Hello everyone and welcome to another look at what’s happening in Los Angeles for E3. Let’s get right to it with EA’s conference.
EA kicked it off with the much-teased Titanfall 2 and was a great reveal showcasing the upcoming single-player campaign and the revamped multiplayer. The single-player’s story or campaign structure is largely unknown right now, but it’s inclusion is good enough to me for now. The multiplayer not only looks fantastic but can we talk about the grappling hook? Because wow that will change a lot of the dynamic when playing as a Pilot. The hook appears to let you grab onto ledges, Titans, and other pilots(for some sweet mid-air pummeling action too). So far it’s unclear if there are limits to the hook’s ability, but at the moment it looks like the most promising addition. I can’t wait for the Open Beta which should be coming up later this summer ahead of the October 28th release date.
EA also talked, predictably about Madden and FIFA, and while I know the games have a strong following I can’t say I’m among them. But what I do find interesting is that, following the ever-growing trend, Madden is having a Pro Sports League. I’m hoping that it will end up having more understanding fans then some leagues have shown so far.
FIFA though had some surprises in store for fans including what looks to be a true story in a sports game. It looks as if the line between Sports and RPG game are growing ever blurrier. However, aside from the one notable addition, it sounds like any other annual release. I’m sure it’ll be a big release for EA, but outside looking in it doesn’t pull me in. Not sure what would though.
As ready as I am for the next entry into the Mass Effect universe, Mass Effect Andromeda, I’m supremely disappointed by the showing at EA’s conference. We didn’t get true gameplay. We don’t know anything new about the story, just a cinematic trailer with small details. We know that a Mako-like vehicle will be in the game, as well as at least one Asarian character. But aside from that? Nothing for certain. There’s still too many questions for a game that looks like it will be pushed back into 2017. The only thing we know for sure? It’ll use the Frostbite engine, which at this point is a requirement if you make a game with EA apparently. Here’s hoping Microsoft or Sony blow the lid off of the game.
As a total surprise, after the success of Unraveled, EA announced a new program called EA Originals.The first game shown off as part of this program is Fe from Zoink Games. It’s a game without dialogue that will cast the player as a cub trying to find it’s way back to it’s own kind. In the game, the songs of the forest will guide the player to where they need to go. But, all the while “beings of silence” will be corrupting the forest. Visually it looks minimalist and very pleasing to explore. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one for sure. Oh, and that EA Originals program? All the money goes back to the developer. So, there’s that.
EA didn’t stop there in trying to be charitable. Multiple games including FIFA and Star Wars Battlefront will shortly have events meant to raise awareness and money for specific charities. Players will need to complete challenges in order for the money to be raised. When a game company gives money to charities, it’s great. When a company does it and gets the fans involved, it’s even better.
The biggest disappointment of the night came with Star Wars fan-fare. I know, totally unexpected. EA teased that seven developers are working on Star Wars content and showed us footage of the developers talking about what they are making and… that was it. No names of the projects, no firm dates aside from vague “2017” or “2018” markers. That may be the biggest achievement of this briefing: EA managed to make people disappointed with Star Wars. Only one other man did that in 1999.
Lastly, Battlefield 1 was shown off, and it was announced that there will be a public beta later this summer as well as a live stream right after the show with Alpha gameplay from celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron. That is the strangest sentence I have ever written. It’s nice to see celebrities are interested in it too, but at the same time it was unnecessary. In my mind, it would’ve had more impact if members of the audience were invited to participate in the stream.
But that was all that was announced. Notice anything missing? You should, because plenty of EA’s assets were no-shows. No talk of upcoming improvements to NHL or NBA Live titles. Nothing from PopCap Games, or Criterion, or Ghost Games. It comes as a surprise that some of the biggest franchises with EA were also never brought up. Not just the aforementioned sports titles, but no sign of Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, Need For Speed, Dragon Age, Burnout, The Sims, and UFC. These are just the ones I assumed we could see announcements for, even if it was just DLC. I have the impression that EA didn’t have a whole lot lined up for their own conference and may be waiting to make larger splashes at either Xbox’s or PlayStation’s conferences. Time will tell.
But my general thought on EA’s 2016 E3 conference is that it was a lot of talk and aside from Fe, was generally lacking in true surprise. Aside from talking about Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1, it also felt like most of the developers had little to show from their work over the last year. Next I’ll be talking about the Bethesda briefing!