EA mixes old and new for E3 showcase

Fifa 16, Need for Speed and Mirror’s Edge 2 vie for space with Star Wars, Unravel

David Rutter, vice president and general manager of Electronic Arts, speaks with retired professional soccer player Pele. Photograph: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

David Rutter, vice president and general manager of Electronic Arts, speaks with retired professional soccer player Pele. Photograph: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

 

You know what to expect by now from EA. Each year, the company shows off updated versions of its sports games – FIFA, Madden and NHL – and adds something new to popular franchises such as Need for Speed. The games firm didn’t disappoint.

It even brought out some sports icons to help, with Pele taking to the stage for the FIFA 16 announcement. The upcoming football game is promising the most balanced FIFA yet, with more skillful strikers, better passing in midfield and new tackles, such as fake and standing challenges.

But this year is also the year of Star Wars, and Battlefront was poised to steal the show. The game, which is set to launch in November, also featured heavily in Microsoft and Sony’s press events. But EA also had another Star Wars game to show off, with Star Wars: The Old Republic getting some new content. In Knights of the Fallen Empire, which will be free to subscribers, the classic “brother against brother” scenario is raising its head.

Mixed among the familiar - Mirror’s Edge 2, Plants Versus Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 – was Unravel, a physics-based puzzle platformer that could win over gamers on cuteness alone. The main character is Yarny, made from a single thread, who is dropped into somewhat of an epic journey. The fact that he’s made of string can be a help, like when you’re swinging over a gap or out of a tree, but it’s not always obvious what you need to do. The story underpinning the whole thing is about ties that bind – if you see what they did there.

“The tale of Unravel is about love, and the bonds between people. And the yarn is a representation of that,” Martin Sahlin, Creative Director at Coldwood, said. “Yarny’s red thread is the tie that connects everything in the game, from the gameplay mechanics to the story, and the people in it.”

Need for Speed, meanwhile, is getting five new ways to play - Speed, Style, Build, Crew, and Outlaw – that each have their own narrative, although there is some overlap on the stories.