Many were dismayed when SimCity was announced to be needing a permanent online connection in order to play, and the reasons weren't clear. However, as Jordan Edelstein of Maxis revealed to a packed Palladium audience in Cologne, there's a very good reason for that- SimCity World. Weaving an integrated universe out of the cities that either you alone, or you and your friends, or even you and the entire world, SimCity World sees the apparent creation of an entire virtual world. Want to get involved in worldwide research projects, and help friends or strangers? Find out more when I get some time at the end of this week.
Whilst there were also some excellent announcements regarding two of EA SPORTS massive franchises, FIFA and NHL, I'll divulge more of those later in the week. For now, let's focus on the bow, the guns and the automobiles. Kicking us off with some superhuman archery, Crysis 3 saw Crytek announced a new multiplayer mode for the February 2013 release- Hunters. Pitting cloaked, bow-wielding hunters against a legion of stranded Cell soldiers, Hunters is a simple game-mode. Starting off with a small team of Hunters, the Cell team have to either kill the hunters or survive until they're rescued. The problem is that the Hunters are near invisible, and if you're killed, you become one. Promising fast and frantic action, provided the balancing and timing of rounds are positioned in that sweet spot between exciting and frustrating, it's going to be an excellent feature.
We also saw more from the trio of Frostbite engine titles. From the announcement of Battlefield 3: Premium Edition to the first screening of some Army of TWO: The Devil's Cartel, there was a considerable amount of shooters showcased. Army of Two was a fun game in co-op, and this new iteration, created by the team at Visceral Games looks set to be the same. However, there is a real concern that the similarities between that and its engine-sharing counterparts may cloud the game from being judged purely on its own merits. The same is a very real threat for Medal of Honor Warfighter, although the strong Fire Team mode looks an excellent multiplayer experience, and the more compact nature of the recent series means that it can often attract a different type of shooter fan to the vehicular mayhem of Battlefield 3.
Alongside some exciting SimCity and mobile content, which will again be covered after some hands-on time, the most exciting thing on show was Need For Speed Most Wanted. Despite my continual praise of the concept and the design, I hadn't actually seen any gameplay content until the demonstration on stage. With familiar features from previous titles, both in the franchise and Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed Most Wanted's licensed approach to an open-world racer, given the Criterion feel with takedowns and jumps, and an excellent array of social features is the perfect recipe for success, and when I get some hands-on later this week, I hope this gut feeling will be confirmed.