the realism, EA also announced that the game will rapidly sync with the player stats of all NBA teams. In that regard, Live takes on all-new meaning, as we'll all be able to sit around and watch game simulations that are just as good as the real deal. (If we want.)
4. Madden NFL 25 Is a Launch Title of Xbox One and PS4
In the Xbox One and PS4 versions of Madden NFL 25, that same Ignite engine powers the “True Step” motion system and “Player Sense” that, in the most basic terms, make the on-field players and AI more dynamic and intelligent. (EA hyped those features and more in the freshly-released gameplay trailer above.) EA still has an exclusive license with NFL, but that's set to expire later this year. If they don't renew, we could be looking at a next-gen NFL free-for-all as other developers try to out-muscle this series. But whoever rises to the challenge – NFL 2K, anyone? – will have a tall order: EA has 25 years of experience with Madden, and has had the NFL all to itself for almost ten years.
3. FIFA 14 Trailer Drops
FIFA 14, like Madden, continues in that noble pursuit of players so life-like that you'll want to set your lonely older sister up with them. EA is talking up the FIFA characters’ “Pro Instincts,” “Precision Movement” and “Elite Technique.” As the company noted at the conference, the players react more accurately to the stakes and emotions of a match – and look amazing while they do it.
Once we see more gameplay footage, we'll be in a better position to compare the new FIFA to Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2014. That said, a comparison may not be fair because Konami's game isn't dropping on next-gen consoles (EA hasn't yet shared FIFA 14's release date). Both companies have always delivered stunning graphics and gameplay, leaving gamers divided on which soccer game is better. EA's headstart on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 may put an end to this longstanding debate.
2. UFC Bulks Up
Yet another Ignite-based game—and the first UFC game since EA bought the licensing from THQ in 2012—EA Sports UFC hits Xbox One and PS4 in spring 2014. The game’s promising features include “MMAi,” which impacts a fighter’s decisions in the octagon, and “Full Body Deformation,” aimed at making strikes true to life (read: brutal). The trailer released last night gives us some idea of the latter. This could be the game that officially stabilizes UFC and EA's relationship, as the two traded blows in 2010 after EA announced it was releasing EA Sports MMA, a non-UFC-licensed game.
1. NBA 2K14 Reveal: LeBron Meets ‘Video Game James’
This trailer, released during Sony’s PS4 press conference, features some “pre-alpha” game footage. The LeBron James of the forthcoming NBA 2K14 looks pretty close to the real King James, no? We'll likely be seeing a lot of him in this context, as 2K is heavily trading on his association with the game: James is gracing the cover, hyping the game through YouTube videos and elsewhere, and recently made an agreement to promote NBA 2K Online, which is being developed in China.
EA, it's your move. (Perhaps "Ignite" can help.)