Xbox One launch
EA’s new Ignite game engine will power FIFA 14, Madden 14, NBA Live 14 and new mixed martial-arts franchise UFC.
Unveiled publicly at Microsoft's new Xbox One event today, Ignite has much in common with Frostbite, the game engine that powers the Battlefield series among others, and is planned as the base for the next eight years of EA Sports games.
T3 visited EA Canada in Vancouver earlier this month and saw the engine running FIFA 14 and the upcoming UFC, and the visual leap on next-gen systems was strikingly apparent. Indeed, EA told us it has tripled investment in animation this year just for next-gen systems.
FIFA 14 features more than 1,000 new animations, with 200 of those specific to scoring goals, and four times the amount of decisions being made at any one time. While it looks the part, more noticeable is the advances in the game engine.
On the Barcelona v Real Madrid demo we saw, the new physical play system was the focus, with gamers now able to distribute players' weight to fend off the opposition or play to their strengths.
Your team mates also behave noticeably more like an actual team, with players making contextually appropriate runs, be they into the box or to cover, depending on your movements. You can also now choose to avoid collisions or take a hit for the team depending on the challenge.
"We're not usually at this level till six to eight weeks before launch," Matt Bilbey, general manager and vice president of the FIFA series, told T3 of the game, which is not released for another five months. "We'll have a hands-on build running at E3, that just wasn't possible last generation. It's all down to the engine."
While FIFA is always impressive, the up-close-and-personal nature of much-anticipated MMA series opener UFC makes it a more effective visual exemplar of next-gen hardware.
The hyper-realistic bloodied and bruised faces of fighters Benson Henderson and Cain Velasquez prove uncomfortably realistic, with new sub-surface scattering technology making real-time skin discolouration a very visceral energy indicator.
"We're creating humans," enthused UFC creative director and Fight Night series lead Brian Hayes, and the game's animation power backs him up.
A 'Deformer' tech demo shows skin moving and muscles contracting in real time as pressure is exerted, while intelligent character performance utilises facial ticks and contextual winces.
FIFA 14 is out October 4 on Xbox 360 and PS3, and winter on the new Xbox One and PS4. UFC is out in 2014.