E3 2016: EA Play Recap
We've wrapped on our first press event of E3 2016, and I have to say that EA kicked it off in underwhelming fashion. With little in the of new reveals, EA was content to show us a lot of what we've already seen. It doesn't help that Titanfall 2's campaign trailer was "leaked" shortly before the press conference began. EA's CEO Andrew Wilson starts off "EA Play" with a taste of what we'll be seeing today, including Mass Effect: Andromeda, Star Wars, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and EA's sports titles. He also reveals that they're doing a simultaneous broadcast from both Los Angeles and London. He then sends it to EA's CCO Peter Moore, who's broadcasting live in London. He also promises an hour of Battlefield 1 multiplayer after the conclusion of EA Play. He then turns the stage over to Respawn Entertainment's Vince Zampella.
Zampella introduces Titanfall 2 and reminds the audience that Titanfall will make it's debut on the PlayStation 4 with its second installment. He then shows up our first look at Titanfall 2's multiplayer. We see that the game looks better than the first title and will feature new skills and weapons for pilots. In addition to this, pilots will also have a grappling hook that they can use to pull off feats of acrobatics or use to draw enemy pilots closer and finish them off. Zampella then reveals that the game will feature six new Titans. In addition to the new multiplayer features, Zampella also revealed that the sequel would feature a full offline campaign mode. This new campaign will allow players to learn more about Titanfall's universe and get a better idea of the Titans and their relationships with their pilots.
Titanfall 2 was one of the few games I was excited about coming into E3, and I am ecstatic to see that the sequel seems to fix some of the issues I had with its predecessor. I look forward to learning about Titanfall 2 as we move closer to its release. Titanfall 2 will be available on October 28th on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
After showing off the campaign trailer for Titanfall 2,we get our first look at Madden 17. After a brief showing of the game, we go back to London and Peter Moore. Moore informs us that EA will be starting a major E-Sports push beginning with their 2016 game lineup. They talk about different levels of events that will allow players to host local tournaments (Challenger events), EA partner-sponsored events (Premiere events) and EA's very own big time e-sports events (EA Major events). He reveals their first EA Major event will start during E3 with an 8-man Madden 16 tournament. The tournament will broadcast on ESPN 3 with the finals airing live on ESPN 2.
EA seems to be investing big in e-sports and Moore even mentioned that the initiative would even go beyond Madden. It will be interesting to see what EA has up their sleeves regarding e-sports events, but right now it's just nice to know that they're going the extra mile to support their player base.
Mass Effect Tease
We return to LA and see that Aaryn Flynn from Bioware is taking the stage to talk about Mass Effect. He gives a few story details, stating that the new game will focus on a team going to the Andromeda system to find a new home for the people of Earth. Aside from the small story bit, we learn the Andromeda will run on Dice's Frostbite Engine. That was it, he rolled a short behind the scenes teaser and said we would find out more about the game later this year.
Well, not much new information on the Andromeda, but it looks like I was probably right about the 2017 release date. No word on a remaster of original trilogy either, which is a disappointment. We'll likely see Mass Effect again at Gamescom, and we'll just have to live with what little Bioware gave us today until then.
FIFA The Journey
After the Mass Effect segment, we learn that EA Access will be free to everyone for the entire week. EA also discusses a charity event they are running during E3 that will culminate with a million dollar donation. We then go back to London, and Peter Moore, for FIFA 17. We meet Alex Hunter, a young man who is just getting started in the FIFA Premiere League. We learn he is the focus of a new game mode being added to FIFA this year called The Journey. In The Journey, you will take Alex through his entire career starting with him being drafted into the Premiere League.
They didn't give a lot of information in regards to how much freedom you will have in the mode, but it is interesting to see it will feature cutscenes with voiceovers, giving players an actual narrative for the first time in the series. They top this off up by showing the game will feature a new physics engine and AI, thanks to the Frostbite Engine. Moore than reveals the inclusion of real club managers which culminates with José Mourinho, manager of Manchester United, joining Moore on stage.
Moving on from FIFA, we return to LA to see EA's Executive Vice President, Patrick Söderlund, on stage. He mentions the indie hit Unravel, which EA published earlier this year, and introduces a new brand EA Originals. The EA Originals brand is EA's new indie initiative, and its seeks to assist independent developers by publishing their games and helping in the development process. Söderlund mentions that the goal of EA Originals is to see all profits go back to the developers to allow them to continue developing games without the tremendous financial risk involved with game design.
He then introduces the first EA Original title, Fe, from Zoink Games. While no word of a release window was confirmed for Fe, one of the game's developers did take the stage to talk about the game and its themes. Fe is all about your connection with nature. The game features no dialogue and is entirely driven by music and sound effects. He mentions that the game doesn't give players an immediate objective and simply drops the player into the world so that each person can experience the game in their own way.
Fe looks like an interesting title to begin the EA Originals brand, and I look forward to seeing what EA will do with this new publishing arm. I hope that this will allow many independent developers to realize their dreams and have their games published with the attention that they deserve.
Jade Raymond welcomes the crowd back from the Fe trailer and tells us that she's here to talk about Star Wars. She reveals that some EA developers are currently working on Star Wars titles including DICE, Bioware, Visceral, Criterion, Respawn, and more. She then announces a new Star Wars Battlefront will be coming from Dice and Motive in 2017, following a new action adventure game from Visceral. A third title, a 3D action game from Respawn Entertainment was announced with no release window. However, we did learn that the Respawn title will be set in a new era and feature an entirely new cast.
We are then treated to a teaser showing each of the studios currently working on the game. This teaser gives us a quick look at Visceral's 2018 title and lets us know that Bioware has more stories they want to tell in the Star Wars universe. Seeing Bioware return to the Star Wars universe outside of the Knights of the Old Republic MMO would be a dream. I also look forward to seeing what DICE and Motive have in store for Battlefront and seeing what Visceral's title is going to be. EA certainly has a loaded lineup coming for Star Wars fans, and I can say that it seems like a good time to love Star Wars and video games.
Battlefield 1 closes the show, with a quick trailer. Developer DICE promises an epic game and talks about how the pitch for the game made them want to make a game based on the great war. In our quick trailer we learn the game will feature many different gameplay modes thanks to the addition of horses and zeppelins. Sadly, little gameplay was showed during the event, but all of the footage in the trailer says it was take from the game engine. Battlefield 1 still looks very promising, but I'm a little cooler on it than I was coming into E3. Hopefully, DICE will be able to show us more in the coming months that will reignite my interest in the game.
As I said in the beginning, EA Play felt mostly underwhelming. The lack of any real information on Mass Effect coupled with little in the way of coverage for Battlefield 1 felt like a missed opportunity. The reveal of the new Star Wars games was great, but with so little to go on, it's hard to get too excited. Next up on the schedule is Bethesda, and let's hope their press event gives us a little more to talk about than we got from EA.