The Force Rises

Electronic Arts electrified the famed Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Monday to premiere its E3 2015 lineup, which features a diverse assortment of games designed for a wide array of players and platforms. CEO Andrew Wilson kicked off the proceedings by affirming the company's commitment to video game fans far and wide. "Putting players first continues to be our focus at Electronic Arts," Wilson said.

Even before Wilson hit the stage, EA showed this commitment right out of the gate, showcasing a trailer for one of the most anticipated titles in recent memory. Mass Effect: Andromeda represents a new frontier for the BioWare-developed role-playing series, following the conclusion of the original trilogy's storyline in 2012. Andromeda is an all-new adventure that takes place long after the previous games and EA plans to release it for the 2016 holiday season on PC and current-gen consoles.

Another much-anticipated revival that took the stage was Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, which releases on February 23, 2016 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The first-person adventure maintains the distinctive look and feel of 2008's Mirror's Edge, but rather than create a sequel, developer DICE opted to restart the series with heroine Faith's previously unseen origin story. Rather than featuring standalone levels to complete, the game offers one seamless, futuristic open environment that players can fluidly navigate by running along walls and leaping over barriers.

EA's focus on its most beloved properties also included an extensive look at Need for Speed, which reboots the long-running racing franchise. Need for Speed focuses on nighttime racing in the fictional city of Ventura Bay, allowing players to cruise freely through urban intersections and country roads alike. The single-player campaign includes five overlapping storylines punctuated by live-action narrative footage, and the gameplay highlights the thrill of the chase as players race against rivals and evade police pursuers. Need for Speed is developed by Ghost Games and is due out November 3 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is the latest in another EA fan-favorite franchise; the team-based shooter sequelizes the 2014 game on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. EA employed some theatrics for the reveal, as an actor in a zombie costume arrived onstage and flexed its muscles while Kenny Loggins' hit 1980s song "Danger Zone" blared through the speakers. Garden Warfare 2 introduces new character classes and single-player action; the game will be supported with free add-on content subsequent to its spring 2016 release.

Electronic Arts also spotlighted a charming new property called Unravel, which is in development at Swedish studio Coldwood. The puzzle-focused platform game spotlights a small fabric creature named Yarny, who must navigate sidescrolling stages with the help of string from his own body. For example, he can use the yarn to swing across gaps in the large, photorealistic environments. According to Creative Director Martin Sahlin, Yarny is a character that accomplishes big things, despite being so small. Players will have a chance to experience his adventure on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. No release date for Unravel has been set.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens ushers the beloved sci-fi franchise back into movie theaters this December. In honor of Star Wars' massive return, EA devoted a large portion of its presentation to its licensed adaptations of the series--particularly Star Wars: Battlefront for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

Battlefront revives the popular multiplayer shooter franchise a decade after the last core entry, and spotlights large-scale online skirmishes in the Star Wars universe. EA debuted the first-ever Battlefront gameplay footage, which depicted a frantic battle on the snow planet Hoth seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Players can engage in battle on-foot, in gargantuan AT-AT and AT-ST walker vehicles from the film or in speedy spaceships. Up to 40 players can participate in these epic matches. Battlefront features impressively accurate vehicles and characters from the films; players can join the force November 17.

Also coming this fall is Knights of the Fallen Empire, a free expansion pack for subscribers of massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Developed by BioWare Austin, the expansion focuses on storytelling and allows players to make significant decisions that affect the outcome of their quests. Knights of the Fallen Empire will be available October 27, delivering new worlds to explore as well as familiar companions that players can recruit to their cause.

EA will also extend the franchise love to mobile late this year with Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, a collectible card game featuring heroes and villains from all of the films. This is not the only licensed phone and tablet game in the EA's upcoming arsenal, either: Minions Paradise will deliver a world-building experience starring the bumbling, adorable characters from the Despicable Me film franchise.

The publisher's EA Sports lineup pumped up the action, bringing legendary soccer star Pelé onstage to introduce FIFA 16 and share memories from his storied career. The latest in the annual soccer simulation series--which Executive Producer David Rutter called "the most balanced FIFA yet"--brings a number of gameplay enhancements to the pitch, including better control over defensive maneuvers and more fluid movements away from the ball. FIFA 16 also introduces female players for the first time and is set for release September 22 for PS4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Meanwhile, Madden NFL 16 introduces a new Draft Champions mode, which allows players to conduct a fast-paced draft to choose star athletes for their team. After that, they can play through a condensed season and then do it all over again--allowing fans to try a wide array of team configurations. Madden NFL 16 also overhauls the passing game amidst a bevy of gameplay improvements, and releases August 25 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3.

Three more popular franchises rounded out the EA Sports presentation. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour launches July 14 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The new PGA Tour taps the power of the latest console hardware to deliver complete courses without loading times between holes, and includes both real-life locations and fantasy creations.

Additionally, NHL 16 will update the annual simulation with a reimagined EA Sports Hockey League mode, along with various other improvements. It releases September 15 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. NBA Live 16 follows on September 29 for PS4 and Xbox One, featuring improved animations and the option for players to insert their own faces on created athletes using a free mobile companion app.

Between its own original properties, annual sports franchises, and a collection of Star Wars games tailored to each platform, Electronic Arts showcased an impressive selection of titles sure to prove out its stated commitment to keeping fans engaged and entertained.

  • Exhibitor:
  • Electronic Arts

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