COLOGNE, Germany--Electronic Arts kicks off its Gamescom show today with a press briefing where it is expected to go through its upcoming slate of titles, from the highly anticipated Battlefield 3 to the next installment in the globally successful FIFA 12 series.
[7:03] We're seated in a packed auditorium, ready for the EA Gamescom 2011 press conference. And they've just dimmed the lights.
[7:04] Time for B-roll from every last EA franchise to a banging soundtrack. Are anyone else's ears bleeding?
[7:06] Here's a big announcement from EA Sports, they say…
[7:07] It's footage of street football/soccer. "It's the ground of the youth," says the voice-over, "owned by local heroes… The rhythm of the streets beats as the heart of the game."
[7:08] It's Andrew Wilson and Gary Paterson of EA onstage now, to announce a new FIFA Street game, in development in Vancouver. It'll be out early next year.
[7:08] It will be "the most authentic street football game ever," says Wilson.
[7:09] "The team led by Gary have been working for months," says Wilson, using FIFA's latest tech, including the new player collision engine.
[7:11] Moving on to EA Sports Football Club, FIFA Street will be connected into it. And then moving on to EA's Season Ticket scheme, subscribers are going to get early digital access to FIFA Street.
[7:12] And here we go, it's the first FIFA Street trailer. International locations… London, Shanghai, Riot. FIFAStreet.com is the official site.
[7:13] Up next, Need for Speed: The Run. "Winning Is His Only Option," says the trailer. Also, "Race For Your Life."
[7:14] Welcome to Jason DeLong, executive producer on The Run. "Today we're going to demo an all-new level, Independence Pass." It's a road closed for avalanche blasting, he says.
[7:16] So, we've got racing along snowy cliffside roads and through mountain tunnels, with rocks and snow pouring down off the slopes above.
[7:18] Need for Speed The Run will launch in Europe November 18, with a North American debut November 15.
[7:19] Time for BioWare. It's Dr Ray Muzyka. Hi, Dr Ray! He's talking about Dragon Age Legends and then announces Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, a free-to-play PC Warhammer title.
[7:20] Trailer time! Who guessed action-heavy cel-shaded fantasy MMO game? Those people guessed right.
[7:21] Star Wars: The Old Republic. Setting preorder records for BioWare, says Dr Ray. "We're gearing it up to be smooth, right from the start."
[7:21] Ready for an in-game cutscene? With dialogue options? "This time in German! For Gamescom!"
[7:22] I don't speak German. But there are Star Wars dudes saying things, OK?
[7:23] "Today, we're showing you the first operation in the game: the Eternity Vault," says Dr Ray.
[7:25] The Eternity Vault is an ancient alien prison, they say. We're watching the demonstrators go about classic MMO raid play--tanking, healing, and whatnot.
[7:28] Murdering bots and turrets. And now the players take on a giant mech "formerly used to wipe out civilisations."
[7:28] Dr Ray returns. He wants to jump into Mass Effect 3. Fine by us!
[7:30] "The scale of the action and emotion are at an all-time high," he says. "The ultimate action RPG," he says.
[7:30] Oh look, there are Mass Effect 3 release dates: Europe has March 9 2012, March 6 in North America.
[7:31] Time for a "combat reveal." It's Shepard, Liara, and Garrus doing their thing.
[7:32] Specifically, their thing was done against a huge mech suit.
[7:33] No waiting. ME3 combat reveal ends with Shepard tossing a grenade. Then boom! Into SSX.
[7:34] "Upload and compete against ghosts," they say. You can compete against your friends' ghosts when they're not online. You make money as you move up the leaderboard and use that cash to buy better gear.
[7:35] You also earn money when your friends try to beat your ghosts and fail.
[7:36] Now we're being shown pre-alpha gameplay of the multiplayer offering, which will feature online global tournaments. "SSX also offers fully customisable custom events."
[7:36] "We're also excited to announce Rider Net," a social multiplayer feature inspired by Need for Speed's Autolog.
[7:37] SSX hits the slopes in January 2012, and here's an all-new trailer.
