Battlefield 1, FIFA 17, and Titanfall 2 headlined EA's 2016 showcase, EA Play. Along with the aforementioned heavy hitters was a rare charitable gesture, a new publishing label, and a larger emphasis on e-sports. Here's everything you need to know.
Titanfall 2 steals the show
While the leak a couple of hours before the event did put a damper on developer Respawn Entertainment's sci-fi shooter Titanfall 2, it was still the highlight of the show. Unlike the first game, this will come to the PS4, sport a proper single-player campaign, and have a few more mechs to pilot. Six additional ones to be precise. There was a multiplayer trailer that showed off new traversal options when you're not piloting a titan such as the grappling hook and the power slide. Now the robots have a sense of personality to them which should make for a more immersive game. There's a multiplayer beta or "open technical test" as its being which you can sign up for now. And yes, it's out on October 28 this year.
Mass Effect: Andromeda's trailer showed off a lot but said very little
The latest entry in EA's storied sci-fi role-playing game franchise seems ambitious. "This is a galaxy where you are the alien," claims producer Aaryn Flynn. The overarching plot has players travelling the universe in search of a new home. Details are scarce and with a slew of crucial staffers leaving the project earlier this year, the CG-fuelled trailer gave us little confidence. There will be a new ship that's rumoured to be named as Tempest (compared to Normandy from the original trilogy), and a new online mode as well. Flynn says we'll see more in months to come. Hopefully with more details than what we have right now.
FIFA 17's The Journey brings narrative to the beautiful game
Before EA Play, a FIFA 17 trailer surfaced which showed off what seems to be a story mode. It focusses on a fictional footballer by the name of Alex Hunter as he makes his English Premier League debut and the drama that surrounds it such as dealing with agents, fans, and the fame that comes with being a rising star. This was confirmed at EA Play via a cringe-worthy performance of an actor playing the role of Alex Hunter. And no, you can't create or customise your own character for this mode, which is officially known as The Journey. It's got dialogue trees, cut-scenes, and moments off the pitch. An interesting take for a series that's been obsessed with recreating the televised equivalent of football. Perhaps this is a sign of a new benchmark for EA - showcasing the lives of those on the pitch. The game will feature four managers (Josep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, and Jurgen Klopp) as well as some new additions to the core gameplay. These include improved AI, new set pieces, various attack options, and revamped physical play.
Indie game Fe is an EA Original
Fe follows up the company's attempts to woo indie talent after its successful collaboration for Unravel. The concept art showed off a game world not too dissimilar to Ori and the Blind Forest and Badlands albeit with some interesting differences. This is a game that will feature little handholding, and a plethora of creatures to speak to - all of who communicate with their own music. Developed by Swedish studio Zoink, it's a part of EA's new initiative called EA Originals.
"Making games is hard. It's a hard business. These developers have taken on the risk of developing a new IP, and great games deserve to be played. So with EA Originals, we want the profits from these games to go into the hands of the studios making them. We want them to be recognised for their work, so they can keep innovating and creating, and so the players get to play more and more amazing games," said Patrick Soderlund, Executive Vice President of EA Studios. It sounds generous but wether it ends up being truly beneficial to EA's collaborators or simply a damp squib like the EA Partners program - which saw little success, remains to be seen.
There are more Star Wars games in the works...and that's all we know
Jade Raymond - responsible for the Assassin's Creed series and now founder of EA Motive took to the stage to announce that there are a host of Star Wars games in the works including a sequel to Star Wars Battlefront and little else. This was backed up by a trailer which more or less portrayed the same. Although it also gave us our first glimpse of what appears to be the game from EA Visceral which is headed up by Amy Hennig - creative director on the Uncharted series. There's very little to go by, just what appears to be the protagonist or a central character entering a sandy locale that may be Tatooine.
Battlefield 1 is gorgeous, but will it look as good without a high-end PC?
EA Play ended with what the company perceives to be its marquee title, Battlefield 1. And it sure looked the part. There was a slick trailer featuring motorcycles, tanks, bi-planes, zeppelins, and an assortment of destruction too. It looked promising as it did with its reveal a month ago what with developer Dice promising new weather effects, weapons, ultimate vehicles, and destruction to boot. The video claimed it was all running on in-game footage, most probably from a rather high-end PC instead of a PS4 or Xbox One. In an age when gameplay trailers overpromise and the games themselves underdeliver, it would be wise to temper expectations. There will be an open beta later this summer.
In addition to this there was Play to Give - a charitable initiative from EA where completing in-game challenges will allow for charitable donations and e-sports. The latter sees EA hosting a new Madden NFL Championship. This consists of four "EA Major" events for a prize pool totalling $1 million. An eight-player tournament in Madden NFL 16 will also begin today and run through E3 2016, hosted by ESPN's Stan Verrett .
Major events will have two tiers of competition below them, low-level challenger events and a mid-tier premier class to allow gamers of varying degrees of skill to participate.
While EA Play was a definite step up from last year's horrible E3 2015 showing, the company still has a long way to go. Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 are shaping up well but releasing them with simply a week's gap is nothing short of suicide. EA might claim that both game's target different audiences but it probably isn't considering the massive overlap or the fact that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out just a week after Titanfall 2 and two weeks after Battlefield 1. And though FIFA 17 looks to be an interesting entry in the franchise, its story mode could go either way.
But most importantly, there was little in the way of Star Wars and even less on Mass Effect: Andromeda. With the latter, slated for release early next year we wonder in what state is the game exactly in as there's almost nothing to show for it.
What did you think of EA Play? Does EA's line-up of sports, shooters, and sci-fi games have enough to keep you interested? Let us know in the comments.
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