[7:37] Mont Blanc, Mount Everest, and Kilimanjaro appear on a globe.
[7:38] The trailer shows off wingsuits, downhill pipelines, night runs, and racing against neon ghosts of past runs.
[7:39] "Up to 100k players online at once" in the global tournaments, it says.
[7:40] They're pointing out the execs in the front row now. John Riccitiello's down there, as is Peter Moore.
[7:41] Oh boy, it's "your humble servant" Ken Rolston. "Today, we return to the World of Amalur."
[7:41] "Amalur is the massive, endlessly explorable, brave new world of Reckoning."
[7:42] Hundreds of thousands of magical weapons in our "elaborate theatre of combat." Also: "Fast, fluid combat," he says and "expansive character development."
[7:42] Would you look at that, a release date: European launch is 10 February 2012.
[7:43] That's the only date we're given.
[7:44] Trailer time. Elves, magic. "Madness and rage," intones one elvish dude. "Madness and rage," he says again.
[7:46] Straight into The Secret World. Here "all the myths, conspiracies, and legends are true," says Ragnar Tornquist, with Templars, Illuminati, and the like fighting for power.
[7:46] At Gamescom we are revealing our persistent, player-versus-player battlefields, he says.
[7:46] The official beta registration will open on August 26, and the game comes out on PC April 2012.
[7:48] Let me tell you about the trailer. There's a Mexican standoff with shotguns and katanas and fireballs.
[7:49] Then a wrecked train crashes into the battlefield. It heralds the arrival of an enormous dust cloud. And then: I don't know, what is that, a Cthulu? It's a big monster.
[7:49] So it looked like four-player co-op against a big boss monster. And now? FIFA 12!
[7:50] Andrew Wilson ushers David Rutter, senior producer on FIFA 12, onto the stage. "It became apparent we had something special on our hands," he says of the development.
[7:51] He mentions the player impact engine, the youth academy, and more authentic play by famous players.
[7:52] New online friendlies mode. And EA Sports Football Club, "connecting you to millions of FIFA players around the world." Testing challenges injected into your game "on a weekly basis."
[7:53] For the first time ever, FIFA Ultimate Team will be launching on-disc with FIFA 12.
[7:54] On September 20, go to easportsfootball.com to start your team. Demo comes out September 13, with the full game out on September 27 and 29 (US and EU).
[7:55] Trailer features precision dribbling, "pro player intelligence," tactical defending, that player impact engine again, and "true injuries." Transfer deadline day is in there, too.
[7:56] That BZZZT BZZZT BZZZT over the speakers means it's time for Battlefield 3.
[7:57] They're reminding us what we've seen of Battlefield 3 so far. They remind us of the Andy McNab Battlefield 3 novel, too. But today, they're showing off co-op mode for the first time.
[7:58] "Features a full range of Battlefield gameplay." So that's vehicles, urban combat, and the rest. And here's a live co-op PS3 demo.
[7:59] Our two players creep into a building together, dropping guards stealthily, two at a time. One shoots out a camera.
[8:01] But now they've triggered an alarm. One player is shotgunning his way up the stairs. There is a lot of (in-game) soldierly trash talk. "That all you got? Come on, baby!"
[8:01] Out onto the street, grabbing the target objective (a dude) and jamming him into a jeep.
[8:01] It's night outside, and our players are escorting the jeep, at which RPGs are now being fired.
[8:02] Some night vision sniping there. When one player goes down, the other runs in to revive him.
[8:04] They're working their way down the street, more sniping through a night vision scope. Smoke and fire up ahead. "And that concludes our co-op demo," they say. The game will be playable on the show floor here at Gamescom.
[8:05] "We want to take playing together to a whole new level," they say, showing off the game's friend- and stats-tracking features.
[8:06] Patrick Soderlund: "Battlefield 3 will not let you down." At Gamescom, he says, you'll see the return of jets, in the 64-player PC Conquest mode.
[8:07] And now for some multiplayer footage with those jets. Dogfights ahoy!
[8:09] Which, all of a sudden, brings the show to a close. We'll have more on all the above just as soon as we all pour into the Gamescom show halls tomorrow.